Comings and Goings

We’ve just returned from a brisk walk.  Is “brisk” a good description for one degree with a gentle freezing breeze blowing?  Oh, so cold with hood up, scarf on cheeks and nose, and every other body part layered.  Even though the weather is supposed to be warming up after Tsargaan Sar, it isn’t so our cold weather is still with us.

On the bright side, we’re trying to settle into our new apartment.  This next statement may sound crazy after the preceeding paragraph, but it is so nice to sleep in a cooler place where the heat can be turned down and we can appreciate the warmth of a quilt and winter pajamas.  (Remember how we were sleeping with only a sheet on and the fan blowing at our old place?)  We are still waiting for our closet insert–yup, that big Tsargaan Sar holiday got in the way–but other than that, we’re enjoying the larger spaces.  In fact, when we have young missionaries for dinner, we don’t have to make room, we just put a tablecloth on the table exactly where it is, and we’re ready to serve dinner.  We tried it Monday night and again on Friday and it’s perfect…with room to spare.
Monday’s dinner was unique.  We bought the ingredients for Tsoivan, a traditional Mongolian dish.  We were schooled in how much 1 1/2 kilos of beef, potatoes and carrots were and 1/2 kilo of onions and peppers.  It was harder than it appears because many shop owners were still celebrating the holiday on Monday so we had to try several shops to get all the ingredients.  Sister Hansuren was our visiting chef and she brought the noodles she had already made.  She got busy as soon as they came and by the time we sat down to eat, the whole place smelled as good as the Tsoivan tasted.  All she used was salt and pepper but it was so delicious and the flavors just blended together!  It was another night where we served dinner in shifts but we’ve become good at that.
On Friday, some Sisters called us and asked to bring an investigator by our place to have a lesson.  How can you invite someone into your home at 6:00 at night without feeding them?  We whipped up some dinner and by the time we had eaten and sat in on the lesson we were glad the night turned out the way it did.  It’s always good to support young missionaries and those they are teaching.  Their lesson was on the ten commandments and they did some clever things to help us all remember which commandment is which.  Yes, it’s probably something they learned in Seminary but they were definitely teaching old dogs new tricks!

Last Monday, we went to work as usual and it was so “vacant”…so quiet.  There is one thing Mongolians are really good at and that is making the most of every holiday.  Tsargaan Sar started last Wednesday and they were still celebrating on Monday (as stated above)!  Well, all of us seniors finally found one another in all the emptiness and we took a very long lunch–we walked to some stores to look at things that might make our new apartments more comfortable.  One of our translators made some phone calls before we left to check to see which stores were open and which ones were STILL celebrating.  We had a great time and made some good finds.  We, the Francoms, are the proud owners of the one and only waffle-maker that we know of in Mongolia!  Yes, it’s going to go from one senior apartment to another till we all get tired of waffles, if that’s possible!

We have another new senior couple in Mongolia.  They are Elder and Sister Harper and they are the new office couple taking the place of the Linfords that went home earlier this month.  Oh, we miss the Linfords but are grateful to have the Harpers with us.  As they try to find their way around, they make us feel like we know ALMOST everything with about eight months of learning behind us.  It’s fun to take them around but there was no “shock value” when we showed them the meat market since they both grew up on farms in Idaho.  We also have two additional couples with us from Arizona (the Farleys) and Payson, Utah (the Kimballs).  They are here to assist the Priesthood with the Gardening Project.  The Branch Presidents/Bishops are going to choose a few needy families and these visitors will help these poor people with gardening supplies so they can grow a garden and become more self-reliant.  It can even be non-member families who are assisted.  One couple will be going up north to do trainings and the other one will stay here for a month.  This seems to be one way to assist the poor and needy where there aren’t Bishop’s Storehouses and it hopefully will grow produce for their family as well as selling to others.  There is even the possibility for raising chickens and geese with the same outcomes.  WOW…aren’t we part of a wonderful church that helps so many?
A while back, the Prime Minister of Mongolia was fired and a new one was appointed.  The Director of the Ministry of Labor (where we teach English) was replaced this past week.  As a result, we have not been teaching English–we’re taking a longer Mongolian holiday than we expected.  The dust is still settling and we’re hoping that the new director thinks it’s important for our students to still learn English.  Until then, we’re waiting and hoping to be called back.  In spite of all this, we went to lunch with the old director (who we taught English to), the self-reliant couples,.and two Mongolian church members.  The “retired” director is very interested in the way the church takes care of its own and helps them become self-reliant.  We talked about the gardening project and it was fun to get to know her on a personal level.  She actually has a daughter-in-law who went to BYUH which means she knows something about our religion.  Her daughter-in-law is now inactive so that doesn’t help.  It was a great meeting and she hopes to get back to learning English and we will welcome her at any time and place!
Well, it’s late and we’re tired!  It has been a full week and we are ready to start another one.  We had good news that our grandson, Taysom, MIGHT be released on Sunday.  Oh, to think of him being home and being “mothered” by his big sister is a wonderful thought!  He will still need some specialized care for a month or two but it will be magic to get him home and then life can start moving forward and he can become normal.  Our Heavenly Father hears our prayers and blesses our family and friends so much.  We know he is there and we are so grateful that we can continually feel His influence in our lives and that of our family.  We count our blessing daily and hope all of you do, too.
Elder & Sister Francom

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