Sunday, June 6, 2010

Update on Sunday June 6, 2010

Departing Foreign (American) Missionaries

Finally the day arrived for our 20 American missionaries to leave. It was sad to see them go. 9 of them were transferred to the States; 11 had completed their missions. Elders Whittle and Alder had been particularly kind and helpful to us. They both had been zone leaders assigned to our Sukhbaatar Branch. They translated for us. They took us to homes for Tsagaan Sar. They were a blessing in our lives.

On the evening of Sunday May 23 our Departing Missionary Fireside was held where all of the missionaries spoke. Early on the morning of Tuesday May 25 after the missionaries loaded their luggage in vehicles, they gathered in the parking lot behind the Bayanzurkh building for a song and prayer before they departed. I felt blue for a couple of days like I do when our own children leave. There are only 6 young American missionaries left here. They are sponsored by other organizations to whom they owe the teaching of English. These missionaries will not be able to be transferred outside UB because of the sponsorships. I don’t think the Church has ever before had missionaries sponsored by other organizations.

Socializing with Members
Saturday May 29 after piano we were invited by Pujee to go to her apartment to have lunch with her and her husband. It was a pleasant afternoon; they served pilaf (plov in Russian) with beef.

Then on Sunday we had our recently released Sukhbaatar branch president to dinner, Batjargal, his wife Purevsuren, and their 17-year old daughter. We also had their married daughter Shinegerel with her husband Batmunkh and their baby. Then we invited Shuurai and her daughter Battsengel (she returned earlier this year from a mission to Arizona). Finally, to help translate we invited Orkhontuul (an RM who served in Australia). Actually the only people who didn’t understand any English were Batjargal, Purevsuren, and Shuurai.

Batjargal talked about how the gospel has blessed their lives. I believe they joined the Church in 2004. He has served as branch president from 2005 until 2010. Batjargal and his wife want to go on a couple mission. At first I thought they meant further in the future, but then I realized they meant sooner. They said they had to wait until their youngest daughter turned 18 which will be on Dec. 31. They talked about saving money so they could become missionaries.

They had all kinds of questions about going on a mission. They wanted to know how much it cost to be senior missionaries. They wanted to know if it helped if they graduated from Institute. They wanted to know if they had to know how to use computers to go on a mission. They wanted to know if they had to learn a foreign language. They could well be the first couple missionaries from Mongolia.

Children’s Day

Tuesday June 1 was Children’s Day, a national holiday. The paid employees didn’t work that day. As couples we decided to go out for lunch. We went to Mongolian BBQ. They had a ger set up in the back of the restaurant; the 12 of us sat in there to eat. We enjoy being together with each other; they are all wonderful people. It was also Sister Powell's birthday (the day after) so she was sung to and a cake was brought.

Our Anniversary, Terelj, and Dad’s Heart Attack
Thursday June 3 was our 47th wedding anniversary. We planned to go to the Terelj Hotel with Elder and Sister Eliason to celebrate our anniversaries. We were married June 3, 1963; they were married June 4, 1964. We didn’t make our reservations at the hotel until Wednesday since we were still waiting to find out the status of our passports. We heard that the Labor Department had accepted our applications for work permits and we wouldn’t hear more for a few days so we thought it would be safe to go.

We are still not legally here. Our residence permits expired on May 11, and the Immigration Department is holding our passports. Last Tuesday night just before our English class in the Bayanzurkh building began, a policeman came into the room in plain clothes and showed us his badge. I was sure he was there for us, but there was a Chinese dignitary in town, and he was checking the building to see if there were any undesirables hiding in the building.

We didn’t leave for Terelj until Friday the 4th because 21 new missionaries arrived from the Manila Philippines MTC on Thursday. The van was needed for them on Thursday and also Friday morning. Also both the Eliasons and we needed to orient the new missionaries first thing Friday morning. We probably left UB around 11 am.

