Saturday, June 29, 2013

Transitions: President and Sister Clark leave mission, last English class

Chinggis Khan still rides at the National History Museum of Mongolia - the flag of peace in on the left and the flag of war is on the right 
Clarks bid adieu. We had several events surrounding President and Sister Clark.  
We had a last Senior Couples and Service Center Staff meeting, a final presidency meeting, a Chinese dinner out hosted by the Clarks and a Family Home Evening in honor of the Clarks.
Service Center, Mission Office and Senior Couples meeting

We gave them a surprise farewell gift of “Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty”,
and a memory book with each of our special photos and memories of the Clarks.
Farewell dinner hosted by the Clarks

There was plenty of socializing, reminiscing, and appreciations being expressed. What a tender and bittersweet moment for the Clarks to close out this chapter of their lives with Mongolia and the Mongolian people. Mongolia touches and changes the foreign missionaries who come here. They are surrounded by loving, fun, good-hearted people who cherish and live the gospel.
Last photo together
The new President, Joseph Benson and his wife Heidi, arrive on Tuesday and the Clarks leave Wednesday. A new chapter begins.
Our last English class until August. We draw close to our special English students who stick with us and get to know well. We had a readers’ theater, treats, and a demonstration of Family Tree using two of our students’ data and photos as examples. They were fascinated and captivated. We went a half hour overtime.
Beegii showing his Family Tree 
Our sponsor brought in a tailor and deels for us to try on. They are getting ready to gift us a couple of deels and they were trying to select style, color and size with us. We will be “surprised” and delighted when we are given our deels.
Family History work moves ahead. With our freedom from English teaching, we are set to go to the All-Mongolia Youth Conference this coming week followed by a trip to Murun to work with the members there. We are preparing a couple of special family history experiences for the youth.
Cultural history and Family History are intertwined

This Youth Conference pioneering trek is a big deal. Over 350 youth and 50 adults are attending and simulating a Mormon Handcart company’s journey across the plains. There will be a special campfire program, a talent night, and testimony meeting on the last night of camp. 

The youth are being asked to register and submit family information on Family Tree by September 30, 2013.
Last King and Queen of Mongolia 1911 - 1924

Darlene worked hard all day on Friday registering members on Family Search while I visited the National History Museum of Mongolia for a couple of hours.

Democracy comes to Mongolia in 1990

Statue of dog with tribal symbols below - in back of Parliament building
Hitler borrowed the swazticka from Mongolia
After Darlene finished piano teaching on Saturday morning we had an outing with the Stewarts and the Nays to see a herd of horses on the edge of the city.

Darlene is picking up litter

Refreshment stand in an open field - khoshuur (Romanized spelling) is a favorite Mongolian food

The colt is placed next to the mare to get her cooperation with the milking

Mongolian youth love basketball

Another depiction of Chinggis Khan

Monday, June 24, 2013

Farewells to the Clarks - Winding down English - Thieves strike again

Pres. and Sister Clark will always have a part of Mongolia in their hearts
English classes will end for 7 weeks.  Our last class will be on June 25 and we will not start up again until August 10 when we teach children of employees from Telecom Mongolia. We can take a little longer training trips during this break.  

Our sponsor wanted us to teach Family History and Family Tree to our students before the class ended. We taught family relationship vocabulary and gave them pedigree charts to help them gather family information from their relatives. 

We helped our students register and put their family information online. They were intrigued and excited to do this kind of work. Our last class will be a reader’s theater and a farewell party.
With our break from teaching English, we can take a little longer training trips this summer. At the beginning of next week we will be going about 60 km. north of Erdenet for an All-Mongolian Youth Conference (pioneer trek). On the weekend we will then fly to Murun to work with the members there.  

Thieves Strike again. It is tourist season and the thieves emerged from their winter hibernation. Three different senior couples lost possessions over the weekend – including us.  Our loss was our newly replaced Nikon cool pix camera from a shopping bag slit from the back.

We relearned how clever Mongolian thieves are the hard way. Our pictures for the week were on the camera so we don’t have a huge variety for the blog.
We found out that the replacement cost for the camera in Mongolia was about the same price in the United States. We stopped feeling sorry for ourselves and bought camera # 3 to take its place.

It remains to be seen if we can outwit the thieves during our last 10 months in Mongolia.  Live and learn. I finally received my new suit we had made so we benefitted from another kind of Mongolian talent.

Bits and pieces.  President Wheelwright of BYU – Hawaii presented a fireside to over 200 young adults. Among other things, he stressed how important English language skills are to future success, no matter what field of study the students engage in.
The weather has turned cool and rainy but with some very pleasant days mixed in.
The Nays arrive in Mongolia

The new humanitarian service missionaries, the Nays, arrived three days ago. (More about them next week.)  We arrived about this same time last year. How quickly time is passing.

President Clark reflecting on the music of Mongolia 
The end of the Clarks’ mission draws closer.  There is a procedure here in Mongolia that is very interesting. We don’t know if this is true in other missions or not. We each write up our memories, impressions and attach special photographs and turn them in to the Mission President when each Senior couple leaves the mission.

This collection of letters is presented to the couple as a part of their farewell interview with the Mission President.

Each departing missionary has the assignment to write up their memories of those who remain but we don’t get to see any of these letters until we finish our mission.

