The students stood prayerfully at the breakfast table as they were listening to First Chronicles 16:28-34, the Scripture for the morning, being reads by Sergei, the director of the College:
Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
29 Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
30 Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
31 Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns.”
32 Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
33 Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
34 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
Anticipation filled their hearts. They awaited their physical food for breakfast and their spiritual food in their study of the Scriptures. They stood at the table, they folded their hands, they bowed their heads, they prayed and then they sat and ate.
Bread, salami, jam, chai, cucumbers.
A breakfast received with gratitude to the Lord.
Lorretta and I joined the first group of sixteen for breakfast that morning so that we could get into the classroom and prepare it for the “Life of Christ” class that would be taught from 9:00 A. M. until 12:00 noon I would try to clean the “Green Board” with soap and water before the session began. The “green board” was actually two 12 inch wide by 3 feet long pieces of wood, nailed together, painted green and hanging by a string against the wall. There was no chalk available so the decorations glued to the walls became the chalk. I would ask the taller student to reach up and get a piece of “chalk” when we ran out. It worked just fine.
As we sat at breakfast, Sergei, the 26 year old director of the college, announced to the students that they would be going into the forest that afternoon to find their supper.The college had run out of money and had no funds to purchase food supplies or in fact, anything.
Foraging for Food
The city of Maykop was beautifully located at the base of the Caucus Mountains, with wild berries and mushrooms growing in abundance in that area. “Maykop, also spelled Maikop, city and capital of the republic of Adygea, Krasnodar kray (territory), Russia, on the right bank of the Belaya River. Maykop (from the Adyghian myequape meaning “valley of apple trees”) was founded in 1857 as a Russian fortress”. (Encyclopædia Britannica 156,768).
Following classes, the students would take whatever containers available to them to carry the food they would collect, walk into the hills, find their evening meal and return to the school to prepare their feast.
I have never been enthralled about simply opening and eating a can of Campbell’s mushroom soup. I could handle it if it was combined with rice and chicken in a wonderful casserole, prepared by Lorretta, but to just open a can and heat it and eat it for dinner was not my idea of a manly meal for a college professor! Lorretta always decorated the soup so that I could handle the meal.
Following the class session, the students prayerfully and eagerly went into the forest to find their dinner, and find it they did. However, to hear that these students were going to gather “wild mushrooms”, found at the base of the mountains, not having been medically cleared for edibility, caused me to look carefully for a “McDonald’s”. Alas, that was not going to happen in Maykop, Russia! This is when my prayer life took on an amazing new dimension. I found that I could steadfastly, earnestly, without ceasing, watch and pray.
Following the first shift of breakfast eaters, the tables cleared, the dishes collected and placed in the small kitchen. Two students dipped the plates into cold water (water from a well outside), no soap, and wiped clean and placed back on the tables. The eating utensils cleaned in a similar manner and returned to the tables. There were no water pipes going into the home, no stove, no water heater, and no inside toilets.
The Father gives good gifts to those who ask
What remained of the bread, sliced cucumbers, and jam, with the spoon placed back in the jar, was returned to the brushed and wiped-off tables. Breakfast was now ready for the entrance of the second shift.
There was no lunch scheduled that day for the students because the food had been consumed at breakfast. Following the class session, the students prayerfully and eagerly went into the forest to find their dinner, and find it they did. They returned with bags and boxes of mushrooms and wild berries. A fire was “stoked up” in the courtyard. A large iron pot connected to a metal tripod, filled with well water, and brought to a boil over the fire. Then mushrooms galore dropped into the boiling water.
That afternoon, some parents and friends of the students brought loaves of freshly baked bread to the school. Breads cooked in brick ovens in their backyard kitchens.
Water, mushrooms, wild berries, brick-oven baked bread was the meal for the evening. It was a feast for a king and his court. Great rejoicing taking place as the students looked back on the words that they had read that morning in 1st Chronicles 16:32
Let the sea roar, and the fullness [they had water];
Let the fields rejoice [they had mushrooms]
And all that is therein [they had bread, jam and berries]
You know what?
Water and mushrooms is not that bad!
And Campbell’s Mushroom Soup?
A delicacy beyond description.
As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder,
So, taste is in the mouth of the hungry eater,
God brings joyful satisfaction to the hearts
of His faithful servants,
and multiple lessons on faith
for the teacher
by the students!