Sunday, May 12, 2013

Darkhan, Darkhan and a bit more

First flowers of spring
This past week was a bit of a blur. The weather turned warm and then it turned a bit chilly. We should have known that summer wasn’t here to stay. Yet.  

Ulaanbaatar West Stake choir performing at the beginning of conference
Stake Conference. On Sunday, Mother’s Day, we returned from Darkhan the night before so we could attend Stake Conference. It was held in a downtown theater with a capacity for 1000 patrons.

The main church building in Ulaanbaatar is home to the Bayanzurgkh Branch of the East District and the Songin Ward so it wasn’t available on Sunday. The choir performed Darlene’s song, “Have your ever heard such a prayer?” beautifully in English. It had us both in tears. 

Friday night baptism service. Friday nights are regularly scheduled baptism services throughout Mongolia. We attended a baptism service at the Bayanzurgkh Branch and witnessed these two young women joining the church.


Our trip to Darkhan. After the baptism service, one of our former translators from Darkhan, Marta, stopped in at our office. She and her fiance were getting ready for a trip to the Hong Kong temple to be married. They needed to clear their housing arrangements at the temple with the temple coordinator, Sister Stewart, for their arrival on Monday. 
Marta and Charlie in our office

It was fun to see her again and to meet her fiancé, Charlie. Urunchimeg, her sister who was with them, needed a ride to Darkhan and jumped at the chance to travel with us.
Marta, Urunchimeg and Charlie

 As they were waiting in our office, Darlene checked her email and found out that a key trainee and translator would not be attending the training the next morning. Marta and Charlie quickly nominated Urunchimeg to be our translator the next day. This was a blessing for us as she was happy to help us. 

A quick trip to Darkhan. Despite no electricity or hot water in our apartment the day before and our translator canceling on us, we plunged ahead with our trip to Darkhan. 

We had made arrangements with Zorgeo, our taxi driver when our daughters were here, to pick us up at 6:00 am Saturday morning. 
On the way coming and going to Darkhan we stopped and took pictures of some of the sights en route.
Buddha just north of Ulaanbaatar
The northern province of Selenge welcomes you - Darkhan sits in the middle of Selenge - a hard 3 three hour drive from Ulaanbaatar
We watched the herds start their day grazing. On the way home we watched them being gathered up by the herdsmen.
Stupas (Buddhist shrines) with cattle grazing in the foreground


F H Training in Darkhan - Urunchimeg, Darlene, Bayansaa, Kuhlan
The training went well and we felt satisfied with our day there despite the rough beginnings the day before. 
Young men and women of Darkhan - missionaries in the back
Urunchimeg was our translator for most of Saturday until she had to leave us to fulfill another church YW calling. A young man preparing for a mission on May 24 stepped in and finished up our day by translating for us.  It seems the Lord provides a way for his work to continue if we are willing to work at it. 

After training we took the opportunity to visit the newest attraction in Darkhan - three parks connected over the main highway by a pedestrian walkway/bridge. 
Suspension bridge connecting three parks in Darkhan
A new Buddha park and statue in Darkhan

Skyline of Darkhan rooftops taken from the Buddha park
A bridge goes from the Buddha park across the road to another park with a statue of a Horseman playing a Mongolian fiddle

Horsewoman barely hanging on
Darkhan, the city the Russians built and the Mongolians are beautifying - see next picture
Pedestrian walkway intersecting with the bridge and leading to a third park

English class. We had some tests to prepare for our regular English class and for two sets of engineers where we work at TelecoMongolia. It was something extra but we try to keep our sponsor happy. Our English class is getting a little better attendance lately.
Part of the engineer group being tested for English skills
Our students are keenly aware of tests. The day we gave the test, 15 students showed up – some of whom we hadn’t seen in two weeks.  It was gratifying to see the regular attendees score better than those who hadn’t been there.

El Seis de Mayo. We went all out for a Cinco de Mayo dinner on May 6.
Elders Muldowney, Boyd, Neuberger, and Odd
Two sets of Elders came over for Pico de Gallo Salsa, chips, enchiladas and flan. They asked how I proposed and that led to a discussion of our honeymoon through Mexico to Central America. They were fun memories to share and stayed with the theme of the night. 

Lots of information in old graveyards

Cyrillic language - easy to index compared to old Mongolian script (left side)

Mongolian Funeral Association. We had a productive meeting with two representatives of the Mongolian Funeral Association on Thursday. We had previously met with them last November about helping them photograph gravestones in the Seven Hills Cemetery. They wanted to update us on their progress and had specific questions about how we might be able to help them.
Seven Hills Cemetery with a Ger District on adjoining hillside

Coming attractions. Next week will be busy and eventful. It will be our last marriage class for the spring. We will be meeting at the Central Archives with government officials about archived Mongolian records.

I will teach the Service Center staff on communications and problem-solving on Friday. We should hear back on the viability of our records acquisition project in Choibalsan early in the week. 

Darkhan (80,000) is the second largest city in Mongolia, Erdenet (75,000) a close third, and then Choibalsan (40,000).

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