Saturday, September 1, 2012

Trip to Murun

Murun River and Sky

 Records Acquisition. We are having some good news with records acquisition. The head of the Central Archives cancelled a meeting with us and asked instead for us to send a letter with all our questions prior to scheduling a meeting. We conferred with Danny Chin, Asia Area Manager for Records Acquisition, in a Skype meeting about what questions to ask. 
Panorama of Mountains, river, and a herd of animals
I wrote a detailed and comprehensive letter stating our purpose, some of the history of past attempts at records acquisition, the value of online records for Mongolian people in Family History, and our strong desire to work together on a joint project. I listed out 14 questions with a little background connected to each question. It was a good letter – almost too good because Danny Chin and eventually his boss in Salt Lake started to rewrite it to take out or change some of the sensitive parts about the relationship between the Church and FamilySearch.
Murun during a rainstorm

Another delicate part was the sequence in how and when meeting key figures in the National Archives, the Central Archives (civil records) should take place when these issues would be discussed. Elder Wilson of the Area Presidency and Soyolmaa, the Director of the Mongolian Service Center, weighed in on the issue, each in turn, emphasizing the importance of the project and that it be done right. Everybody was copying everybody including President Clark on the emails.

The sky is as impressive as the landscape
The landscape is pretty impressive

We were thrilled when the top leaders in Family History were weighing on the topic because in the past the church backed out of two previous attempts at negotiations because of past funding priorities. That was the last piece of the puzzle for us. We wanted to enter these negotiations with full endorsement of the people on our side of the table and we think we have it. Elder Wilson’s involvement signaled that this effort was moving forward with the Priesthood’s authority and got the attention of the Family History Church employees.

This is getting really exciting. The next steps will take in a couple of weeks when we start having meetings with Mongolian Archive officials. 

Wheat fields just like Montana

Sad news. We received an email from one of the fathers of the four missionaries who had trained for 5 months to come to Mongolia. Their visas were denied and they were being assigned to missions in the United States. There were tears shed because they had fallen in love with Mongolia and had sacrificed much in preparing to come here. 

A lovely place to call home
Each of them will realign their hearts with their current mission assignments and try to extract meaning from the experience of being called to a mission they couldn’t enter. Our heart goes out to them.
Going over a pass

Some herds are larger than others
The trip to Murun.  We traveled with the Richardsons, the Humanitarian Service couple, to Murun on Friday and Saturday. They had some follow through assignments with gardens and wheelchairs in Murun and we had a training scheduled in Family History. We dropped off computers and a printer in Erdenet enroute and saw the Lamoreauxs again.  The road was mostly pavement all the way past Bulgan when we transitioned to dirt roads. So far, so good. 
No fences as far as the eye can see
We saw impressive wheat fields, livestock herds and beautiful vistas. We spent the night in an unlikely three story hotel in Khutag-Ondor. We stopped at 5:00 pm because driving at night for us Americans would have been impossible. 

We puzzled over our reasonably priced Mongolian menu and got lucky in ordering something quite savory. We took a walk around town, got to bed early so we could get an early start the next morning. 
Sisters Farmer and Richardson at the Jiguur Hotel
Jiguur Hotel in background

Moonrise over Khutag Ondor

Despite four great minds, maps, google maps and a GPS, we promptly got lost driving out of town. We saw 8 lanes of traffic headed due west and one or two lanes going Northwest. We took the 8 lane expressway and to our dismay it petered out to one lane and turned around at a river and started heading back the way we came.

Not to be deterred by a minor miscalculation, we looked for our mistake and made another one as we attempted to take a second route that ended up badly on a dirt path going up a mountain.
At this point we decide we are on the wrong road - duh

Rather than blaze a new trail in Mongolia, we admitted our ignorance and headed back to our starting place 2 ½ hours more humble and respectful of the journey we were on. One highlight from our misadventure was seeing an unidentified ruin of a wall or fortress like structure that we will try to identify.

Moonrise over ancient wall
The road was fairly obvious to us except when we came across 8 – 12 lanes heading in different directions. This time we hauled out the maps, the GPS and waved down a passing car just to verify the path. No more getting lost for us. 

Now that's more like it
 We saw camels, cattle, horses, goats and sheep, a couple of pretty towns with colorful roofs and all went well.
Single file
Ehk Uul, mountains and a cemetery
Another view of the cemetery

Goats and sheep in front of a lake
Skyline of Murun

Arrival. We arrived and enjoyed the hospitality of the Groesbecks and Puje who had a dinner waiting. We had a successful Family history training session while Richardsons inspected gardens from local members. We had about 8 people for the Saturday training and it lasted 4 hours. Lots of enthusiasm! We stayed at the 50 - 100 hotel named after the latitude and longitude lines that cross by Murun.     

Our next blog will have our training and church experience in Murun and a jaunt north to Lake Hovsgul.
On to the "Blue Pearl of Mongolia"

1 comment:

  1. The pictures of the countryside are amazing. They are so remote- you get the sense that hardly anyone has seen these sights other than the locals. I especially liked the Lake pictures. Wow!