Saturday, December 8, 2012

The weather doesn’t stop the work.

We don't foresee any melting till March
It is cold in Mongolia. No surprise there. The weather has been cold!  It has been -20 to -30 F  all week. Fortunately there has been little wind. We layer up and we’ve been OK. The Mongolians keep reminding us the worst is yet to come – around the corner in January. There have been no major snow storms to complicate traffic or mobility.

The weather is a lot like North Dakota – cold sunny days except colder temps for December than we would get in the Dakotas. There is always haze in the air because of smoke from home heating.

The buses and bus stops are crowded because of the number of passengers who depend on the buses to get around in this weather. We do a lot less walking now that the weather has turned cold. Our walks are more calculated. We get around and do most everything as normal but well dressed for the weather.

Special lady in Russian hat admiring the ice sculpture
We bundle up with our Russian hats, scarves that cover our faces and big, muffin-like down coats. We have thermal underwear and camel stockings. Once we are in a building, we are as warm as toast and need to start removing layers.
Lately I added the hat also. There are a surprising number of Christmas trees and decorations in UB but mostly for commercial advertising. The big holiday is New Year's Day and that is when Mongolians give gifts to children.
We walked to the Sunday store to shop and back on Saturday about a half hour each way. Otherwise we get a driver to take us to and from our English class and take a taxi to and from church. We walk three blocks for food shopping and two blocks to work.

I was laid up with a cold and other symptoms for most of week. By Thursday, I was back to my normal schedule.  The Mission Doctor, Elder Stewart, gave me some sulfur insure the recovery.
Man talking on a corded phone outside the Post Office. He sets up shop to sell cigarettes.
Guests for dinner. We had two sets of Sister missionaries over for dinner on Saturday evening. They loved seeing our family pictures. One set of missionaries is from the Chingeltae Branch and the other from our Branch, the Sukhbaatar Branch.
Sisters Largin, Duku, Bolortuya, and Schiffler
We forgot to take pictures. It won’t happen again. This picture of our guests was taken the next day.
Cold weather? No problem. Construction workers in -20 F weather doing their thing.
Mailing. We got 3 packages from the US that brightened our day. One package cost $52 postage and the other $17. We also got a nice Christmas CD from our long time friend and business associate. 
Greeters at church on Sunday

We don’t recommend sending us packages unless we have a great need. We mailed out a few family Christmas cards this week – about $4.00 per card but we put a few extra items in each envelope. We mailed a nativity (4 pounds) to Fargo costing $57 in postage so we probably won't be sending much. Most gifts and mementos bigger than envelope size will have to come back with us in our suitcases.
Road crew chipping ice from the curb outside the Chinggis Khan Hotel
Family History work. We have a great plan for next year. We got it approved with President Clark and we are working with the Stake President and two District Presidents to get it implemented.
Loading snow on to dump trucks

We introduced activities and goals for the next three months so as not to overwhelm them with too much all at once. After that we will introduce new goals and activities at three month intervals.

The first part of the plan is to get all members of Presidencies to sign up for Family Tree and complete a 3 or four generation pedigree chart online within the first three months of 2013. The Family History Consultants will be busy – we hope.
In our office getting ready to go outside
We are also going to have a country-wide fast the first Sunday in February and expect members to gather family genealogical information during Tsaagan Car – a national week off in which families visit each other starting with their oldest relatives first. We will also have a kickoff Family History fireside that Sunday evening.

New piano students before church on Sunday

Christmas Choir concert. There will be a major Christmas concert put on by church members for the city of Ulaanbaatar on December 21st. It will be held at the Circus, a 3,000 seat arena in the heart of UB. VIP invitations will go out to governmental officials, English sponsors, and special friends of the Church. We are making up our own invitations for our English students and others we come into contact with. 
I mentioned that Mongolians are comfortable with doing things at the last minute and having them turn out well. Not in this case. They started rehearsing a 60-70 member, mostly young adult, choir in October and have been practicing religiously ever since.

Christmas Choir rehearsing in early November before a missionary transfer meeting

A lot of devotion and perfection is going into this event. One of the numbers they will be doing is the Hallelulia Chorus in English. We are excited. All in all, they will do 4 events but the main one will be the public concert.  

Sukhbaatar branch choir reheasal
This love of music extends down to the Ward and Branch level. Our Branch will have its own choir and Christmas program. Darlene plays and rehearses with them every Sunday. In the US, getting choir participation is akin to pulling teeth. Not here.

Our first encounter with reindeer - brought to UB from Hovskul for this meeting.


  1. We tried to Skype you this evening but you were offline. What would you like us to do for Christmas if you don't recommend packages?

  2. It looks cold there. Oh, the fun of layering up! I bet the concert will be wonderful with all the effort that is being put into it. It will be a wonderful way to celebrate Christmas. It looks like mom's music skills are being put to good use there. So many people want to learn to play the piano. Love the russian hat. Those things are warm and cozy! We are missing your presence here, but know that you are needed progressing the Lord's work where you are right now. Have a wonderful week!