Mongolian History 101

When in Mongolia…learn about it…love it…live it!!! That’s our motto for the next fifteen months! Mongolian history is really fascinating!!! We have a book called Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford. Of course, we don’t have the time or the space to relate much but there are a few amazing facts that would probably even interest some of our grandchildren. Our hope is not to bore you or make you think twice about our sanity, but we’re both into history a bit so hear us out. (We will quote a bit and condense a lot more.) We’ve all heard of Genghis Khan…

Genghis Khan was a son in an outcast family left to die on the steppes (vast grassland) and he probably encountered no more than a few hundred people in his entire childhood and received no formal education. He was captured and enslaved by a rival clan and managed to escape. As a boy, he had an instinct for survival but he showed little promise of achievements he would one day make–he feared dogs and he cried easily. Through his adult years, he gradually defeated everyone more powerful than he was until he had conquered every tribe on the Mongolian steppe. At the age of 50, when most have put their fighting days behind them, he confronted armies of those who had harassed and enslaved his people for centuries. He repeated victory across the Gobi, into the kingdoms of China, through central Asia and across the mountains of Afghanistan. His army transformed warfare into intercontinental affairs stretching across thousands of miles. He replaced the heavily armored knights of Europe with his disciplined cavalry moving in coordinated units. He made brilliant use of speed and surprise on the battlefield. Genghis Khan taught his people not only to fight across incredible distances but to sustain their campaign over years, decades, and eventually, more than three generations of constant fighting. In 25 years, the Mongol army captured more lands and people than the Romans conquered in 400 years–he conquered more than twice as much as any other man in history!

In American terms, the accomplishment of Genghis Khan might be understood if the U.S. had been founded by one of its illiterate slaves, who, by the sheer force of personality, charisma, and determination, liberated America from foreign rule, united the people, created an alphabet, wrote the constitution, established universal religious freedom, invented a new system of warfare, marched an army from Canada to Brazil, and opened roads of commerce that stretched across the continents. On every level, the scale and scope of his accomplishments challenge the limits of imagination and tax the resources of scholarly explanation. As Genghis Khan charged across the thirteenth century, he redrew the boundaries of the world. His architecture was not in stone but in nations. His empire connected many civilizations who did not know each other existed in 1162, when he was born, but by his death in 1227, he had connected them with diplomatic and commercial contacts that still remain unbroken.

Throughout history, many rulers died untimely or mysterious deaths but the seventy-year-old Genghis Khan passed away in his camp bed, surrounded by a loving family, faithful friends, and loyal soldiers ready to risk their life at his command. Mongols like to think that he “ascended into heaven.” You’ve heard of Khubilai Khan? He’s Genghis’ grandson and reigned during the days of the expedition of Marco Polo. Every country that was touched by the barbaric Mongols, felt the unprecedented rise in cultural communication, expanded trade, and improved civilization. In the end, Europe was touched the least but acquired all the advantages of the Mongols–paper money, free trade, international law, universal alphabet, schooling for all children, accurate calendar, and religious freedom. (Whatever happened to that universal alphabet!!!)

TO BE CONTINUED…Mongolian History 201!!!

We just thought it was so interesting to learn about Genghis Khan and can understand now why so many things are named in his honor. We hope you are still awake!!!

Now, back to the present time! We attended a Missionary Activity in our Sukhbaatar Branch on Saturday. Outside was a downpour…about like the news we’ve seen from Utah lately! We left with our jackets and umbrellas and made it there to find that the rain had discouraged many from coming. However, two investigators were there and we had a testimony meeting and then ate some water-based soup with potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, and mystery meat. It had excellent flavor! We also had rolls and warm pop. The missionaries played games and then everyone went home.

The following day, one of the investigators, a sweet girl of about 12 years old stood in Sacrament Meeting and bore her testimony. We were surprised because she had been so shy the day before. The sister missionaries said that she said (in Mongolian) that she had felt the Spirit very strongly. She is a very sweet young girl so we hope she has progressed by this Sunday.

Because of the rain on Saturday, Sunday was very wintry cold! Not only did we have our jackets but we had our gloves and scarves and still shivered at the bus stop…and this is still September. We can hardly wait for winter in Mongolia! The week has gradually warmed up but a sweater is definitely a good idea so we’re thinking that Fall has arrived.

We have a group of Saints at the Hong Kong Temple this week. One of the senior couples are there so we have substituted in their English class twice this week. It has been a good experience but it’s hard with beginning and advanced speakers all in the same room.

We were invited to the Ministry of Labor on Tuesday and met with a most important person–you could tell by the way everyone wiped their feet off before entering her office. She sat very straight behind a big wooden desk and we were all served some kind of mystery drink we didn’t drink it because you just don’t know what it might be–tea is very important in this culture. We will be teaching three classes (ability grouped), three days a week, for three hours each day. AND…we will be giving this director private lessons on Saturdays! We will start in a week and now our task is to find a way to travel about 6-7 kilometers each way and we need to be professional, take role, give assignments, and be on time! There are about 50 employees who range from true beginners to intermediate speakers. We are told that they are very excited to begin! So, here we go!!!

We are looking forward to five days with Elder Rasband, Elder Gong, and Brother (Steve) Allen and their wives who are on a mission tour and presiding at our District Conference this weekend. Our mission president’s wife has been having some problems with her pregnancy so she isn’t doing anything stressful which includes cooking all their meals. So, the three senior sisters (without the 4th in Hong Kong) have taken over. It is a joy to serve these wonderful people and it has given us a chance to visit with the Allens and remember way back. Can you believe he has been home from being mission president for twenty years? We’ll recap the entire weekend in our next blog!

We love you all and are grateful to have wonderful thoughts of family and friends–you’ll never know how much they sustain us so far away!

Love, Elder and Sister Francom

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