Sunday, May 24, 2009

Update on May 24, 2009

What I’ve enjoyed is attending the baptism at Chingeltei on Fri. May 8th, attending church at the branch at Nalaikh on Sun. May 10th, and attending church at the branch at Sukhbaatar on Sun. May 17th. The people are very friendly and line up to be sure to shake everyone’s hand before the meetings begin. The meetings themselves can be difficult because they are all in Mongolian. A missionary translator sits behind us, but we lose a lot in the translation.

At the baptisms here first they have the talks on baptism and confirmation as we do, but the talks are much longer. Then after the baptism, all the new converts stand in front and bear their testimonies. The Mongolian brothers and sisters have no problem standing on their feet and bearing their testimonies and giving talks.

Today we attended church at the Selbe branch at 10 a.m. in the Bayanzurkh building (the mission office building). We attended here instead of our assigned branch because Wes had a meeting here at 11:30 a.m. In this branch there is an English Sunday School class. It was great hearing a lesson in English. I don’t know if the class will continue because several of the people in the class are leaving Mongolia.

Backing up to last Saturday night (May 16th) we had our Cinco de Mayo party at President and Sister Andersen’s. It was fun getting together. There are some good cooks in the group. They even made a piñata with candy inside. A group game they played afterwards had everyone divided into two groups. The leader said the word “sun.” Each group had to take turns singing a song with the word “sun” in it. The group only had to sing maybe 6 – 10 words of the song (I forget how many), but they could sing the whole song. When one group got stuck and couldn’t think of another song, the last team to sing a song got the number of points for how many songs had been sung. The next word from the leader was “rain,” and we went back and forth with that song.

Sunday evening (May 17th) was a departing missionary fireside. There were eight sisters and one elder leaving. The room was packed with missionaries, RM’s, and other Church members. The district president, President Odgerel, spoke first. Then each of the departing missionaries bore his/her testimony. It was a special meeting and reminded me of the zone conference with Elder Perkins.

One lady in attendance at the departing missionary fireside was a Polish lady who lives in Finland and is writing a thesis on religion. Elder Clark invited her to take the missionary discussions to help her with her thesis. Elder Clark doesn’t lose any opportunities to invite people to hear the gospel.

During the week we work in the office. We get there a little after 8 in the morning and stay until around 6 p.m. or later. We do leave the office for teaching our English classes. We taught our first hospital classes last Tuesday and Thursday to doctors at Hospital 2. Some of the students do know some English, but they haven’t talked much with Americans. We found some materials on discussing a patent’s health ailments; however the doctors will need to use a dictionary for more complicated medical terms. There are doctors coming from Utah in a week or so to have a conference with them.

The Tuesday and Thursday evening class is taught at Bayanzurkh. I don’t know how many in the class are members of the Church. The building is a popular place. People come in and attend classes and activities; they say they like the feeling in the building. Tuesday night we just observed; Thursday we taught the class for the first time. The class turned out great.

An hour before class I went down to the room and rearranged the tables and chairs so I could see down the lengths of the tables and relate better to the students and wander among them. When I got to the class at 6 pm, the students had helpfully(?) rearranged the tables and chairs back to their usual arrangement. They then helped me restore them to my arrangement, but I had a couple of tables angled, and they thought the tables should make right angles with the walls.

There is stress with teaching the English classes since we’re new to it and have to find materials and decide what we’ll teach to both classes each Tuesday and Thursday. Saturday morning I helped Sister Anderson teach her piano class. She is in charge so I don’t need to think about what I’ll teach at this point; I can just help students at the keyboards.

Friday night we were supposed to attend the baptism at Sukhbaatar, but we didn’t get there. Professor Otgon from Hospital #2 called us late Friday afternoon and asked if we could look over a grant application which the hospital had written in English. It may be for the American doctors who are coming. I went over the English, asked him what he meant by certain phrases, and corrected them. It took a while. I think the doctors at the hospital didn’t want to be embarrassed by their application.

Well I’ve now found four things to cook for dinner. I’ve cooked tuna noodle casserole, burritos with refried beans (made from scratch), scrambled eggs and pancakes, and today I made pork stir fry. The pork was the first meat I’ve purchased. Sister Andersen recommended it, and it came nicely packaged. I still have been too squeamish to buy beef; I’m afraid I’ll end up with horse meat instead of beef.

I still need to find some chicken bouillon cubes so I can add more recipes. You can find a lot of things here, but you need to keep looking for them. You just can’t go to a store and find what you want right away. I’ve been told if you find something you want, buy it right then. There are a couple of stores that look more like our supermarkets, but most of them are vendors side by side, selling whatever they’ve found to sell.

It has surprised me to occasionally see Costco’s Kirkland brand here. Bonnie, I’ll be sending you a request for Greg to take some spices out of my cupboard, put them in a padded envelope, and send them to me.

Let us hear how all of you are doing. We miss you.