Sunday, July 26, 2009

Update on July 26, 2009

Last Tuesday we attended Addiction Recovery at Bayanzurkh. It was the 12th week or 12th step, and 7 people were ready to receive certificates (only 5 of them were present). Beginning next Tuesday with Elder and Sister Hitchmough gone, Wes and I will need to open and close the meetings and preside at the meetings. We have a teacher (a facilitator), a class president who takes roll, and a translator.

Wednesday and Thursday was the senior retreat for the senior couples in the mission. 10 couples plus our guide Jangar went on the outing. Elder and Sister Jackson were not able to go because of an emergency in the mission.

Tuesday we wondered about going the next day because it poured and hailed in UB. However, Wednesday morning started out beautiful. We began by going to the ruins of the Manzushir Monastery, about 60 km south of Ulaanbaatar. It is located in the southern entrance of Bogd Khaan National Park. The monastery was established in 1733 and housed 300 monks. The monastery grew to consist of 20 temples and had an artificial lake in front of what was the main temple. In 1932 all of the halls were destroyed in 5 days by the Communist purges. The pictures show the ruins of one temple. Another temple has been restored. When we entered the temple, we were told we had to go to the left in a clockwise direction. In the pictures when you see blue, blue represents the sky and is used to designate sacred places. Sacred places are usually high in the mountains.

From there we drove to Hustai National Park, about 100 km west of Ulaanbaatar. From the monastery we had to drive back to UB and then on to the park. We slept in a ger. It was like going camping and sleeping in a cabin. Shortly after arriving, there was a tremendous downpour of rain. These gers are placed on cement circles. President and Sister Andersen found their ger surrounded by water, but it quit raining and the water subsided by dinnertime. In the evening we played a group game of Guesstures.

The next day we drove through the park to see the Prezwalski horses. They are wild horses native to Mongolia, but the horses became extinct here. They have been brought back from zoos throughout the world, and now there are about 320 Prezwalski horses in 3 locations in Mongolia. 40 foals were born here this year. In appearance they are white around the mouth and have stripes on their legs. The mane has short hair, and their body has different shades of buckskin. Prezwalski horses have two more chromosomes than domestic horses.

As we drove to Hustai National Park, part of the driving is on dirt roads. There can be one or more roads. If a driver doesn't like the road, he'll drive on the grass and soon another road is formed.

As we were driving there was a covey of quail on the road in front of us. An eagle swooped down in front of us and just missed getting a baby quail.

When we returned to UB, we put back on our missionary clothes and had a pizza party at the President's apartment where we told the Hitchmoughs and Clarks what we remembered and appreciated about them and wished them goodbye. The four couples from the countryside were still with us. The Hitchmoughs fly back to Canada tonight, and the Clarks will leave a week from Wednesday after the new couple, the Lassons, come to take their place.

Saturday morning I taught the piano class again. In the afternoon Sukhbaatar Branch held a birthday party to recognize all those who had a birthday from January through June. They also honored the Hitchmoughs who were leaving. It was a very nice social and lasted from 3 to 4 hours. They began with a spiritual part of the program which included testimonies. Elder and Sister Hitchmough were asked to bear their testimonies. Then for the social part the youth performed a cute skit where they reenacted Elder and Sister Hitchmough meeting each other. For a game they had Mongolian Karaoke. One of the elders in the branch Elder Amgalan has a very good voice and won first place.


John & Marjorie said...

It sounds like you are having some really neat experiences while you are there! Thanks for including the pictures. It's fun to see where you've been.