Sunday, August 23, 2009

Update on August 23, 2009

President Andersen has been at a Mission Presidents' Seminar in Hong Kong this past week. The office has been quieter.

Wes finished the audits for Sukhbaatar, Khailaast, and Chingeltei branches. The Asia Area has the reputation of having 100% of their audits finished and turned in on time by the end of August each year.

This week's addiction recovery was step 4: Truth. Participants are to review and write a moral inventory of their lives, listing their strengths and weaknesses, being honest in what they write, and seeking guidance from the Holy Ghost.

Reviewing your life
"I invite each one of you to thoughtfully review your life. Have you deviated from the standards that you know will bring happiness? Is there a dark corner that needs to be cleaned out? Are you now doing things that you know are wrong? Do you fill your mind with unclean thoughts? When it is quiet and you can think clearly, does your conscience tell you to repent?

“For your peace now and for everlasting happiness, please repent. Open your heart to the Lord and ask Him to help you. You will earn the blessing of forgiveness, peace, and the knowledge you have been purified and made whole. Find the courage to ask the Lord for strength to repent now” (Richard G. Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 103; or Ensign, May 1995, 77).
Para Olympics in Mongolia

Thursday morning most of the seniors (Lassons, Caldwells, Stevens, and Elder Jackson) went to the Para Olympics. It is a wonderful event. Elder Jackson, in the name of the Church, sponsored the event and bought the trophies and plaques.

We were impressed with the participant's effort and abilities. What we learned from watching them is that you just need to face the right direction and keep going. Also we learned not to coast when you get near the end; keep going.

A large group of our L.D.S. single adults came and helped with the event; we were proud of them. We understand in the afternoon they tied a string from a blind runner to one of our single adults so the runner would stay on course. But a single adult sometimes had trouble keeping up with the blind runner.

Stake Conference in Ukiah
This Sunday morning before church we were able to listen to the Saturday evening session of stake conference in Ukiah, California on the internet. Because some areas of the stake are a long ways away, this was an experiment to broadcast conference to the outlying areas. We enjoyed seeing the people and hearing the talks. Among the speakers were President and Sister Bunker, the new mission president for Santa Rosa, California, and President and Sister Hunter (son of President Hunter), the Oakland Temple president.

The Sunday morning session broadcast will be broadcast at 1 am this Monday morning. I'm not sure we'll be up for that session.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Update on August 16, 2009

In the office this past week we were happy to have the mission budget completed and turned in to Hong Kong. Saturday Aug. 15th was transfer day for the missionaries. Many missionaries were transferred. Because of missionaries who just completed their missions, we have 16 mini missionaries serving right now. This gives us 178 young missionaries. We have about 200 missionaries including the seniors and President and Sister Andersen. The number will increase in September with about 34 new missionaries - 13 from the States and about 21 Mongolians.

Tuesday night was Addiction Recovery step 3: Trust in God. In step 3 we make a decision to open ourselves to God and surrender our entire lives—past, present, and future—and our will about our lives to Him. Step 3 is an act of agency. It is the most important choice we ever make.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated:

The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He has already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him (Insights from My Life, Ensign, Aug. 2000, 9).
Reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved (2 Nephi 10:24).
Sunday after Church we enjoyed having our 10 Sukhbaatar missionaries over for dinner - Elders Whittle, Byambadorj, Jargalsaikhan, Amgalan, Fawcett, Munkhbayar, Balsansambuu, a mini missionary, and Sisters Zolboo and Uugantuya. We ate pulled pork on homemade hamburger buns, homemade potato salad, homemade coleslaw, watermelon, and homemade chocolate cake with ice cream.

The conversation flowed nicely. Some of the Mongolian elders speak a little English. Between our English, their English, their Mongolian, and continuing translation by Elder Whittle we communicate with each other.

President Goo, the president of the Hong Kong Temple, came to Mongolia; Mongolia is in the Hong Kong Temple district. Brother Yip from Ukiah is a counselor to him in the Hong Kong Temple presidency. President and Sister Goo arrived Friday night, drove 4 hours up to Darkhan Saturday morning to speak at a 10 am fireside, drove the 4 hours back to Ulaanbaatar, and spoke at a 4 pm fireside for endowed members. Sunday night he spoke again at a fireside in Ulaanbaatar.

The Goo's are Chinese, but their home has been in Hawaii. Sister Goo said as they were raising their children, they went to the temple a lot; they had weekly Friday night dates to the temple. The temple is her sanctuary where she feels the presence of Heavenly Father and knows he loves her. The temple has great power to bless our lives. We need to teach our children the importance of the temple by our good example. The temple is connected with the Savior's atoning sacrifice. Without temple ordinances, his sacrifice is in vain; we cannot move onto eternal life.

In Mongolia where members cannot attend the temple frequently, they need to have the temple with them in their hearts; they need to remember the feeling they had when they received their own endowment. Every day walk uprightly before the Lord and keep your covenants. Then you will have the temple inside of you.

President Goo taught that the new and everlasting covenant is the fulness of the gospel. It includes the temple covenants and ordinances. Eternal marriage is the crowning ordinance of the temple.

