Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A winter "vacation" in Mongolia

Not every winter day is filled with Mongolian drama
Our winter vacation in Mongolia. We are enjoying unpressured time right now. We learned our next English teaching assignment doesn’t start until mid-February. Our sponsor did ask me to proof his English on a telecommunication proposal - taking about 10 hours of my time.

Life is sure different without preparing lesson plans and teaching. It truly feels like a vacation. At the wrong time of the year. :(
Memories of summertime fun
The weather vacillates between 5 or 6 F above zero during the day to the mid-20s below zero at night.
Life is good!
The smoke in the air, especially at night, is unrelenting. We certainly don’t feel like doing anything extra outdoors. It is cold but bearable – even the animals seem OK with it.

I was able to finish the 90 day Book of Mormon reading challenge 16 days early. Darlene is on schedule to finish by the end of the month. We are organizing our computer files and leaving a historical record and training materials for the next missionaries that replace us.
It can be a little frosty
The mission president has involved me in a couple of writing projects and also gave me a special assignment to help train missionaries on how to resolve conflict within their companionships.
Another goal during our break is to put together a presentation on our mission for our family and church members when we return from Mongolia.

There are a lot of things to think about and way too many pictures to choose from to tell our story. Right now I have more time to write the blog but not many pictures to illustrate it.
The sun is setting on our mission
Family History in UB. We are training PuuJee, the Family History  Country Adviser for Mongolia, on Saturdays to take our place when we leave and be a bridge in Family History until the next senior couple arrives. She is helping Darlene teach Family History Consultants on how to scan, edit, and put photos and stories on Family Tree. 

We are going to be doing some training in Darkhan and Erdenet in the next few weeks to boost the work there. PuuJee will join us on one of those trips.
Ourselves and PuuJee
The UB Family History Center is planning a major Family History devotional on January 26 in advance of the Tsaagan Sar national holiday. It is an ideal time for family members to gather family genealogical and stories during all the family visits and get-togethers during the holiday.
Darlene is working out some access problems with the Family Search helpline and is in communication with the Family Search hierarchy in Salt Lake about her experiences. If you know her, you know she says what she thinks and isn’t afraid to confront problems. The emails are flowing back and forth between Salt Lake and Mongolia. 

National Archives. We are in communication with the National Archives about the Family Search records preservation contract and also my role in doing a Wiki article on Mongolian family names and genealogy. Still no official news on where we are at – but no negative news either.

PuuJee is the contact person with them and she nurses the process along. We understand the Ministry of Justice is reviewing the contract and these things take time. Once they finish, there will probably need to be some negotiations with what they see as concerns.  All vibes are good so far.

Ger frame inside a store - selling Tsaagan Sar d├ęcor and clothes
Tsaagan Sar. Tsaagan Sar begins Jan. 31. Already we feel the rush and excitement of the holiday as people prepare food and their homes for all the guests they will receive. We already have four invitations for visits and that list will grow. 

The night before the lunar new year is called Bituun. This year Bituun is on Friday night Jan. 31. The immediate family has a big meal together and the next day the company arrives. People are either going somewhere to visit or entertaining visitors beginning Saturday, Feb. 1. Sunday will be like celebrating Christmas Day on a Sunday in the US. Local church leaders are meeting this week to decide how to shorten the 3 hour block schedule that day.
The country takes a whole week as work holidays the first week of the Lunar New Year. Most visits are made during the first week of Tsaagan Sar.
The visits continue all during February until all family obligations are met. If the parents or grandparents live in some other part of Mongolia, this means winter travel for family members as they go to honor and be with them.
Here is a link to get a description of Tsaagan Sar. It is like a week long Thanksgiving holiday – the main holiday of the year besides their national celebration of Naadam in July.

Greeting the Lunar New Year


  1. I like the sun-setting picture. We are ready for Nonny and Grandad to come home.

  2. How exciting for Tsagaan Sar! I can't imagine the joy and happiness of all the families - thanks so much for all the pictures. I love how the main celebratory food is shaped like a ger. That, right there, speaks so much about Mongolian culture. The home IS the center of their culture. Wow. Beautiful.

  3. Enjoy the slower pace for the time being. I'm sure things will get busier as you get closer to your finishing date. How wonderful that Puujee will be the carry over person for you and the next Family History Missionaries. What a small world! She will do a great job I am sure. We are still waiting for the baby here. Due on first day of Tsagaan Sar. What a way to start the year!

  4. My, it looks like you’ve had a lovely winter vacation in Mongolia! Is that woman’s eyelashes really frozen? I can only imagine how cold it must be up there, especially this time of the year. It’s so nice to see how you have greater plans in assisting PuJee over there. I wish both of you the best, and I hope to see where your next winter destination would be.

    Robert Wise

  5. Mongolia is just one of those perfect place to spend your winter vacation and I believe this destination is a must visit place. I wish I can visit this place soon for me to see the real beauty that it can cater.

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