At one point on my mission, 4 missionaries lived in an apartment which was roughly 2/3 the size of my living room. I was one of those missionaries. Elder Miles, our district leader, lived there, too. Okay, the whole district was in there.
One day, Elder Miles was on splits with the local Zone leader (whose name I cannot recall). While they were out, they stopped in a local shop. I should tell you that we were in Russia (post-Soviet) and that our missionary funds were excessive for the area in which we lived. Instead of packing up and shipping out excess funds each month, as I am sure we would have done if we were more socially conscious, we bought a lot of frozen pizza. The funny thing about the frozen pizza, was that it was often Scandanavian in origin. So, we were unable to read the boxes. Nonetheless, we had a good idea about what was on individual frozen pizzas because the good people in Scandanavia shipped their pizzas in brightly colored boxes that featured pictures on the pizzas inside. Cheese, pepperoni, and supreme pizzas were easy to spot and eaten often.
On this particular day, Elder Miles and the Zone leader were flipping through the pizzas in the freezer in much the same manner that one would flip through LPs in a record store. Suddenly, they stopped. They marvelled at what their eyes beheld. It was a Hawaiian pizza. There was the pineapple. There was the ham. Perhaps they thought it odd that this distinctly American pizza had made it into Russia, via Scandanavia, but they didn't care. It was a taste of home. It was bought and it was to be quickly consumed, before the other elders in the tiny apartment (including me) got home.
I should say that Russia, at this point, was on the cusp of its current craziness. Yeltsin was still in power, drinking himself into irrelevance. The area in which we worked was dominated by Mafioso (hence the upscales stores with frozen pizzas). So, while it wasn't impossible to get American foodstuffs, it was rare and expensive. Missionaries went ga-ga over the stuff. I knew missionaries who bought out kiosks of cases of root beer (near 100 cans of the stuff). I personally combined funds with a companion to a buy store out completely of its accidentally acquired stock of canned chili (50 cans consumed in about 2 and 1/2 weeks). So, I did not begrudge them their find, as I likely would have done the same and I know that it would have been shared if there had been more than one pizza.
In any case, when I came home, I saw two of the most disconsolate missionaries I had ever seen. The pizza had been a mistake. You see, the pineapple, pictured on the box, had turned out to be pale celery. The juicy pink ham was actually salmon. Much more suited to the Scandanavian palatte, don't you think?
They were heartbroken. They could not bring themselves to eat it, or even look at it. My companion and I, however, were unburdened by false expections and, hey, free pizza is free pizza. It wasn't bad if you knew what it was.
I am sure that there is a lesson about religion somewhere in that. Our expectations often prevent us from enjoying blessings that come at us sideways. It is helpful to really understand what you are getting before you dig in. Though the pizza may not be to your taste, it doesn't mean that it is valueless as food. Finally, God loves a good joke. May he smile upon you, too.Posted by HP