I love the poem, “I Follow A Famous Father.” I heard it in my youth after my father passed away and it has always stayed with me. Two lines read:
He gave me a name that was free from shame,
A name he was proud to bear.
We all have a name that can be known for good or bad by the time we are finished with it. We must work to make our parents proud of what we have done with their name!
Well, Mongolia is a very interesting place for NAMES–names are very “Mongolian.” We haven’t met anyone that has tried to break away from these traditional names but everyone seems uniquly different. Not only are names very traditional here but they have deep meanings for some people. We know a wonderful young man whose name is Munkh-Od. Munkh means “eternal” and Od means “star.” Otgonbayar means “youngest joy” and Narantsetseg means “sun flower.” Many names have the letters BAT in them because it means “STRONG”—Batbold, Bat-Orgil, Batmaarag. Mongols only have ONE name but they are obliged to use two as the American influence comes so they take their father’s FIRST name as their last name! (Women never change their name when they get married!) We have Ariuntuya Badamsambuu and we have Batchimeg Byamba (both female). Then there is Baatarkhuu Mijiddorj Namsrai and Zolboo Bazarsuren (both males). Try Narantsetseg Nairamdal, or Dorjpagma Batbileg! Oh, an easy one—Mart Batzaya! All these names have been “Americanized” with the English alphabet. Our point is, we’re always meeting people but it’s so hard to remember their name!!! On top of that, they roll their “Rs” and if a vowel is doubled you must say it, and if not doubled it MIGHT be silent! We love people who have shortened their name to a nickname like “Tulip” or “Naomi!” However, many love their name, so we’re stuck trying to sound it out or asking them to repeat it so we can say it. That is always a little risky because we usually butcher it since they make sounds that are so foreign to us. Yes, this is a source of much frustration but, in spite of all of this, we really are starting to put faces and names together. Oh…give me an easy Chad…Angie…Scott…Kurt—any day of the week!!!
We received a wonderful dinner invitation from a young couple from our Sukhbaatar Branch–Munkh-Od and his wife Byerzaarha on Saturday evening along with another senior couple. Munkh-Od works in the church building and Byerzaarha takes online English classes so we see them both quite a bit. He served his mission in the southern Salt Lake area so he speaks very good English. They were married this past January in the Hong Kong Temple. He came and picked us up and we all rode the bus back to the home they share with his parents and sister. The food was wonderful and their home was beautiful. They are a bit concerned with all the gers moving into their neighborhood because they had built their house outside of town to get away from all the smog that comes with gers in the wintertime. It made us realize that we’re all hoping for a better life and have to adjust to others with patience and love!
The following day, Sunday, we rode the bus out to the Nalaikh Branch again, about a 45 minute bus ride. For some strange reason, new bus schedules were experimented with for ten days so we really prayed that we would ride all the correct buses to get to and from Nalaikh. We made it just fine, whew! Remember last time we though the bus was so crowded? Well…we now know what really crowded is! In fact, we didn’t even need to hold on (except to my bag) because we were stationery no matter what the bus did. At some stops, people tried to cram in but the bus driver started moving the bus and yelled something so some “hangers-on” had to abort and wait for the next bus. Oh my…so many people!!! When we finally arrived at our destination, it felt like being squished out of a toothpaste tube! The bus schedule returned to normal on Monday so we hope it stays!
We had an Elder ___ (Oh, one of those traditional Mongolian names!) lose his mother in a motorcycle accident this past week. She lived in Mongolia so the Mission President and Assistants accompanied him home and helped with the arrangements since he was an only child. He is an amazing young man and knew his mother would want him to finish his mission so he returned with President Benson and continued in the work.
While they were gone, we invited Sister Benson and her four children over for dinner. (She is in her seventh month of pregnancy and is having problems so we hoped this was helpful.) The kids were so much fun and a reminder of the power of grandchildren in our lives. It was a fun evening but, as usual, the kids didn’t eat as much as we’d hope. The following night, we invited Sister Peterson (from Cedar Hills, UT) and Sister Holt (from Houston, Texas) from our Nalaikh Branch to help eat left-overs—they were in UB teaching English. We also invited another senior couple, the Nays (from Brigham City). The sister hadn’t seen “American food” for awhile and they ate and ate and then ate some more. The simple non-fatty American food really hit the spot! Then, for dessert they had seconds and split the final piece–not a thing was left! Of course, it was nice to be appreciated but it was so fun to see them eating with such JOY! We must do this more often!
We’ve visited with our families–some are on their way to Disneyland with lots of pictures to share, we hope. Others are enjoying having their lives settle down as their children go back to school. They all went to the Ogden Temple Open House together with Rick’s side of the family. No matter where we are and what we’re doing we are a united family with hopes and dreams for an eternity together. We love and miss them and we love all of our friends and are humbled that you care to keep informed about our adventures. Please continue to take care of one another!!!
EVERYBODY EAT A BRIGHAM CITY PEACH OR TWO FOR US…WE CAN ALMOST TASTE THEM!!!
Love, Elder and Sister Francom