“What if tomorrow, all you had was what you gave Heavenly Father thanks for today?” We read this message from a friend and it made us think a lot. Oh, we have so many blessing—more than we deserve–and we pray that we don’t take our blessings for granted. Thanksgiving was a wonderful holiday for all Americans in Mongolia. The younger missionaries still worked, but don’t feel too sorry for them because they were all very creative in their district meetings on Tuesday. We were invited to attend one, with a pumpkin pie in hand. Some Elders tried to find instant mashed potatoes and had to settle for a gravy mix and rolls. But, the Sisters came through with warm bread and funeral potatoes! We’re not sure if funeral potatoes are good with gravy on top but they were eaten that way. Then others brought tacos (Mongolian style) and there was a bag of chips and package of favorite cookies—in other words, everyone brought something and it was quite a “feast”! We were glad they at least had pumpkin pie from the traditional menu of Thanksgiving.
Our Thanksgiving Day on Thursday was different but wonderful. We started the day coming to work but we left early to fix our assigned dishes and we all met at the President’s residence for the feast. There were some doctors and others assisting them visiting from Salt Lake City as well as Boston and Baltimore so they all gathered around our Thanksgiving table, too. We actually had a turkey (17 pounder for $103 US dollars!) and we had all the traditional dishes—potatoes, gravy, rolls, yams, green beans, cranberry salad, anddressing with pumpkin pie and whipping cream (another expensive item) for dessert. We ate well and afterwards gathered our chairs in a circle to talk about our blessings. Some of our visitors were not of our faith but they shared our same gratitude as they were also far from home and family. What a blessed day for all of us!
These visiting doctors are quite the extraordinary men. We met Dr. Harry first who is from the Salt Lake Clinic (yes, he knows Dee Rasmussen). His main focus in Mongolia is to help the local doctors learn to use their existing equipment so they can effectively take care of cataracts and other eye surgeries. Dr. Price is also from SLClinic and has been coming here for ten years and volunteering his time. One told stories of how a country wouldn’t let their instruments beyond customs so they contacted another doctor and passed them off to him to take into another country. One time, a doctor who couldn’t get his equipment into a country, was directed to a back room of a hospital where some old boxes sat because they had been delivered without an address. Inside were supplies that took the place of his instruments (that were left at customs) with a few minor changes! These are many miracles that seem to go beyond the ways of men! These doctors said that their focuses in Mongolia are eye care, newborn care, water supplies, and wheelchair help. The Mongolian government has been very appreciative and has given Dr. Price many service awards as a sign of gratitude.
We are continuing to enjoy the young people that come into our home. This week we had some Sister Missionaries and their new member friend for dinner. The new member was a wonderful person and we hope her time with us help solidify her testimony. We also had a sister, Naomi, (I know I’ve mentioned her before) who is leaving Monday to go into the MTC in Provo to be trained for the New York South Mission. She is quite an excellent English speaker so she won’t be there as long as other non-English speaking missionaries. Her assignment is for both English and German and she is very fluent in both. She is excited and we hope she can meet or possibly serve with Sister Beecher, our niece. Elder Francom has helped her prepare her family names that she can take them to the temple. She was so excited because both of her parents have passed away and she will be able to be sealed to them. She will be a wonderful missionary!!!
Naomi brought two friends to dinner that are from Afghanistan. They all met at school. It is an interesting situation, for sure. They were brought here by the Catholic Church so they could go to school. Through being friends with Naomi they have shown an interest in our church. However, they cannot do anything about it because the Catholic Church might send them back to Afghanistan and there is no educational future for girls. Of course, we will continue to be their friends and will only speak of religion at their request. That’s quite a predicament for them! Both of these Afghanistan girls were rather quiet during dinner and later we found out that people do not talk during meals in their country–after dinner they sit with a hot drink and only visit then.
As you might remember, at Halloween time we introduced our English students to “Trick or Treating”. This week, we talked a bit about our American Pilgrim history and shared chocolate-chip pumpkin cookies with them. Our students seemed to enjoy them—I’m not sure if they have cookies over here. They have sweet hard biscuits that are really tasty but I haven’t seen cookies as we know them.
On Friday night, all the senior couples walked to a Indian Restaurant. Elder Toronto, the Area Seventy, was in town attending a District Conference up north in Darhan with President Anderson so we all met up at the restaurant. Elder Toronto is originally from California but has lived in Beijing for over twenty years. He brought his oldest son with him who just graduated from BYU. It was a very pleasant night and Elder Toronto is a gracious leader. President Anderson and his wife both told us all, “Good Bye” at dinner because they can only stay until Monday. Even before he agreed to come to Mongolia to help the Bensons out, he told them they could only stay until December 1st. That didn’t seem to be a problem but we still don’t have a baby–it’s been three weeks since President Benson left hoping he could make it to California before the baby came. Now…it seems the baby is in charge and we’ll all just smiling as he takes his time. Funny!!! We’re not sure when the Bensons will make it back to Mongolia and we do miss them so much. However, it is fun as we think of those sweet Benson kids loving life at Grandma’s and with their cousins. We hope they’ll want to come back!
As we close this Thanksgiving season may we always remember what it says in Psalms 100:
1 Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
5 For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
The Lord has given Elder and Sister Francom so many blessings. We are so grateful for them all and distance from our family, friends, and home is so inconsequential. You all are in our hearts and prayers. We are so grateful that we know who we are, why we are here, and above all, we know that we are watched over by our Heavenly Father. We love Him and it is a privilege to serve His children in Mongolia. May He continue to watch over our children, grandchildren, parents, and other family members in your daily struggles. May He watch over our dear friends and keep you all safe and well.
We are thankful unto Him for all our blessings.
Elder and Sister Francom
PS…I must take more pictures but it’s so cold that we don’t think…we’ll try to remember…