Another week but the cold wasn’t quite as chilly, so it seems. When the sun is shining brightly, it just gives the impression that it is warmer. One night as we were going to bed, Elder Francom commented that the smoggy air was really thick and he was right. But, by morning, it was really quite clear so it must be a matter of a strong breeze coming through to clear it out–it was a nice surprise. At Zone Conference, we were encouraged to wear our masks so we are trying to be more diligent. They are so uncomfortable and they make us look like DUCKS—the mask is in the shape of a duck bill…quack…quack! Elder Francom has been very good—he has been battling quite a cold so he’s gone to great length to do everything possible to get rid of the coughing, wheezing, coughing, sneezing, and more coughing!!! It seems to be working and we’re positive we’ll be well for the remainder of the winter!??
If you know Elder Francom very well, you know he loves to keep track of weather (he says it’s in every Englishman’s blood). His forecasting tells me that we’re in for a frigid week coming up, but the clothing layers are standard whether it’s 10 degrees or – 20 degrees—cold is cold and it’s amazing how it’s just another part of everyday life. We do look forward to walking out the door without the hassle of taking time for all the layers but it’s still a long ways off!
We had another week of cooking for others, of course. Elder Wong, a counselor in Asia Area Presidency, was still in town so we helped with Sunday dinner and then went back to our apartment for dinner with all the senior couples.
We had a special fast for one of our own—Sister England. She and her husband were Mongolian missionaries doing our job and living in our apartment. They left a few days before we arrived in Mongolia but our relationship goes back a long, long ways. Sister England–Sheri to me–and I went to grade school in Salt Lake City back when “dirt was new”. In fact, we were very good friends and we found each other when another mutual friend saw my mother’s obituary in the newspaper, five years ago. It’s been fun to reconnect. It sounds like she and her husband have enjoyed being home with their family. However, she found that she has inoperable cancer since being home and she is starting chemotherapy and hoping and praying for the best. Oh, we have sent so many prayers heavenward in her behalf. On another personal note, our fast was also for our niece, Brittany Beecher Clayson (Lyle’s daughter). She has a condition known as Chiari Malformation where part of the brain descends out of the skull into the spinal area which disrupts the normal flow of the brain fluid. Brittany is a returned missionary, married to a wonderful man, and has be very healthy until recently. When symptoms started appearing, she found doctors familiar with this condition and she had surgery on Friday and is on a long, painful road to recovery. She has a wonderfully supportive family and, with a little time, will be better than ever. We are all so surprised that she has done so much in her lifetime without being bothered and it will be a wonderful new beginning for her when she has recovered. Our prayers are with both Sheri and Brittany, for sure!
One of the Benson kids was baptized on Monday and all of us “grandparents” were invited. It was an event that eight-year-old John Taft Benson will always remember. How manyAmericans can claim to be baptized in Mongolia and be confirmed by Elder Wong, a general authority? We all helped with a nice dinner of his favorite food—sloppy joes and the fixings.
We are having “growing pains” with the Michigan Test. It is a HOT item around here and becomes HOTTER as we delve into all that is involved in getting that golden ticket to America. We are working with the Taylors, the new English Teaching couple, to prepare the young people to be successful when they take the test. We are going to hold a weekly Michigan Test prep English class and those who come to class will be the first to sign up for the test. We’re finding out that a high score is not the only qualification for going to BYUH—they must have a Priesthood endorsement which includes a promise to return to Mongolia after graduation. In the past, many BYUH graduates have stayed in America which can cause the U.S. government to refuse to give Visas to our members. See…lots of issues that have to be addressed but we hope to get lots of answers from lots of people so the applicants really know what is going on. When everyone knows what is happening, the controversy is gone!
Our English classes were a little frustrating this week. There seems to be a renewed interest in English with people returning that we haven’t seen since the first few weeks of classes. AND…the director has asked for an attendance record for the past five months. Hmm…we’re wondering if the two are connected? These former students are more than welcome but those who have been religiously attending are farther ahead so the new students don’t understand our English so they try to communicate with their fellow employees in Mongolian and if anyone would have walked in you would have thought we were teaching Mongolian! It was not a very good day for English. Several times, we asked them to address issues in English but it just didn’t work! So, on Friday, we started the class with the serious statement that we were teaching an English class and if they had questions it probably meant that they needed to attend the first class which is the beginning class. That worked better and while we were playing a game of Tic-Tac-Toe (with American candy for rewards) one student told Elder Francom that she wasn’t understanding and asked what time the beginning class was at. Hopefully, the problem is solves! Now, we’re waiting for next week to see if more former students return and we’ll have to decide what to do since the beginning class far exceeds their understanding at this point, too! Oh, after another meeting with President Benson, Elder Wong and the Ministry of Labor, we were pleased to get another report that we are doing great and the people love us!!! Whew…we’re so glad it’s working!!! The church is working on getting more sponsors and making them “open” so any American missionary can teach for them. That way, some young missionaries won’t have to stay in Ulaanbaatar for their whole mission because they have to teach English for their particular sponsor. They can take turns going out to Khovd, Choibalson, Erednet, or Darkhan–cities far out in the countryside. We hope it works!
So, that wraps up another Mongolian missionary week. After a bad day at English we read a statement by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin where he stated, “The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.” So…maybe next week we’ll be able to turn it all around and share funny moments in English! Hmm…maybe we’ll have them teach us a little Mongolian! We love our mission and we love the Lord. We will prepare to see the funny side of life this coming week. May you all be blessed with laughter along your way, too.
We miss our children, grandchildren (oh…another one is due today but no news yet!), Rick’s dad, and other family members. Yes, and all our dear loyal friends. Thanks for helping out so we can be away and we look forward to joining back in after a few…no, many more months!
Elder & Sister Francom