Saturday, December 21, 2013

“T’is the Season to Be Jolly….”

A weird winter. In Mongolia, we’ve experienced winter’s shortest day, Christmas is around the corner, New Year’s celebrations - both lunar and actual - will come with a bang, and soon April will be here, what is wrong with this picture? Not much, except I think winter’s coldest days are also around the corner and the toxic air pollution only goes away briefly in the afternoons.  

Mid-morning view of smoke in the air from our office window

Our good fortune is only tainted by the knowledge that the worst is yet to come. At any rate, our winter is warmed by our special associations with each other and with the Mongolian people and church members who take most everything in stride and with good humor.
The only problem with our small apartment is when we try to heat it, the roof caves in

Ice sculptures have been created – who knew Mongolia would need prefabricated ice? That’s how mild winter has been. Last year we had to wear ice cleats all winter to keep from falling. This winter we’ve hardly seen snow, let alone ice. As soon as we get a relatively smoke-free night, we will take pictures of the ice sculptures lit up.

Party time. Christmas and New Years have their share of parties – Mongolians love to party – so there is a lot to do and good food to eat. Our new diabetic regimen (Darlene is in charge) limits us in a good way from over-indulging.

We are using up all our baking and sweet goods in the cupboard making treats for others – popcorn balls, chocolate chip cookies, jello salads, desserts for potluck parties and treats for missionaries.
I've learned to clean up my own messes on my mission
I’m the assistant chef and have made a few batches of cookies pretty much on my own - once Darlene has located all the ingredients. I am also good at chopping and cutting. There is a little extra shopping involved for those special items we are missing.

This week we celebrated our last day of English
class, birthday parties for Sister England, Elder
Moore, Moogie (one of the translators), a
Christmas party for the Senior couples and the
four translators who help us, and a senior outing
to the Nutcracker Ballet.

Sister England on her birthday visiting with Sister Farmer
Elder Moore with Sister and Elder Wood

Sisters Farmer, Gardner, Nay, Stewart, Linford, Wood, and England

Our translators: Urnaa, Ulziika, "Moogie", and Monkhjargal (Angel)
Next week there won’t be much of a let up either. I’ll keep my camera handy.
Family History. We had some great Family History moments helping train members on how to edit and post their family pictures on Family Tree. Mongolians love Facebook.
Mongolians love their family pictures. Family Tree is a new place to store some of their treasures family memories. This is fun for them and rewarding for us to be involved in this way.
Last day of English. We love our students – we ended up with a small group so we got to know them well. We held our last class with singing Christmas songs, showing pictures of the class in action, tasting banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, and eating popcorn balls – all new to our class members.
Darlene taught them in English the recipes on how to make these treats. The class gave us some gifts.
Our sponsor, Sharavdembrel, by courtesy of TelecoMongolia gave us Mongolian champion hats and belts to go with the deels they gave us last summer. It was sad to have the class come to an end. We will have one more class to go before we go.

The Nutcracker. Several of the senior couples 
were visiting with each other about getting "grief"

from their children about how much culture

we were getting on our missions compared to

whatever else we did for entertainment before.

It's true!

Our nights at the opera, ballet, ice skating shows,

circus performances, and traditional Mongolian

song and dance shows have been a wonderful

bonus to our missions.

It helps to live in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar where there is so much wealth and talent congregated in a sparsely populated but well-educated country.

It is all right here and it is to our advantage to have access to the best that Mongolia has to offer. The love of music and dance is a huge part of the culture here.   

1 comment:

  1. Your "real" house is much warmer than the purple house! I am glad that you are doing well in the kitchen :) I love the beautiful costumes and what fun to go to the Nutcracker in such an elaborate theater. I am so glad that you get to have some fun! What a cute bunch of English students, too! Have a great holiday! Jeanette