Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Saints in Choibalsan

Visitors to the church in Choibalsan

Training goals. We needed to do some more Family History training in Choibalasan before the end of our mission. Pres. Benson also wanted us to train on Home Teaching and Visiting Teaching while we were there.  

I was also able to train the Branch Council on the new member and returning member form. I also trained the Branch President on the temple preparation process for members as they plan to go to the temple. 

Our partners. The Branch President currently is a missionary Elder Khash-Erdene. He is a gifted and personable English-speaking missionary who is wise beyond his years. Because of extenuating circumstances, he is filling in until a new Branch Presidency is called.

We have had the pleasure of working with him on Family History with the members in both Darkhan and Khovd. He is one of our good friends among the missionaries serving in Mongolia.
Elders Saruul and Khash-Erdene
He and his companion Elder Saruul (an IT specialist – indispensable for missionaries like us) made our trip effective and enjoyable. 

Another reason our trip went well was that we traveled with Puujee, the Family History Country Adviser for Mongolia. 

We are working hand in glove with her on several projects including our negotiations with the National Archives. Puujee is pint-size dynamite and a multi-talented speaker and presenter. She serves as our interpreter and co-trainer for the trip. 

Our connection with Puujee, Ulziika her sister and the rest of their family goes back to our daughter’s mission in Mongolia 1998 -2000. The unusual confluence of our two families in will be the subject of another blog once our mission has been completed.

We were able to stay at a vacant missionary apartment the Elders had cleaned up during the week. This helped conserve our budget for the next missionary couple.
Sukhbaatar Square is at the Apex of the triangle
UB from the air. After takeoff, our plane flew over the heart of Ulaanbaatar and I was finally able to get some pictures of the layout of the city. I took a few other countryside shots as well. 
Western UB from the air

The view of UB was the view I had always wanted but had evaded me on all our other airplane trips in Mongolia. (Choibalsan twice before, Khovd, Hong Kong and hikes up the mountainsides on both sides of UB)
Tuul River Valley
We brought with us a scanner for the Choibalsan Family History Center and a projector for our presentations.

From one training to the next. We trained Family History Consultants on Friday night and then along with the Consultants, helped members all day Saturday. 
By all day, I mean from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm. We did have a nice Chinese meal during the lunch hour. 

Darlene and Puujee - Chinese meal with leftovers
Elder Khash-Erdene asked me to do a program on communications and conflict resolution for the members. I did one on Friday night and it went quite well. Word spread we repeated the program from 2:30 – 5:00 pm on Saturday.
For something improvised, we came up with something special. Puujee and Elder Khash-Erdene acted as a coordinated tag team on the interpreting, occasionally adding their own commentary and creating a visual whiteboard display. 
Puujee talking to the group
There was role-playing between us and also with the group. Despite my lack of Mongolian language, this went off better than I could have imagined it.

Church in Choibalsan. The next day we attended church, did our presentations during the 3rd hour and had a restful Sabbath. That evening we had a special Family History devotional with Darlene again giving a talk in Mongolian (15 minutes), Elder Khash-Erdene, and myself. We presented a video with Mongolian subtitles, two power point overviews of Family Search and Family Tree and introduced the My Family memory booklet to the members. 

The meetings were well attended. Here are some pictures of our Sunday in Choibalsan.
YM-YW class
The most orderly Primary we've seen in Mongolia
Our Family History group + a few others
Drama at the church. We had one tense moment – better said – several tense moments when Elder Khash-Erdene locked himself out of the Branch Presidents office. Puujee needed her things from the office and her scheduled departure to the airport loomed in front of us. 

After about a half hour of frantic attempts (no other keys were available) to unlock the door by unusual means and several silent prayers, Elder Khash-Erdene finally inserted a piece of hard plastic  in the door that finally released the locking mechanism.  Whew!!!! We canceled the locksmith who had been called and Puujee was on her way. 

Sunrise in Choibalsan. We asked about P-day activities in Choibalsan and the Elders suggested watching a sunrise. Choibalsan is known for its gorgeous sunrises. We missed it. 

Countryside around Choibalsan
Chinggis Khan's sitting between his Peace and War flags

miscalculated the time of the sunrise. We saw a war memorial dedicated to the Russian soldiers who died fighting the Japanese in 1939. 
Names of the war dead
Our visit to Choibalsan was a breath of fresh air. The smokestack is spewing smoke, the vapor to the left is mist from the water plant. One smokestack within 500 miles isn't bad.

We visited the Dornod Provincial Musuem. This picture is entitled, "My mother waits for me."

Portrait of a herdsman

Buriat (Northern Mongolian tribe) Family Tree

Chimgee, the FH Center Director in Choibalsan, invited us for a great meal prior to our departure. Guess who is looking over our shoulder.

Our trip back to UB was a little quicker than the King's travel and our view was better also


  1. Wow. What an amazing week you have had!

  2. I love how you describe Puujee as pint size dynamite. So true! You stay busy on those training trips, don't you.