Thursday, May 21, 2015

Pancake Night Success

Well! Let me tell you a little bit about our activity last night~

We loaded up all of our ingredients and scanty supplies into the cars around 3:45. Corey headed to the church to start the set up, and I took our friend Gianinna to the temple where she was going to hang out for a while. When we pulled up the gate was closed - it's closed until June 9th for maintenance. Glad I found out now instead of on Saturday morning. So then we drove over to the church and Corey had everything all ready and the kids were watching the Lego Movie up on the big screen.
We were going to play it by ear, but Corey was ready to show The Testaments and/or 17 Miracles if needed. "Two movies? How long is this activity supposed to be?" I asked. He shrugged. Yes, we don't know what's the norm or what to expect, so best to be prepared. I went into the kitchen and set things up. By 5:00 we were ready to go, just need to make all the food and have people to feed it to. Will there be 5 or 50+? We shall soon know.

I made two batches of the pancake recipe, to see how many it made and how long it took, then I let the kids have their dinner early and get their hungry tummies out of the way. There was a good rainstorm going on outside, a real downpour. Corey thought that diminished the chances of a good turnout. At this point I was thinking that we were prepared and ready to serve up a good activity, but I didn't think people would come. At 6:00 I started making pancakes and putting them in an aluminum pan with another pan on top to keep them warm, thought I'd start stocking up - I figured if 10 people come, they'll all get plenty and I'll let my kids have at it too, then we'll clean up and go home. If more people show up, this should hold things down for a bit while I make more, but that's not going to happen....

Around 6:45 the Elders came. They stopped by the kitchen and asked if I needed any help. Nope, we're all set. Thought I guess we'll see how it goes in a bit and if we need more pancakes then. I had a big pan of big pancakes ready, and then had a big pan of small pancakes.

Around 7:00, people started to come, and most of the first 20 were people I recognized from church, so they are members... I thought this was an activity for new members and investigators? Atleast that's what the bishop had said, I think, but then again most things I think here are wrapped up in a dark cloud of miscommunication... I peek out from the kitchen again... more people coming. Corey keeps sending the kids to help me, and I just send them out to count people. Except I kept Mel to mix the batter. My stress levels took a sharp spike upward but making the food with urgency gave me a productive outlet. I break out one of the Krusteaz boxes and make a from scratch mix and combine them, let's get the frying pans going. And then I stood in the kitchen for the next hour making more pancakes. 
The Testaments was playing, Corey came in to check on me and I asked again how it looked out there, crowd-wise. He was laughing, and said "I guess they like pancakes!" meaning "There are a lot of people!" So I told him to get it started. It was 7:30 and they turned off the movie, Corey welcomed everyone, then there was a prayer, and then a short presentation. Corey gave a little bit of the cultural history of the pancake. "American like pancakes cause they're easy, fast, and you can feed a lot of people..." Then he shared a few tid bits on the annual pancake breakfast many US communities host on the 4th of July ~ he projected these pictures up on the stage screen.
(from 2013 above, 2012 below, and showed a few from 2014)
He then asked "Has anyone every had pancakes before?" and a few timid hands go up. Everyone was invited to dig in, and the food consuming began. We had two pans of pancakes, one full of big portions the other one small. We had toppings of maple syrup, whipped cream, bananas, nutella, and then strawberry, raspberry, and peach jellies. Melodie played the "Suite for Flute" up on the stage while everyone lined up for a real gourmet American treat.

When I started making pancakes after it started, I was only making small ones, trying to stretch the batter and ingredients I had, knowing each one would likely be used, so better to make small portions.
Before Mel was summoned to play the flute, she helped me. I had enough to make lots of pancakes, but knew that we only had 50 plates. When people came in for more plates, I gave them some our Ikea ones to use. Mostly I think people used napkins after that though. Kind people kept coming over to the kitchen and asking if I needed help, but I only had two pans and one spatula, so I usually didn't. After the batter was gone, I did say I could use help mixing up more batter while I finished cooking the last batch. We used one more single box of a different brand that I got at Sam's Club. "Gourmet Pancakes". After pouring out the mix I saw little bugs in it. I picked out a few, but a lady was there helping me and I don't know if she didn't see them or hear me say it had bugs or if it doesn't matter cause she mixed it all up and then I poured the pancakes, trying to spot them cause I know there were some still there. So the little black bugs got cooked up just the same and I was praying no one would see them and decide that the church sucks. The bugs were in the 3rd to last batch, so anyone reading this, if you didn't come back for 2nd and 3rd helpings, you were probably spared.
The quick boxes of mix were gone, so I made two more from scratch with the mental resolve that after this, we're done. Edna, my visiting teacher, came in and didn't ask to help, she said "I'm going to help you" and just started doing stuff. I liked that better, cause I don't know what to say when people ask what they can do. Even here at home, sweet Gianinna always comes up and asks what she can do to help, and I usually say nothing. I'm getting better at telling my kids what to do, but I bet if they asked "what" they could do, I'd just stare at them with a confused look, wondering "well you can see the mess around you, right?"
So anyway, yeah, it was a whirlwind of cooking up small pancakes for 90 minutes there. People ate and visited and ate, Hyrum would come in to say the pancakes are gone and there is a line again...
Little kids danced on the stage, Corey had "Spaceman" and the Super Crescent band playing on the Bose, it was a party. And all those people fed by me and my little magic spatula - Corey kept saying that. I did feel a bit like SpongeBob, putting on a one man show. I was glad to just be able to hide in the kitchen though.
People came in to get the cakes off the grill, cause they usually were all gone by the time the pan reached the table in the cultural hall. And people started to come into the kitchen to "para bens" me on such delicious food and give me hugs and take pictures of me (an actual US citizen here in Brazil!) cooking this delicacy, asking what are the ingredients ("Yeah, I got that syrup at the Dom Pedro mall at Walmart, close to the jelly and honey on the top shelf"), how to do it, saying they want to see what I do so they can make their own American Pancakes with a "I'm making these tomorrow!" Earlier that day a bit of inspiration hit after I looked up the recipe and I with help from google translate wrote it out in Portuguese and emailed it to Corey to print. Those 20 recipes were snatched up fast, but the RS President got one and promised sisters that she'd make some copies and bring them on Sunday.

The toddlers danced on the stage for a group of adoring fans.
So, that was our American Pancake Night activity. Earlier that morning, when I was told 57 people were coming, I was worried there would be a big turnout and that what I thought was a small get together was actually a huge event that we had to put on... so that part of my nightmare came true, but  it wasn't such a scary nightmare cause we were pretty prepared and had enough pancakes and I think everyone enjoyed themselves, so it was a success after all, and we did it! Corey and his computer, Mel and her flute, and me and my magic spatula. Near the end, the RS sisters came to clean up the kitchen, and I wandered about for a bit and put my feet up. There were lots of faces I didn't recognize, which might be cause I just don't recognize many people yet, but the missionaries said that they invited a lot of people and there were lots of people who came who are not members. So that was the main point of it anyway, so a success in that way too. Go trabalho missional, hope we were able to help build the Kingdom of God in some way through our little efforts last night. 
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