Saturday, January 2, 2010

Update for Christmas 2009 and New Year's

Christmas is coming and there hasn't been time to think about it. Monday night (Dec. 21) getting home after 8:30 p.m., I decided to stay up late and bake goodies for Christmas plates. Among my Christmas plates we made one for the stair lady in our apartment building. The stair lady is a lady who acts as a guard for the building and lives under the stairs on the first floor.

For Christmas all of the senior couples and all of the missionaries, except for a few who live way out, came into UB for Christmas. The senior couples all arrived on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wes picked up Elder and Sister Richard Anderson from the airport on Wednesday and invited them to come over to our house for dinner.

On Tuesday December 22 we received word in the mission from the Minister of Immigration that our waiting 18 American missionaries can get visas and come to Mongolia. This is great news, but since then, the lady under the Minister of Immigration has been stalling us again.

In anticipation of Christmas Day, Wes and I had dels, traditional Mongolian clothing, made by Adiyabold's mother. He is the first counselor in the stake presidency. We only purchased the material on Tuesday, and she had the dels finished by Thursday.

Mission Conference
Thursday December 24 was an all-mission conference; the theme was sacrifice and consecration.

This year over 100 missionaries have been called to serve missions from Mongolia. That is over 1% of the membership of the church in Mongolia. The saints here are fulfilling Elder Maxwell's promise of Mongolia becoming a beacon light to other nations. The entire church would have 200,000 missionaries if they were as faithful as Mongolians.

The following instructions were given to the missionaries by President Andersen. Missionaries are going 2 x 2 to support each other and to protect each other. Missionaries are never to be alone. They are to be with their companion at all times - within sight and hearing. There are no exceptions. Missionaries are to arise and retire at the same time. Their responsibility to care for their companion is to the Lord, to the mission president, and to the companion.

We must live so God is among us. The city of Enoch was a Zion. We need unity within our districts and zones. If we have charity, we forgive others, we expect the best of others, and we are content. Pray for one another.

Elder Hoffman, an assistant to the President, who is now leaving the office to open a new mission district in Bulgan, spoke about consecrating ourselves and giving all we have to the Lord, about having our eye single to the Lord.

Matt. 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

DC 4:2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

He quoted 2 Ne. 32:9: "But behold, I say unto you that ye must pray always, and not faint; that ye must not perform any thing unto the Lord save in the first place ye shall pray unto the Father in the name of Christ, that he will consecrate thy performance unto thee, that thy performance may be for the welfare of thy soul."

We need to do the work his way. We need to pray for guidance. We must forget ourselves and become missionaries. We need to sacrifice and consecrate ourselves. We will then receive blessings from God.

One girl in giving a short missionary experience told about a family who was joyfully accepting the gospel. She and her companion were afraid to teach the lesson on tithing because the family was poor and had been chopping up their front stoop to have wood to stay warm. When they taught the lesson on tithing, the family said, if God gives us things, we'll be happy to return to him 1/10 of what he gives us.

President Andersen concluded by telling the missionaries to search their hearts and see if there are things they need to change. He quoted President Kimball, "So much depends upon our willingness to make up our minds collectively and individually that present levels and performance are not acceptable, either to ourselves or the Lord." He said DC 4 talks about being called, and then the rest of the section talks about becoming: heart, might, mind, and strength and the attributes of the Savior.

To truly become missionaries, three things are necessary: sacrifice and consecration, charity, and being full of urgency. As missionaries we need to let go of things in the world, not necessarily bad things, but things keeping us in the world. In the temple we covenant to sacrifice all things; it is not required except on a mission. If we think of giving up things as sacrifice, we probably don't have the right spirit.

1 Corinthians chapter 12 talks about spiritual gifts. Verse 13 tells us to covet earnestly the best gifts. Chapter 13 tells us the best gift and the more excellent way is charity. If you pray for charity, you will be filled with this love (Moro. 7:48).

A missionary who is full of urgency doesn't just feel that he should be working hard, but he feels the importance and immediacy of the work. We must thrust in our sickle with our might (DC 4:4).

As missionaries, pray for the vision of who you can become and of the work you can do. When you are truly a missionary, you are obedient. You become like Christ - full of love. The greatest miracle is the miracle within each of us.

The mission conference was great, but it didn't seem like Christmas. I would look at the calendar to see what date it was. Thursday evening on Christmas Eve the senior couples had fun getting together in the President's apartment for conversation and treats. I brought meatballs. You can't buy ground pork here, but I bought some pork and the Caldwells ground it for me.