We wrote up our thoughts about President and Sister Clark this week. They have worked hard, cared deeply and have done great church service here in Mongolia. They will be missed. They have one more week before President and Sister Benson arrive.
The Clarks will host a farewell dinner for all the Senior couples this coming Saturday. We will have a final Family Home evening with the Clarks next Sunday night.
Then it is out with the old and in with the new. There is less than a day overlap between the new Mission President and the departing President. This is done deliberately by design to give the new president a clean slate to form fresh impressions instead of absorbing already formed opinions.
Senior couples, guests performers, Batbayer and Buted, grandchildren, Buted's sister

A Farewell dinner. Sister Buted, a famous Mongolian singer and member of the church, hosted a farewell dinner for the Clarks and invited all the Senior couples. 
A mutual adoration society
Her husband, Batbayer, is the Stake Patriarch and an early church leader in Mongolia.
In front of lilac bushes
This was their summer home. They had a greenhouse, a lovely garden, and a gazebo.
Very enterprising and appealing

When asked who was the gardener, they both pointed at each other. Cute!
Sister Buted had three of her students helping with the dinner.

One of Buted's students

They all had operatic voices and entertained us with vocal solos, and also sang in duets with their master teacher.

President Clark showed his professional quality voice with an impromptu number.
Sister Buted sang an especially composed song “Autumn Snow” as a tribute to her life-long romance with her husband. One of their first meetings took place during a light snowfall in the autumn of the year.  

It was touching how she lovingly and spontaneously caressed his head and shoulder during parts of her song.  It was our 47th anniversary so it was easy to identify with the sentiments she was expressing for an enduring but still fresh and vibrant love.  

Autumn snow

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A slower week – except for the weekend

The Ulaanbaatar Family History consultants - Ulzicka is at the back next to her sister Puujee and her mother
We needed a slow week after our last week and we got it.
Many graduation scenes around Ulaanbaatar - the Foreign Affairs Ministry is in the background

English class drawing to a close. We taught English to some small classes during the week – the preparation time was the same. During one of our walks to work at Sukhbaatar Square,  we spotted a group of graduates  posing for a graduation picture. They were flowers and dressed up graduates all over UB this week.

The Fredleys are going to Darkhan

A new senior couple arrives. The Fredleys have been assigned to Darkhan as leadership and membership support missionaries. They will spend their whole mission there. They will teach English of course and be a part of District and Branch leadership.

We had something in common with them. They spent over 20 years in Olathe, Kansas, near Kansas City. We discussed the St.Louis and Kansas City temples with them. On the weekend they were moving to Utah, the Kansas City temple was announced. A little bittersweet! They know Family history work and will be a great help to us in the Darkhan District. On Thursday, after training them on Family Tree, we hosted them for lunch at our apartment. Darlene filled them in as fast as she could on tidbits of cultural information and survival skills for Mongolia.

Darlene, Ulzicka and Sister Wood

Our big weekend. On Saturday morning, Darlene taught piano and then both of us were involved with training of the UB Family History consultants.  At the last minute, Ulzicka was prompted to ask if we needed an interpreter. It turned out we did. What a blessing she was.

Part of our assignment was to register youth in Family Tree

We traveled to Bagannuur with Elder and Sister Wood, Ulzicka and two members of the District Young Women’s Presidency. Elder and Sister Wood are assigned to the Baganuur Branch and make this trip every Sunday.

Working with Family History Consultants in Baganuur

Baganuur is over 125 km east of Ulaanbaatar. It is a two hour drive one way not counting UB traffic.
Church in Baganuur. There is a branch there that averages almost 80 members attending Sacrament meeting. They are on the verge of qualifying for their own building. We signed up youth and adult members into Family Tree on Saturday afternoon, evening and again on Sunday morning before church. We spoke in Sacrament meeting, Darlene in Mongolian.
The peaceful streets of Baganuur
I went for an early morning walk and took a couple of pictures.  Baganuur has 10,000 residents. Baganuur is clean, peaceful, spacious, and doesn’t have UB-type traffic. I had imagined something a little different for a coal mining town. It was built by the Russians in the steppes and is not near any mountains or hills.

Hospital across the street from the church

We stayed in a first class hotel complete with hot water and a fancy restaurant. The hot water was a treat as our hot water in our apartment has been turned off for a week and will be so for another four days. Only a few days to go!

The finger chairs were unique

We get by with heating water with water heaters and sponge baths. This happens every summer for two weeks while the power plant checks and cleans out their pipes.

From a distance I thought the sign said "Mild Horse Bar" - a tad unusual. On closer inspection, I noticed it is was really "Mild House Bar" - an oxymoron in bar names. No Mongolian hotel is complete without a Karaoke bar.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A glimpse into Siberia

Selenge River in Siberia - the Trans-Siberian railroad runs alongside the river
 A beautiful spot of scenic beauty in Mongolia.
This is as close as we’ll get to Russia, at least on
this mission. There is a largely undiscovered

scenic area in northern Mongolia along

the Russian border. 

Eagle in flight

It has been developed to include several 

sculptures and other works of art placed in a 

natural setting overlooking the Selenge River as it 

flows into Siberia.
Siberia in summer

It was breathtakingly beautiful and well worth the
effort to get the border permits necessary for
foreigners to go there. 

Small world - our driver and the border guard were from the same small town

There is a border guard station located at the 
overlook and they check for permits. 
This border guard station monitors the overlook as well as the Russian border. In 1921 Mongolia fought China for independence.
This border overlook is just a few kilometers from
Sukhbaatar, the capital city of Selenge Province. 
The city has a population of 22,000 and is the
place where the Trans-Siberian Railroad and the
major spur that goes through Mongolia to Beijing

I’ve never seen a mention of this overlook in any
of the tour books or promotions about Mongolia. 
I’m sure someday will be one of the “must-sees”
for Northern Mongolia.

Stairways leading up to the overlook

Our silly tour guide and his look-alike
Our driver had fun here
Chinggis Khan and Queen Khulan - my queen Darlene
Famous revolutionaries from the fight for independence in 1921
Shaman shrine with an Ibex skull
Ulzicka on a horse

Sculpture of an eagle in a perfect setting

We couldn't take our eyes off of the eagle