There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing! In Mongolia we can live and die by the clothing we wear—or don’t wear. Here is a look at our weekly weather. (Oh…it wouldn’t transfer–
Thursday was -11 to -24, Friday was -7 to -21, Saturday was -9 to -20, Sunday is -8 to -19, Monday will be -9 to -23, Tuesday will be -9 to -22, Wednesday will be -7 to -22.)
Yes, it’s cold…it’s chilly…it’s frosty…it’s frigid and they say this has been one of their “warmest” winters up to this point!!! Well, cold is just plain cold and we’ve learned, by experience and observation, that proper clothing is a must! We start with layering—even at the underwear level then we build as we move out. Some of our most important layers are the scarf, ear coverings/hats, and gloves. And we cannot think that “just this one time” is a good excuse not to wear essentials because we pay dearly! We love long-johns, fleece lined leggings, sweaters, vests, pants and skirts made from heavy fabrics, and good warm boots with camel-lined inserts. Some of the warmest wintry clothing items are made from cashmere, camel and yak but there are also lots of woolen items, too. Of course, when the wind blows it just feels so much colder! We often think back to all the people in Utah who ran around in T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops all winter long—no one even considers that thought here! Once we’ve dressed appropriately, we have to move quickly because we really start heating up being inside a building. Then, when you reach your destination you immediately unwrap for the same reason. Mongolians absolutely love HEAT, so inside is always so warm. (We only sleep with a sheet and a fan blowing on us all the wintry night long!)
The next thing to deal with is the icy conditions outside. It snows in Mongolia but only a skiff. BUT, this skiff never melts because the temperature never gets above freezing. So, you see a thin layer of crusted snow with dusty dirt underneath. Even in the winter, we fight the dust and dirt! This thin layer of snow gets packed down and turns to ice but it usually isn’t as icy as it looks because the dirt mixes in. However, we can never be too sure because our next step might prove us wrong.
There must be a granite mountainside around here with a plethora of granite because sidewalks and stairs are all made of granite—the polished variety! It’s so slippery! In fact, one of the biggest obstacles that makes going to work treacherous is a small inclined handicapped ramp we walk up to get into the Bayanzurkh Church Building—we slip and slide every morning. Usually, there are footprints sliding down and we think the Elders are having a ball on these cold days—we’ve never seen them but we’re sure they cannot resist!
We have at least three more months of cold…chilly…frosty…frigid weather but it’s nice to think of November, December, and half of January behind us. We’ll do it and will really appreciate any warm weather that comes our way this summer.
Imagine going to the “Black Market” in this weather—I went with another senior sister who needed baby flannel and batting for a quilting project. It was so cold! Can you imagine working out in it? The Mongolians sit at their outdoor booths and serve with a smile on their faces and NO gloves on their hands. I took my gloves off to give an older gentleman my money (I bought yarn) and by the time I put my gloves back on my fingers were hurting so badly! I guess it’s a matter of getting used to living in these temperatures and making them part of your life.
Our cold, wintry week was full of a senior “good-bye” dinner for the Linfords who are headed back to Midway, Utah soon. We are also saying “good-bye” to a young Mongolian Sister, Sister Annagyn, who has been serving in our branch since we’ve been here. She was the first to eat at our apartment and loved our enchiladas and was hoping we’d make them again—Monday was the night. She was so excited to eat them and this Sunday she will say her good-byes to our branch and be back home by Tuesday. She has learned quite good English from some of her American companions. We will truly miss her!
On Tuesday, we had a Zone Conference. Even though it lasts the entire day it is a very uplifting time with the young missionaries. If you ask them, their mission president will someday be a General Authority…if not President of the church. They have grown to admire him so much but Elder Francom informs me that this is a normal occurrence among young missionaries.
Now, we are gearing up for a weekend of helping Sister Benson fix food. We already helped with cakes and cookies for other events earlier in the week but now we’re on to the serious cooking. Elder Wong and Elder Toronto, both Asia Area Authorities, are here for various reasons. It really is quite fun to join together and see what good cooking we can come up with. Oh…hot soup and chowder, quick sandwiches to eat on-the-run when visiting the GER district, and tender beef roast with the fixings, and don’t forget salads and desserts—nothing too fancy but the burden is light when we all do our part.
Doing our part…that is what our lives are all about right now. On Friday night we were all invited to the Benson’s apartment to enjoy dinner with Elder Wong and ElderToronto. We were touched when Elder Wong bore testimony that there is a reason for each of us couples to be in Mongolia at this particular time. He promised us that this will be made evident to us as we continue to do our part. We know that the young Elders and Sisters play the more challenging roll in this non-Christian country but many Mongolians are coming to Christ and they are being baptized. Earlier this week, we met a fourteen-year-old young man who just walked into the Bayanzurkh Church Building one afternoon and wanted to know more about Christ after reading the Bible. It led to his baptism and his parents are being touched by the Spirit as they learn from the example of their son. We are so grateful to be part of this work. We believe that we can make a difference through our service and we will help move the Gospel forward. May we all enlarge and enrich our testimonies wherever we are. May we all make a difference and share the Gospel. We can all do our part!
We put another week behind us and we have truly been blessed. We hope you are counting your blessing, too. Take care of one another…be happy and be grateful for the Gospel.
Elder & Sister Francom