Happy July 4th everyone!!! We had a good old American BBQ at President Benson’s home for all the senior couples and the Bensons since we all just happen to be Americans. We had hamburgers, hotdogs, potatoe salad, carrot salad, watermelon, chips and a variety of desserts. The Benson children had decorated their home with flags and were dressed in red, white, and blue. We had a fun dinner then the president asked us all to tell what we missed about our homeland. The responses were varied from family, founding fathers, restoration of the gospel, family members migrating, etc. That was a solemn time for us all–we all certain appreciate America! Afterwards, we said “The Pledge of Alligience” and sang “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Then, we did something completely un-American–we played “Ankle Bones!” It is a variety of games that you play with the ankle bones of sheep–these bones actually have four unique sides!
OK…so let’s talk about the learning curve that we are experiencing! I know you will maybe think it should have been common sense but…just YOU wait until you find yourself in such a foreign land!
First, I’ve already mentioned mistaking sour cream for yogurt. Next, we made a meatloaf and baked potatoes with carrots last Sunday for dinner. The oven’s highest cooking temperature was 300 degrees so I set it for that, our dinner started cooking, and then the power went out!!! (Power going out is quite a common occurrence!) What??? I decided to leave our dinner in the oven and maybe it would still cook. Sure enough–we had a pretty good dinner! Well, I decided to make brownies for the July 4th BBQ and did the same thing again even though the directions said 325 degrees–300 degrees was the max. Within 15 minutes the whole apartment was full of smoke and I had burnt the brownies! What happened? Well, I learned that the oven measures CELCIUS, not FARHENHEIT!!! Yes…I was baking brownies at 572 degrees!!! Thank goodness the power went out earlier so the meatloaf was not a loss!!! Yes…the second batch of brownies was much better.
Another “learning experience”–we ran out of milk and so walked to the market. We bought milk and yogurt and a couple of other items. The following morning, I was looking forward to milk on my oatmeal. I poured it and found that I had bought yogurt thinking it was milk! “Cyy” is milk and “Tapar” is yogurt and don’t try to pronouce them because you’d be wrong! Now we have twice as much yogurt and no milk but we’ll be looking at the labels more than the packaging next time!!!
We also bought some salsa for taco salad…it was spaghetti sauce! But, it was way richer and chunkier than Rague and it wasn’t bad in the salad with spaghetti the following night!
I was supposed to bring the hamburger to the BBQ today so I walked to the “Zawk” with another, more experienced, sister. (I’m getting smarter!) We went down the meat isle until we found a picture of a cow…pointed to a slab of meat…asked the butcher to cut off the fat…paid her…took the meat to the grinder so she could grind it into hamburger…paid her…came home and formed patties! Where is Costco when you need it???
Probably the most interesting “learning experience” happened last Sunday. We have to walk about 20 minutes to the bus stop in order to get on the correct bus for church. Then, we ride the bus another 20 minutes to the church. When we arrived on Sunday there was a big yellow excavator right in the middle of the sidewalk that was digging a ditch. There were no roped-off areas so we just walked behind it as it scooped away! The power was off at the church house but natural lighting was sufficient and, of course, the microphone didn’t work. We went through all our meetings and when we left to come home the hole was much larger and deeper!!! Well…we just side stepped around the hole on the dirt mounds to reach the bus stop. Yes…be grateful for the tight safety regulations in America. Oh, another thing–construction works goes on as long as there is daylight…everyday…because the good warm weather is so short that they have to take advantage of every minute between the harsh winters.
Yes, life is just an adventure! We went out to immigration on Tuesday to have our pictures and fingerprints taken so we can be legal. We met our sponsor. the Ministry of Labor, and found we will be teaching English to about fifty people that will be ability grouped and we will teach about ten hours every week starting in September. Back at our office, some young women stopped by and asked if we would teach them three days every week so we started that this week. Every day the class grows in numbers and we’ve split them into ability groups and we’re off and running. This class is good practice for us so we have a bit of experience when we teach for our sponsor.
On Tuesday, President Benson came down to our office and gave us some church assignments. Rick is going to be on the District High Council and will be assigned to the Suhkbaatar Branch, the branch we have been attending. He will go around and speak in various branches, too. I am going to be the 2nd counselor in the Relief Society in the Suhkbaatar Branch and also the advisor to the District Relief Society Presidency. We are both going to watch and support and when the leaders have questions, we are supposed to find the answer in the General Handbook of Instructions and point to the Mongolian version for them to read. Oh…there is supposed to be people who can speak English in our meetings–we hope!
We are learning our office jobs a bit more each day and are helping write resumes, and scheduling young people for The Michigan Test so they can get into BYU-Hawaii. As we’ve learned about it, it reminds me of the good old CRT testing from years past. We’ll do our best and then continue to learn the PEF side of it all, too.
The most valuable lesson learned is to know we are doing well together as long as we have contact with our family. We have skyped with our family several times this week and it is such a blessing to see all the smiles. We even get blown kisses from some of the little ones! We love texting through “Hangouts” and that usually happens in the mornings as we wake up and it’s afternoon (the day before) back home. The evenings are quiet and a bit long because everyone is asleep back home. Please know that we pray for all of you and hope you are well and happy. Take care of one another and know that we think about all of you.
Love, Elder and Sister Francom