Sunday, March 28, 2010

Update on March 28, 2010

Seniors Home Evening
Sunday evening March 14 we held our seniors family home evening at President Andersen’s apartment. We had postponed it a week hoping to first get our seniors back from Korea (the Eliasons and Atkins were still not back). Our topic was missionary work as found in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, lesson 28. One thing I noticed on page 335 was that after Joseph testified about the organization of the church, he promised the people the blessing of receiving the Holy Ghost if they would repent and be baptized. Preach My Gospel, page 198, reads “An effective missionary teaches, testifies, and invites others to do things that build faith in Jesus Christ. This includes making promises that come from living true principles.” I’ve learned that both effective teaching and missionary work include 1) teaching key doctrine, 2) testifying of its truthfulness by the Spirit, 3) extending an invitation to action, and 4) promising blessings. These principles are the same for teaching a class at church as well as teaching by missionaries.

Elder Watson
Elder Watson, the first counselor in the Asia Area Presidency, and his wife came for a short tour of the mission. The senior couples (now including the Eliasons and Atkins) had a potluck dinner at the President’s apartment on Wednesday March 17 where we had an opportunity to visit with the Watsons. We shared what we do to help the work of the Lord here in Mongolia.

Zone Conference
Thursday was our day to attend Zone Conference in the Bayanzurkh building. The theme of the conference was faith. President Andersen said our goal in teaching investigators is for them to have a change of heart, to be like the Savior. The following steps lead to this change of heart.
1) Understand the gospel
2) Gain a testimony
3) Develop faith
4) Ultimate goal is to be perfect – have a great change of heart

Then he explained the kind of questions which will help for each step.
1) What do you understand about . . . ?
    How important is it to you?
2) How do/did you feel about it? Explain how the Holy Ghost works.
3) Will you show your faith in Jesus Christ by . . . ?
    Connect faith in Jesus Christ to commitment.

Elder Watson spoke about faith in Hebrews 11 and Ether 12. He told how President Andersen had personalized By Faith ... to his own life. I challenge all of you children and the grandchildren who are old enough, to write your own personalized By Faith. This would be a great home evening activity. It will give you the opportunity to think of how you’ve exercised faith in your own lives. It is testimony building. I’ll email you the personalized version which I wrote.

District Conference
The weekend (March 20-21) was the Ulaanbaatar East District Conference.

On Saturday and Sunday we had the opportunity to see Brother Duger and his wife Sister Lkhamsuren with whom we went on the temple trip to Hong Kong. It was a joyous experience and gratifying to be with them again. Sister Lkhamsuren was asked to bear her testimony of the temple at the Saturday evening adult session. She said they’d been members for two years. They strived to stay on the straight and narrow path so they’d be completely worthy to go to the temple and be sealed as a family. She said their lives had changed since they’d joined the church.

The Duger family live at least two hours out in a town called Baganuur. To understand the faithfulness of the saints in Baganuur, Sister Lkhamsuren told me (with a translator) that in their branch they have about 100 people at church each Sunday which includes 20-30 children in Primary. For Saturday’s district conference 60 adults came in 3 meekers from Baganuur to UB; they came in time for the afternoon leadership session and the evening adult session. A meeker is like a van in which they crowd people. 20 people were in each meeker for a 2 hour ride each way on Saturday.

They would have arrived home late on Saturday night. Then they left early on Sunday morning, again in 3 meekers, to arrive in time for the 10 am Sunday session of district conference. In addition to the inconvenience of the travel, the people are poor and it cost them money to travel.

The theme of the district conference was sacrifice. On Sunday a new district president, President Ankhbayar, was sustained. The previous president, President Tserenym, is going to attend BYU-Hawaii to finish school. President Ankhbayar’s mother was the first member in their family. His daughter is a missionary in Mongolia and his son will start a mission in May. President Ankhbayar is a very good man; he lives in the Sukhbaatar branch which we attend.

March Birthdays
I believe the March birthdays have started. We’re trying to call all of you for your birthdays. Just with the grandchildren, McKenzie turned 19 on March 1, Rebecca and Reagan turned 10 on March 23, Chelsie turned 12 on March 26, and Skyler turns 18 on March 29. Everyone will be so grown up when we return.

I understand that for Chelsie’s birthday she determined to finish the Book of Mormon before she turned 12 – she finished it at 10 pm the night before. Then she desired to celebrate her birthday by doing baptisms for the dead. She had an interview with her bishop at 6:40 in the morning on her birthday before school and that evening the family went to the temple so she could do baptisms for the dead. Chelsie, we’re happy for your desire to choose the right.

Thursday March 25 we took Namkhai, the mission secretary, out to lunch to celebrate his birthday which was on Friday.