The Terelj Hotel is in the Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, about 56 miles away over rough roads. We had a very nice room and were enjoying our stay. About 5 in the afternoon (I could be off an hour; I’m not sure of the time anymore) Wes had a heart attack. His symptoms were he was cold and clammy and was drenching the bedding, he was white as a sheet, he was dizzy and felt nauseous, and he had severe pains in his chest which radiated to his back and his left arm. He lay down on the bed and couldn’t move. At first I didn’t realize how serious the problem was since I’ve seen him be cold and clammy before when he wasn’t feeling well. Wes wasn’t talking, and I didn’t realize he was having severe chest pains. Fortunately for us, the husband of the other couple we were traveling with, Elder Eliason, is a doctor. He took Wes’s pulse, and it had fallen to 42 bpm. He wanted Wes to take an aspirin right away to thin his blood. We didn’t have any on us and even the hotel didn’t have any. We decided we needed to return to UB. Wes had consecrated olive oil in his pocket. Before we left, Elder Eliason gave Wes a priesthood blessing. The hotel didn’t have a wheelchair so Wes had to be helped to walk out to the van. Then it took us a little time to get checked out. At least they cut 50% off the room rate because we were leaving early due to a medical problem.

The drive back to UB was difficult for Wes because the roads were so rough. It took us a while to get back and to drive to the opposite side of the city to Hospital 3 (the traffic in UB is unreal). By the time we got to UB, Wes’s color had improved, but he was still in pain. As we drove past the mission building we picked up Elder Sherwood (who wants to be a surgeon) and Elder Bayasgalan so Elder Sherwood could translate for us when we got to the hospital. We went to Hospital 3 because Dr. Eliason understood that that was the hospital that specialized in heart problems. Driving into the emergency entrance you’d never know it was the right place. There was no sign at the entrance and the road to it was a bumpy uneven rocky road which didn’t seem like an entrance. Hospitals in Mongolia are definitely not like hospitals elsewhere. We probably arrived at the hospital around 9 p.m. Elder Sherwood had brought some aspirin with him so Wes could take one. The hospital wanted to know if we had any water to drink with the aspirin (I guess they didn’t have any clean water) so we went out to the van to get a water bottle. They did give Wes an EKG. The first results were inconclusive because Wes was so cold he was shaking. Then they took a second EKG and said it indicated a mild heart attack. We asked for a blanket because Wes said he was so cold. They put a nitroglycerine tablet under Wes’s tongue. After that Wes said the pain started to lessen. They took a blood test. We had to wait awhile for the results; they said an enzyme level was raised which indicates a heart attack. The doctor who came into the “emergency room” is supposed to be a cardiologist, but after the EKG and blood tests, he turned to Dr. Eliason and asked what he wanted to do. Dr. Eliason replied that the other doctor was the cardiologist. The cardiologist had nothing else to recommend except Wes being watched in a hospital.

It was decided Wes should spend the night. At first they said we should go back to Hospital 2 since only Mongolians stayed in Hospital 3 and foreigners went to Hospital 2. Dr. Eliason said that we were at Hospital 3 instead of Hospital 2 because they specialized in heart problems. Anyway Wes did spend the night there. We happened to end up in a single room instead of a ward. There was a short bed with a hard mattress pad. Wes asked if they had a hospital gown he could sleep in. They didn’t; if you want to wear pajamas you bring your own. They put a folding chair in the room on which I slept during the night. Wes was still cold. I asked the nurse if we could have a second blanket; she said “no.” The nurse offered Wes a nitroglycerine tablet; I said he had just had one so he didn’t receive another, but she gave him two shots – one in the arm for pain and one subcutaneous shot in his stomach (I don’t know what it was). We never saw a nurse again until morning. They don’t come around and check on patients. There were a couple of derelict toilets down the hall. We were told the water for the toilets had been turned off for the night and wouldn’t be on until morning. Interesting the room had a small Buddhist shrine set up on the windowsill.

