Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Church work in faraway places with strange sounding names

Sky and roads near Ogii Lake

This blog will describe the church related activities of this past week. The next blogs will show the sights around Mongol Els (sand dunes), the ancient capital of Mongolia, Kharkhorin, a horse race and the monastery at Amarbayesgalant.
New Mongolian missionaries

Family History work. We trained the new missionaries on introducing family history work to new members and working with the Family History Consultants. These eight new missionaries just started the missions after returning from the MTC in the Phillipines. 
Mission transfer meeting - well attended.
Missionary transfer meeting. Every six weeks in the mission, the missionaries change assignments and companions. Every twelve weeks we get new missionaries arriving. The Mongolian missionaries come back from their MTC training in the Phillipines. The American missionaries come from the MTC in Provo. Both groups are timed to arrive at the same time during a transfer. 

We had five new missionaries arrive from the United States and eight missionaries called from Mongolia to serve in Mongolia. One more American sister missionary is slightly delayed as are one senior couple. One senior couple, the Fredleys arrived on June 10th. They will be going to Darkhan this weekend.

The arriving missionaries share their testimonies in the transfer meeting as do the departing missionaries. Elders Woodward and Titensor went back to the United States. 

This meeting is extremely well attended (standing room only) and is broadcast to all church buildings in Mongolia. The excitement and spirituality surrounding this missionary meeting helps communicate missionary spirit in the church here, honors those who served or who are about to serve, and inspires youth to plan for missions.

Virtual Branch. The church recently instituted a sacrament meeting that can be attended by telephone. Many church members live significant distances from a church meetinghouse. There are currently about 20 members that are participating. This number could increase dramatically as we locate and incorporate more members who live great distances away from other church members. 
Visiting a church member  in Lum, Mongolia

We visited one church member on our way to Bulgan. She and her sister run a restaurant to serve travelers going west from UB. She was delighted we stopped by. She shared her family information with us. It was great to connect with her and help  plug her into the new virtual branch.
Rain adds to the driving challenge

A trip to Bulgan. We spent the first night in Kharkhorin. The next day, after spending some time at the monastery at Erdene Zuu, we went by  difficult countryside roads to get to Bulgan. Our journey was doable because our driver was from Bulgan and knew the roads. His vehicle was a four wheel drive Russian van, the best countryside vehicle for Mongolian roads.
Deer Stone - see the five deer representations

Our route to Bulgan took us by Ogii Lake and then by deer stones in a field outside of Orkhon.

The deer stones were lying or standing there basically unprotected from the elements, animals, bird droppings or human defacement. They were in pretty good shape despite all these hazards.

Mongolian warrior King
Bulgan is a community of about 11,000 people in a hilly and timbered region of Mongolia. 
They love their trees so much they left a couple in the sidewalk

The city was filled with trees - definitely a different atmosphere from other Mongolian communities.
Let's not leave out the champion Mongolian wrestlers

We helped two families register for Family Search and entered their family names into an online genealogy program. They are planning on a temple trip in September. 

They were delighted to get this work done in preparation for their temple trip. We also trained a very bright missionary to do this and he will assist other members in Bulgan with their Family History work. 
Two members, Ulzicka, ourselves and Elder Purevsuren in back

We  also met with the Internal Medicine physician who works at the hospital. We told her about Deseret International Charities and asked if she was familiar with their work. She pointed to the DIC logos on the diabetic teaching posters surrounding us on her office walls.

Dr. Stewart makes a hospital call - DIC posters on the wall
We took that as a big "yes".

All-Mongolia Youth Conference. From Bulgan we went to Erdenet where we attended church and worked with Narantsetseg, the assistant Family History Center Director in charge of the Erdenet Family History Center.We made arrangements to come back to Erdenet to sign up their youth for Family Search just prior to youth conference. 
A good place to trek

The youth conference will be an all-Mongolia hardcart trek from July 2nd to July 5. The youth conference will be held just 40 miles north from Erdenet. 

The conference will have a Family History theme complete with a prepared skit and a challenge to register and record their three and four generational family histories. Last year's trek made the church news and this year's trek will even be better.
Orkhon and Batbold
A wedding reception. We made it back to Ulaanbaatar in time (barely) to attend our good friends Batbold and Orkhon's wedding reception.
Their reception had many western as well as Mongolian tradtions
Orkhon works closely with us in Family History and provides valuable translation and training to members. She is named after the Orkhon River that flows through northern Mongolia into Siberia.

They are a fun couple. We encouraged this relationship during a time when they only thought of themselves as "best friends".
A fun and sharp young woman who helps with translations
Another good friend and church translator, Moogie, caught the bouquet. Here's hoping!

Sunrise on the Orkhon River

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