Monday, August 27, 2012

Young Single Adult Conference

Sunrise at our camp
How about our night sky?

The Young Singles Conference in Selenge has come and gone. The Family History talks and training have come and gone. We are back in Ulaanbaatar a bit worn out but quite satisfied with our big trips.

Horses visit us in the morning fog
Room for four - but if you want privacy - buy all four tickets
We caught a train Tuesday night about 9:30 pm. We stayed in a sleeping compartment meant for four people but since we bought all four tickets, we didn’t have to share our compartment with 2 strangers. We didn’t sleep too well but it was different and exciting.
The camp takes shape
1st priority - getting rid of the mosquitos
Now it is safe for cards

Keeping warm was a priority

We arrived about 5:00 am when the train made a special stop for us near our campground 18 miles south of the Russian border. As we set up our tent, we noticed the swarm of mosquitos attacking us. How could we not help but notice? The Mongolians knew just what to do. They set little fires with crusted cow manure – cow chips – and that effectively drove the mosquitos away.
Mosquitos liked the stagnant water

There were close to 200 young singles on this conference – about 75 young men and 125 young women. There were several married couples who had active roles in the conference – presenters, cooks, drivers, entertainers and two senior couples (Hunts and Farmers). 

Oktyabri with Sister Hunt
The setting was by a big swift river but we were buffered from the river by trees and tributaries. The ground was flat and we shared it with goats, horses, cattle and sheep though none entered out camp.
Some of our visitors
Our tent was small. Sister Farmer and myself practiced the art of Mongolian contortionists in our tent as we tried to dress and undress for sleep and weather conditions.
Our tent with musical stage in background

The night sky was magnificent with stars shining and glistening everywhere. Only in the sparsely settled Dakotas or Montana can you see the heavens like this.
Notice the Big Dipper on the horizon
Camp cook with his wares
We have several stews, meat dishes, milk and milk cereals and bread as the main meals. The lineup of stoves was impressive.
Breakfast is brewing
Imagine planning a menu for 230 people and keeping them happy and well fed. They pulled it off. We also had two sheep that figured into the menu.
"Any idea what is for dinner?"
Getting to the heart of the matter - the Stake President leads by example - a traditional and compassionate way of killing the sheep

Meal preparation crew
Waiting in line for breakfast

The program spread over two days consisted of small group discussion by genders of expectations for a future mate, exchanging that information, information on how to have successful dates, how to make a good impression, speed dating or introductions, a panel discussion with five married couples, my presentation on how to know who to marry, rotation between 5 group discussion groups on various topics concerning relationships (I led one of the groups while Darlene was in a tent recuperating from an allergic reaction to milk) and two musical programs each evening.

Young women's discussion group

Bishop Enhkbold and President Odgerel crooning Russian love songs
 A rather fierce rainstorm delayed the supper hour and the music about two hours but the recovery time was swift. A sound stage, lighting, and electrical equipment materialized to our amazement. The young adults shared their talents along with the Stake President (Odgerel) and Bishop Enhkbold who crooned Russian love songs. 

Pres. Odgerel is a dynamic force in so many ways. He is a powerful speaker and leader and relates to the youth and young adults on so many levels.

Pres. Odgerel leading a discussion
He perceived the need for a conference on the topic of dating and marriage and set up a planning committee. Sister Farmer and I contributed our ideas on having a married couples panel and same gender group discussions and feedback. 
Panel of married couples

A young BYU Hawaii graduate in psychology named Alima, who is making a name for herself in Mongolia by giving televised advice on relationships, spoke to the young women.
Alima and myself comparing notes

Munkhbaatar and Elder Farmer talking to the group
She and I teamed up to give the expert advice to the young singles. She contributed the idea of speed dating and making good impression. She led the speed dating exercise which took most of one afternoon. The young people warmed up to the activity and were obviously enjoying themselves to the point where we didn’t know how to stop it until the two rotating concentric circles had made a complete rotation. You can see this exercise on U-Tube at the following link... Facebook. Mongolian LDS institute. Look for a video clip on the left.

So what is your definition of love?
So tell me your name again

Davaadorj wasn't so shy

The whole program delighted the young adults and gave them vital information on how to approach dating and courtship. The impact was positive and well-received even by the most shy participants.

How to choose the right mate? Here's the deal.

Drying out their sleeping bag after a rainstorm
Pres. Odgerel hopes and expects as least 10 marriages to come from this conference. He said they would be the “Farmer Couples” though he was the one who conceived the program and had the energy and vision to carry it out.  I will post my two presentations on my website,   

Oktyabri singing a duet with a Mongolian Idol winner, Ankhaa

Oktyabri singing duet with Ankhaa - Bishop Enhkbold is accompanying
On Thursday night we had a chance to leave the conference early and begin our trip to Erdenet. The Mongolian Church Service Center employees had been installing Internet Services in the nearby Selenge Branch. They stopped by the YSA conference out of curiosity. We were offered a ride to Darkhan that night where we could stay in a hotel.
Don't I look cute in my deel?
Our part in the conference was over. Darlene was suffering the after effects of an upset stomach.  It was a wonderful blessing to get that 2 hour ride to Darkhan.
We hope this conference will produce future members like him.
The next day we began phase two of our trip – speaking and training on Family History work in Erdenet. It is worthy of a blog of its own.
The setting was right for romance

Or fun?

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Beautiful scenery. So spacious. What a trip. Interesting train ride. Sorry about the kiddie vomiting on Darlene, but how cool she could talk Russian part of the time. Really neat you could connect with Tally’s companion after all these years, especially where she has been living out of the country. Amazing. We loved working with the YSA on our mission. Some things are universal. Your camp cook sure make huge loaves of bread. Reminded me of Darlene’s bread demo to our kindergarteners years ago. How time flies.