Sunday, December 20, 2009

Update on December 20, 2009

On Saturday December 12 we had a farewell party for Gloria Wheeler who left Mongolia for the second time on the morning of December 16. We enjoyed having her back here in Mongolia for a couple of months.

At church on Sunday December 13 Wes was sustained as a member of the UB East District Council. He'd been called to this position about a week and a half before this date. When you are a missionary and are given a calling, you are sustained, but you are not set apart. Your missionary setting apart covers everything.

In the evening, 14 missionaries spoke at a departing missionary fireside. Firesides are held for new missionaries and for departing missionaries. There is a wonderful spirit at these firesides. 2 of the missionaries had left in November and 12 of them were leaving this week. This kept me busy with completing the farewell books for these missionaries.

As soon as the farewell books were completed, it was time to send the missionary allotments to Salt Lake. Before I can do this, I need to update the missionary transfers. Saturday Dec. 19 was scheduled to be a Big Transfer; almost every missionary was transferred. Thursday Dec. 17 we didn't get home until 9 pm and on Friday Dec. 18 we didn't get home until 10:30 pm because we were so busy.

When new missionaries arrive, President and Sister Andersen take the missionaries to Zaisan where Elder Maxwell dedicated the land for the preaching of the gospel. Wes drove some of the missionaries to Zaisan early Friday morning. It was an extremely cold day. Wes is on the right holding a flashlight.

That evening there was another fireside for the new missionaries.

We concluded the week with a UB East District Conference on December 19 and 20. The Saturday evening session was held at the Bayanzurkh building. Sunday's session was at a conference center in UB. The Saturday evening session was on unity. Elder Lasson spoke on being of one heart and one mind and loving and serving one another. Unity is a commandment. We must have unity in branches and districts, among leaders and members, between husband and wife, and with family members.

"And the Lord called his people ZION, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them." (Moses 7:18)

Sister Andersen quoted Elder Eyring, "The children of God have more in common than they have differences. And even the differences can be seen as an opportunity. . . . The Lord can help you see and value what another person brings which you lack." We need to reach out to each other - those not members, the person sitting by you - and make them feel welcome.

President Andersen quoted DC 38:27, "If ye are not one ye are not mine." Don't worry about opposition against the Church; it can't stop the work of the Lord. My only fear is lack of unity among the Saints. With a lack of unity, Satan is with us, not God. We need to look at ourselves and do what it takes to be more united with our brothers and sisters. We need to point in the same direction and use our energy to pull together.

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and in love one towards another." (Mosiah 18:21)

The theme for Sunday's session was living the principles of the gospel. On Sunday the district choir sang for the conference. Their singing was excellent; we enjoyed hearing them.

On Sunday Elders Caldwell, Eliason, and Powell were also sustained to the UB East District Council. They want the American elders to help with leadership in the district. However this will require language translation. Elder Lasson has been 1st counselor in the mission presidency. This involves all of the five senior elders living in UB.

I also learned that the LDS Church's threefold mission has been expanded to fourfold purposes, but I cannot find any official statement on this. I do see news articles dated Dec. 10, 2009. The following are quotes from the internet.

The LDS Church's threefold mission has been as follows.
1) Proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
2) Perfect the saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation.
3) Redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the Earth.
Source: Spencer W. Kimball, "Remember the Mission of the Church," Ensign, May 1982.

The new group of phrases will be described as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' "purposes," rather than missions, and will be spelled out in the next edition of the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions, due out next year, church spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed this week. "Caring for the poor and needy," Trotter said, "has always been a basic tenet of the [LDS] Church." Elevating it to one of the faith's major purposes brings added emphasis.

Caring for the poor and the needy has long been preached in the LDS Church. In the April 1981 General Conference, President Kimball said, "We all have opportunities to render service to others. That is our calling and our privilege. In serving the needs of others, we are mindful of the words of the Savior: 'Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.'"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Update on Friday Dec. 11, 2009

Time is passing so quickly. It was just Thanksgiving and now it's almost Christmas. Thursday on Thanksgiving Day, which was also Mongolian Independence Day, we had our big Thanksgiving Dinner for all the missionaries near the city (UB). It was an enjoyable party, and I know the missionaries enjoyed the dinner. Sister Andersen's daughter Alice played the bells for a musical number.

We've had many blessings close to Thanksgiving time. The quarantine in Mongolia ended (Dec. 3). Yet despite the quarantine, spirituality increased in the mission. President Andersen reported that 1400 people received the sacrament in homes on the last Sunday of the quarantine (Nov. 29).

William received two job offers and now has an accounting job in Salt Lake City the first of the year and will be able to rejoin his family.

The President had dinner with the Minister of Education who informed him the three waiting couples can come to Mongolia on a 90-day tourist's visa, and he'd help them get regular visas. We're still waiting to see about having our young missionaries come to Mongolia. They will need to have regular visas before they come.

With the new couples arriving, the Whitmans returned to Hong Kong. We're sad to see them go. They've been such good friends and have accomplished a wonderful work in the mission - Sister Whitman being the mission nurse and Elder Whitman helping with the legal issues of obtaining visas. We had the Whitmans, Caldwells, and Lassons over to our apartment to visit and to tell them goodbye on Thursday evening (Dec. 3).

Saturday (Dec. 5) the Andersons (our CES couple who has been waiting since August), the Eliasons (our new doctor), and the Powells (our English teaching couple) arrived together in UB. We are so happy to have them here. Saturday evening we had another party to say goodbye to the Whitmans and to welcome the new couples.

Each of the couples in UB (President and Sister Andersen, the Caldwells, the Lassons, and us) have had the privilege of having the couples over to our apartments so we can get to know them better. The Eliasons came over Monday night, the Andersons came over Wednesday night, and the Powells came for lunch on Thursday. The senior couples are wonderful people and the cream of the crop.

Two or three days after the Andersons arrived and moved into their apartment, the President decided to send them to Choibalsan to be CES and leadership missionaries up there. The couple already there (another couple by the name of Anderson) will then go on to Selenge where there is a gap because the Laytons had to return to the States. We will look forward to seeing our new Andersons again at Christmas as well as the other couples from the countryside.

With the end of the quarantine we had a baptism at Sukhbaatar Branch on Friday Dec. 4 and church in the various wards and branches on Sunday Dec. 6. It was wonderful to see the members and the missionaries again. One of our missionary sisters, Sister Mansfield, had 10 investigators at sacrament meeting with her.

On the evening of Dec. 6, being Fast Sunday, we had our senior couples family home evening at our apartment. Our lesson was on testimonies of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the prophet of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in the latter days.

Without a quarantine I believe our month of easy going time is over - now we have Church on Sunday, home evening on Monday nights, English teaching and addiction recovery on Tuesday, English on Thursday, baptisms on Friday, and piano classes on Saturday morning as well as our regular office work.

Tonight we attended a baptism at the Songino building which is still in UB. I'd never been to that building before. Quite often I think Ulaanbaatar is only the few blocks from our apartment to the Bayanzurkh building, but it is a long city. This is the first time I'd seen a baptism performed in sign language. Also one of our missionaries Elder Khuder, who is very sick (not contagious) and for whom they're waiting for a hospital bed, came and baptized a girl. I was surprised to see him.