Saturday, August 10, 2013

Our friends leave unexpectedly - Mongolian horses, and a bride and groom

Can boys have any more fun than this?

Groesbecks make an unexpected departure.  We saw how the world can be turned upside down this week when one of our senior couples, the Groesbecks had to leave their mission three months early.

It is hard to believe but we now have more time in the country than all the other senior couples and Mission President and we still have nine months to go. There is a never-ending stream of church support coming to Mongolia and each of us are taking our turn. Our time will end and others will take our place. What a remarkable church!
Farewell gathering at our apartment - from left to right, Sisters Gardener and Farmer, the Groesbecks, the Stewarts, Elder Gardener, the Englands, the Nays, and the Woods. 
Elder Groesbeck experienced some heart problems in Khovd and was brought into UB for tests. The results indicated he should have a procedure that was better done in the United States and the sooner the better. Just like that, their mission was over.
They left all their belongings in Khovd. The mission will send someone to pack up for them and ship everything home.  Wow! It makes us think – that could be any of us. Life is what happens when we make other plans.

Imagine the bittersweet emotions of knowing that leaving is the best thing to do, being reunited with family, and having to say goodbye to a successful mission prematurely. They were doing a great work in Khovd and breaking new ground for the church which has suffered a lot of persecution there.
They were invaluable to us in our Family History work and helped us in Murun and Choibalsan. They were dearly loved wherever they served and made a big difference in the members’ lives. Our trip to Khovd in October won’t be near as enjoyable now. We will miss them!
Mongolians often stand when they ride

Mongolia goes for another record. The Mongolian government and tourist industry discovered another to grab people’s attention. They decided to hold a 10,000 horse parade and a 3,000 horse “horse race” to set records for the Guinness Book of Records. The president of the country headed up the parade.
An empty parking lot when we arrived. It was later filled. Obviously the late arrivals knew something we didn't.

The pictures taken of these events will quickly join the many reasons why people are fascinated with Mongolia. Only in Mongolia can resources be mobilized like this and have the full support of government and the people. They love their horses!
Some of our group: Sis. Nay, Ulziika, Elder Nay, Oyunchimeg, and Elder England all waiting patiently - then not so patiently.

Unfortunately our pictures won’t be among them. We tried but the event started over 2 to 3 hours late and we ran out of time.
A packed grandstand - also waiting.
We did get a few pictures of the festivities while we waited …and waited.
Let's add police to the group that waited for the parade
The first annual of anything is hard to pull off as planned. Next year they will have some of the bugs worked out.
There were plenty of side attractions and venders to take care of the crowd
We are also working with Mongolian time which is a little different than our scheduled lives. They have a lot more patience with delays and unexpected snafus.  
The parade is on the distance horizon
Regardless, they are to be admired for thinking big, trying things and then pulling them off.  
The riders wore their deels

Hurrying to join the parade - one reason for the delay was they were counting the 10,000 horses to establish the record
The culture here is fascinating and Mongolia works hard to make it even more fascinating.

Parade massing in background

Anything here remind you of Montana?


Our activities.  Darlene has starting Skyping with the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah twice a week for tutoring in the Mongolian language.  She loves this additional boost to her language learning.
The Stewarts with John - Elder Wood is loaning his camera to Mary Ann
We had a Family Home Evening with Senior couples and the Benson family. It  was different with children around. We all miss our grandchildren and they provide a nice substitute to have around.  
She knew what to do with it

We invited four sets on missionaries to our apartment on Tuesday to say goodbye to  four more missionaries who will be leaving us in August.

Elder Bayartsogt (second to the left), Sisters Gillen and Largin (at the back of the table), and Sis. Schiffler (second to the right) are leaving in August.
They shared their experiences with us and they asked us about our honeymoon. Word travels. We told some stories about our misadventures and had pictures to prove it.
Our summer English class starts
Our English class with the children of employees of TelecoMongolia started up this week. There are over 20 students in our class ranging in age from 11 to 18 with most of them being 11, 12 and 13 years old.
We will teach them three times a week for two hours each class for three weeks. We will end our class on Aug. 29 with a production of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, “The Three Little Pigs” and “Billy Goats Gruff” for their parents.
Elder Neuberger and his companion, Elder Chingunjav, flank the new members

We attended a baptism service at our Branch. Elder Neuberger was privileged to have two more people join the church before his mission ended.
At zone conference, the Groesbecks bore their testimonies and said goodbye to some of the missionaries with whom they served
We ended the week by attending a Zone Conference and participated as President Benson begins to make his mark on this mission. We heard an emphasis on getting to know and work with members to get referrals.

Ulaanbaatar blossoms.  There has been a remarkable improvement in the appearance on public places this year.  Flower beds have been planted all along the major streets and new parks have sprung up in the downtown area.

We see Mongolia taking great strides as they modernize and beautify the city.
Drummers, carriage and Disney characters in the middle of traffic - I don't think they had a permit or needed one.
A bride and groom form a parade.  As we were walking to English class about 3:45 in the afternoon, we heard this drum roll and parade coming toward Sukhbaatar Square (now Chinggis Khan Square by edict of the National Government). 

There were about 6-8 drummers in front, a horse drawn carriage carrying the bride and groom, and a trailing party of Disney characters and the wedding party marching behind them.
The groom receives a blessing

The bride and groom disembarked and went on Chinggis Khan Square where they were greeted by a man in a deel who said a few words and gave them each a kiss.

We learned later that this man is the second most famous poet in Mongolia and he was probably the grandfather. A grandfather gives a kiss on the forehead to each of his grandchildren when they marry.

They then went up to the Parliament Building and were greeted by a warrior "king and queen".
Approaching the Parliament building
The queen gave them each a drink of airag (fermented mare’s milk) and presented them with a shaft of arrows which showed their new unity that could not be broken. 

Bride and groom receiving a shaft of arrows from a "queen"
Then the bride and groom posed with different members of the wedding party in front of the Chinggis Khan statue.

When you think you’ve seen it all, you haven’t. In Mongolia, there are always surprises just around the corner.
Where would a modern cowboy be without his cell phone?

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