It all started on February 13, 2014 with a family gathering. Scott walked into the room and announced, “I don’t know why we’re all doing this because they’re just going to Outter Mongolia.” Within moments we found that he was prophetic because we were assigned the Mongolian Ulaanbaatar Mission. It didn’t take long to start skyping with the MTC to learn the Mongolian language and we were invited down to the ELC at BYU to participate in some ESL training after completing ten modules on our own. We entered the MTC on June 9th and then we started the waiting game for our visas which had nothing to do with anything we had control over. They came just in the nick of time–on Thursday, June 19th at about 1:00pm–so we left the country about eight hours later and here we are–MONGOLIA!!! We first flew to Los Angeles, then Beijing, China, and finally to UB, Mongolia. It was a long journey yet we were able to keep busy and the time passed.
So…Mongolia! Our first experience in the country was getting through customs and we were to be in different lines and enter as “English Teachers” as the church instructed. We didn’t have any problems…until we reach the baggage claim carrosel. They didn’t have our two big bags with all our clothes in them so Batbold, the mission president’s right-hand man, said he would follow up on it. Still no clothes!!! Earlier, on Thursday, when we went down to church headquarters to pick up our visas, we were told to dress caual for our flight, so we both decided to throw in our “missionary attire” that we had been wearing just moments before. Lucky thing we did!!! We are now living in those clothes…until we get our others from the airport. Of course, lots of other things are in those suitcases too so we’re just making do. Yes, the “just blow-and-dry look” is a bit easier than what I’m used to but I just keep smiling and remind myself that no one here knows or cares about any other look!
Our second experience is driving to get to our new home. The only rule of the road is THE HORN!!! AND…it’s used quite a lot!!! The roads are full of potholes or in repair and it seems to be a contest to see who is going to be in front of one another. If you want to cross a street, don’t think for a moment that anyone will give you the right-of-way! Oh, and people just park on the road but there isn’t any other place to stop. We sit in our apartment and constantly hear horns. Is it a wonder that we passed by a couple of accidents on our way home? None of the missionaries like to drive and it’s understandable! Oh, another interesting thing–cars have steering wheels on EITHER side of the car yet they drive on the side we’re used to.
Our apartment is nice…but old–everything seems old! The bathroom is interesting and the shower curtain HUGS you because the bathtub is so narrow. I would complain but on our way to church we saw people going to the well for water so I’m grateful for a bathtub…sink…toilet…water in our tap, even if we have to boil it!!! The bed is big…and hard! The closet is a wardrobe so we’ll have to see how we’re going to handle it if we get our luggage.
Last night, a senior missionary couple had us for dinner and it was nice. They are from Brigham City so we talked a lot about family–they knew Beechers. The meal was very American but we were very tired so didn’t stay long. Another missionary couple went shopping for us befpre we came and bought us bread, eggs,and milk so this morning we had scrambled eggs and toast. The Englands left odds and ends in the fridge and cupboards as well as meat in the freezer so that will keep us until we find someone who can walk us to a store someplace close.
Today, the Nays (from dinner last night) took us to our branch because it’s in the same building as their branch. They usually walk at a brisk rate for 45 minutes but because the regular road is torn up, they took us on the bus. When we arrived, the sister missionaries were there and stayed with us to interpret throughout the meetings. One of them is from Eagle Mountain so her English was very good. At the beginning of Sacrament Meeting, I counted about 35 people sparsely sitting in the room but after “The Miracle of the Sacrament,” that many more people came in. We had people in pants, levis, shorts, etc. but it was good. In fact, there were several people who were there to investigate all on their own and the sister missionaries have a good week ahead of them! In Relief Society, the sisters gave me a new name–ROSE–because Francom is too hard to pronounce. I’ve forgotten it already!!! We’re going to the Benson’s for dinner tonight so I’ll ask them and try hard to remember it this time!!!
Yesterday, we went over to the Bensons to meet and visit. There was an Area Seventy there as well as another man and we all visited over cucumber sandwiches. We became acquainted with the sweet Benson children–Isabella wants someone to teach her piano, John plays the violin and takes lessons at school, Tommy took Rick into his bedroom to show him the climbing wall, and Marianne is very outgoing for a little one. After everyone left, the Bensons sat with us and we got to know each other. They are amazing and take this calling very seriously, of course! President Benson was very excited when he learned that we were BYU fans–I guess the Utah fans have outnumbered them for some time. We bought all their kids BYU shirts when we were at the MTC but, of course, they are in the lost luggage! It will be fun to give them the shirts. They invited us to Sunday dinner but we’re not sure what time so we’re hoping to get a call…soon! We’ll take the caricature that Kurt drew at that time!
Well, this is a beginning…I don’t know how often we’ll visit and write more but I’m sure there’s more to tell as time goes on. Please know how much you all mean to us–we wouldn’t want to do this without you all. I’m beginning to see how important the internet is and I’m so grateful everyone is tech-y and can be in touch!
We love and miss you all!!! Elder and Sister (Rose) Francom