|And then began the feast|
Thanksgiving in Mongolia. We are happy to be where we are, to serve in the capacity we are called, and to experience all that we experience. Through the marvels of technology, we Skype with our children and grandchildren, email with friends and family, and post and read blogs from places like Mongolia, Hungary, Honduras and the U.S. We are away but not really away.
The food was fantastic. Sister Clark searched Mongolia high and low for a turkey and found one. We felt very much at home as we met and feasted together. After dinner we watched a video documentary called "The Weeping Camel."
|You'd weep too if you were being chased by a motorcycle|
We had one Canadian couple, the Stewarts from Lethbridge, Alberta, who have had two Thanksgivings this year.
|The Stewarts with Sister Clark|
One was on the first Monday of October (Canada’s Day of Thanksgiving) and this one was in Mongolia with us Americans.
|Poor Mongolians picking through the garbage looking for pop cans. We have a lot to be thankful for.|
On the 4th Thursday of November, we taught our English class all about the origins of Thanksgiving and how and why we celebrate.
However, we celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday instead of Thursday this year because on Thursday 8 new missionaries from Mongolia checked in to serve missions in the Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar Mission. Six of the new missionaries are Sisters and 2 are Elders. They left the next morning for the Missionary Training Center in the Phillipines. They will be back in three weeks ready to serve. They also attend the temple while they are there.
|Welcome to the land of Chinggis Khan|
We understand that 6 new missionaries (2 Sisters, 4 Elders) from the United States have been called to serve in Mongolia. We believe (and hope) the politics have been straightened out so they will receive visas. They are scheduled to arrive in March.
They will be the first young foreign missionaries allowed into the country in over a year. One of those called is Elder Odd from Providence, Utah. Lauren's teacher in Providence is Sister Odd. Her son is one of the four young Elders that will becoming to Mongolia. Think of all the young men and women called to serve missions in the church and only six received this call. What a privilege and a blessing!
|The Blue Sky skyscraper with blue sky and a moon above it as seen from our English classroom|
Weather and pollution. The weather is cold but very little snow. Dr. Stewart interviewed a physician from the UK about her research in Mongolia on respiratory diseases. She said that Ulaanbaatar is the 2nd most polluted city in the world. Mexico City is #1. The air pollution stems from coal burning fires coming from the Ger Districts surrounding the city.
There are around 600,000 people living in gers in UB. In winter, they rely on wood or coal to heat their homes. The geography of Ulaanbaatar is similar to Salt Lake City in that the city is surrounded by mountains and hills and air pressure keep the polluted air from rising and blowing away.
Family History, Marriage workshops and English. We have planned out some aggressive Family History goals for the coming year while waiting patiently for hearts to soften with regard to a records acquisition project for Mongolia. We will be starting a series of workshops on marriage and family communication in January.
|These students are really into it - as is the teacher|
We will be ending our English class in mid-December and starting a new one. We’ve grown attached to our students and will miss them. We will start with a new group in January. This will be the second time we will be teaching this material. We now have lesson plans in place for this next group. It should take less time to prepare.
Robbed but not really. We had one of our debit cards stolen in the mail. We noticed about 4 different charges for food and restaurant bills of $20 or less showing up in New York State and Jamaica (that might be Jamaica NY). We notified our bank and they will be sending us new cards. We felt fortunate the charges weren’t larger – what a strange world.The bank will absorb the fraudulent transactions.
|At home in Mongolia|
Dinner out. On Friday night, we had dinner with Byamba and his wife, Enkhbayar and their almost 5 year old daughter Nimjin. It was a traditional Mongolian meal with meat dumplings (Byyz), a delicious cold salad that had beef in it, and a hot milk and salt drink (harem). Byamba told us of his new promotion as Senior Officer in the land development office of Ulaanbaatar City. He is our son Tyler’s friend who came to St. Louis for training.
|Nimjin was warming up to us|
Their apartment is first class and gave us a glimpse of the accommodations of striving, middle class Mongolians. A car, a nice apartment, two solid jobs, and a delightful little daughter – they are doing well. It was fun playing and interacting with Nimjin. We need surrogate grandchildren while we are here.
|Birthday girl - the company was great even if the food wasn't|
The dinner out on her birthday didn’t work out as well. We tried Ulaanbaatar’s only Mexican restaurant, ”Los Bandidos.” What a disappointment! We did learn that we don’t need to go there again. Mexican food will have to wait. If Darlene can find the ingredients, she can do much better Mexican food than Los Bandidos, hands down. Oh well, live and learn.
|Any resemblance to Mexican food was strictly coincidental|
The Mongolian language. We are studying hard. Darlene always has but she is starting to make progress. Now that the political season is over, I am devoting more time and energy to Mongolian. I received a compliment for Darlene from someone who hardly knows her. The members here are noticing her constant inquisitiveness and practice of the language.
|Next week the Shropes will be looking back on their Mongolian Mission|
This next week we will be integrating a little more into District and Zone conferences and meetings with the young missionaries.
Life in Mongolia is “Nam Taйvan” – very peaceful – which is a wonderful expression of pleasure for the Mongolians. Their faces light up when I answer their question, "How do you like Mongolia?" and I answer, "Nam Taйvan".