Day of “First Meat” and other “Firsts”

In my teaching past, one of my favorite books that inspired kids to find the “reading bug” was Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It is a novel about a boy who is left alone in the wilderness and he learns that HE is his best resource for survival. He has a day of “first meat” where he finally outsmarts his environment and catches a fish, fries it and then eats it. Well, we had our own day of “first meat!” We went to the Zawk and went down the rows of meat slabs, saw a picture of a cow, pointed to one meat portion, pointed to the fat so the lady butcher would trim it off, and then she handed it to us. Whew!!! We did it! Then, we went to the grinder and for about $0.30 she ground it into hamburger. FIRST MEAT–success!!! As I think about it, it’s probably leaner meat than anything I ever bought back home!

We were having four Elders for dinner and decided to fix sloppy joes. When they came and found that it was a sloppy joe night the Mongolian Elders were very excited! It was fun to visit with them because transfers were that week so we weren’t sure who would stay in town and who would go to the far away cities of Mongolia. Also, we found out it was Elder Huckvale’s birthday that very day so we made a birthday cake and walked to a party store to buy candles and balloons. We sang “Happy Birthday” and took pictures and then sent a small email with the photos attached to his parents. It was fun!!! Then, a couple days later we had four sister missionaries over–the ones from our Branch and Sister Hawkins and her companion. We also invited another senior couple too, because they had invited us over. Not a bad dinner except the other couple brought an extra person and one set of sisters was in a threesome (new arrival)! It was a little crowded but lots of fun conversations going on. Now, we’ll take a break but we have other senior couples on a list of people to thank for helping us get settled and there will always be missionaries willing the join us for dinner! “First meat” was a success and we’ll go back for more…at some point.

We took part in a REVERSE MTC this week. We had Sisters and Elders leaving for home–they were all Mongolian. They were all so excited to see family and friends! Many of them were returning home as the only church members in their families so they had lots of questions and received good reminders so they can continue learning and growing in the gospel. The Linfords conducted and gave the missionaries great advice from “For the Strength of Youth” pamphlet. They covered proper dating, music, dress standards, and other reminders. We were the business portion and talked about proper ways to interview for jobs, how to obtain a PEF loan, and how to choose a good career as they planned their lives. Of course, this was all with the help of a good translator. Afterwards, Linfords took them out to lunch. Two days later, most of the Elders were back in casual clothes and smiling–didn’t know what to do without the mission life!

We also had new missionaries arriving on Wednesday with lots of luggage. It is a tradition to take them up to The Zaisan Memorial and read the prayer Elder Neal A. Maxwell gave when he dedicated Mongolia to missionary work. (If you care to read the prayer, I’m putting it at the end of our blog this week.) Zaisan is not a church site but it was chosen because it sits high and overlooks the city–nowadays, the city has expanded until Zaisan is part of Ulaanbaatar. Zaisan was build to honor Soviet soldiers killed in WWII. It is a circular memorial painting that depicts scenes of friendship between the peoples of the USSR and Mongolia–very impressive and very Russian. Since we arrived in June without other missionaries. We had never participated in this tradition so we were invited to attend. It was fun to become acquainted with the new Sisters and Elders and it was very touching to read the prayer in the same spot it was given and then listen to how the church has grown in the past twenty-two years. We are very humbled to be part of this great work in Mongolia!!!

Today, Saturday, we administered The Michigan Test to twenty-two Mongolian young people. It was a good experience and we are really praying that many pass with 70% or higher. They have studied on their own…they have held study groups…they have asked for special study time with us…they deserve to pass! We will know about 3-4 weeks from now when we receive results from BYU-Hawaii. Everyone keep your fingers crossed!!!

It has been a full week and we are in the middle of making sure all the students, who are scheduled to use a PEF loan for the coming school year, are set. We are understanding more and more so we’re busier and busier. We just found out that we are actually going to take a little summer trip–to HONG KONG!!! Who would have ever thought we’d make it there before we made it to Hawaii??? The church is opening a Self-Reliance Center in many places and they have been trying to hire a manager here. The only problem is they are looking for a Mongolian speaker with a Master’s Degree–not many of them around here! So, they’ve asked for us to come and be trained and start setting the center up. So…we’re headed to Hong Kong for training and a bit of site-seeing, we hope! It will be at the end of August but we’re definitely looking forward to it.

We feel so blessed to be serving and we’re humbled to be here. Take a moment to look at the prayer and hopefully you will feel how special Mongolia is. As written in the dedicatory prayer, “May Mongolia even be a beacon light to other nations.”
We love you all–if you have our email, we’d love to hear from you–we might even respond!!!

Love, Elder and Sister Francom (Scroll down for pics!)

Official Dedicatory Prayer
for the Land of Mongolia for the preaching of the restored Gospel
April 15, 1993 4:00pm, Zaisan Hill Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
By Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Almighty God, Father of the whole human family, we, a few of they children, feel privileged to gather here today. We are grateful for the sunshine and thank Thee, O God, for so smiling upon this special occasion. Though we can see Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, in the distance, Father, we know we cannot see far away. We are comforted to know that Thou seest all things at all times. Some of us are far from home and far from our families, but we are comforted to know that no place is distant from Thee.

Father, as we prepare to dedicate the country of Mongolia for the preaching of the restored Gospel and for the building up of Thy Kingdom, we first seek to rededicate ourselves to Thy service and to Thy purposes in the earth.

Father, bless these pioneering couples, and all those missionaries who will follow. Protect them; bless them with a love for the Mongolian people. May their assistance be welcomed; may the way they help the Mongolian people be appreciated.

O God, Our Father, bless the new converts. Help them to be strong as they will shape the future of the Church in Mongolia.

Please continue to raise up friends in Mongolia who will help Thy work to progress.

May all of these things be combined so that Thy work will help these hardy, strong Mongolian people to be happier and more prosperous.

Father, this is a wind-swept land. May it also be the case that the winds of freedom will never cease to blow in Mongolia. Preserve and protect the independence of Mongolia regardless of the moves made on the great checkerboard of the nations.

Heavenly Father, may the yesterdays of Mongolia not hold the tomorrows of Mongolia hostage.

We pray for the leaders, present and future, of this nation. Guide them and bless them to preserve freedom and to have a more adequate economy.

Father, we realize there are many in the world to whom Mongolia is unknown and unappreciated, but we plead with thee, Father, that Mongolia not go unblessed.

So, in the power and the authority of the Holy Apostleship, I dedicate the land of Mongolia and bless its leaders and people, its soil and its sky–all to the end that the nation may be blessed, that it will so respond to the Gospel message so that Thy work may be firmly established here. May Mongolia even be a beacon light to other nations.

Father, we thank thee for the atonement of Thy Son, Jesus Christ, for Thy plan of salvation which tells us who we are and why we are here. We thank Thee for the restoration of Thy Gospel and unite in our expressions of appreciation on this special occasion. We are grateful for the love Thou has given us and ask Thy blessings to preserve our memories of this occasion.

We so dedicate this land. May the members of the Church here be good citizens of the Church and good citizens of this nation. For all these things we pray. As Mongolia faces the future, may the sunshine we experience this day symbolize Thine approval of this occasion and this dedication. We so pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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