Sunday, October 13, 2013

Asia Area General Conference, Swan Lake, Khazak hospitality

Our group on the steps of the Opera House
General Conference. Twice a year, when General Conference is broadcast from Salt Lake City, it takes a week to have the materials translated and dubbed into Mongolian (and the other languages in the 14 countries within the Asia Area). Our General Conference is the following week. This consists of 10 hours of music and talks spread over five sessions.
Standing for a hymn
The selected members of General Authorities and Auxiliary leaders of the church individually prepare talks on different matters of importance concerning the church. The Conference is broadcast to every church building in Mongolia. 
For those of us who understand English, we can hear the talks live on the Internet but at awkward hours of midnight to 2:00 am, 4:00 – 6:00 am and from 8:00 - 10:00 am.  We can also watch on demand once the conference session is over and the talks (English version) have been uploaded.
Most of us senior couples are able to take in most of conference before the Asia Area General Conference weekend begins. We have the additional opportunity to hear the conference sessions a second time at hours that approximate the times in Salt Lake City. We especially listen for topics that meaningful to our lives personally and  try to implement them in our lives.
Watching conference together
The foreign English speaking missionaries all watch the English sessions while the Mongolian missionaries watch the proceedings along with the Mongolian members in their native language. Conference is available over the Internet at in over 190 languages.  Those of you who are new to the church and want to see what this is all about can glimpse our leaders and hear their chosen messages.  

Swan Lake. Living in the capital city gives us an opportunity to take in some cultural events from time to time.  After the Saturday afternoon conference session, most of the senior couples chose to go to the ballet Swan Lake. It was an exquisite performance. The company was Russian trained which meant it was the top quality.
We took a whole row and then some
Darlene realized what she saw at the Bolshoi in St. Petersburg was something like “Scenes from Swan Lake” instead of “Swan Lake”. Though it was difficult to follow the plot completely, we enjoyed this night of highbrow entertainment.
The Parliament building was all lit up as we exited the theater
A special dinner. After the performance ended at 7:30 pm, Darlene and I were invited to Alima’s home for dinner where we would be able to meet her parents and also her maternal grandparents who were visiting from Khazakstan.
Ourselves, Bayar and Alima
They were visiting Mongolia to celebrate her and Bayer’s recent wedding. 

Bayer is investigating the church and will likely become a member. Their wedding reception has been delayed because of a 49 day Mongolian grieving period following a death of an uncle. When it is rescheduled, we are invited to attend.
Grandparents in front - Bayar and Alima flanking her parents and Alima's two younger sisters
Alima’s father is a judge in Mongolia and presided over the corruption trial of Mongolia’s last president (communist party) who left office under a cloud of illegalities in 2012.

The Democracy party won an important election in 2012 and from our perspective is a good thing. He trained at BYU law school in 2010 and recognized my brother’s picture as a member of the law school faculty.

Alima’s grandparents and parents all spoke Russian so Darlene was in her element. We had a lot of fun and this was a delightful way of meeting her family and her Khazak grandparents.
With our Khazak gifts and Alima's grandparents
They gave us some gifts – a Khazak robe/coat and a scarf. What a nice memory!
The Benson's with 3 of their four children - Elder and Sister England
Potluck dinner. On Sunday after conference, we had a potluck for all the senior couples in UB and President and Sister Benson and their children. The food was fantastic! Darlene prepared a beef curry dish.
Elder England and Mary Ann
Sister England and Isabel
The Benson children are irresistible for all us grandchildren-deprived seniors serving in Mongolia.
Elder Stewart trusted his camera to John


  1. Brother and Sister Farmer, I do hope you will be there when my son arrives! What an amazing, tight knit mission you must have. Bless you!

  2. We leave in April 2014. When does your son arrive? We are assuming that it will be this November. Elder Farmer

  3. I just saw your reply today - sorry! His name is Nicholas and he is supposed to leave the MTC Nov. 12th. My mom knows President Benson's father - they work together in St. George. He is fluent in Japanese and he is picking up Mongolian fairly well - he says he reads and writes better than speaking. He also told me that this past week an Elder from Mongolia and and Elder from Kobe, Japan entered the MTC - so that's exciting. There are four Elders and one Sister in his group. I am so glad you will still be there! I LOVE your blog - it makes my heart so happy. Thank you again! Jeanette

  4. The Benson kids are very cute! Your grandkids here will be glad to have you back in 6 months. Beautiful robe from Alima's family! They are a cute couple.