Sunday, November 10, 2013

Life in Mongolia, a surprising diagnosis and special events

A trip to Baganuur
 A mild winter by Mongolian standards. Winter has made a few appearances with some stiff, cold winds and some light snows. Even the Mongolians have commented that the harsh brutal weather normally associated with November isn't as bad this year.
Every week the Mongolian winter delays its dreaded arrival shortens the actual experience. This is definitely OK by us. We didn’t put too much thought into this when we volunteered for a 23 month mission that would include two winters. Now we do.
One thing is a lock however – the coal burning pollution in Ulaanbaatar is back in full force. No matter what the temperatures may be, the pollution factor is the biggest hazard we face, day in and day out. We won’t miss it a bit.

Don’t drive here. Another thing we won’t miss is the traffic congestion. We are including a link to a youtube video on driving in Ulaanbaatar for your entertainment -
It is a continual source of fascination to us as we alternately marvel at how few accidents there are and how skilled the Mongolian drivers are and the frustration (and patience) of taking “forever” to get someplace and the creative, imaginative audacity of some (I am tempted to say "most") drivers who circumvent ever known rule to driving safety and sanity and get away with it.
The only rules you can count on is “expect the unexpected” and absence of road rage – “Oh well”, in the game of right-of-way settled by inches, “He won that one but I may win the next one.”

The biggest roads hazards in Mongolia are those strangely courteous and passive drivers who violate the expectations of the hyper-aggressive norm. Women drivers are just as skilled and aggressive as men – they have to be in order to survive. 
Pedestrians are just as aggressive as the vehicles, but that is another story in the daily dance of “I was here ahead of you so deal with it”.
Cars parked in unusual places ("What I have to do is so important that it is inconsequential that my parked vehicle constitutes a major road hazard and traffic snarls") but that too is another daily story creating a “seeing is believing” experience for foreigners.
The roads are another story and how the fear of potholes supersedes the fear of a head on collision.
Having said all that, we have seen great improvement in the roads, beautification and redesigned intersections as authorities try to solve the Gordian knot of too many cars for a suddenly prosperous  Ulaanbaatar.  

A surprising diagnosis. Darlene has been struggling with her health for that past couple of months. Dr. Stewart ordered some lab tests and the results came back “Diabetis.” The diagnosis, though surprising and unwelcome, went a long way toward explaining her loss of energy and other symptoms (frequent urination) she was experiencing.
If there is anyone capable of designing and living up to a sensible diet it is Darlene. It will help that we are both on the same diet. I will benefit from this sudden change of events.
Special events this week.
Elders Bayarjargal, Standley, Torbat, Tolga, Odd and Faber with the guest "hostess" of honor
National Archives. We had a productive meeting with the National Archives regarding a contract between Family Search and the government of Mongolia for recording and digitizing Mongolian census records.

We can’t celebrate anything yet but we are getting closer and closer to our goal. We will update you with more details as they unfold.

Family History in UB and Baganuur. We had our monthly Family History training event in UB.
Refreshments afterward
Darlene helped new missionaries prepare family names for the temple and the same for members going to the Hong Kong temple this week.
Sister missionaries leaving for the Phillapine MTC and the temple  
We traveled to Baganuur (125 km east of UB) on Sunday to speak and train. It went amazingly well considering the obstacles we encountered.

We met Batbayar’s wife (see previous blog) who attended church for the first time since her husband’s baptism. The whole experience with him and his family has been heartwarming for us as we do our calling. He wants us to return and visit his home for dinner. I think we can arrange it. :)
Darlene, Orkhon, and sister form Baganuur
We did some training of the Mission Leadership Council on the relationship between missionary work and family history work. We think President Benson was pleased with the effort we put into our Power Point presentation.

We immediately saw the fruits of our efforts the very next day.  Zone leaders were using our Power Point to train missionaries in their Zone on how to incorporate family history into their work.

An early birthday party. We concluded the week with an early birthday dinner for Darlene. We invited the special elders we have come to know and love in our service in the Chingeltei meetinghouse where three branches hold their Sunday meetings.
This was originally planned as a surprise birthday party for Darlene but nothing gets past her.

Together we planned a special meal and the Elders brought cake and ice cream for milk shakes.
It was like an early Thanksgiving dinner. Somebody has taught Elder Odd how to bake a cake. Impressive! 


  1. I hope Sister Farmer will be able to have a good diabetic diet. Plant strong is amazing! And what a wonderful time you are having in a "mild" winter. My son leaves Saturday. Maybe you will get to meet him. Have a wonderful week and take good care.

  2. Sorry to hear about the diabetes results. Not fun! I'm sure you will figure things out though. It looks like mom is doing lots of cooking lately along with the other work. That pollution is pretty awful. I remember walking out the door in the mornings and coughing right away from the pollution. Bejing has it even worse though. It was on the news a little bit ago that the smog was so bad you couldn't see the car in front of you, and it was causing lots of accidents. Stay warm. Hopefully that winter keeps taking its time to hit. Love you!