We’ve reached our first week in our new home and we’re doing well. Below is a picture of our apartment building and we live on the third floor. Of course, there is no elevator but it’s not a bad hike at all. It’s old and quaint but comfortable so what more can we ask? We are directly across the street from the Chinggis Khaan Hotel which is a 5-star hotel in the city.
There must have been some important travelers there yesterday because there was even a band playing a loud welcome and buses all around. Notice the green hedges surrounding the grounds. We watched a grounds-keeper with a ladder and old-fashioned clippers work at manicuring it for several days. What a job!!! We’re interested to see when it’s his lucky day to do it again!
This week has been busy…but quiet. We were in an ESL Training on Tuesday and Wednesday with a professor from BYU-Hawaii. He gave us all some good strategies to use in our classrooms when we teach English. All the Elders and Sisters from the mission that are non-Mongolian were present because that is one of our main calls while we’re in Mongolia. It was fun to see the four missionaries that did the ESL training with us at BYU in May. (They thought they knew the language but it was a shock when they arrived in Mongolia!)
Many of the missionaries are not teaching ESL right now because the schools and universities are on summer break so they won’t start up until September. As far as our teaching is concerned, we will be teaching English to the Ministry of Labor–some kind of government department–but we have no idea of when we start. We had a young Mongolian woman come into our office yesterday asking if we would continue teaching the group that Sister England taught on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 3-4:00. So…we might as well begin someplace! There is also a class on Wednesday nights that Brother England taught so we’ll probably pick that one back up, too.
Pictured below is the LDS Church building in UB. It is a five story building with offices in the basement, the main floor is the chapel, classrooms and more offices. The second floor has more classrooms and a big room for ESL classes which is also the Priesthood/RS room, the third floor is offices for the temporal affairs of Mongolia, the fourth floor is the Mission Office and then, the fifth floor is the home of President and Sister Benson. There is also a small dormatory for new arrivals, too. Our office in the basement of the LDS Church Building. Miigaa, our translator, helped us feel welcomed as we first opened the door. As far as our “day job” goes…we’re still trying to figure that one out. We have gone to our office, turned on our computers, opened files, looked in filing cabinets, and read a nice explanatory letter from Elder England. We have corresponded with the Gregorys from Hong Kong and we’re trying to skype with them about training us. We’ve had a hard time connecting with them but we hope to understand more next week. We know we have to help kids study for The Michigan Test–the English test they have to pass to enter into BYU-Hawaii or any other English school–then administer the test a couple weeks after the study sessions. We’re glad the PEF deadline is passed for this year but we have to follow up on a couple of stragglers. It will be nice to learn and understand our part!!! All of the senior couples, except us, are at Youth Conference this weekend. It is very quiet around here! Before we arrived, we were told we would be going, too, but then President Benson changed his mind. We later found out that he wanted us here because we were the only ones in town, besides his wife and two youngest children–he went to Youth Conference and took his two oldest kids. I’m not sure how much damage/help we can be but Sister Benson has our phone number. It rained and rained last night and we did wonder about things up in the mountains as we smiled and went back to sleep!
Sister Benson called yesterday and invited us to go shopping with her. Her driver, Batbold, was behind the wheel, thank goodness and we met at 9:30 and were on our way in the mission van. We visited many interesting shops that are made up of small “booths” and everyone seems to sell everything and anything. At a store called Mercury, Sister Benson bought her fruits and veggies so I did the same. She helped me find cheeses and butter so it was nice to have someone speaking Mongolian and knowing what she was doing. I learned that what we thought was yogurt was really sour cream! Oops…think about it, they taste quite similar! It’s hard for me to go down the meat rows…I have no idea how to pick out a good piece of raw meat but Sister Benson said it really is excellent meat if you can get passed the presentation! Oh my…I’m so glad the Englands left quite a bit of meat in the freezer at home!!! Then, we visited some unique spit-spot stores. Never fear…Costco has even spread it’s magic clear over to Mongolia!!! However, we must be too far away for anyone to monitor because in “The World Store,” where all the Costco items are, they open some of the boxes/packages and sell thing individually but there isn’t much variety of goods. We bought FOUR fruit-by-the-foot and FOUR fruit snacks to share with the kids. Costco sells to this supplier but does not run the store. We only went on the first floor but there are several additional floors with Costco furniture, etc. It’s quite far away but we’ll have to go back for a few things that we Americans are used to and cannot find in the Zawk (open market stores)…maybe in a taxi! We really appreciated Sister Benson
spending the morning with us. She only visits some of these stores every 2-3 months so we appreciate her taking us on her big trip. She is very careful where she takes her blonde children out because sometimes they get mauled by the older, sweet Mongolian people who just want to touch them. We didn’t have any problems that way today. (I think I’m too old to be mauled and I know I’m not as cute as the Benson kids!) We quickly took our groceries to her home and our apartment and then went out to lunch for a burger and fries. We walked home and we were the typical grandparents, trying to keep track of kids running up and down the rock walls all the way home! Fun day!
Well…it’s Saturday so I guess we’ll figure out a cleaning routine. We’re going to do a bit of wash and hang it on the drying rack. I’ve found out that there are worse things and the climate is dry enough here that clothes dry quite quickly! Now…I wonder about sheets but we’ll find out today!
Thanks for keeping track of us…thanks for keeping our world moving while we’re so far away! We love you all!!!
Love, Elder and Sister Francom