It seems like this week has been full of T.I.M. (This Is Mongolia) moments. It all started last Saturday as we walked to The State Department Store across town. They were having a special sale on fur coats. We just couldn’t resist walking through the racks and touching the deep pile of fox, wolf, and all the other various animal pelts. Some were made into coats–both men and women–and others were made into capes, shawls, scarves, and hats. Some pelts were just hanging on the wall with the entire animal from head to tail. Do you think you buy them like fabric and then go home and sew? Of course the men couldn’t resist trying on a few hats–some too big, some too small, and some just right! They all just seemed so voluminous! They are quite expensive yet relatively cheap–about $70-80 USD. And the coats are around $300-600 USD. The coats were so varied in style and types of fur and the baby lamb (Astrakhan) is beautiful (but not a kind thought of how they obtained it). Many coats had more than one type of fur and some looked like fabric until looking closely and it was a really fine, soft, short fur. It was a lot of fun but such a different experience. Also, there are many boots made of fur–like reindeer and horse–and they are really pretty and they look warm. So, this goes to show that some countries look at animal products differently than America.
On Tuesday, we had our first monthly Senior Missionary Coordinating Meeting that we’ve had in a long time since the Bensons were busy traveling back and forth from America with their new baby. We were reporting our monthly assignments when Pugee entered and nodded to President Benson. He immediately turned to us all and asked us to go get our coats and LEAVE THE BUILDING RIGHT NOW! What…TIM!!! The Immigration Department was coming for an “inspection” and it would be best if no Americans were in the building. So, we immediately retrieved our coats and took the rest of the day off. They explained that the “inspector” might be friendly but might not so it was safest to play it this way. When we returned the following day, the Mongolians had nothing to report so it must have been a smooth “inspection”! We finished our meeting a couple days later and we all have new asssignments. Another senior couple, the Linfords, are returning to Midway, Utah this week. Oh, another couple we will miss so much! We no longer travel out to Nalaikh once a month because the Taylors are going there every week. But…we are now going to be attending the Baganurr Branch which is a mere two hour drive and we’ll drop off the Taylors at Nalaikh when we go. Of course, we smiled but inside we were wondering how we would do it. Well, it’s simple the President said. We will drive out but will make sure we always have a Mongolian with us just to be sure that someone can communicate if needed. OK…a new challenge that we accept!
Another TIM moment happened on our way to teach English. The big Toyota van that usually picks us up just stopped dead in the middle of a busy road in the busiest part of the morning. Oh, the impatient honking…and more honking–yes, this could happen in America, too. The driver and Elder Francom pushed it onto a side street and the driver disappeared only to return with his personal car after our chilly sit in the dead car. Then later that day, in the same big Toyota, our driver also had some employees in the van. He was taking them someplace along the way to drop us off. We drove into some small alley-ways between big building with cars parked on both sides. Of course, some cars were trying to travel in the opposite direction in the same skinny space but our big car was the winner of most of the silent stares between drivers. The little cars had to completely back out all the way to the road. At one point we were about an inch from an iron railing on one side and an inch from another car on the other side. WOW…we were amazed to get out of that one without even a scratch! It was nice to get back out on the open roads! A piece of data we read this week: In many countries there are 120 cars per thousand people but in Mongolia there are 239 cars per thousand people so now we understand some of the traffic problems!
In true TIM fashion, it is still very cold. We walked to lunch one day and decided to choose a restaurant close to the building. Sister Taylor said she checked the weather before we left and it was -27 degrees. We walked fast! We’re in weather that really does frost your eyebrows and crystallize your eyelashes. And that’s happening on our short two-block walk to the Bayanzurkh Building! Sometimes, even when we’re bundled up, we notice that our cheeks and forehead start hurting and it almost feels like the brain-freeze we’ve all experienced when we eat ice cream too quickly. Oh, so cold!
No TIM moments in our English classes this week. We took some Dr. Suess books (beginning readers) and our adult students became children as they read and enjoyed every minute. The rowdy student showed up with friends in the intermediate class again, but on Friday, she came to the beginning class and stayed for the intermediate one, too. This is movement in the right direction!
We’ve had some Michigan Test meetings with President Benson, the stake president, and district president this week. We are going to be doing some great things that we hope will make a great difference. We are going to start teaching a weekly Michigan Test prep class. We all agreed that success is not starting to study two weeks before the test date but continually working with English and using it daily. That seems easy until you realize that TIM and another language is predominant. The two priesthood leaders are going to give us names of members who have taken BYUH online courses in English, not a flight-risk, and are qualified in other areas. They will be invited to our weekly class. Also, we will target spouses of students who are already accepted at BYUH. Our testing time will be filled with those we have taught weekly with the blessings of their priesthood leaders. BYUH wants more Mongolians and are hoping we can send more highly qualified Mongolians. This is our plan for getting our young people there so they can graduate and return and bless the Mongolian people with their expertise.
It’s 1:15pm on Saturday afternoon (Friday 10:15pm in SLC) and we have just been informed that our newest grandson has just been born!!! We have a picture and have been waiting as Kurt has text us with updates along the way. We are so excited!!! His name is Taysom and he weighs 7lbs 3 oz. Alanna was about a week overdue so we’re all so excited about it all. Her birthday is tomorrow so it’s fitting that she have a healthy baby boy to match the beautiful 2 1/2 year-old daughter, Devri. Oh, we’re so excited and we are so grateful for technology so we can participate in the event!
So, we’re off to the wrestling matches!!! We’ll include this in our TIM experiences next week! We are enjoying every minute of Mongolia but would give anything to be home for births and other family events. We know our Heavenly Father is aware of each and every one of us and He will help us all if we only ask in a simple prayer. What a blessing that is.
We love you all. Oh, neighbors on Bar M Circle…we received an email that we are using 49% less electricity than our neighbors. Wow…we’re proud of our conservation effort! Would the rest of you tighten up a bit–throw on a sweater or something!!! (Chuckle…chuckle!!!)
Elder & Sister Francom