Only in Mongolia!

It’s a Thursday night and Elder Francom is gone to District Council and I’m home alone.  It’s peaceful, it’s warm (almost too warm!), it’s a down-time.  Earlier today, I cooked up a storm so I could take dinner into the Benson family.  They are doing well since returning but any new mother always appreciate a little concern so we took some corn chowder, homemade rolls, and ginger snaps (Pres. Benson’s favorite) up to them.  I think it helped.  So, here I sit–my phone rarely rings even though I seem to always have it with me but I’m sure no one needs anything so I’ll begin this week’s entry and will be glad when it’s time to post it.

District Council–it happens twice a month and the attendance is sporatic–members all seem to take turns being there but the American senior Elders are dependable every time.  In the meeting, Priesthood leaders stand and give lectures on a Gospel subject and sometimes, several brethren are speaking at once, so they say.  Of course, translators aren’t always there so that can be a problem and it can turn into a long night for the American council members who just keep smiling.

We love translators!!!  It’s not a popular job.  “I did it last week so it’s your turn today,” is a statement we hear all the time.   We aren’t offended because we understand this job is very difficult.  When a young missionary translates during church meeting, it means he/she cannot daydream, he/she cannot doze off, he/she cannot look up a favorite reference.  They are always on the “hot seat.”  (When you think about it, we’d all learn more on Sundays if we had to translate, right?)  There are different styles according to the translator.  Some translate each and every sentence while other listen and try to give a summary every few sentences.  Then others are trying to figure out how to say something in English and get confused because the speaker is now speaking on a different subject–oh, so hard!!!  We always try to show appreciation to them because it is a humongous job, for sure!  It never hurts to slip a candy their way during a meeting or have them over for dinner.  Without translators it can be a LONG sit through our Sunday meetings.  We just have to tell one funny story–a translating Elder got confused about a story that was being told as part of a talk so he decided to tell us a joke instead!  We laughed for several reasons!!!

We had the week of New Year’s off of English teaching so that was a nice break but we’re back at it again.  Monday is always a hard day to get students thinking–whether it’s 5th graders or Ministry of Labor employees!  We have been pleased to see so many come back and stay with it–if we get 6-10 people there in each class we feel successful.  Before the New Year, the Prime Minister announced that January 2nd would also be a holiday but all the Ministry of Labor employees had to make it up today, Saturday–we suppose there are different definitions of “holiday”!

We’ve gathered a few tidbits of interesting Mongolian information that we thought we’d  share in our blog:

  • If you have a cold, eat HORSE meat!!!
  • Mongolians have beautiful white, straight teeth.  Some think that the reason is always chewing on dried arig (fermented yogurt) since they were babies.  We tried it but it really tastes like throw-up!  Just can’t do it–nasty!
  • If you don’t wear a hat, your hair roots will freeze!  Just ask the Stake President who is quite thin on top.
  • Fur coats in Mongolia are beautiful!!!  We continually see women wearing them and are very envious.  The fur hats are equally as beautiful.  No…we won’t be coming home with any.
  • Many things are “Made in China” but it has a different meaning here than it does in American.  America has many regulations for Chinese imports but over here there aren’t any so everyone refers to it as “cheap Chinese junk!”
  • Children don’t cut their hair until they reach 3-4 years old.  As a result, many little girls and boys have braids pinned to their heads.  Their parents hold a ceremony of guests clipping off a small portion of hair with gifts of money given to the child.  Afterwards, they shave the child’s head because it grows back fuller and with the finer baby hair gone.  If a woman doesn’t like her hair, she shaves her head likewise and is assured a fuller mane when it returns.  Yes, there are bald people around but now we understand why.
  • If you go out to eat and none of the employees speak English, you can point to what you want…but we’re usually surprised at what we end up with–it doesn’t look anything like the picture but we happily eat it and it’s usually very tasty.  We are left wondering what type of meat we’re eating but we survive.
  • Maternity leave?  No problem in Mongolia!  You can take up to THREE years off with a promise of a job in the same company when you decide to return within that time period.

We have visited with two of our children and their families today.  We have also watched Youtube videos and viewed pictures on our picture frame that our children have sent recently.  And the pictures, texts, and emails we’ve received have been priceless!  Oh, how we love the support of our children and grandchildren!!!  At times, it is so hard to be so far away but all of this contact helps so much. On the church’s website it states that “God’s Church exists to help families gain eternal blessings. We believe the greatest blessing He gives us is the ability to return to live with Him in heaven with our families.”  We know this is true.  We are so grateful that we are part of a family that is working towards these eternal blessings.  Our family is a wonderful part of our mission as they thoughtfully include us in their lives.  Maybe it’s because our children were all missionaries as young people and remember feeling what we are going through or maybe they miss us, too!!!  Whatever the reason, we love them all and are grateful that they care.  It doesn’t get much better than this…even when you’re in Mongolia!!!


Elder & Sister Francom

PS–It’s been one of those weeks where the camera didn’t even make it out of it’s bag!  We will rededicate ourselves to picture-taking!!!


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