Since we have lived in Utah for most of our LONG lives we know there is always a high probability that it will rain on Conference Weekend. Well, in Mongolia we’re sure they always have a high probability of SNOW on Conference Weekend—and it did! Not much but it was cold…and windy…and snow flurries….Brrr! October 11-12 was our Mongolian General Conference weekend. We could only view it from our church building—(well, not really since we had already watched some on the internet). But we got dressed up and joined the Mongolian Saints as they came for two hours, two times, for two days. Of course, the brethren came one additional time for General Priesthood Meeting. Thank goodness arrangements were made to have everything broadcast in English in an additional room. You Americans never think about this but when you live in other countries, you can schedule the meetings at your own convenience so we only had an hour between sessions. It was also broadcast in other church buildings within the country. It was quite a unique experience watching Conference with all the American missionaries—everyone seemed to be so intent on learning from the Spirit and the whole room was so focused—AMAZING FEELING! What did we gain from it all?
• Practice the Golden Rule
• Although I am not my brother’s keeper, I am my brother’s brother.
• Because I have been given much I too must give.
• Our homes must be holy places.
• The greatest blessings of the Lord come by living in a righteous family.
• Revelation from God can be continuous
• The living Lord leads his living church.
• Fifteen men who hold all the keys must make unanimous decisions.
• Live the words of the Prophet no matter what the world says.
• Instead of walking WHERE Jesus walked, walk AS Jesus walked.
• Heavenly Father’s plan and the Atonement matter the most.
• Respect those who are not of our faith.
Since we live so close to the building, we asked several Sisters to come to lunch at our apartment between sessions on Saturday so they wouldn’t be without food. Then on Sunday, we had Elders over between sessions. It was a quick lunch but they were so grateful for the meal. They always make us feel so good about doing it—they love American food…with a Mongolian twist! We were very impressed with two of the Elders—they actually helped gather the dirty dishes and one even insisted on washing them although time wouldn’t permit him to finish the task. (NOTE TO FUTURE MISSIONARIES: Do more than what is expected of you!!!)
We are trying to accept a new challenge in English teaching. It is so hard but so important to have our students talk…converse…exchange ideas!!! They like to learn new vocabulary words and we introduce them with pictures and give examples so they understand the meaning but as soon as you ask questions that are not written down…they freeze up and look like “deer in headlights”! We have been learning family names (in-law names are very strange to them) and opposites like “old and young, beautiful and ugly.” The adults do fine until you ask them to tell about a family member using opposites. Ohhh…so hard! We usually have to write a short conversation on the board and then after they memorize it, we are talking! Our classes have as many as twelve in both and our last class has four very fluent adults but then, again, they need so much practice with conversational English. We introduced them to folktales and Paul Bunyan and they watched the Youtube Disney version—oh, the magic of Disney! (The only thing they really knew about Disney was Mickey Mouse so it was fun to see their joy and understanding as they watched.) Our challenge with this last group is finding things that stimulate adult conversation. So, we are making progress but we need to be creative so they want to talk…and talk some more!
With winter setting in, we decided that we needed to get out and buy a new fridge. Our apartment came with a small one with two shelves and a drawer—so small and so inconvenient when you’re feeding lots of people like we seem to be doing. We talked with our landlord and she gave us permission to buy a new one. People love to rent to Americans that use American money and keep the wear and tear to their apartments at a minimum! Batbold took us (one positive result of Rick’s long ride with him two weeks ago) and all we wanted was a plain fridge with no bells and whistles–yes, even here they have large ice-making ones with lots of electronic extras. (Remember, Mongolians don’t drink cold drinks…) We found one and, thanks to Batbold being our translator, we paid for it and had it delivered that very night. When the delivery men finally arrived, Rick went down the three flights of stairs to let them in. They had no hand-truck. One of the men, very slight in build hefted it onto his back and carried the fridge up the three flights of stairs! He brought it into our apartment, the two men proceeded to unwrap it of all the styrofoam and plastic wrap, and then left. Wait…what about the pile of packaging? Well, it was late and we went to bed. The next day we tried to wrap it all in a tidy bundle and took it out to the landing where all our garbage bags “mysteriously” disappears. Later as we came home from lunch, there was some of the styrofoam, being recycled as a front door threshold! So, everyone benefited from our big day! Oh, the new fridge is a joy and now we have 1 1/2 fridges so we’re set!!!
Life is busy–we are expecting a new group of American Elders, fresh from the Provo MTC (I’ll be looking for an Elder from Herriman) and others coming from the Philippines MTC, so we’ll be filling in for Sister Benson again and cooking for a couple of days. She is on bed rest and the Benson kids are doing well in California with their wonderful grandparents. We miss them all and anxiously await their return after the baby is born and able to travel.
We are so grateful for this experience and we appreciate all our family members and good neighbors who are watching out for us while we’re gone. We skyped with our kids last week and they were gathered at our house so it warmed our hearts so see them there. What a blessing the Gospel is. What a blessing our family is. What a blessing to think that we have good people who care enough to read our blog…THANKS! We are grateful for our testimonies of Jesus Christ, of the atonement and the roll Joseph Smith played to bring the Gospel back to us all in this dispensation. We are grateful for wonderful messages at General Conference to remind us of all our blessings.
Please take care of one another and know that you are all in our prayers.
Elder and Sister Francom