Friday was a wonderful Christmas Day. It had three parts to it - a Christmas devotional in the morning, a Christmas dinner and talent show at a local restaurant, Ikh Mongol, owned by Richard and Baagii, and then in the evening an outstanding performance by the stake choir. The choir also sang in the lobby of the Chinggis Hotel on Wed. Dec. 30.

Friday Christmas morning we arrived at the church at 7:30 a.m. We began by practicing bells for the devotional. We've been practicing every morning at 11 a.m. for a couple of weeks. From 8:15 to 8:45 I played Christmas carols for the devotional music. For the devotional we had talks, music including 3 bell Christmas carols played by the senior couples, and then we watched the First Presidency Christmas devotional.

In Elder Powell's talk he referred to inviting others to come unto Christ and be baptized as inviting them to access the power of the atonement in their lives immediately - not only to be forgiven from their sins, but to receive comfort from their pains and suffering. When the Savior appeared to the Nephites after his resurrection, his first teaching to them was on baptism (3 Ne 11:21-41). Baptism enabled them to access the power of the atonement which had just been performed for them and for all of us (3 Ne 11:11, 14).

From the church we went to the restaurant. Wes didn't go to the dinner and talent show. All of a sudden he was turning white. I believe his blood sugar had dropped.

The missionaries had a wonderful time and enjoyed getting together and the entertainment. I'll post some pictures, but you may also see pictures taken by the Lassons at

Senior Conference
Saturday (Dec. 26) we had a senior conference and a senior Christmas dinner. At the conference President Andersen reminded us of the unique position of the church in Mongolia. It is the largest Christian church here and that helps account for the attention we get from the government. The example we set makes a great difference.

The President quoted DC 58:26-28.
26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.

When good people are put in that position, they are so busy, they are blessed and gain their reward. Our senior couples come back to Mongolia because they are agents unto themselves and do good.

The couples were then given their assignments - some changes were made. Addiction recovery will be moved from us to Elder and Sister Powell.

Senior Turkey Dinner
We went back to the Ikh Mongol restaurant for a turkey dinner at noon. The turkey tasted good. I wished I had a spoon to eat the gravy on my plate.

In the evening we wanted to know if anyone had enough energy left for games. President and Sister Andersen came to our apartment, and we played Alabama dominoes (Elder Clark's version).

Sunday (Dec. 27) we attended church at Sukhbaatar branch. We know it was Wendy and Travis' anniversary, but we couldn't reach them on Skype.

Tuesday (Dec. 29) was Wes' and Jim's birthdays. We did reach Jim since Cheryl and Jim were visiting at Suzanne's house for Christmas. Happy Birthday!

Thursday we went food shopping with Baatar because we were told the stores would be closed on New Year's Day. People send cards to each other for New Year's; it is an important holiday for them. When we returned from the stores, we saw a group of young boys wearing Santa outfits. It seems the Mongolians have adopted the fun parts of Christmas and added it to their holiday. They think Christmas and New Year's are the same thing.

In my English class in the Bayanzurkh building before Christmas, I showed them the Christmas story using pictures from the internet. Then we read together Luke 2. I wanted them to have some idea of what Christmas is really about.

The young missionaries were told to be inside by 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve to avoid drunks. Drinking is part of the Mongolians' New Year's Eve celebration.

New Year's Eve the couples went over to Bayanzurkh for treats and some fun group games, courtesy of Sister Powell. I made cheese balls. Dad made divinity, but he didn't quite like how it turned out.

Last night on New Year's Day we attended a Returned Missionaries Ball at one of the ward buildings. It was very fancy and nicely decorated. The girls wore beautiful dresses, and the boys wore suits. The ball was for single and married returned missionaries. There were a lot of people there. We were impressed with their dancing. The church here in Mongolia appears to be built upon the returned missionaries. All of the members of the stake presidency and the district presidency were there. They're all relatively young.

Tonight (Joan's birthday) we were invited to Elder and Sister Eliasons for dinner. Elder Eliason is our mission doctor. We had a pleasant evening visiting with them. Sister Eliason made a birthday cake to celebrate Wes' and my birthdays.

At the end of the year we are thankful for our many blessings. We are thankful for our wonderful family, their good lives, and their testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are thankful for our wonderful friends. We are thankful for our membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are thankful for the opportunity we have to serve the Lord in Mongolia. We are thankful for all of your prayers for us. Please tell the grandchildren particularly, thank you for your prayers.

Missionary work takes a lot of energy. I've had some falls, and one day a car backed into me and I fell over. We know your prayers help and protect us. We love you and are grateful for you.


Wendy said...


Pappo - Darwin said...

The one picture looks like Wes has a fox hibernating on his head