On Wednesday night, the full-time Elders in our branch asked us to go visiting with them. We had wanted to get to know the branch members better so we could call them by name and get a sense of what we were doing and with whom. We left an hour early because we had to duplicate the walk and bus ride that we experience every Sunday. When we arrived at our branch’s church, we greeted the Elders, and started our walk. We were busy talking and once again it turned into quite a walk–not over bricks or uneven sidewalks, but along a rocky dirt pathway. We were walking on the edge of a ger community. These places have electricity but no water or bathroom facilities. They haul their water daily from a central water station. (The church has made several water stations so the people don’t have as far to go.) After about a mile, we turned down a dirt roadway and finally came to one of many metal gates. We knocked at the gate, a man let us enter and led us past a ger to the door of one of those small huts with a colored roof. A woman, holding a 2 year-old, greeted us as we took our shoes off and entered her home. It was a one-room home with a stove in the corner, a bed in another corner, and a TV in a third corner (with very bad reception) and a fridge along a wall that must have been turned off because the doors hung open. She immediately asked all four of us to sit on the side of the bed and she brought a small table in front of us. She poured us all cups of hot water from a thermos, offered us a rice and meat dish, as well as bread. She only spoke Mongolian so we smiled a lot and one of the Elders was American so he translated a bit. Not long afterwards, her husband, Hudar, arrived with watermelon and that was offered as part of the meal, too. He was an Elder in Mongolia about five years ago and American companions had taught him English. We were able to talk about his work as a trainer for a computer company as well as him being a branch clerk. He was instrumental in his wife being baptized before they were married and they hope to make it to the Hong Kong temple soon. The Elders shared a scripture, Elder Francom took his turn and we discussed the Gospel for a bit. We finally left after dark and Hudar walked us to a main road, helped us get a taxi and we returned home. We looked around our apartment and decided we lived like kings!!! In fact, this week we have only had hot water two days but we have water! When reality hits, perspectives change! This wonderful young couple probably walk that long walk to the branch church house every Sunday carrying their little girl and they are there in beautiful Sunday clothes and busy doing all that is asked of them. We are humbled…
Last Saturday, we got to work cleaning our apartment and shopping at the Zawk. Afterwards, we decided to go to “The State Department Store” and browse. The name signifies that the Soviet government built it while they were in control. It really was a nice store. It had eight floors and reminded us of a Macy’s back in downtown Salt Lake City. The food court was at the top with a grocery store on the main level. They had wonderful cashmere sweater, scarves, vests, etc. with high prices to match. Also, shoe departments, men’s and women’s clothing, household goods, perfume and make-up, children’s items–just like back home. We bought a nice light-weight quilt for our bed. It was fun to know it’s there and the long walk reminded us that it comes with a price!
Sunday, we spoke in church. It was yet another learning experience. We weren’t sure how it was done but knew it would only take once to learn. Now we know to speak in straight-forward sentences so the translator can easily turn it into Mongolian. In fact, it will always be best to have the talk written down so the translator can see each sentence. It is difficult to tell stories from the American point-of-view since Mongolians live in a far different world–our struggles might not be viewed as struggles over here. All went well but next time will be easier. I’m doing a Relief Society lesson in a few weeks and Rick is a High Council member speaking tomorrow in a different branch!
Well…we want to wish a happy anniversary to many people back home–Dennis & Cathy Banks, Dal & Bea Seely, and Louis & Carol Larsen!!! We remember because they have the same anniversary as we do–August 15th!!! It’s been 42 years for us and I’m sure I never thought I’d be in Mongolia to celebrate any of them!!! We walked to a great restaurant and enjoyed some nachos that were amazing and reflected on our many years together! Wouldn’t trade them for anything although there have been a few ups and downs along the way!!!
Stay healthy, happy and take care of one another…always!
Love Elder and Sister Francom
“Raining cats and dogs” is an English idiom that is very strange for Mongolian to understand…and very hard to explain!
There are NO laundromats in Mongolia–most have a small washer or wash by hand.
Mongolians only drink WARM water, sometimes pouring milk into it. They enjoy warm pop, too. They cannot understand drinking COLD drinks…and we ask for ice!!!
A taxi is ANY car that stops as you’re standing on the curb with your arm out. If the driver wants extra money they will stop and gladly take you to your destination. Some people use this as their daily job. There are regular taxis also but they are more expensive. A private car taxi to anyplace within the city costs between $2-3.00 and an official taxi is double or triple that.
The economy is struggling and some of the mines have recently closed so many are out of work.