Friday, July 12, 2013

All Mongolia Youth Conference – part two – triumph over adversity

Youthful pioneers in Mongolia go trekking
Was this anybody’s idea of fun? I’ve never been anywhere so beautiful and been so miserable – unless it was hiking into the Little Big Horn mountain range in Wyoming while fighting off horse flies. My wife would say, “How about Corn Island off the coast of Nicaragua on our honeymoon where sand fleas found me to be a delicious target?”
The setting was ideal: mountain scenery, flowers in bloom, plenty of food, and plenty of high quality young company. It was all good – except for incessant swarming flies, bugs and mosquitos, torrential downpours, micro-small pup tents, and an obstacle course for handcarts that would make a sadistic Marine Corps drill sergeant blush with jealous envy.

When it rained, it poured
The youth loved it. They came back with stories of learning about overcoming adversity, unity, and helping each other to the point where nobody wanted to get on the train to take them home.
Burning cow dung warded of the insects

There was strength in numbers and the youth of Mongolia reveled in it.
Boys on one side - girls on the other - no man's land in the middle
If the testimony meeting we heard in Murun was any indication, the youth conference was an unmitigated and complete success.  

The leaders were so impressed with their attitudes, resourcefulness, lack of complaint, and obedience to camp rules. There wasn’t a trouble-maker or unhappy camper in the group - unless it was us who happily left after one day.
Unhappy campers

According to the 400 people that stayed, the weather improved and the bugs let up after we left after one day of abject misery.
We shrugged it off
The other two other senior couples were green with envy of our early departure but the experience grew on them as the conference progressed.  The rain turned to sunshine.  Watching youth at their best brought joy to their hearts.

Mongolian youth: Up close and personal.

Teaching Family History at Youth Conference. Our part of the All Mongolia Youth Conference was a success. We had the evening program on the first night of the conference. Our rehearsed skit fell through and, with an hour’s notice, we improvised.  

With a moderator/interpreter's help and a few props, we created the visual story of a couple born around 1900 to nomadic families, meeting and marrying. Two young people volunteered to represent this couple.

The next generation (1925) represented by their three children and their spouses took their places in the family tree on a hillside sloping down toward the audience. They in turn had 3 children each who married and took spouses (1950 generation). The multiplication of volunteers needed to show this started to mount.

The youth were shy, excited and delighted to take the part of husband/wife with the opposite sex. There was a lot of giggling, laughter and teasing as volunteers stepped forward enthusiastically while some were coerced into taking the role.

We had the first generation die and go to spirit prison. (interesting causes of death - bucked off by a horse, rammed by a goat - then the next generation (1925) died and went to spirit prison.

Our family tree grew to 96 when the 1975 couples were added in. If we had kept going, we would soon have all of our 320 youth in our visual family tree. We concluded the example by having one youth represent the 2000 generation - born between 1990 -2000. We had half of the grandparents (1950) die and go to spirit prison.
Two young sisters converting young man in red - his relatives are lined up behind him

Two young sisters volunteered to represent missionaries who then converted our one young man from the fifth generation to the gospel. 

He was the only member of the church who could save his relatives in spirit prison by doing his family history work and submitting their names to the temple. When he did that, members of his 3rd, fourth, and fifth generations were released from spirit prison to be with families in the spirit world.

The adults who watched this thought this was very effective in showing them how their ancestors were depending on them do to this work.

The program ended with us challenging the youth to sign up in Family Tree by Sept. 30 of this year.
Distributing commitment cards after a joint Bayanzurgkh Branch/Khaan-Ull Ward testimony meeting
They were given a commitment card after their testimony meeting at camp to remind them of this commitment.  
"Teach the future generations not to forget their ancestors" - Chinggis Khaan
- On left is the Hong Kong temple with two quotes from the Doctrine and Covenants: Sec. 2:2 and 128:15 
Quote from Elder Bednar on left - their commitment on the right
Youth leader Byamba with Gantuya on this left and Badamgerel on his right holding up her commitment card

Camp activities.
Serving food

Doing the Haaka (a Maori war dance) everyday 

Talent night - a contortionist

Service project - weeding a plant bed

Time for teaching

Time for scripture study

A time for meditation
The story of this trek is told visually by Elder Stewart’s wonderful photography. Follow along and see the All-Mongolia Youth Conference unfold in a remarkable fashion.
The trek begins

Previews of coming attractions

Crossing Streams

And more streams

Fording rivers

For some must push and some must pull

What goes up must come down

All good things must come to an end
These are truly pioneers of the church in Mongolia. Either they are converts themselves or are sons and daughters of the first converts of the church. Their stories and pictures need to be on Family Tree for future generations to admire and appreciate.

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