|Youth waiting to board at the train station in Ulaanbaatar|
The youth of the church came to a place 40 miles north of Erdenet from all over Mongolia – from Choibalsan 540 miles away near the Chinese border in east, from Murun 220 miles to the north and from Khovd 680 miles in the far west close to Russia and Khazakstan.
Youth came from Ulaanbaatar 180 milesto the southeast by train that boarded at 8:00 pm and got off in Erdenet at 8:00 am the next morning. Trucks brought camping gear, handcarts, and equipment to the campsite directly from Ulaanbaatar.
|Loading the trucks in Ulaanbaatar|
320 youth and 80 leaders came by train, in meekers (an extended van designed to hold about 15 passengers but as many that can uncomfortably fit) and on a bus.
|Squeezing into a meeker - this is a Mongolian form of travel most of us wouldn't enjoy|
This group traveled two days in a bus from Khovd.
We met at the train station in Erdenet where a fleet of 24 meekers had been prearranged to drive everyone to our campsite in a wilderness area 40 miles to the north.
|Meekers lined up and ready to leave - each one had a number and had to stay in line.|
We got to the end of the line of meekers and decided to stop to take a picture of the meekers ascending the next hill in a row. Darlene and Puje had exited our vehicle to take a picture. I couldn’t let myself out because of a problem with the door.
|Caravan on pavement before the road turns to gravel|
Two or three of the trailing meekers also stopped or slowed down to see what we were doing. The road had turned from pavement to gravel a mile or so earlier.
Horror just over the hill. Just then, to our amazement and absolute horror, a silver car came speeding over the hill doing about 70 miles an hour. This was way too fast for the road conditions.
We instantly were afraid the car could endanger some of our meekers and youth ahead of us. The driver of the car saw someone in the road and slammed on the brakes and skidded off the right, flipped over and landed right side up going the opposite direction. He landed down a rough and deep embankment about 10 feet below the surface of the road.
|Ganaa standing over her accident|
As they rushed to the scene, Darlene and Puje were sure that there would be a fatality or a serious injury. Instead they found a 23 year old young woman, Ganchuldur or Ganaa, just emerging from the vehicle. The young taxi driver was standing on high ground looking down on the crashed vehicle.
Ganaa was the young woman for whom we were headed back to pick up. Instead of waiting, she had hired a young man to bring her and catch up to the caravan.
He was going way too fast and when he hit gravel, he didn’t slow down. Ganaa had a spiritual impression 30 seconds before the accident to put on her seat belt and she was about to tell the driver to put his belt on when the accident occurred.
Both were unhurt though Ganaa was in shock and crying. The young driver was distraught about the ruined vehicle (it may have been his brother’s car).We needed to take Ganaa back to Erdenet to be checked out for internal injuries , her headache, and a sore wrist and forearm. The driver refused to leave his vehicle. Puje drove and I accompanied Ganaa back to the hospital. I also gave her a priesthood blessing before we started back. Ganaa could understand English.
Darlene climbed in one of the meekers which had been at the accident scene. Ganaa checked out fine at the hospital and decided to go back to the youth conference with us.A blessing for everyone. Besides watching over Ganaa and the driver, the Lord watched over the youth conference. If the driver had slammed into one of our meekers, who knows what would have happened. One of the drivers had slowed down but kept his meeker moving and consequently was not in harm’s way when the oncoming car skidded out of control.
If Ganaa had been killed or seriously injured, it would have cast a huge pall over the youth conference. It was a miracle that she wasn’t even hurt. She related to us as she stood looking over her accident, she heard an inner voice tell her, “You have more to do in this life.”
|Ganaa and her husband Tommy|
We brought Ganaa back to the youth conference and she was reunited with her husband who she had married in the Hong Kong temple the year before.
End of part one. Part two - we go trekking
|The trek begins|