Friday, March 5, 2010

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.