Sunday, July 19, 2009

Update for July 19, 2009

Last week was busy as usual between office work, family home evening at Sukbaatar on Monday evening, the addiction recovery program on Tuesday evening, attending the National Theater again on Wednesday night with the Caldwells and Hodges (in UB from Erdenet) who were celebrating birthdays, attending a baptism at the Chingeltei building (where the Sukhbaatar branch is held) on Friday night, teaching piano classes Saturday morning, and having all the missionaries in the Sukhbaatar branch to dinner on Sunday.

Rain, Rain Everywhere

On Friday afternoon four of us couples decided to take an hour in the afternoon and drive to a Buddhist monastery in Ulaanbaatar. It kept raining harder and harder. The gate to the monastery was closed so we turned around and went back. The rain was very deep everywhere.

The news reported there were 25 deaths as a result of the rain, 7 in Ulaanbaatar itself. Of the 7 deaths in UB, 4 were children with 3 children from one family. 126 families in UB had their gers destroyed by the rain and flash floods. According to the news, the government will pay 1.4 million ₮ to replace each lost ger. Now that might sound like a lot of money, but it equals $1000 each. (

Tithing Lesson

Relief Society on Sunday was interesting. The lesson was on tithing. The teacher put sample budget figures on the board with much class discussion. I was interested in what the figures were.

She projected an income of 280,000 ₮ a month. Our branch is in a ger district. There are 3 people in the teacher's family with 2 grown children. Sister Hitchmough sitting next to me said if the teacher earned that, for a lot of them it was a good salary.

*I've heard that a lot of Mongolians own their own land as a grant from the government, but I figure for those that don't the rent might be the cost of putting a ger on a piece of property.

Obviously their standard of living is not our standard of living. As Americans we don't live like they do, especially when we buy canned goods and American food. The sisters in the class discussed the cost of a bag of flour and other essentials for living. They knew exactly what everything should cost. A very cute Mongolian girl Sister Batchimeg, who had just returned from a mission to Australia, sat beside us and translated. She said the 112,000 ₮ would really be a very low amount to spend for food. The numbers above don't add up to the 280,000 ₮ so I guess there is leeway.

As an example of income, the translators earn 2,500 ₮ ($ 1.79) an hour). With a 40 hour week that would be about 433,333 ₮ ($ 309.52) a month, more than the above example. Our housekeeper is paid even more, 4,000 ₮ ($ 2.86) an hour. I don't know why housekeeping should bring in more money than translation, maybe because they're working for Americans.

Saturday morning I took over teaching two piano classes because Sister Anderson (Dr.) is going to teach piano out at Chingeltei. I'll have to see how the classes work out without a translator because Sister Anderson was paying the previous translator a lot, and I'm not willing to pay that much. Sister Anderson is very generous, but it is way over the going rate for translators. There were a couple of sisters in the office today who wanted to learn to play the piano. I suggested they come to the class on Saturday (I don't know if they will be allowed to use their time to do so), but that way since one of them speaks minimal English, it could help.

Saturday afternoon looking for lightbulbs we went to a furniture store for the wealthy; it was very nice. The prices are way too expensive for the average Mongolian. There is a disparity in income here.

Three branches meet in the Chingeltei building where our Sukhbaatar Branch meets. The branches are good-sized. Our branch had around 170 in attendance on Sunday, more than Ukiah II Ward has seen recently. There are 10 missionaries, who work in the branch, 8 elders and 2 sisters, plus several branch missionaries.

After church Sunday the 10 Sukhbaatar missionaries were invited to our apartment for dinner. 2 of them didn't come, but we still had a total of 12 people for dinner with Elder and Sister Hitchmough and us. (Next Sunday will be the Hitchmoughs last Sunday in UB.) In order to serve that many we had 6 sit at the table and 6 sit around the coffee table. We served spaghetti, French bread (which Wes made), canned corn (which no one ate), cake baked by Sister Hitchmough, and ice cream. It was a very pleasant get together and provided us with a chance to get to know the Sukhbaatar missionaries better. They are good missionaries. We ended with scripture reading, a spiritual thought, a hymn, and prayer.

So I'll remember their names later, the missionaries who came to dinner were Elder Purevsukh, Elder Whittle, Elder Adartseren, Elder Amgalan, Elder Fawcett, Elder Smith, Sister Unurjargal, and Sister Uugantuya. (Here are pictures, but some are a little dark.)