Anyway after the night, where Wes didn’t sleep well (neither did I), he said he ached, but it was from the uncomfortable bed instead of the chest pains. He seemed better today (Saturday). Since the nurse had given Wes extra nitroglycerine tablets the night before, he took one in the morning. The nurse came around the next morning (the only time we saw her today) and gave Wes another shot in the stomach and took another EKG. The doctor appeared shortly afterwards and said the results of the EKG looked better. I thought the doctor said the EKG was normal; Dr. Eliason said it was better, but he could still see it wasn’t normal. There was a man in the hospital whose mother was across the hall who either teaches or is connected to the International School (university level) which I think is based in Vermont. His English was very good, and he was valuable in translating when we got up to the room.

Dr. Eliason called the 24-hour LDS Church medical service in the U.S. and talked to a cardiologist. The cardiologist thought Wes should stay in the hospital for 24-36 hours in case of further problems. Dr. Eliason tried to explain what hospitals were like in Mongolia; they don’t seem to be much use, but many Mongolians like to go to them for R&R, not medical treatment. When Dr. Eliason came back to the hospital this afternoon to take us to our apartment, he brought propranolol, a beta blocker, some aspirin (Wes can only take a little because of his ulcer problems), and nitroglycerine tablets. The doctor at the hospital never recommended taking a beta blocker or any further tests.

When we were trying to leave the hospital, the nurse said we had to see a doctor first. We waited about an hour. The doctor who came up was a doctor we’d never seen before. We were happy to leave and also to find food since there is also no food at the hospital. Patients have to provide their own food. We’d had a couple of bottles of fruit juice and some apples with us that had to last us. We didn’t get away until about 4 pm Saturday. We will have to go back on Monday and pay since cashiers don’t work on weekends. We had no way of notifying family what was happening. Then by the time we got back to our apartment, it was nighttime in the States.

Dr. Eliason said Wes is grounded to our apartment and must rest. He said we must take the heart attack seriously; there is a danger of another one occurring. The current thinking is that in a few days Wes will fly to Hong Kong for further tests. Dr. Eliason says the stress would be too much for him to travel immediately or to travel as far as the States. Now we just need the Immigration Department to give us our passports back so we can fly. (President Andersen said he received a phone call that we finally had our labor permits about 30 min. before Dr. Eliason called him about the heart attack.)

Wes is feeling O.K. now. We were blessed that it wasn’t more serious since we’d never have returned to UB in time, and even if we had, I’m not sure about the care here. Since Wes had a priesthood blessing and was serving as a missionary, I felt he would be O.K. until we returned to UB. Now we just need to know the cause of the heart attack to prevent another one from occurring. We may get to go to Hong Kong again instead of going to Korea.


Victoria said...

Dear Brother and Sister Stevens,

I’d like to take a minute to introduce myself. I’m Karen with the More Good Foundation in Orem, UT, a non-profit devoted to the promotion of positive, accurate content about who we are as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints online. We’ve created over 340 websites, added numerous YouTube channels, and operated lock-step with the Church to enable members to engage safely in the online conversation. Our focus is to show and help members show what Mormons believe through posting articles on doctrine, snapshots of our lives, photographs, video clips, essays, music, artwork, and blogs about everyday and extraordinary moments in our lives—so that the rich diversity and magnitude of our faith in Christ will be visible to those who do not yet know us.
I’ve noticed that your website on a mission blog aggregate. Great work! We’re working in support the Church’s forefold mission, particularly to share the gospel online and to facilitate that with the members in member involvement. We’d love to talk to you more about what we’re doing and encourage your unofficial representation of the Church and your mission online. We have created tools and other software that we freely share with those engaged in this cause and think it’s profitable if we are united in our efforts to reclaim the internet space for good.
I’d love to arrange a time to talk by phone and share a Power Point regarding the vision of More Good Foundation, and learn more about your own blog, goals and interest in the online conversation.
If you have any questions prior to setting up a time to converse, please feel free to email me or contact my Executive Assistant, Victoria Neeleman.

Karen R Trifiletti, M.A.
Vice President of PR/Marketing

Victoria Neeleman
Executive Assistant