President Goo referred to DC 109:8, 15, and 24. We can organize and prepare ourselves by having daily personal prayer, daily scripture study, weekly family home evening, attending our Church meetings, keeping the command- ments, and building the kingdom. Verse 15 tells us the Lord will bless us by granting to us a fulness of the Holy Ghost, and verse 24 tells us the Lord will establish us for all eternity.

DC 109:24 was referred to in a talk by Elder Bednar at April General Conference. President Goo emphasized three words: honorably, name, and standing. 1) Honorably - obey, trust, give glory to, respect, conduct affairs with integrity. 2) Name - to hold a temple recommend. 3) Standing - length of time or duration, not changing, immovable, high reputation, frequent attendance; constant continued use of recommend.

President Goo recommended that members who cannot yet go to Hong Kong to receive their endowment ask their bishop or branch president for a practice temple interview to prepare themselves to go to the temple. For members who have already received their endowment, he said they should always keep their recommend current even if they can't travel to the temple; there are many things they can do to promote temple work including family history.

Elder Bednar at Conference quoted Brigham Young, "Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable."

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Update on August 9, 2009

Outgoing Pouch Mail Discontinued
We received notice on Monday that outgoing pouch mail has been discontinued. That will be a disadvantage, particularly to senior couples. People can still send a folded sheet of paper with the pouch address and a stamp to the mission. However, anything we send to the U.S. other than official correspondence will have to go through the Mongolian post office. That will be more costly, slower, and less secure.

We still continue as busy as ever with our responsibilities for the office, Monday night YSA home evening, Tuesday night Addiction Recovery, Friday night baptisms at the Chingeltei building (3 branches: Sukhbaatar, Chingeltei, and Khailaast), Saturday morning piano classes, and Church. We need to bring refreshments to the Monday night home evening and the Tuesday night Addiction Recovery. In September we will again add two English classes on Tuesday and two English classes on Thursday. Some day I'll enumerate our office responsibilities; we're too busy doing them right now to list what we do.

Last Monday night (Aug. 3rd) we attended the YSA home evening. Afterwards they usually have an activity, but this time there was no activity. They were hurrying home to read their mission calls. Three members had received calls, one to New Zealand, and two to Mongolia. Later I learned they were all going to be together to read their calls, and we could have joined them, but we didn't understand that at the time. Elder Battsagaan, at whose house we had previously had dinner and attended family home evening, received the call to New Zealand. His English is already pretty good. His father was an English teacher.

Thursday night we had the pleasure of inviting Elder and Sister Lasson to our apartment for dinner. New couples are invited to the apartments of all the senior couples in UB to welcome them and for us to get better acquainted. We are no longer the newest couple here; we've been here three months.

Friday night we had a fast for the missionary work here in Mongolia. There has recently been a lag in the work. Also the fast was for Elder Godfrey who has only been here since July 2nd. He started having problems in the MTC, and they are getting much worse here. He is in constant pain; the medical people think he has fibromyalgia. He so wants to serve his mission, but unless he gets better, it won't be possible. We ended the fast after the Friday evening baptism.

Three people were baptized. A young girl Bolormaa was baptized from Sukhbaatar; another girl and a young man from the other branches were baptized. The other girl baptized was a sister of the missionary, Elder Galmandakh, who baptized her. There is a tradition at baptisms here. After the new members are baptized, when they return to the chapel they are called on to stand up at the pulpit and bear their testimonies to those present. There were about 70 people at the baptism.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Update on August 2, 2009

On Friday evening July 31st we went to Nailaikh Branch (40 km away). The Caldwells bring dinner to the 10 missionaries whenever they have a baptism. The baptism for that day was cancelled, but the Caldwells still brought dinner. We were invited to go with them. Nailaikh was the first branch we attended when we came to Mongolia. We enjoy getting out of the city and going to the countryside.

We also stopped at the huge Chinggis Khan monument (54 km from UB). From the top of the building, the monument of Ghinggis Khan and his horse is 40 m high. It was completed in commemoration of the 800th anniversary of the Great Mongol State (2006).

On Saturday night (Aug. 1) we had a farewell party at the Bayanzurkh building to say goodbye to the Clarks. It will be hard to see them go just as it was hard to see the Hitchmoughs leave. Both couples were an integral part of the mission and accomplished great work. The Clarks did humanitarian projects with Deseret International Charities; Elder Clark was also first counselor in the mission presidency. The Hitchmoughs worked with the English program and addiction recovery. In addition Elder Hitchmough was on the district council, and Sister Hitchmough was active with service projects.

About midnight on Saturday a new couple arrived from Cottonwood Heights, Utah, the Lassons. They are a wonderful couple and will be a great addition to Deseret International Charities and missionary work. At the senior couples fireside, which was held at our apartment on Sunday evening (Aug. 2), the lesson was on Redemption for the Dead. During the discussion I realized how outstanding all of our senior couples are. They have raised fine families with children and grandchildren and have been active in the Church and in leadership positions and in family history and temple work; they have done all the things faithful Church members are asked to do.