Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Harringtons and Martins leave, new couples and "Flat Stanley" arrive

Flat Stanley meets Chinggis Khan

It was a wild, whirlwind of activity while the Harringtons were here. We did some major sightseeing on Monday which was to be the last day of their visit. Their flight to Hong Kong on Tuesday was cancelled and rescheduled to Thursday morning. They were able to be with us two more days.

After watching the presidential debate in the morning, we took the Harringtons to the Black Market on early Tuesday afternoon. They were able to meet with President Clark later that afternoon while we went off to teach English that night. 

We debriefed with the Harringtons Wednesday morning after which they attended a mission staff meeting in the afternoon. We hosted them in our apartment for dinner that evening. We said our farewells and they jetted off to Hong Kong Thursday morning.

New office. Also on Wednesday we finished (not really) moving into our new office down the hall from the English Office. 
Elder Richardson installing our computer

Part of our new office is filled with 314 large print Books of Mormon written in a language for the tribe of people living in the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes. They were sent to Mongolia by mistake and were stored in the vacant space along with mission pamphlets and Books of Mormon. We do like our new office though. It won’t be a high traffic office like the English office.
The Gardners and the Stewarts
Welcoming the new couples. The new couples arrived on Wednesday. The Stewarts are taking the place of Elder and Sister Martin as the Mission medical team and the Gardners are the new English and Welfare Missionaries. We were occupying the English office until the new couple arrived and they finally did.

Elder Stewart was a family practice physician and cattle rancher from Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada and his wife was trained in Public Health nursing. This is their first mission as a senior couple.

Elder Gardner and his wife retired to Cedar Hills, UT after a career in banking with Citibank in Sioux Falls, SD. Our paths overlapped briefly when he was a Stake President in Sioux Falls and I was a Bishop in Huron. Another coincidence is that they met October, the English office secretary and translator, during her visit to the United States. When October returns at the end of November, they will work together in the same office.  

The Gardners had previously served a mission in Cambodia and a temple mission in Hong Kong that was cut short by Sister Gardner’s knee injury. They finished their second mission in Oakland, California.
A great climate controlled market

We had a major food shopping trip with them on Friday and hosted both couples for hamburgers, potato salad and chocolate cake on Saturday night. We also had our own shopping trip to the Sunday store (a six story building filled with individual shops – kind of like an indoor market) where Darlene bought some long fur-lined winter boots.
Goodbye to the Martins

The Martins farewell and “Flat Stanley” arrives. The service center, the mission staff, and the senior couples gathered on Thursday afternoon for a surprise dessert farewell for the Martins. They left Friday morning for Mountain Home, Idaho. We all wrote some farewell thoughts that they took with them on their flight home.
Our translators and support staff
 It was bittersweet for them to leave as I am sure it will be for all of us. We really grow to love this country and its people – especially the devoted and faithful church members.
Two cheerful and friendly cleaning ladies with the Martins
We also greeted Flat Stanley, a cardboard cutout boy, sent by our granddaughter Juliana’s school class from Little Rock, Arkansas. 
Look who came to visit us

The object is to take Flat Stanley’s picture somewhere distinctive of where he visits and then send him back to his class where he will be dispatched to some other part of the world. 
I've been sent to Outer Mongolia

Flat Stanley says "San ban oh"
We took Flat Stanley to visit a statue of Chinggis Khan and to our English class on Friday night. Flat Stanley enjoyed his visit to Mongolia and we had some fun showing him the sights.

Primary singing time
Other duties. Since we have our Saturdays free, Sister Farmer is now helping teach on keyboard class on Saturday mornings. On Sunday I visited her Primary and watched them learn “Joy to the World” in Mongolian. The picture shows the entire primary and nursery all in one room. It was really different from our super organized Primaries in the United States but it all seemed to work out. I was off in another corner playing games with a 2 year old boy. 
Am I scary enough?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A visit to the Cashmere Factory

Washing the wool

Mongolian Cashmere factory
Lots of workers who need this job
Now this is nice
All the better to see fine threads

The colors are stunning
Packaging the product for sale
The Harringtons at a fabric store near here

Song and Dance Performance

Mongolian contortionist balacing herself with her jaw
Seeing is believing
Easier to look at
Peppy and perky performance
Mongolian Throat Singer
The diva lets loose

Dancing Buddhist Gods
Breathtakingly beautiful and spellbinding
Regal and Exquisite

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A harried but happy happening with the Harringtons

Pigeons at Gandan Monastery

About two weeks ago we received an email from Elder and Sister Harrington requesting a visit to Mongolia. The visit was scheduled right away before the cold weather sets in. Smart people
The Harringtons getting off the train from Erdenet

They are the Family History Support missionaries for the Asia Area and are involved with all the Family History missionaries assigned to Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and Mongolia. They have their own responsibilities for Family History work in Hong Kong. They arrived on their mission two months ago. They are from Blackfoot, Idaho.  
A Chinese meal with the Harringtons and our tour guide, Jangar

We met them on Thursday night after our English class. We went to our favorite Indian restaurant and got acquainted.  We planned a full schedule for them. They wanted to visit all three Family History Centers in Mongolia – UB, Darkhan and Erdenet. We also planned a full touring day for Monday prior to their departure Tuesday morning. Their Tuesday fight was cancelled and they were able to stay until Thursday of this week. The rest of the Harringtons’ trip (Tuesday/Wednesday) will be reported next week.
Old Mongolian Script

Visit to Chingeltai cemetery.  We learned from a member that a part of the Chingeltai cemetery was going to be destroyed to permit new building to be built. We discussed how we could have a photography project there to record the information on the tombstones.

