Sunday, June 17, 2012

6th Week of Mission

Midweek update!

"Elder and Sister Farmer,

I received word from Mongolian that your invitation letters were issued. I can apply for the actual visa on Friday, June 22nd and this process will take about 7-10 days. I will keep you updated but we should have you traveling to Mongolia within the next 2 weeks.

Thank you,
Sara McBride
LDS Missionary Travel"

We also understand that 4 out of the 5 missionaries received their visas as well and will be leaving on June 25th. The 5th, Elder Omori applied a little later than the others so he may be traveling with us. 

6th week of mission.  We spent Sunday morning at the Mormon Tabernacle Choir radio broadcast from the LDS Church Conference Center in Salt Lake City. The music was exquisite, the audience appreciative and the message was “get acquainted with the marvels of where you live instead of traveling the globe in search of wonders.” 
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Statue of the Christus at the North Visitor's Center
We lived up to this dictum by hiking up to the Utah State Capital and looking at all the monuments and memorials on the grounds, then watching a film on Joseph Smith, "The Prophet of the Restoration" at the North Visitor's Center, by taking pictures from the tenth floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, and finally attending the annual Chalk Art Fair at the Gateway Mall. 
Utah State Capital
Still on our agenda is the Church History Museum and more visits to the Family History Library.
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Stunning Chalk Art entry

Father's Day Art 
After the Tabernacle Choir broadcast, we watched the Temple Square missionaries speak their own languages to the group of tourists leaving the conference center.  We were delighted to see Sister Enkhbaatar Uranchimeg from Mongolia addressing the crowd in Mongolian. We were the only ones who remotely understood what she was talking about. We visited with her afterward and she admitted that there aren’t many Mongolian tourists who make it to Temple Square.
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Sister Enkhbaatar Uranchimeg
The exercise is useful however in connecting foreign language visitors with the fact tours can be conducted in their own languages (quite useful for Spanish, German, Japanese and French speaking visitors) and highlights the world-wide nature of the church. The young sisters come from all over the world, learn English and tell the story of the church in English (mostly) to Temple Square visitors. We spoke to a member of the Temple Square Mission Presidency and he said that the missionaries were responsible for over a 100 converts this past month. We didn’t ask how they gather their statistics.
Temple Square missionaries speaking their language
Family History Mission. The week starts off with a mission-wide (400 missionaries) hour long testimony meeting with 12 -14 missionaries (senior couples, senior sisters or young elders) assigned to give brief accounts (3 minutes each) of their life histories and testimonies. It is at the same time both fascinating and inspiring. We really liked this meeting.

There was also a mission sponsored devotional on Wednesday at noon with Stewart Grow, an author and historian who has written a book on Parley P. Pratt – comparing him to a Latter-Day Apostle Paul. Grow told several stories from Pratt’s life and showed how a blessing given to him came true as his life unfolded.  Parts of his blessing were absolutely prophetic (his mission to Canada) and other parts were fulfilled in ways Pratt would never had expected. He was promised prosperity but the blessing of prosperity came with riches of his posterity instead of worldly wealth. 

Our work week settled into a routine with Darlene auditing Russian birth, death and marriage records while I did the same with Spanish language records. Later in the week I was asked to audit parts of the 1940 census which the Church is rolling out at a record pace. People (members or nonmembers) from all around the United States can participate in online indexing of these records. The census is about 1/3rd finished.

There is a sense of urgency about getting the work done though we auditors don’t understand the big picture deadlines with getting the census records online as quickly as possible.  The people familiar with this breakneck speed of this work describe it as a “modern day miracle”.  After work Monday, Tuesday and Friday we "Skyped" our Mongolian lessons from our teacher Bolormaa Jenkins at the MTC in Provo.   

On Tuesday night I tried my hand at Norwegian farm record research and found out quickly that reading Norwegian is a big asset. I will make another attempt this week with a recommended expert. Darlene can audit Russian records and I can audit Spanish records but neither of us can do Norwegian or Danish records.

A chance (?) meeting with Munkhtseteg Stewart.  On Monday after our Skyping lesson, we went to the tenth floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building to look at the sights of the city and to take a few pictures. We were joined by a couple – one of whom caught a glimpse of my Mongolian missionary name tag (while we are waiting for our visas, I am wearing my name written in Mongolian). She paused and later came up to us and asked where we were going to serve. I asked her if she could read the language on the name tag. She said she could.

It turns out that she was from Mongolia and was one of the main translators of the Book of Mormon from English into the Mongolian language. No doubt she could read my name tag.
Munkhtseteg is definitely famous and legendary in Mongolian church circles and it turns out well connected politically. Her cousin is in charge of church-governmental relations for the Church in Mongolia. Munkhtseteg said that all was being done that could be done on the visa issue and, in addition, members in Mongolia were fasting and praying for the visas to be given. Wow! We had no idea.
Monkhtseteg, translator of Book Of Mormon into Mongolian
We hope to see her again before we leave Salt Lake City. I want to ask her about spiritual impressions she felt during the translating work.

“T and R” Day. Each fulltime missionary (senior missionaries) get a half day off a week to either attend the Temple or to do Personal Research (T and R). We spent our half day on Wednesday with Ron and Kathie Felsted,  Darlene’s brother and sister-in-law from Cove, Utah. They have been called to serve the Young Adult Center in the Hungarian Mission. We spent some time comparing very difficult languages.  They will enter the Missionary Training Center on August 11.

We had sandwiches and then attended the Salt Lake temple in the afternoon to do some temple work Kathie had brought. Then we spent the rest of the afternoon at the Family History Library where Kathie (an expert genealogist) was showing Darlene the ropes on North Carolina history.  We went to the City Creek Mall and had Chinese meal at the food court.
Meeting Elder Hegland's parents. We met the Lloyd and Barbara Hegland after our work on Thursday afternoon. We went up to the 10th floor of the JSMB for more good vibes. We had a lot of fun comparing notes on Mongolia, families, Norwegian genealogy, and trying to talk them into coming to Mongolia to pick Elder Hegland up after his mission. They won't need much persuading.

Tales of an amateur rope jumper. Trista, Darin and the family came down from Providence to see Luke perform with a Logan, Utah based championship rope jumping team at the Chalk Art Fair. The Chalk Art Fair is sponsored by the Utah Foster Parent Association and KSL radio and TV.

We joined them at the Fair and watched a dazzling performance. Luke is somewhat a beginner but very accomplished already. The stunts, dances and jumps were athletic, choreographed  masterpieces.
Luke is 6th from the left
After their show, they solicited volunteers from the audience to come and jump while they twirled the ropes. Guess who they singled out for a volunteer – me.  There I was with my Mongolian name tag and all - in the center of the show.  After a failed miserable first attempt, I was counseled to jump at an even pace and they would do the rest. Believe it or not, it worked – for a while any way. It could have been worse.

Guest rope jumper
Afterward the team went to water spouting area and did some of their routines in the middle of randomly shooting water bursts.
Luke dodging water bursts
We ended our week with a trip to a Mexican Super Market to stock up on another week of groceries. We love you and wish you the best as we work and wait (Xyleex – wholehk) for our visas to come through.  

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