Saturday, November 10, 2012

Election week is O’bummer but other than that...

View of the National Parliament Building after a first snowfall from our classroom window

Chingeltei Cemetery comes alive. The highlight of the week was how quickly the photography project at the Chingeltei Cemetery took on a life on its own. The planning committee was exceptional in their thoughtfulness and thoroughness. 
The beginning

We visited with Soyolmaa, the Service Center Manager, about our amazement about how such a large project could take shape on short notice.

She said that Mongolians are great procrastinators. Most anything they plan, they accomplish at the last moment. So whether or not there is a large or a small time window to do things, it all works out about the same. 

And more

She also said that most everything works out well. We agree completely. We’ve seen some really first class events since coming here 4 months ago.
Our project stops where the top wall ends

Our Chingeltei project will involve from 200 to 360 adult members, depending on how many show up. The graveyard itself is immense. We are only doing a fraction of the actual area that is scheduled for destruction.
Add a little flour and the inscriptions become visible

There will be training on digital cameras photography, grave preparation, and downloading on to laptops for later uploading on to the Billion Graves website. We have two buses rented and food catered to the church afterward for everyone that participates.
Some are easy to read

We will organize the members into 6 teams that are responsible for a certain area of the cemetery. Each team will have mini-teams of 3 or 4 members that will consist of groups of a photographer and the others will prepare the tombstones for maximum visibility using flour to bring out the inscriptions.

Mongolians have a fear of graveyards because of Buddhist traditions of evil spirits. I researched Buddhist death and burial rituals and feel I understand somewhat why this is a challenging activity for the members. The planning committee made the decision not to involve youth under 18 in this project because of potential vulnerability to superstitions and fears. Sometime I will share more about what I learned but there is so much more to share about this past week.  
Welcome home

Missionary transfer meeting. A number of Mongolian missionaries completed their missions including 3 that returned to Mongolia after serving in the United States. They all bore their testimonies and sang a hymn together. The meeting was broadcast throughout Mongolia. One senior couple, the Shropes, will be leaving us in a month.

Choir rehearsal prior to Missionary Transfer meeting.

A group of 26 members have been at the Hong Kong Temple this week. The Richardsons were able to accompany this group. 
The Richardsons

These temple trips are marvelous experience. The members go for their own endowments and then spend a week in the temple doing work for their own family names. They are assisted by the temple patron fund.

There are several goals the members have to accomplish to go on this trip besides having current temple recommends. One thing they have to do is save their own money and contribute a portion toward the cost of the trip.  

O’Bummer, er, I mean Obama. Sister Farmer and I were in mourning about the election results. We both wore black the next couple of days after the election.  Romney came so close and we actually believed (hoped) he would win. What a disappointment! 

All the senior couples from the United States were down in the dumps. The Lord’s plan and church will continue to grow and flourish despite the travails we think our country will experience. Our children in the United States were similarly affected and we spent some good Skype time commiserating with each other.  

A Family History Center for Choibalsan. We Skyped with the Branch President from Choibalsan and gave him four final tasks to do before the Family History Center in Choibalsan will be formally approved. We will be going there with President and Sister Clark on the first weekend of January to do some training with the Priesthood leaders and the new Family History Center Director.
Now this is the Mongolia we imagined - our apartment is on the left.
Snowstorm and weather. It’s cold and it feels like winter. We had our first snowfall where snow stayed on the ground. I wear a hat or cap and scarf every time I go out – let’s say most of the time. Darlene lost her voice and I had to teach English while she sat and watched. 

The Mongolians think the expression “lost your voice” is hilarious and offer to go help look for it. They say something like “your voice is gone or not here” which actually makes more sense.
Beginning keyboard students - group lesson

Keyboard in our office - nice view of UB - Hong Kong Temple - Peruvian Book of Mormons.
Saturday piano lessons and Sunday Primary music. Darlene teaches piano on Saturday morning. She gives 20 minute individual lessons to the more advanced students. We have a keyboard in our office. Oyun, our daughter Tawny’s first missionary companion in Mongolia, is taking lessons.

Primary music practice

We have a big week ahead of us. 1. We host the senior couple fireside on Sunday evening. 2. Ulziibaater, the Director of the National Archives, is going to meet with us on Thursday to discuss a records preservation project for Mongolia. 3. Danny Chin, the Asia Area Acquisition specialist, is coming to Mongolia to be a part of the meeting with Ulziibaatar. He also wants to see the Chingeltei Cemetery while he is here. 4. On Saturday, the Cemetery Project will take place from late morning through the afternoon. Throw in our usual English classes and music lessons and it will be a memorable week.
Big Mission - Big Goals
Marriage seminars. Alimaa and I continue to plan marriage seminars that will take place at the church for the next year and a half while Sister Farmer and I are in Mongolia. It will be a series of 10 Saturday evening firesides on different marriage and communication topics. The classes are scheduled to begin in January and will be repeated again in April, September and January of 2014. Beginning in April, these classes will be broadcast to all church buildings in Mongolia.

The work with helping Mongolian members with their marriages is like a mission within our Family History/English Teaching mission. Alimaa has a television crew that will do live filming and prepare visual graphics to augment the presentations. I will be helping her with the PhD research on defining distinctive Mongolian mental health issues.

We are marveling at all the things that are happening for us since we arrived. The Lord truly had a mission waiting for us to perform here in Mongolia.

A Day in the Life of Mongolia

1 comment:

  1. Wow, lots has been happening there. Great job on the cemetery project. That's great you're teaching Oyun piano. Tell her "hi" from me. Nice plans for the marriage classes. The members will enjoy that. We'll be going to North Carolina for Thanksgiving next week. Hope you have a nice (and not too cold) Thanksgiving.