Sunday, February 24, 2013

Our marriage workshops take off

There is a lot to see in Mongolia
The weather. The weather and our mood have brightened up a bit. The snow and ice on the sidewalks are gone. There are plenty of slippery spots here and there but Mongolians have been fairly compulsive on good days to chip off the remaining ice. 

Not all the snow is gone - two missionaries about to slide down a hill
 Families and business clean up the ice and snow as a part of getting ready for the new year (Tsaagan Sar).

The temperatures are now in the teens but the smoke is still prevalent in the atmosphere. Darlene made the mistake of opening our bedroom window to cool down our apartment. It wasn't long before the smoke had invaded our dwelling. Maybe this spring we'll be either too hot inside or too cold outside. 

No major melting yet.  It does feel a little like spring but it is the probably the contrast effect of what we have been through.

April may be coming! Not the month April but our April. Tyler’s wife hopes to join our three daughters on a visit to Mongolia during the 20th Anniversary celebration and reunion being planned to commemorate the founding of the Mongolian mission. The week of April 14 – 21 will be one of the highlights of our mission.  We are excited!

Tassa, Tawny (missionary in Mongolia 1998 and Mitchell),  April, Tara and Tally (not coming).
Normally this wouldn’t happen – a mini-girls’ week out in the mission field of a senior couple in the middle of their mission.  Our daughter Tawny’s being invited to come for her service here as a missionary, our being here and the lure of Mongolia has proven irresistible for most of our children.

Two families are getting the other set of grandparents to come to help care for their children, our son hopes to take the week off of work to manage his family, and the oldest daughter has a reliable babysitter and her husband, Eric, enlisted to free up her time.   

Our English class is doing well. Our sponsor asked us to put together a mid-term on short notice and we complied. We are down to a faithful 10 students who will finish out this trimester of classes. The Chairman of the company asked for private classes also but every week has been such that the demands on his time cause cancellations. We are looking forward to getting into a groove with him.

A visit to Sharavdemberel's home
Our sponsor,  Sharavdemberal, invited us over for a delayed Tsaagan Sar visit to his home without all the holiday ceremony. He and his wife provide child care assistance for a granddaughter so she was there also. Her presence was fun as we related to her during the visit. It was a pleasant visit and helps cement our positive relationship with our sponsor.

Is it the foreign language or the eensy, weensy spider that is so captivating?
Family history training. We had our monthly training meeting with the Family History Consultants in Ulaanbaatar.  The Center Director and his staff are taking more direct responsibility for budgeting and planning the meeting and we are there at their request to help with the training. 

Consultant training in UB
We have a good working relationship with Nasanbold, Orkhon and Battsey. We are a fun and effective team. Unfortunately for us, but not for Battsey, she will be going to BYU Hawaii in April to finish her education. She and Orkhon have made our Family History mission a delight and have been so helpful. We will miss her.

Our UB Family History Staff: Nasanbold, Orkhon, Battsey and ourselves
The Asian Area has featured our collective work (Tsaagan Sar fast and fireside and our Choibalsan visit ) to the other Asian Family History missionaries during our weekly Skype meeting and briefed the Asian Area Presidency on our accomplishments. All of this comes after a month of sickness so you know we had plenty of help, divine and otherwise. 
A Family History Consultant preparing a family for the temple - husband also present but not in the picture
Our marriage class meets a need. After we arrived last July, I had a conversation with Stake President Odgerel about the need of the members for advice and ideas on how to have successful marriages.  Most of the church focus in Mongolia has been on Young Single Adults and missionary work.  

The feedback he was getting from the bishops and his own interviews was that married couples needed more information on how to make their relationships work. He cleared my participation in doing work in this area with President Clark.

Some, but not enough, of the returned missionaries are marrying each other and starting young families.  The focus of the Young Single Adult Conference last summer was on dating and courtship. 
Speed dating this past summer
He reports they have had eight marriages so far come out of the conference.

We want more young families in Mongolia like this one
Darlene, myself and Alimaa, a church member and a professional trained in marriage and mental health, designed a 8 session program to strengthen marriages in Mongolia. The inaugural workshop was the first Saturday in February and the second was this past Saturday.

Alimaa. We had a much needed meeting with Alimaa and cemented our plans for the remaining 7 seminars.  She and I defined our roles and planned the second session. She will translate the handouts from here on out and they will be posted on the Internet through a commonly used Church website. She will seriously involve herself in translating my book during the coming year.

Alimaa - a television personality and mental health professional - is a gifted performer and presenter in front of an audience 
I am a part of her dissertation committee and will be mentoring her in her therapy techniques and her research project. All of this has President Clark’s approval. Part of my missionary contribution in Mongolia will be to leave my writings on marriage and relationships in Mongolian. Also my mentoring Alimaa will leave a trained professional and others to carry on the work so these seminars will have a lasting impact.  

Val with Tsege - the rest of the seats were subsequently filled in 
The class is a big hit. Attendance increased from 35 to around 60. The Stake President was raving about the feedback he received and, jokingly or otherwise, said he would be happy with 120 attending. He also said the Stake will be videotaping the rest of the workshops.

Azaa was providing sign language for a participant
We taught and demonstrated effective listening skills in our second session. The next one will focus on the role of the speaker in successful communication. I am busy trying to figure out how to minimize my lack of Mongolian language with the delicate topics we will be discussing. I am not used to having my communication mediated by a third party and the cumbersome loss of meaning and connection with the audience as a result.

Alimaa is certainly a key as she is fluent in English, Russian and Mongolian. I will have my own translator Tsege translating for me and Darlene. Her competence is crucial for our success. If our success so far is an indication, maybe this can actually work??!!!!  
Mongolia - good marriages - a key to a family oriented culture

1 comment:

  1. I wish you the best with your teaching of the joy of marriage and family. It's exciting that you are able to use your experience and expertise. It was fun to see the pictures of Mandukhai (getting the sign language translation). I taught her and her brother. We spent time after each discussion playing shagai (sheep anklebone game). They were amazing at it. It's wonderful to see people strong in the gospel years later!