Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saying aloha to dear friends - Mongolian music to our ears

Mongolian music captivates many

Leaving Mongolia for Hawaii, Idaho and Utah
 Aloha. The week started off with a fond farewell for some of our faithful friends and translators. 
Battsey has been a dear friend and valued partner

Battsey and Egge are headed to BYU-Hawaii while a third, Bathand, is moving with her husband to BYU-Idaho. 
We will miss you!!!

The Richardsons are ending their mission at the end of the week. They go home to Huntsville, Utah.

We celebrated with a Hawaiian themed party culminated by a hula ensemble of senior sisters dressed in muumuus. 

Senior sisters hula lessons finally pay off
Sister Wood brought a number of them on her mission for evening wear and had them available for the other sisters. We didn’t think to pack a muumuu for our mission. Who knew?

 A little bit of Hawaii in Mongolia

Sister Wood also came up with the table decorations. Downright clever! The guests of honor said their “thank you’s”, reflected on their leaving Mongolia and what they are leaving behind.

The islands actually had dirt on them
Military day. Monday was military day. It wasn’t a work holiday. There was a musical program at the Wrestling Palace – a block away from the church. I bought two tickets for Darlene and myself and told the Stewarts about it. They bought two tickets.  They were told the seats were relatively close to ours.

The worst seats in the house
The Stewarts (look for white hair) across a roped off aisle from us

We must have been recognized as “stupid foreigners” by our meager Mongolian vocabulary because we were sold the worst seats in the auditorium. The Stewarts' seats were only marginally better and across a barrier from us – relatively close to be sure but you had to walk around the entire arena to get there. We both relocated our seats to what we thought was an unsold section of seats with a reasonable view.

A charming duet
The program was supposed to have started at 7:00 pm. We thought we were home safe in our new seats but the program didn’t start until after 7:30 pm. Only about half the arena was filled by 7:00 pm but by 7:30 it was filling up rapidly. (Is there something about advertised starting times we are missing in Mongolian culture?

Ex-wrestler's second career
The occupants of our seats showed up about 7:40 pm after the show was underway. We found new seats - though not nearly as bad as our original ones.

We enjoyed the program for a long time but our culturally short attentions spans got the best of us
The program consisted of some the best male vocalists in Mongolia with a sprinkling of duets and slapstick comedy. The Mongolians love music and are quite musical – despite the guttural spoken language. The big booming bass and tenor voices filled the auditorium. We were OK for the first two hours of the program – thoroughly enjoyable.

There was a patriotic number that we thought was the final number. Then the “Fat Guy” sang. We thought it was over. Then they had a male vocalist who kept giving encore numbers – he must have sung 6 songs in a row. The end! Wrong!

He sang and sang some more

The program went on and on and on. Nobody was leaving. No intermission. By 10:30 pm we were worn out while the Mongolians remained transfixed by the music. Our silver heads announced that we foreigners obviously didn’t have the stamina or musical appreciation of what was happening. 

As far as we could determine, the program was still going strong at 11:00 pm – since our apartments were in the neighborhood. We had a cultural experience and then some.

Hong Kong temple trip. A group of 20 Mongolian saints were going to the temple from March 22 to March 30. The Gardners and Munkhjargal accompanied the group. We are the next couple slated to go to Hong Kong in September when a new group will attend the temple.  
Getting families ready for the temple
Darlene worked extra hard getting families ready to go with family names. It was a very busy week. Entering Mongolian names on Family Tree isn’t a job for the faint of heart. Darlene depends on Family Search support from the US to help unravel the many snafus that occur. Our Magic Jack phone system was not working for the week but when working it makes it possible to tap into their 24/7 service.

English teaching. We gave a test to the prospective students for our new English class that will start April 2. Thirty employees took the test and we think the cut off will be at 24 to start the class. How many will finish is anybody’s guess. We will finish with our current group on March 27.

Shopping at the Zak. We did some major food shopping this week. On Friday we walked about 2 km. to the outdoor Black Market to buy material for a jacket for Darlene. It started to snow – our first snow storm we saw during daylight hours all winter.

Fabric shopping with an overwhelming selection
By the time we arrived, the venders were protecting their merchandise by packing up and going home. It was impossible to shop under those conditions. It must not snow much in Mongolia because the venders weren’t prepared. Bitter cold doesn’t faze them but snow flakes ground everything to a screeching halt. We found a fabric store on the way home and purchased what we went looking for.

Marriage seminar.  We held our fourth marriage seminar is a series of 8 we will present. We have a group of about 40 -50 people who regularly attend. We have a good time with the couples – even across the language barrier.

Alima and her finance announce their engagement and then let me coach them through an issue between them in front of a crowd. Gutsy!
This week we started off the presentation with the announcement of our co-presenter Alima’s engagement to her fianc√© Batbayer. They also served as a demonstration couple for the speaker-listener technique for resolving conflict. It was a lot of fun as they dealt with her habit of making him wait for her and his reaction to it. A lot of couples identified with the issue. Despite the translation obstacles, it worked well with lots of good humor to boot. 

Training the missionaries. Another spin-off from the marriage seminars was that I was asked to teach the missionaries from one of the UB zones conflict resolution techniques they could use between their companionships. On Tuesday I trained half of the zone and on Wednesday the other half. 

I demonstrated the speaker/listener technique with Elder Neuberger and Elder Robbins the first day and Elder Lloyd and Elder Sims the second day. 

My handouts were translated into Mongolian and I had good translators for both meetings. This way the  Mongolian missionaries present and those participating by Skype could benefit from the training. It worked out well.

Research. I am on Alima’s committee for her dissertation research. We worked on her main experimental design early in the afternoon. She will be giving a standardized personality test to three subgroups of Mongolians – those with traditional Mongolian nomadic backgrounds, those who were educated and lived under socialist governmental rule, and those who were educated and grew into adulthood after the advent of democracy.

Adaptive rural nomads enjoy their lifestyle

Mongolia has a sharp governmental transition period which divides the population rather neatly by backgrounds compared to other countries. Politics, economics, and personality are linked in a way that makes this research quite interesting. 

I will be learning about the basic personality types of Mongolians and the implications for interactions with each other and foreigners. This will have ramifications for counseling as well.
Most city dwelling Mongolians are just one or two generations removed from their nomadic roots

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