Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas cheer turns into New Year’s drear

Christmas in Mongolia
Little Miss Center of Attention

A walk in the cold. Last Sunday, two days before Christmas, I volunteered to go to a couple of homes in the Ger District with a young returned missionary to give priesthood blessings. I was still recovering from a bout of fever, cough and head cold. I didn’t know what I was getting into exactly but I was there and was needed.
All bundled up

We walked for about two miles to the first home in – 25 F cold. I probably picked up a bug somewhere because each home insisted on feeding us during our visit. It was a long walk there and even a longer walk back (second home). The coal smoke and air pollution in the ger districts is so much more intense than it is in the downtown area.  

I saw a variety of people, young and old, carrying 5 gallon water containers including children under 10 pushing a cart. Some of the younger children had to brace the cart from the front to prevent it from gaining speed as it went downhill and going out of control. 
Winter deel

I had a new appreciation for people who live in gers and have to haul water all winter. The struggle in hauling water and coal is a daily one and not easy. I don’t get out into the ger districts that much so it was an eye opener for me. 

The members were friendly and appreciative of our visit. 
The salt of the earth

We made it back to the Chingeltei church in time to catch a ride to get the Bayanzurgk chapel where we had a Family History meeting with the Uaalbaatar Family History Center staff. 
Christmas Devotional broadcast
We then went into the a taped broadcast of the 1st Presidency’s 2012 Christmas Devotional with the other senior couples and other English speaking missionaries. It was a spiritual uplift.   
Let the wild rumpus begin
Monogolian Service Center Party. The church directly employs about 25 church members to run the temporal affairs of church in Mongolia. Care of church buildings, governmental affairs and public relations, financial management, translation, technical support, membership records, relationships with English sponsors, guards and security etc. etc. 
Dancing the day away
Once a year they have a Christmas party for their staff and they invite all the senior couples. They make it into a fun event with drawings, games, dancing, and food. Lots of food. The Mongolian members know how to have fun and are definitely not shy when it comes to fun and food. We Americans and Canadians are a pretty tame, lame, and reserved bunch compared to Mongolians at a party. Darlene and I did wear our deels, that Tawny had brought home from her mission 13 year ago, to the event and they were a big hit. 
A fashion statement
They had one game where each person drew a name of a Christmas song, a popular hymn, or a well- known tune. The object was to hum the melody as you walked around the room until you discovered your partner who was also humming the same tune. Another event was teaching people to dance to a popular Mongolian swing step. 
Getting ready to rumble

Finally there was a game called minefield where various obstacles (eggs, ketchup, etc.) were strewn about on black plastic bags. The participants were blindfolded and had to navigate from one end of the minefield to the other with the help of a coach. It was hilarious.
The next step could be a problem
Senior Christmas Dinner. On Christmas Day in the afternoon the Senior couples and President and Sister Clark held a potluck dinner in the Hunts apartment to commemorate the holiday. 
Christmas Day in Mongolia
We had to leave early because we had to hurry off to the Sukhbaatar Branch Christmas party. Darlene accompanied the choir which had a few numbers on the program. 
Branch Christmas party
Sukhbaatar Branch Christmas party. I took a lot of pictures and made copies to distribute on Sunday. The pictures are self-descriptive of the cute children, women in deels, a talk, a Nativity video, a manger scene, treats for the children, and families celebrating together. The members that attended gathered for a group photo.
Joseph and Mary

Skyping on Wednesday morning.  Wednesday morning was filled with Skyping with our family non-stop from 7:00 am to 11:00 am. We loved seeing everybody and enjoying the Christmas excitement with family.

Glad tidings of great joy
The sheep - Mongolia's specialty

Zone dinner on Wednesday. Half of the senior couples hosted the UB missionaries for a Christmas dinner on Tuesday. Our Zone’s dinner was on Wednesday. Three couples went in on the food. We had a great lasagna meal for them. They appreciated the extra tender loving care during the holiday season. 
Backroom treats instead of Santa's visit

Sister Schiffler's solo

Following the meal, there was a program put on by the missionaries. For the three meals, Darlene prepared a fruit salad, a potato salad, and lasagna with french garlic bread and three loaves of Swedish Christmas bread.
The Songon Zone Christmas dinner
The sickness bug finally hits. Thursday through Sunday I was pretty much out of commission with a fever, upset stomach and a cough that wouldn’t quit. We did manage to squeeze in some last minute shopping with this year’s Family History budget. 

Darlene organized all our English and family history files at the office, started preparing for English classes which start on the 2nd of January and taught piano and Family History on Saturday. She works hard and puts in long hours when she gets on a roll. Determined, obsessive, dedicated, a hard worker, you name it.  We went from having no office to having the biggest and the best! phone yet though.

I read a book “Wild Eastby Jill Lawless. She wrote of her impressions of Mongolia during 1998 to 2000, exactly when Tawny was a missionary here. There was a lot of political and economic turmoil during that time frame. It was good to get a perspective even though Tawny may have been shielded from all the drama that was going on in the country at that time. 

Lawless is a good writer and I could relate to most of her observations. I think Mongolia is a lot more stable now that it was back then. 
Zone Christmas dinner - one table
It remains to be seen if I can recover from this flu in time to make it to the New Year’s dance on New Year’s Day. Happy Holidays from Mongolia!

I don't feel this playful - yet!

1 comment:

  1. What a memorable Christmas! I love reading and hearing about the Mongolian culture. That story about the Christmas treats for the Mongolian children was so funny!