Sunday, August 5, 2007

The next day

Did I mention that we went to the cemetery in Columbia? I used to be kind of freaked out by those places. They're so, well, full of dead people.

And the one in Columbia was no different. There's a small section for the Jews. It seems like most of them were from Germany, and arrived in the early twentieth century. They've got a nice resting place; sunny (well, sometimes anyway), trees, bunch of dead non-Jews around, and even a busy street twenty feet away.

After a quick pit-stop for some soda (the eternal debate continues: which is better, Dr. Pepper, or Pibb Xtra. It's a tough question, but so far I'm holding out for the latter. As a kid it was always Dr. Pepper, but the taste just seems different now. Who knows?)

After doing our usual thing (stopping at the mall, making a bunch of phone calls, having no one respond, walking around the mall searching, etc.) we decided to drive down to Osage Beach, which is the gateway to Lake of the Ozarks. It's a big lake. Not as big as the Great Lakes, but still big. The hotel there didn't even have shampoo. These are the sacrifices one makes on Merkos Shlichus, I guess. I called up one of the names on our list, an Israeli, and he thought I was a terrorist. I told him I was Chabad. He responded, "OK, just don't bring your shotgun." Instead of the firearms, we brought Tefillin, which he was happy to put on. What's an Israeli doing in the middle of Missouri? Selling T-shirts of course. And Henna. And a bunch of other things.

We stopped by the visitors bureau to see if they had any information. They did. A shul. Amazing! Bnei Haagam. Children of the Lake. Cute name, no? Anyway, after speaking to the person at the end of the phone we discovered that the congregation no longer exists, because everyone either died or moved. Sad. We dropped off some pamphlets for a couple doctors, and drove back to Columbia for the class.

The class was quite classy. Michael and his wife prepared some light refreshments, and Shua, my partner, gave a class on "What is Chabad?" And then we talked for two and a half hours with the five people who came about theology, Chabad, life, etc. You know, the works.

On Thursday we had a meeting with the owner of a hippy-type store, who was actually happy to see us. We were of course happy to see him. Again, we discussed what exactly we were doing in Columbia, what he was doing in Columbia, what Columbia was doing in Columbia, and real estate. No, really. He's moving into the business, so we shared some tips that we've gleaned over the years in Chabad. I'd share these tips with you too, but that wouldn't be fair to all the Shluchim out there.

A little while later we started the drive back to Kansas City, stopping in such metropolises (metropoli?) as Jefferson City, Sedalia, and California. In Sedalia we ran into (not literally) a guy dressed in the garb of a Kohen Gadol, a high priest. He's a Messianic Christian, and we had an interesting conversation. He asked us why we don't accept J, and we explained that the guy just doesn't make the cut for us.

Next time...More of the same