The Harringtons and ourselves visited the Chingeltai cemetery and, in all likelihood, didn’t find the exact location where the graves are going to be destroyed. The cemetery was huge. Our visit did cement in our minds how important the cemeteries are as a secondary source of records when there are gaps in the civil records at the National Archives and Aimeg Archives. 
Cyrillic tombstone

We talked with the Stake President, the manager of the Church Service Center, the senior couple over Young Single Adults and others about the feasibility of doing this project. There was a lot of excitement about doing this.  The youth could be involved in cemetery cleanup as a service project.

On the way back from the cemetery we were given a ride by an opthalmologist who had a strong relationship with a Senior couple who had previously served a Humanitarian Service Mission. We could feel the goodwill and love created by this senior couple in the course of their work in Mongolia.
Training Priesthood Leaders in UB

Records acquisition.  We arranged a meeting with Buyan, Solongo, Batsengel - who served as translator, Elder and Sister Harrington and ourselves. Buyan is a leading Mongolian genealogist and compiler of Chinggis Khan’s genealogy. We met at a Korean restaurant near the Church as Buyan didn’t want to enter a church building.

We had a list of prepared questions in which we could learn about Mongolian records and genealogy. He was a little stand-offish at first but warmed up to us considerably during the interview. He is well connected with Ulziibataar, the Director of the National Archives. His awareness and positive feelings toward us will be important as we negotiate with the National Archives. We took notes on this answers and learned a lot from him.  We anticipate meeting with the Ulziibataar in early November. This was a great meeting.
Training Priesthood leaders in Erdenet

Afterward, we scurried to our English class, (the Harringtons were both teachers in Blackfoot and were interested in seeing our class). We had spaghetti at our apartment that evening after class.

FH Training in UB, Darkhan, and Erdenet. The next morning, the Harringtons had excellent training session with Priesthood leaders in Ulaanbataar. President Clark was gracious enough to delay the meeting he had with the Priesthood leaders until after our training was completed. It was a huge opportunity for us to accomplish our goals. They also had a second meeting with the Family History Consultants in UB. We were in charge of the refreshments.

A patron, our translator Mokhbaatar, the Harringtons and Sister Farmer in the UB Family History Center
Halfway point between UB and Darkhan

Immediately afterward we caught a taxi to Darkhan. We had prepared lunches for our trip as our  meeting time was at 6:00 pm. We put Elder Harrington in the suicide seat (front seat next to the driver) so he could experience the wild and wholly Mongolian driving.  He got his money’s worth.

The meetings in Darkhan and Erdenet were also well attended.  We trained in all three locations on their duties and also on reporting.  We worked with individual members to get them registered on new.familysearch. All of the trainings went better than expected. We also cemented our working relationship with both Director in Darkhan and the Assistant Director in Erdenet along with training the High Council Adviser in Erdenet. In Darkhan we ate out at a Korean restaurant and in Erdenet, the Lamoreauxs hosted us for dinner at their apartment.
President Doku with his wife and son

President Doku has shown great involvement in our training and is now registered on new.familysearch. He and his wife and one of his children drove us to Erdenet on Sunday morning. She was a former missionary from our daughter’s era as a missionary in Mongolia. She remembered our daughter well but didn’t have an opportunity to serve with her.
Slow but safe

That night we took an all night train ride from Erdenet to UB. This was a little better train ride than the last one. We shared a compartment and slept reasonably well.

Touring UB. We had arranged for a tour guide and transportation for the day. 

Welcome to Gandan
We went to Gandan monastery, Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts, an American Food restaurant (Millie’s), the Victims of Political Persecution Memorial Museum, Zaison Memorial and a tour of a Cashmere Factory prior to finishing the evening with a program of transitional Mongolian music and dance performance. We had Chinese food afterward.
We spotted Bigfoot at the Gandan Monastery

Besides us and the Harringtons, we were joined by the Hunts and by the Woods in the evening for the Musical program.  I won’t describe each place except by the photography.  What a day! What a big day.
Prayer wheel at Gandan Monastery

The highlight was at Zaison hill (A Russian-Mongolian friendship monument overlooking the city) where each of us took turns reading Elder Maxwell’s dedicatory prayer blessing Mongolia for the preaching of the gospel in 1993. 
Pretty fancy for a mission car (not really)

The groom is trailing behind

On the way to Zaison Hill

Mongolia's relationship with Russia is "complicated"

A Mongol queen offers a gift to her Russian friends
We learned that next year on April 15 at 4:00 pm there will be a reenactment of that ceremony with all Mission Presidents who have served in Mongolia along with any others who will come to Mongolia for a 20 year reunion of the Mission in Mongolia.
Russians defended Mongolia against the Japanese in 1937 but slaughtered 28,000 Mongolians the same year
Monument to Russian - Mongolia friendship on Zaison Hill

View of Ulaanbaatar from Zaison Hill

A golden Buddha near Zaison Hill

Teaching at the University of Mongolia. Alimaa had requested that I teach her counseling class at the University of Mongolia while she spent a week in the hospital. 
Future mental health professionals in Mongolia

Demonstrating marriage counseling
The class went really well and they want me to come back and demonstrate some therapy techniques. I have also been asked to present a series of classes at the church. More on that later.  This has been an action packed week. I am sure some of our winter weeks won’t be quite as interesting. 

Professor Farmer and his Mongolian students