Saturday, August 24, 2013

Missionaries leave


From left to right: Elders Lloyd, Boyd, Williams, Neuberger, Stranksi, Pres. Benson, Sis. Benson, Sisters Javsanpagam and Schiffler. Tommy and Mary Ann below. Sister Javsanpagam is returning home in Mongolia.
Six American missionaries leave. The main thing that happened this week was the first group of 6 missionaries left for the United States on Thursday.  The group of nine who came in together was split into two groups with 3 more missionaries leaving this coming Thursday.  
Elders Neuberger, Williams, Lloyd, Boyd and Stranksi saying goodbye to Elder Amartuvshin in middle
We can see the lasting bonds of friendship and love they have for each other.  As they have all served in the capital city of UB, they have been side by side in their work and play.
Farewell breakfast
e grew to love and appreciate this group of Elders and Sisters. They were here when we arrived a year ago in July. Each is unique in his or her own personality but uniformly dedicated to the work. They have helped us out with willing hearts with the Mongolian language, computers, and interpreting. They have been fun to be around and to tease. We have looked out for them in various ways – loaning our office for Skyping, visiting members’ homes, helping with discussions, and having them for meals.

From left to right: Sister Schiffler,  Elders Lloyd, Boyd, Stranski, Williams, Neuberger (partially hidden), Jiguur (hidden)  Elder Amartuvshin, Sister Javzanpagama, and Elder Robbins 
We certainly have developed precious relationships with members but the association with the young Elders and Sisters has also enriched our mission. Mongolia seems to get the best. It is quite believable to us when Helaman regarded the stripling warriors as “sons” because we feel the same way.  

Loading up
Mongolians missionaries and translators. There is another group of missionaries that deserve special mention – Mongolians called to serve in their own country and Mongolian returned missionaries with English skills. Both groups have been willing foils, guinea pigs, and targets for us in learning the language. They have a great sense of humor and patience as they teach us while we stumble around with the bare rudiments of their language.
Getting computer and language help from Elder Odd and Elder Batbileg
Translators make a world of difference for us in our work and at church. We form great relationships as they perform this service for us. A few translators work for the church but most do not.  Either way, they make our success possible.
Octobri - one of our translators now married

On their way. The missionaries had a farewell testimony meeting on Wednesday afternoon which we had to miss because of our English class. I was able to be there the next morning as they posed for final pictures and loaded up in the mission vehicles also to go to the airport.
We sent a carpet home with Elder Neuberger’s parents.  That means our load will be a lot lighter (and maybe less expensive) next spring when we depart Mongolia.  We will miss our St. Louis connection with Elder Neuberger but a young sister missionary from our Stake will be arriving soon and we will give her some extra TLC while she is here.

A restful week. I was suffering from a head cold and a deep cough during the week so I had some extra rest. Darlene did the heavy lifting with our summer English class. Next week we will finish up with a production of singing, games and a readers’s theater put on for their parents.  

We did some shopping at a new vegetable market behind the Chinggis Khan Hotel. It goes up every August and stays until the freezing weather shuts them down.
YSA Conference. We were invited to go to the Young Single Adult Conference (three day campout) this week but it conflicted with our English class. It also wouldn’t have been good for the health condition I was fighting off.  200 young singles from the East District and West Stake participated.
Ulziika and her mother, Naranchimeg, at Zaison Hill during the 20th year Anniversary celebration

Ulziika took our Family History message to the Conference and was in charge of a half hour visual demonstration of Family Tree using the conference attendees as stand-ins for 4 and 5 generations of relatives. We should have pictures next week.
Davaadorj isn't shy - good but not best - a first step toward best

Dating and courtship. Last year we attended and participated in the dating and courtship theme of the conference. This year’s conference was more of the same - only without us. We didn’t miss the hard ground or the small tents or the bugs and flies.  They are hoping for same or better results from this year’s conference.  The Stake President kept track of at least 16 marriages taking place during the year after last year’s conference.

Speed dating
There has been a lot of YSA group events and activities but not enough pairing off and dating between our young singles.  Facebook and group dates don’t seem to lead anywhere.

Group fun - good but not best

We are actively teaching about dating, talking about fun dates and making it OK to date despite pressures to define it as more than it is. In the Mongolians’ mind and culture, dating is a very serious step toward commitment.  That seems to paralyze the process before it gets started.

Guy fun - Mongolian wrestling - good but not best

Economics plays a role in terms of not having the means to set up their own apartment and having to live with relatives in crowded conditions. It takes a little more courage and faith to launch out in Mongolia when you are poor. Most of the young singles are returned missionaries and are used to apartment living on their missions.

The good news is that we have lots of young church couples and families that have taken this step and are good examples of what is possible.
 Best! Our favorite wedding couple - Orkhon and Batbold

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