Saturday evening (March 27) was Sister Eliason’s birthday. The couples enjoyed going out to the Indian Restaurant for dinner.

Tonight (March 28) we had the assistants – Elder Christenson and Elder James and the office elders – Elder Sherwood and Elder Cappuccio over for dinner. They are all wonderful missionaries and we’ve enjoyed working with them in the office.

As a spiritual thought Elder Stephenson shared with us DC 123:17 “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.” This scripture was very appropriate. We need to joyfully go about doing the Lord’s work, no matter what happens, and patiently wait for God to carry forth his work.

Saturday morning the President announced to the American missionaries that 20 more of them will be leaving by at least April 21. That means we’ll lose 33 missionaries on that date including those who’ve finished their missions. The American missionaries need to leave 45 days before our Deseret International Charities registration expires so we can try to renew the DIC charter. In addition the church is trying to find sponsors for the last 6 American missionaries so they can stay longer. I don’t believe the church has ever had sponsors for young missionaries before. This means the missionaries will be committed to spending time helping their sponsors such as teaching English.

We also need to hurry up and find a sponsor for ourselves or we’ll also be out of the country when the young missionaries leave in April. We’re hoping to be sponsored by Hospital 2.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

New Mission President for Mongolia, Kris J Mecham

The Church News published this short biography on our new mission president and his wife.(
On my Feb. 13 blog I only knew their names. (

Kris J Mecham, 56, and Stephanie Bessire Mecham, five children, Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission; Ashley Park Ward, Sandy Utah Granite South Stake. Brother Mecham serves as a gospel doctrine teacher and is a former bishop, stake executive secretary, high councilor, ward Young Men president and missionary in the Scotland Mission. President and chief executive officer, Deseret First Credit Union. Born in Blackfoot, Idaho, to Alvin John and Nina Anderson Mecham.

Sister Mecham serves as a ward family history consultant and is a former ward Young Women president, ward Primary president, counselor in a ward Relief Society presidency, stake 25th anniversary history compiler and tri-stake family history center director. Born in Rupert, Idaho, to Duane Merrill and Carole Ann Cahoon Bessire.

Expiring Registration Permits

In Mongolia we come with visas that are good for about three years. However, in order to stay here we must have a registration permit which must be renewed annually. Three of our couples came on a tourist visa receiving assurance from the Ministry of Immigration they would obtain a visa after they arrived in Mongolia. That did not happen. Their visas expired March 5 so these three couples left on March 2 for Seoul, Korea - the Eliasons, Powells, and Andersons (Choibalsan). The Atkins also had to leave with them because their registration expired.

To return, the couples are being sponsored by other organizations here in Mongolia so they can be registered. The Powells and Andersons are returning Sat. March 13. Hopefully the Eliasons and Atkins will return the beginning of next week.

Our young missionaries' registrations are also expiring. Thursday March 4, 10 of our American missionaries were transferred back to missions in the States to finish their missions. It was sad to see them go. Then on Tuesday March 9, 6 more Americans finished their missions - 4 flew back and 2 more will leave with their parents. This is making a big gap in the mission; they were all great missionaries. We only have 26 foreign missionaries (U.S. and other countries) left. Most of them will be gone by June unless something changes.

There is an article in Friday's (March 12) Salt Lake Tribune about Mormon missionaries leaving Mongolia.

Elder and Sister Clark who served as Deseret International Charities directors in Mongolia are back here to serve for another 18 months. They arrived the evening of Thursday March 11. Since they have visas, they were told they could enter the country, but they also need to find sponsors in order to get registered. They will work with the RM (returned missionaries) and PEF (the Perpetual Education Fund). Last night we had the privilege of having them to our apartment for dinner.

Tonight we will have a potluck at the Bayanzurkh building to welcome them and also to welcome the Powells and Andersons back from Korea.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Women's Day

Last Monday (March 8) was International Women's Day. At church the day before and on Monday everyone greeted the women with Happy Women's Day. Although it honors all women, I think Women's Day is similar to our Mother's Day. To celebrate Women's Day the Caldwells, Lassons, and we went out to lunch at Millie's Restaurant here in UB. They have American food.

Then on Wednesday (March 10) the six of us went to a musical concert at the Wrestling Palace which is right at the corner down from the mission office. It was a benefit performance, and we enjoyed going.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

McKenna's Baptism

We missed the privilege of attending McKenna's baptism Saturday March 6. We are proud of her. We enjoyed seeing pictures of her baptism.!/album.php?aid=10796&id=100000551706828&ref=mf

Friday, March 5, 2010

Zone Conference - Obedience

Wed. Feb. 24 was Zone Conference for us. There were zone conferences held on Wed., Thurs., and Fri. in different areas of the mission. The theme for the conferences was obedience. As usual we had to be prepared in case we were called on to give a short 3-4 minute talk.

