Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas carols in Mongolia

A festive look for the performance
The Christmas Concert was a success! The church rented the Circus auditorium for the event. Tickets were free but admission was by ticket only. We must have filled about 1,500 seats of a 2,000 seat capacity. I think it was an improvement over last year. 

There were about 70 VIP invitations extended and half of those folks showed up. Five of the people we invited came. The American Ambassador and her family were there.

The program started a half hour late – it was a cold night and there were a lot late arrivals. A lot of time was spent decorating the auditorium to give it a Christmas festive look. 
Our missionaries take a back seat to no one - except at the concert
There was a balloon drop from the ceiling at the end of the performance that didn’t go as scheduled. The choir did an encore number of the Hallelujah Chorus while they jiggled and worked the mechanism and finally triggered the balloon drop. The children all converged to get some balloons to take home.

About 40% of the concert was Christmas songs and carols in Mongolian. There were 17 numbers all told. The rest were in English including very challenging pieces like “For Unto Us a Child is Born”, “Hallelujah”, “Mary’s Lullaby” and “What Child is This?” 
Mongolian Idol

Soloists and guests included the winner of the Mongolian Idol competition, an Operatic diva, A. Buted,  a celebrated soprano, P. Unurjargal, and our very own President Clark.

A. Buted - "The Lord's Prayer

It was a surprise to me that he has a performer’s voice and did what he did. He and the guest soprano, P. Unurjargal sang a duet, “O’ Divine Redeemer”.
President Clark's duet with Unurjargal

Our guests for the evening.   Byamba, his wife, Enkhe and their almost 5 year old daughter came as our guests.  They enjoyed the evening. 
Byamba, Enkhe and Ninjin
We had invited them to Millie’s – an American restaurant - for dessert afterward but we arrived at 8:15 pm – 15 minutes after closing. We gave them a rain check on that event.

Santa makes his appearance in Mongolia

Instead we took them to the Sky Ice Town where Ninjin loved the ice sculptures and slides. It was cold but a terrific place for a family to take their children.  She and her parents were all smiles. 
Ninjin printing her name

Then we went to our apartment for ice cream, nuts, cookies, fruit syrup from Lake Hovskul, and Hershey’s chocolate syrup from the US. We show some pictures of this delightful family and Ninjin’s relationship with a new and somewhat different "oovoo" and "emee". (grandparents).  

Ninjin captivated by "emee"

We enjoyed the concert and the opportunity to provide a good event and get together for our friends. They are trying to get visas to come to the US for a vacation this summer. We will see how that works out.

Our new schedule. This week we had our three English classes and then told them the next time we would see them would be January 2. We get a Christmas vacation.

The students are advanced intermediate. We will have to come up a more challenging curriculum than our last class. Hopefully we will engage them in more conversation as time passes. 

A member of the class has keys and permission to use all of the audio-visual capabilities in our training room. Already he has put U-Tube videos from the Internet up on a large screen to supplement our lesson plans. 

We were struggling to describe a poinsettia when he flashed pictures on the overhead screen. Perfect! He can also project from our laptop. We can really get creative as we teach this time around.  

Our new class - lots of men

We like our Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday teaching schedule. This gives us more flexibility for training and travel on a long weekend. I also expect my church calling to change to accommodate our visits to other church units on Sunday.

Saturday is essentially a work day for Darlene as she teaches piano in the morning and trains a Family History leader in the afternoon. Sunday is a busy day for both of us.  If we have a Preparation Day to speak of, it will have to be Monday or Friday. One of those days will be needed to get our lesson plans ready for the next week.

Would you believe it is cold in Mongolia? The weather this winter has been cold, even by Mongolian standards. This week the temps are expected to dip into the -40 F range. The saving grace apparently is there hasn’t been much snow or wind to really make the weather hazardous. We bundle up, keep warm and limit our outdoor excursions.

Our Christmas tree

Our office is taking shape. We still have storage for mission pamphlets and a generous supply of Mongolian Book of Mormons on hand. The mission will see if they can’t find another place for some of them.  In place of the Andean Books of Mormon, we now have a Christmas tree.
We have a new nativity we purchased. The nativity scene takes place in front of a ger on a cart that is being transported to a new location. A member, Battsey, with whom we work in Family History and are close to and her family made it for us. They only make two a year so we feel privileged to have it as a memory for Christmas in Mongolia but of her family as well. 

Our new Ger nativity

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