Tuesday, March 18, 2014

So much to do, so little time - plus a lot of visiting

Time to be set free
The pace is quickening. Even though we teach one English class a week, this past week has been extremely busy. 
Next to the last class
We are getting a lot done so our last week in Mongolia won’t feel so pressured. We hope.

The eight of the nine treasures of Mongolia taken from the Day in the Life of Mongolia will be inserted between the text of what is to follow.
The nine treasures of Mongolia are interspersed at intervals along this famous painting, "A Day in the Life of Mongolia" displayed in the Parliament building.
Getting ready to go. We are cleaning out our apartment and our office, trying to decide what should go, what is trash and what should stay.
Treasure number one
We have one suitcase packed out of four. We are planning to stretch our food and our money so we don’t wind up with an excess of foodstuffs or Mongolian money when it is time to go.
Treasure number two
In our office we are scanning important files and organizing them for whoever takes our place. The trash bins are filling up. 
Treasure number three
I have finished up a few writing projects for the Mission President and have one more major one left to do. I am feeling better as I get each one done.
Treasure number four
Darlene has finished her last day of piano teaching and we have one last English class to go this Thursday.
Ulziika doing training

Family History Training. We had one final training meeting with the Ulaanbaatar staff and Family History Consultants.

The rest of our UB Consultants
 Darlene has experienced a rush of members seeking her out her expertise with Family Tree. 

Darlene, Puujee, and Ulziika up front and center
She puts her whole heart in it and she will miss helping the members once we leave. It is rewarding for her as she solves difficult problems and experiences the gratitude of the members who seeing her work so hard for them. She has one more Saturday of "hands on" training for those who wish to attend.
Archives contract. We are making one last push for the Archives contract before we leave. In all likelihood the process will linger on after we go but we are hoping against hope that the contract will be signed while we are still here.

We have had some remarkable blessings as we prepare a highly professional presentation for the National Archives this coming week. Puujee is handling the relationships with the Archives leaders while we lay the groundwork for giving them everything they would like to see from us.

Places in the world where Family Search has active acquisition projects. We want to add Mongolia to the list.

We’ve been discreetly quiet about this process and what we are doing. Hopefully we will be telling a story with a happy ending soon.  

Dissertation adviser.  Alimaa is also in the middle of working with her committee on finishing her dissertation research. I am trying to help her over the last few hurdles she needs to clear. 
Alimaa and her 17 year old sister Nomin
Our meetings are taking place with greater frequency. It re-awakens stressful feelings as I have flashbacks to the days when I had to understand statistics, research methods, and describe the results and implications of the research. 

Treasure number five
Alimaa's research has to do with Mongolian personality structure and how Mongolians compare to other cultures, particularly those from East Asian countries.
Alimaa will be publishing my marriage book she is translating into Mongolian sometime later this spring and summer. It looks like I might be in Mongolia in one form or another for a long time to come.
Treasure number six
Marriage help in Mongolia. The Stake President took me aside and thanked me for bringing something new to Mongolia. He said they used to feel they had the battle won when they got all the young singles in the church married to each other in the temple.

Now they realize they need to pay attention to providing help, support, and information to married couples. Counseling and improving listening and conflict resolution skills are new to this culture. 

This doesn’t mean there weren’t any problems. It does mean that everyone was on their own when it came to solving them.

To make things worse, Mongolians, for all their extraversion and outward social skills in the public arena, are intensely private about their personal and family lives. There is a lot of silent suffering as long festering problems grow and grow until they burst into view with little anybody can do to help.  
Treasure number seven
Imagine our surprise to see a couple of foreigners in the picture. Actually this work has its own title, "Twenty-two months in the life of Mongolia". The artist is Tugtsbaatar, a returned missionary who lives in Erdenet.

Treasure number eight
A close examination will reveal the presence of our three daughters in front of
Turtle Rock when they came to visit us in Mongolia.  

Visiting families of missionaries.  We and the other senior couples received an assignment to visit the families of Mongolian missionaries who had been called to serve in Mongolia during the past six months.
We met Elder Saruul in Choibalsan. Here we are being hosted by Chimgee, the Family History Center Director in Choibalsan.

Here we are being hosted by Elder Saruul's parents and sister. Notice anything similar between this picture and the one above.  Quite the coincidence!
Elder Saruul

 These visits have gone extremely well for all the senior couples. We visited with four families and each visit felt like a Tsaagan Sar visit. 

Elder Ulziijargal's family - 16 of 18 members of his extended family are members of the church.
Elder Ulziijargal

Elder Ulziijargal was one of the group of Elders that visited the art museum with us
The food and hospitality were generous, warm and certainly ample in terms of the wonderful meals and visits we experienced.
Elder Murat's family
Elder Murat
We would later see the missionaries and they felt cared for and appreciative that their families were getting attention and support. 

Sister Mungundulgun's family

Sister Mungundulgun
It has drawn everyone closer together including us with them. Some of the missionaries come from part or non-member families so our visits provide a vital communication link for the Mission President.

Goodbye to our friends. We also had a farewell meal with Puje – our dear friend from day one in this mission. Puje has a winning personality and a great sense of humor. 

She is leaving about 10 days before us for a month-long trip to Canada. 

We won’t get to say goodbye when we leave.
We don't like it either

She had us over for a farewell meal with Elder and Sister Gardner. We will miss her and so many others when we depart Mongolia. Some of these friendships will continue despite the great distances between ourselves.
The Gardners and ourselves - we knew each other back in South Dakota eons ago
We are filling up our dinner schedule for the last week of our mission. I’m sure these kinds of emotions will intensify as we draw to the end. Whether we are sad or happy or both, one thing is for sure, we will be well fed.
Time to go home and see our family - 7 children and 27 grandchildren


  1. Thank you so much for everything you do and did as missionaries in Mongolia for the Lord. I truly enjoyed reading your blog and will be sad to see it stop as you leave Mongolia as well, but I am sure it is very exciting for you to see your family after 2 years. What a wonderful example you are both to Mongolians and everyone you come to contact with. I never had chance to see you in person but I feel like I know you both very well through your blog. I am anxiously waiting for the National Archive to sign a contract, so I scan start indexing and start doing more genealogy work. Hope your last week in Mongolia will be full of wonderful surprises and hope your trip home will be safe! I am sure Heavenly Father is saying, "Well done, my faithful servants"

  2. No. I will not allow you to leave. You must stay and stay because I love to see your blog, your joy, your amazing contributions and just everything! I can't tell you the peace that your blog has brought to me and my family. Now, we only have that spartan emailer Elder Palmer to rely on...... I will take pictures of the Woods this weekend when I go to their sacrament meeting. THANK YOU for all you do and have done. You are amazing people.

  3. I love that we made it onto some Mongolian artwork! That is awesome!

  4. That mural of your mission is so amazing!

  5. Love the mural and that we were able to be a part of your mission memories. You have done such great work there. Must feel so good to know you did your best and gave it your all.