The following are remarks from President Andersen on the subject of obedience.

Without a sufficient level of obedience you won't have joy. Why do I care so much? If you are disobedient, you won't have joy. Satan is a great liar. He will tell you you'll be happy if you're disobedient; you need to be obedient to be successful.

You must decide to be 100% missionaries. The way of the mission and the way of the world will always separate. As with Joshua say, "As for me and my [companion], we will serve the Lord" (Joshua 24:15). Protect your companion. You can be as the Sons of Helaman, "Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness" (Alma 57:21). You will be blessed by doing so.

The President then summarized some of the mission rules. To be obedient in big things, you must begin by being obedient in little things.

1) Wake up at 6:30 am and keep the morning schedule, particularly personal and companion study.

2) As missionaries you say many prayers each day. Say your prayers on your knees with your companion - morning, before study, after study, evening, when teaching.

3) Lock your heart. Leave it with God until after your mission.

4) Use the phone according to the mission rules.

5) Honestly use your allotment. It is sacred money to be used only for food, travel, and other approved items.

6) Don't listen to inappropriate music.

7) Do not go on exchanges with other missionaries without permission.

8) Never let anyone else into your apartment without permission.

9) Don't take any stupid pictures that will embarrass the church. Remember who you are all of the time.

10) Always, always be with your companion - always within sight and sound.

11) Always dress as a missionary unless there is a special need.

12) Use appropriate language; some words should never be used.

13) Only use the internet to email your family. Do not email anyone else.

14) Don't ever respond to others in anger.

Start with a desire to be obedient. God has promised you miracles. Protect each other like the Army of Helaman. As with Nephi in 2 Ne. 33:15, "For thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey."

Tsagaan Sar (Feb. 14 - 16, 2010)

Tsagaan Sar
For Tsagaan Sar, before church on Sunday (Feb. 14) Elder Alder and the missionaries in our district took us to the home of our Sukhbaatar branch president, President Batjargal, and his wife Pujee. We enjoyed going to their home. Then we went to the home of Sister Shurra and her son Tuvshingayar. I believe he will be going on a mission soon.

Our sacrament meeting didn't start until 2 pm. For church on Tsagaan Sar all the wards and branches in Mongolia only held sacrament meeting like they do in the U.S. when Christmas Day falls on Sunday.

After church we visited the home of Sister Badamkhand and her sons Elder Khuder and Battsagaan and their sister Tamiraa. We visited their home last June when we first came to Mongolia. Elder Khuder is still a missionary but inactive because of health problems (he's been undergoing dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant). Battsagaan has had a call to serve as a missionary in New Zealand for some time, but his visa has still not come. (It came Friday March 12 - boy was he excited; he'll leave Mongolia Wed. March 17.)

On Monday (Feb. 15) all of the senior couples were invited to Baatar's home at 9 am in the morning. I believe there were 12 of us there plus a translator. Baatar speaks limited English. Baatar drives for us on our errands in Ulaanbaatar. We enjoyed seeing him in his home as the head of his family with traditional Mongolian clothing. His family had gone out of their way to prepare a special meal for us.

On Tuesday (Feb. 16) at 2 pm we went with President and Sister Andersen to a home (Sister Chagdgaa?) where the daughter Battsengel had just returned from a mission to Arizona.

Then on Wednesday (Feb. 17) Batbold, the 2nd counselor in the mission presidency, invited all the senior couples to his home for Tsagaan Sar. His meal was not as traditional, but we were served many courses of excellent food.

Tsagaan Sar seems closest to our Christmas in importance and the emphasis on family. Before Tsagaan Sar many families prepare hundreds of buuz to prepare for company. For a centerpiece they have either 3 or 5 breads arranged with candy or dried milk products on top. See the pictures.

I like their traditional greeting; you feel honored with it. Next Christmas I'll have to greet you with their traditional greeting. When you leave, you are presented with a gift.

As though we hadn't eaten out enough this week, we went to dinner on Sat. February 20 with the Eliasons at a Chinese restaurant.

On Friday March 5 we had the opportunity to go to dinner at the house of Gansukh and his mother. She also presented us with gifts just like for Tsagaan Sar. One of the gifts was a bag of many bones with which to play all sorts of Mongolian games.

Work in the Office
Work in the office came to a standstill with Tsagaan Sar. On Thursday (Feb. 18) Mongolian missionaries arrived from the Manila MTC. They spend about 19 days in the MTC and attend the Manila Philippines Temple while they are there. This meant a transfer on Saturday Feb. 20.