Conferences to Uplift…Conversations in English…Customary Cuisines!

This past week has been an especially uplifting one. We had District Conference which is the same thing as Stake Conference but involving a district. Our visiting authorities were Elder Rasband (from the Seventy), Elder Gong (the Area President from the Seventy), and Steven Allen (managing director of the Missionary Program…and former Taylorsville North Central Stake Member). They presided at meetings and firesides and their wives also participated. They also led a two-day Missionary Conference and continued to inspire us all. When they found some down-time, they went out visiting church members, went to a cashmere shop, had a ger (Mongolian home) experience, and went to Ziasan and read Neal A. Maxwell’s dedicatory prayer.

At the conclusion of the District/Missionary Conferences, Elder Rasband came to these conclusions: (1) The LDS Church is stronger and more mature in Mongolia than they had thought, (2) All church leaders have been to the temple and sealed to their spouses which is not an easy thing to do with no nearby temple, (3) We have an exceptional mission president and wife who speak the Mongolian language and love the work, (4) Missionaries in this country are all here for a reason, they were meant to be part of hastening the work in Mongolia. It was a great thing to know that we are part of this effort in Mongolia!!!

It was so good to see Elder Allen and his wife, Nancy. They looked so good and it was just fun to see faces from “HOME!” We visited a bit but they were busy and were so involved with the other brethren. He was such an inspirational teacher for the Elders and Sisters. His influence had them all recommitting to do more and better by learning principles in Chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel. Our branch missionaries are so excited about the work and so grateful to see it in a new light. What a teacher Elder Allen was! Can you believe that they have been gone from the neighborhood for over twenty years? The Allens were on their way to Beijing, China for a fact-finding trip and then they were returning home to West Jordan. What a GREAT five days with giants in the church!

OK…other things happened this week, too. We started teaching English at the Ministry of Labor. Yes, we were a little nervous because we had been given such an important assignment and wanted to do it right. We received a list of students with their English language abilities. So, twenty-four people in our beginning class…seventeen in our intermediate class…and eight in our proficient class. We planned lessons for each but wanted to get to know them, too. When our first group came into the classroom they REALLY were beginners and couldn’t say anything except their name. We did a lot of motioning and put a lot of examples on the board and finally got each of them to shorten their Mongolian name into a “nickname” that we could remember and pronounce. Then, we started the alphabet letters and numbers 1-20. Our intermediate students were quicker with their “nicknames” and knew the alphabet so we talked about vowels and consonants and counted to 100. They were so good that we finally asked them to tell a story with picture cards that progressively illustrated a story and that was very difficult for them to do. We now know they need lots of practice with conversational English. Our third class…didn’t happen!!! Not one person showed up!!! This was mostly made up of the executives of the company so we can read between the lines OR we can assume that they are very busy people! However, there were only thirteen people in the beginning class and five in the intermediate class so we’re not sure what the future holds but we’re prepared to teach every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and we’ll try not to take it too personally unless we have standing room only in all our fabulous lessons!!!

On Thursday night we made a dinner appointment with two sets of Elders so they could teach us how to make soyvan–a Mongolian traditional dinner. We made noodles from flour and water and steamed them…we cooked potatoes, carrots and onions…we added cut-up beef…spices…we put the noodles on top and steamed it all some more. Finally, it was ready and each Elder had a very large heaping plate full of soyvan! They ate…and ate…and ate…until there was nothing left! Oh my–we ate too, but our helpings were much smaller because it was such a heavy meal. We enjoyed it…but, we’re not sure it’s our favorite meal. We think we might want to taste another version of soyvan because everyone talks about that as being the best thing about Mongolia. Hmmm…the jury is still out on that one!

It’s been another great week with lots of contact with home–how we love to find our grandchildren texting and as we join them in conversation, it’s just like they were around the corner. Oh…we had a box delivered to us…what a surprise! JDell and Britta, Karen’s uncle and aunt, sent a fun package with chocolate chips inside–just a bit of heaven!!! It didn’t take long for chocolate chip cookies to be made which was almost as good as texting with grandchildren! Thanks for your emails and prayers–we think about everyone so very much!

Love, Elder & Sister Francom

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