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They Remembered the Cool Whip

by Twilia Schock

It was November 1994. I was a brand-new missionary in Slovakia, and I was homesick. Our trainers in missionary orientation had warned us missionary novices about culture shock. But I had cavalierly dismissed it, judging it to be for the faint of heart. Despite my bravado, I found myself in the throes of culture shock. The euphoria of being in a new country, with a new culture and a new language had worn off. It was a tough fall.

 Bratislava, Slovakia, in 1994 was not the youthful bustling European capital that it is today. Shortages were the order of the day. Creature comforts, as we Americans had come to appreciate them, were scarce. The religious education program that I was called to help develop was bereft of resources. We barely had enough Bibles, much less textbooks. I wanted to go home.

Yet, there I was. It was November and Thanksgiving was on the horizon. Happy Thanksgiving? Bah humbug!

With the shortages, I had no way of getting a turkey, short of buying a live one from a distant farmer and butchering it myself. Unless I made a trek to Austria, mashed potatoes were not an option because of a potato blight. Cranberries were nowhere in sight, much less pumpkin pie filling. And, even if we had pumpkin pie filling, I had no pie pan.

The Rev. Twila Schock serves as senior pas- tor at Christ Lutheran Church in Belvidere, Ill. She spent 18 years working in ELCA Global Mission, serving as a missionary in Slovakia, Germany, and Russia, and as director for missionary sponsorship and global gifts.

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