Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Winding down, final farewells, National Archives update

Going out with a bang
Winding down. The weather has turned delightful. People are on the streets. There is excitement in the air. We’ll leave Mongolia’s spring and summer for others to enjoy. We’ve had our day in the sun.
Winters in Mongolia have their own charm - Photo by Karl Shuler
We (a term loosely used – think Sister Farmer) are cleaning and packing, weighing suitcases, packing again with a new suitcase that weighs 17 pounds less than the one we are replacing, visiting homes and about to visit more.
Our office has been stripped of our personal things.  Our computer files have been consolidated and stored on back up storage and flash drives. Our plants have been given away. Each day of the week that passes will be the last one we spend in Mongolia.

We will have a few more memories to make. We have more two farewell parties to attend, three more dinners to enjoy, two more opportunities to share our deepest thoughts, more goodbyes and gifts to exchange.

This too shall pass. Life goes on. Those truisms don’t stop being true. Another cast of missionaries and seniors are moving the gospel ahead in Mongolia while we will move on to other things. We will certainly be interested. Part of our hearts will be left in Mongolia while we take our memories with us.
Not all things were rosy. On Sunday night we were aroused after mid-night by insistent pounding on our door. We had been counseled not to open our door to strangers so we weren’t too cooperative with a man speaking in loud and demanding Mongolian.

He then recruited a bunch of teen-age boys who were laughing at our fear and encouraging us to open the door by chanting in English, “We are not bad guys.” They wouldn't give up and go away.  They had promised the man they wouldn’t leave until we looked at his bathroom ceiling. They were practically begging me to open the door and investigate the problem.

It turns out there was a leak from our bathroom to the ceiling of his bathroom one floor directly below us. We made some church related calls for help and a plumber came and shut off our water, the aggrieved neighbor was relieved, and we all went back to sleep –sort of.

The next morning started out at 8:00 am with a series of visitors - our landlord, a plumber, Batbold, the apartment manager for the church – all involved in making the plumbing repairs.
Last Senior couple's meeting - Sister Farmer was helping a patron with her family history when the photo was taken
This drama ended during the noon hour just shortly before our 1:00 pm monthly meeting with the Senior couples and President Benson.   
Mid-week update.  We surprised the members of the Sukhbaatar Branch by attending their meetings this past Sunday. Our friends flocked around us as we said our goodbyes. We were invited to speak in their sacrament meeting. It was a great day for closure for them and us.

We found out that one of the dinners we have been invited to this week in reality with be a farewell party for us and the Sukhbaatar Branch members who can come. So it wasn’t quite our final goodbyes after all.
I had a couple of counseling sessions sandwiched between the other events of the weekend.
Darlene had a final training session with a few of the Consultants on Saturday morning. This was followed by a planning meeting between ourselves and Puujee about our upcoming meeting with the National Archives.
The farewell visits begin. The Bishop of the Unur Ward invited us to come to their home for a Family Home evening on Monday night.
The Bishop and his daughter - a big evening finally wore her out
The sister missionaries joined us for interpretation. There isn’t anything quite like Mongolian hospitality.
Our hostess, Otgonbat, a Family History Consultant, and wife of the Bishop of the Unur Ward 
It was an evening planned around abundant courses of food and leisurely and friendly conversation.  We were asked to share some personal thoughts about our work in Mongolia.
We have a timed group photos at the end where the camera unexpectedly was programmed to take about 8 shots instead of two. It caught us by surprise and caused a lot of hilarity.
We had a final visit to Buyandelger’s home. She and her family were gracious and served a lovely meal. She too was a magnificent cook and presents her food almost as a work of art.
Gorgeous dessert - served with popcorn
Darlene taught her granddaughter Buyanzaya piano and she turned out to be a precocious musician.
We shared memories and feelings for about 20 minutes before the meal began
Buyandelger tearfully shared her fond memories of us, especially of our time together at the Hong Kong temple.  It is hard to say goodbye to such sweet people.
No visit is complete until the photo albums are shared.
A meeting with the National Archives.  We had a meeting with the two of the top officials of the National Archives. With the help of the Translation Department and Steve Nickle, the top Family History person for acquisitions for Family Search for Asia and Africa, we had prepared three great videos (Granite Mountain, Niue Island and a brand new video about Family Search’s relationship with the Guatemalan government) with Mongolian subtitles and voice over to demonstrate the professionalism and contributions of Family Search and how it could help them. The videos were perfect for what they needed to know about us.
Erdene-Badrakh, Puujee, ourselves, and Bilguun
The mood was positive and upbeat, their disclosure of their status and problems with record preservation and digitization was frank and forthcoming. They expressed a strong interest in getting help from Family Search in achieving their goals.
Together we can do this - Photo by Karl Shuler
We couldn’t have realistically hoped for anything better. (It would have been thrilling for us to have the contract signed while we were still in Mongolia but the timing wasn’t right). It looks like the process will take another couple of months to come to fruition with Danny Chin coming in from Hong Kong to complete the negotiations. The contract has to meet legal muster with the Ministry of Justice also and that will take a little time.
During the meeting, one of the directors said to his superior that he had promised us a sample from their census records and he hadn’t delivered on his promise. The Deputy Director waived a secretary to bring in some records and they took pictures with my camera of their records. Just like that! There was no hesitancy.
Sample of a Mongolian census record in classical Mongolian script - names are written across the top
We were dealing with the actual decision-makers in the National Archives  and they wanted our help.  We were happy. We did everything we could during our mission to accomplish this goal and it will be left to others to finish the task.

That is the way all of this will end – it will be left to others to finish the task of Family History in Mongolia. We feel good about our part in this process. It is the Lord’s work and it will happen according to His will and design.

More to come – stay tuned.
We will be following a new path



  1. So beautiful! I love the Mongolian script - Elder Palmer is trying to teach himself as much as possible

  2. I love that Puujee will be carrying the family history banner when you leave. Such a smart young lady!