Saturday, May 25, 2013

A huge breakthrough with the National Archives

Dancers opened the show
We attend a musical performance on Friday night put on the Music Department at the national university. They honored the 40 year contribution of one of their faculty and performers that evening. 

Notice the location of our seats. The best seats in the Wrestling Palace, just a block from the church offices! For the last concert we would have been somewhere behind the white banner on the left.
A dance with bowls on their heads and in their hands

Our group at the concert - back row: Darlene, Monkhjargal, Sister and Elder Gardner, Elder and Sister Groesbeck
Three diva sopranos with the honoree in center - our church member, Buted, is on the left
The National Archives - background. Elder Cook, the first Mission President to Mongolia, visited Mongolia for the 20th year celebration of the church coming to Mongolia. 
At the end of his trip on the way to the airport he mentioned to President Clark that his friend, Bold, asked him if there was anything he could do to help the church.

President Clark put Elder Cook on the phone with me and we discussed our problems with the National Archives. President Cook gave us contact information and we arranged an appointment with Bold. 

Bold is an influential businessman with strong connections with the national government. He helped arrange a meeting for us with the new Director on the National Archives, Saruul.  

We invited Enkhtuvshin, the first member in Mongolia (a retired University professor), and Gangkhuyag, (East District President and translator) to accompany us to the meeting. At the last minute Bold couldn't make the meeting but was reassuring everything would be OK in his absence.

The first meeting.The meeting went extremely well. Saruul has an academic background at the National University of Mongolia and was a professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology there. The former director, Ulziibaatar, has been promoted to another position in the government. Enkhtuvshin has had a personal friendship with Saruul and Saruul's associates in the present in the meeting were Enkhtuvshin's students.  

After our presentation, Saruul asked us about how soon we could draft the paperwork/contract to begin a project. They are closing their Archives for a year beginning June 1 while their new Archives building is being readied for opening next year. Saruul said the next step is ours to take. They are willing to meet with us as soon as possible. We set up a meeting for May 24 at 11:00 am.

May 24 meeting - a rough beginning. There was some miscommunication about the start of the meeting. It started 3 ½ hours later than anticipated. Saruul apologized and also Bold, our liaison who arranged the initial meeting, called to apologize for not transmitting a message that the meeting wouldn’t happen at the scheduled hour.

We were becoming discouraged and imagined that the powers that be had had a change of heart about working with us. Saruul allayed our fears with his apology and we settled into a positive and productive discussion.

We (Danny Chin, Elder and Sister Farmer, Pres. Gangkhuyag – East District President, and Naranstsetseg – church member and avid Mongolian genealogist) were present. Gangkhuyag interpreted and Naranstesteg took notes. We had a standardized International Records Preservation and Digitization contract in English and a copy translated into Mongolian for Saruul.

 Discussion of the contract. Saruul expressed confidence in Family Search and his desire to work with us on a records preservation and digitization project. The reputation of Family Search in doing archival work in other countries was a factor in his being inclined to work with us.

He and Danny Chin went over the contract clause by clause. Saruul raised issues and concerns and Danny took notes on things that needed to be addressed, clarified or negotiated. Danny agreed to put together a list of action steps and a timeline that needed to happen before a contract could be signed between the two parties.

The actions steps will be shared with Saruul in the next two weeks. There were no major points that came up that would threaten the overall intent to execute an agreement.  Danny was pleased at the specificity of Saruul’s concerns and his thoughtful and cautious approach to potential problems or disagreements.

A remarkable step forward. We are pleased and thrilled that meeting produced such a positive beginning to accessing Mongolian records for Family Search. The contract hasn’t been signed yet but there is a strong likelihood that it will be unless something unforeseen spoils the process.

We express our joy that we have reached this point in the process when just a few months ago things looked bleak and we didn’t know how conditions would or could be changed.

The church held a country-wide fast on Feb. 3 and prayed that the hearts of the leaders of Mongolia would be softened and a way prepared for Mongolian records be made available to the church.

Elder Cook’s relationship with Bold, Bold’s friendship with Saruul, the change in government in the last election and Saarul’s subsequent appointment to be the Director of the National Archives provided a simple solution to what seemed to be an intractable problem.

More photography. The rest of the week had its good moments. We will show a few of them to you.

June 1 is a national holiday - Children's Day - children are honored, dressed in national costumes, and given gifts.

During primary Darlene was mystified noticed by the adults working on cards and then came the open-faced sandwiches and beautifully decorated cakes. They were celebrating Children's Day. Next Saturday the children will be dressed up  in their finest and taken to Sukhbaatar Square. It will be a great day for photography.   
Young dancers preparing for a performance at the Chinggis Khan Hotel

Dolls at an Asian restaurant where we ate dinner with Danny Chin

Summer comes to downtown Ulaanbaatar


Car repair shop along a main road

A ceremony honoring Polish dignitaries on a high wind, dusty day. This is our view from our English classroom.

The dust settles a little

The Mongolian National Orchestra

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