Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A trip to the Hong Kong temple.

Odgerel and Saranchimeg on their one year anniversary of their temple marriage
Temple work. Four times a year members from Mongolia travel as a group to the Hong Kong temple. Members qualify for one time temple patron funds to help them make the trip.

They contribute some of their own money and prepare themselves spiritually to make this trip. Part of the preparation is to do Family History work to do vicarious ordinance work for their deceased ancestors work in the temple.

Part of our calling as missionaries in Mongolia is to train Family History Consultants to assist members in doing this work prior to going to the temple. In some cases, we directly help members prepare their family names and genealogy as a part of getting ready for their temple trip.
Tracing Mongolian Family History

Many go with the purpose of doing temple work for their deceased spouses,  children, parents, and grandparents with whom they have personal relationships.
Painting in Dornod Province Museum 
"My mother awaits my return"
Young couples go to be married for time and eternity in a temple. Older couples who have been married for years go to have their marriages sealed for time and eternity in the temple.
The purpose of going to the temple is to weld families together through priesthood authority so they can be together in eternity. Parents bring their minor children to the temple so their children can be sealed to them. In the temple, this ordinance work is very spiritual and emotional. 

Mongolians love their ancestors and family history. It is natural for them to engage in temple work and feel the spirit in the temple. 

Senior couples accompany the trip. During their mission to Mongolia, most senior couples have an opportunity once on their mission to accompany a group in order to provide support and leadership to the group. We are asked to pay our own expenses (airfare, housing, food).
A scout troop in Hong Kong wanted to speak English and have their picture taken with us

 A Mongolian member is also invited to be a translator and leader for the group as they navigate through the airports, immigration, local transportation, and at the temple and patron housing in Hong Kong. This is a lot of responsibility as very few members speak Chinese or English nor have they travelled internationally before.

Our group didn’t have any young children or teenagers. Seven women, one man, ourselves, and one translator travelled together. Another young couple, Odgerel and Saranchimeg, went to Hong Kong by train and met us there.  Of the group of 13, six were from our local congregation and we knew them ahead of the trip. This was unusual as there are 22 LDS congregations in Mongolia.
We also knew Puje, our translator, from day one of our mission. We had traveled together to Murun, Erdenet, and Youth Conference together.  We had also worked with a member from Choibalsan to get her ready for her temple trip.
Ganaa and Puje
That left only five members we didn’t know prior to this trip. We rapidly made their acquaintance and formed relationships with them. Most temple groups have been larger and children are often a part of the travelling company.

Patron housing.  The men and women are in separate sleeping quarters. I shared sleeping quarters and a bathroom with our two brothers from Mongolia and three from Thailand.

The sisters were divided in two rooms and Darlene had the challenging experience of sleeping in a top bunk. Not exactly the Hilton! There were keys issued for each room and rules for cooking and using the refrigerator.
A mall was located about four blocks from patron housing where members could do some grocery shopping. Most of our group preferred to make their own meals. We had a Wi-Fi connection for the three of us that brought computers.

Temple experiences. A young couple from India had come to be married in the temple. They had been legally married just five days prior to their trip. They joined our getting acquainted meeting at patron housing.
We bonded with them. We agreed that it would be wonderful if we could be a part of their temple marriage.  An older couple in our group, Batarch and Davaasuren, would also have their temple marriage in the same sealing session.

After the session, the bride from India emerged from the temple in a lovely wedding dress and the couple celebrated with their new wedding party of Mongolians. 
From left to right: Ariuna, Batarch, Davaasuren, Choluunsukh, Buyandelger, Ganaa, Dolmaa, Prash, Alex and Suvd-Erdene

Alex, Prash, Davaasuren, and Batarch
I became the wedding photographer enjoyed posing them and the group for special pictures.  What a blessing for them and for us.

The other temple experiences I won’t describe other than the group members were prayerful and deeply spiritual. 

Several times we were in tears as each members did their own personal temple work for family members.  On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, we attended the temple pretty much full time with an afternoon lunch break. 

Our group felt the worldwide nature of the church as we interacted with members from India, Thailand, China, Qatar and temple missionaries from China, Hawaii and mainland US all working together in loving harmony. 
Bro. Chan, his wife and daughter spent all day Friday with us
On Friday the temple was closed because of the Mid-Autumn Festival and the group went touring courtesy of Bro. Chan.  
Tasting Big Macs and French Fries for the first time
 At the Peak, he led us to the point where Hong Kong was dedicated for the preaching of the gospel on July 14, 1949.
The date is inscribed on a rock behind the group.
On Saturday we spent a half day at the temple before the temple closed for the afternoon. Sunday morning the group attended a church service and then we had our own sharing time about the spiritual experiences of the week.
LDS chapel across from the temple - patron housing is on the left

On Saturday afternoon, one of our members got lost during a mall visit and we sent a young couple back to find her. Our member had offered a prayer and within a minute of her prayer she was found.
Typhoon 8 warning (just below hurricane level). The worst storm in 34 years was predicted to hit Hong Kong Sunday and Monday.  We braced ourselves for the unknown.

Though the storm didn’t materialize as predicted, it did delay our airplane flight back to Mongolia by 7 ½ hours causing us to arrive in Ulaanbaatar at 3:30am on Tuesday morning.
Breakfast on the day of departure - a long, long day
The flight delay actually helped us as we had a medical emergency on Sunday causing one of our members to be hospitalized for 24 hours. 

Because of the typhoon warning, the physician in charge of discharging our member wasn’t permitted to travel into the hospital until the Typhoon 8 warning had been lifted.  The discharge didn’t happen until 3:30 pm Sunday afternoon – about the time our original flight was scheduled to leave. 

The weather delay actually helped us all travel back as a group rather than be faced with leaving a member in China. We had a Plan B lined up with the temple president but it wasn’t nearly as good as Plan A – going home together.  
It was a long, long day and we were happy to be back in Mongolia.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing, spiritual and inspirational trip! And what a beautiful couple from India! Thank you for sharing.