A Red-Letter Day in a Red-Letter Mongolian Experience

It’s not often that there are so many events in one day.  It actually happened on February 12, 2015.  To many Americans, it was Abraham Lincoln’s birthday but to the Francom family, it’s bigger than that—it’s Elder Francom’s/Dad’s/Grandpa’s birthday!  It was such a big day and it even started very early–4:15 am.  Elder Francom made an early run to the airport.  After returning home, all of us senior couples went out for his favorite restaurant meal, breakfast.  We found a little organic store with a restaurant on the side that served breakfast.  We had a choice between an egg sandwich, granola, beef-tongue sandwiches, or whole-wheat pancakes.  With a cup of Italian hot chocolate, it was a very acceptable birthday breakfast—no one felt like tongue for breakfast!  Then, just before lunch, we received an emergency plea from Jigurr, the President’s secretary.  He needed us “right now”!  OK…we walked in a room and there sat all the seniors again with all the office staff and a birthday cake.  They lit a small sparkler-type candle, sang the world-wide birthday song, and then we all sampled the cake and went back to work.  Later that day, we had four Elders for dinner with an investigator.  Two Elders wanted to teach their investigator first so Elder Francom sat in on the lesson in the living room and I ate dinner the other Elders who had an appointment shortly after dinner.   When all was said and done, we only needed to set a table for two different small groups instead of one large table for seven people!  But, it’s really a pleasure to try to accommodate busy Elders who need to be fed to meet their schedules as they are teaching so diligently!

The final and most important event of the day was our new grandson’s surgery.  He was born with Hirschsprung’s Disease and has been in the Primary Children’s Medical Center for most of his two-week life.  Thursday, February 12th, was his scheduled surgery—and two different were possible.  There was a simple surgery and a more complicated one that meant wearing a colostomy bag until he was a few months older and with a second surgery then.  Of course, we were hoping and praying for the simpler procedure.  We put our ipad next to our bed since the surgery was taking place early in the morning in Utah and very late at night in Mongolia.  Kurt’s text finally came through and it read:

“GOOD NEWS!!!!

THEY ARE DOING THE PULL THROUGH RIGHT NOW SO HE WILL HOPEFULLY NOT NEED ADDITIONAL SURGERIES

EVERYTHING IS GOING GREAT….SLEEP WELL”

It was a good night’s sleep after reading that!  When we awoke, the next text read:

“They just took the ventilator out so he is breathing on his own. His incisions look very clean. He’s a champ!”

Oh, we are so blessed that his digestive tract is complete and he can soon start eating like a normal baby and before we know it, he’ll be home with his family.  Of course, he still has to be in the hospital until he eats and has bowel movements and it will take from three to ten days but we’re at least beyond the surgery!!!  Prayers have certainly been answered!

Well, everything else seems to dim next to that event!  However, we are in for another interesting MONGOLIAN CULTURAL EXPERIENCE.  Next week, February 19th is the beginning of Tsangaan Sar (silent “T”).  It means “White Moon” and is the New Year’s celebration that lasts about four days.  Back on January 1st they celebrated the other New Year so we’re not certain why this event is so much bigger.  (Hong Kong told us that it is also their New Year so it must be an Asian thing.) Maybe we’ll get more clarification as we ask more questions this week.  We are noticing that there are certain foods that are associated with this as well as many formal events that will take place.  On Thursday, everyone will be visiting their oldest relatives and lots of buuz will be eaten.  In fact, many Mongolians come to work and say how late they’ve been staying up to make thousands of buuz.  At this time, money is given to older people and practical clothing items given to younger people.  Both of us have already received a pair of camel socks and they are very warm–does that make us part of the younger generation?  Nice thought!!!  It is also traditional to eat potato salad and we’re hoping they don’t start making that until closer to the celebration!  There are big round or oval sweet-breads that they stack in a certain order and the height signifies the length of one’s life.  Dried yogurt also seems to be part of this stack.  EVERYWHERE we go, people are huddled in groups and sure enough, the breads and dried yogurt are being snatched up by busy Mongolians.  Since January, as we’ve visited branch members, they all mentioned that we are to visit during Tsangaan Sar.  We’re not really comfortable just showing up at their gers and we could never even find their individual ger again because we remember going down one dirt road…turning down another…a swift turn again…then a particular metal gate with nothing to suggest that we’re at the right one.  That’s where we are so dependent on the Elders and Sisters that are assigned to our Branch.  They live in the ger district everyday and really know their way around…plus they are our translators.  Maybe we’ll have more to report next week!

This reminds me of an interesting side-note–there are no addresses here.  Major street in the city have names but there are no street names in the ger districts.  If you want to send and receive mail you get a P.O. Box.  When we’ve been with branch members visiting, they call on their phones and the person in the ger directs us to their specific ger.  Most of the time, the ger owner comes out to the metal gate to welcome us.  Sometimes, they are standing inside the fence with their big dog because dogs have been trained as protectors.  Oh, and dogs never enter their gers even with the extreme weather in the wintertime.  Thank goodness they have very heavy winter fur!

With the celebration of Tsangaan Sar, our English teaching has been cut back until after the holiday so we’ll feel like we’re on holiday, too!

We still have our little grandson utmost on our minds and we know many of you have been concerned and praying for him, also.  Thank you for your prayers for little Taysom.  Pray is so powerful and we truly have a testimony of prayer.  There are always others who have needs–our niece Brittany is recovering from her brain surgery and our prayers are being answered.  Sister England, my sweet childhood friend, is trying to find relief for her pain from cancer so we pray fervently for her, also.  We are so grateful for a loving and understand Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and wants to help.  When we are all praying humbly, we feel at peace even half-way around the world!

Take care of one another..pray for one another!!!

Love,

Elder & Sister Francom

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