There is a saying that the Mongolian Stake President taught us…”T…I…M!” It’s used to explain the “unexplained” around here. It stands for “This Is Mongolia!” We have run into several things that only “TIM” can explain but to latest was strange, for sure. On Wednesday, we woke up with our daily question…Will there be any hot water today? Then, we noticed the toilet had HOT water in it…both taps in the sink only had hot water…WHAT??? Sure enough…both taps in the shower only had hot water and it was boiling hot! “TIM!” So…now what do you do? Well…we filled the tub with a bit of hot water and waited for about 30 minutes for it to cool down. It’s amazing how long it took to cool and it was still on the too-hot-side. Bath completed…but, by the time the second bath was started, we had cold water again–just in the appropriate tap. “TIM!!!” It was a bit laughable and we enjoyed a lighter moment!
Then, we had another experience where we really got into HOT WATER. On Tuesday night we had an appointment to go visit our Relief Society President with the sister missionaries in our Branch. (No one really has an address so you have to ask help from those who know.) We boarded the bus at about 6:15 and it was very crowded at that time of day. More crowded than we though possible and people just kept coming on board. Then, people started push through and I thought, “Hey, there isn’t any more room up here than where you came from!” Finally, we got to our bus stop by our church and squeezed out. Oh, so glad to be off! We stood waiting for the sisters and all of a sudden…can you guess…Rick noticed his wallet was gone! Yup…we had been pickpocketed!!! Now, we all think we’re too smart to let that happen and you think you’re taking appropriate precautions because you’ve heard of other’s experiences and you don’t want it to happen to you. All we can say is, pickpockets are SO good at their “trade!” As we stood there, stunned…we finally decided that we couldn’t go visiting but had to take care of many new issues! The sisters came, thank goodness one was Mongolian, and we decided to go to the POLICE station right in front of the church building. They told us that we weren’t under their jurisdiction even though it happened right across the street…it may have happened just as we got on the bus…whatever! They sent us on our way and we took a taxi to the next station. The Mongolian sister did an excellent job of reporting it and writing it down, only to find out that this station only took care of murders and the like. “TIM!!!” By this time, it was very late and we needed to get the sisters home plus we needed to report Rick’s credit cards missing. Even a bigger problems was that Rick had been carrying BOTH our national ID cards because you have to have them with you at all times and I don’t always carry my purse. On top of that, we were leaving for Hong Kong on Friday and needed the cards to get out and back into Mongolia. The Service Center of the Church was notified, we said our prayers of help, and we fell into bed hoping we could sleep with all this on our minds.
We are very blessed. The Lord must have heard our prayers because we are in Hong Kong with NEW national ID cards which has never happened before. Teussion, the person in charge of church public relations and travel, worked all day Wednesday in our behalf. She went and asked for letters from our sponsors, the church and the police and the immigration department issued us new cards within 24 hours. She said that has never happened before–it usually takes at least a week. We are very appreciative to her and our translator, Miigaa, who was with us at the Police Station on Wednesday making the report and getting them to understand the letter we needed written. Oh, the running around they did on our behalf. We will find a way to show our appreciation.
Let’s get back to the daily travels and our current enjoyment of both hot and cold water. Last Saturday, several of us senior couples went to the Winter Palace of Bogdo Khan. This was a complex of temples and houses that contained clothes, artwork, and a private collection of gifts and toys from the last king and queen. It was actively used in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. There are only a few historical sites preserved because when the Russians came in and took over, they destroyed almost everything that Mongolia stood for. The art was quite oriental like you would imagine. There were many stuffed animals that the king collected and a ger made of 150 white leopard skins that was only used on clear days. We couldn’t help but notice a lampshade made from peacock feathers (since we have a granddaughter that loves peacocks)! We never take pictures since every museum or culture centers ask for 50,000T which is about 25 American dollars if you use your camera. (If you’re interested in seeing inside, click on the site above.) Afterwards, we went to Millie’s, one of Mongolia’s favorite eating places for American food–the fries even came with fry sauce!!! It is a very crowded place.
At this moment, we are in Hong Kong! Oh, what a city…tall buildings…expensive tastes…lots of people! We have been at the Asia Area Office being instructed on the new Self-Reliance Program that we will implement in Mongolia as soon as we return. It will be a great program that will incorporate all that we’ve been trying to figure out. What a blessing it will be to the people as they become self-reliant both spiritually and physically. Tomorrow, Sunday, we are in meetings, then the church block, and a fireside with Elder Robert Gay, of the Seventy. He is chairman of the PEF Program for the Church. We know that if we do our part, the Lord will handle the rest because becoming self-reliant is not a program, it is a doctrine.
We hope all of YOU are putting this doctrine to good use as you improve you own lives…one day at a time!
Love, Elder and Sister Francom