Last weekend we were off exploring Mongolia again. This time we went to Terelj National Park. Some of us had already experienced a portion of it last summer but this time we hired a guide so he took us to other sites. We were expecting nature but we were introduced to a big five-star resort—even five-star by American standards. We’re thinking we Americans were targeted to their sales pitch as they walked us into hotel rooms, down vacant hallways with big glass cases full of museum-like articles, to their indoor swimming pool area, and even farther to their spa. We ended up at their restaurant and the food was wonderful but there was only one other table of customers. The hotel was a very nice place with lots of workers roaming the hallways and we wondered if anyone stayed there in the middle of winter to pay these workers’ wages. Hmm…for some reason, we don’t think we’ll have time for this kind of “R-and-R” at this place! We continued on to “Turtle Rock” and noticed how much the mountains reminded us of the Tetons—very jagged but not as tall. We visited the 100 Monk Cave. During the Russian occupation, one hundred Monks hid here but they were found and killed.Our final destination was a working Monastery but it was up on the mountainside and we were running out of time because some of us were scheduled to be at a baptism that evening. So we turned back with a hope of returning at some point—maybe when the hills are green and the sun is shining. (The following day we were blessed with 3-4 inches of snow!)
Snow…and six more inches this week! However, it is warming up and is supposed to be a balmy 60 degrees a few day next week. Everyone has told us that spring can be more severe than winter. We’re understanding because we’ve received more snow lately than in all the skiffs we received all winter long–now it’s snowy, then it warms up so it melts, freezes again into very slippery conditions, then a bit of evaporation leads to another cycle of snowing and so forth. The streets and sidewalks are more treacherous than ever but we have hope in the warmth of the days ahead!!!
It’s General Conference weekend here in Mongolia! We have meetings on Saturday and Sunday from 10-12:00 and then 1-3:00 with Priesthood Meeting on Saturday at 4:00. Crazy schedule but when you think of people traveling long distances it makes sense to condense it all. (We are excited to hear something that is history to all of you!) Of course, we’ve listened to several talks on the internet and it will still be wonderful to hear them again. The Mongolian language will be presented in the chapel area of the building with the English version up on the third floor. Even though many American missionaries speak quite good Mongolian they still prefer to hear it in English so the room will be full of Americans. Last week, while all of you were busy with General Conference and Easter thoughts, we had regular church—Fast Meeting included. We didn’t hear the word “Easter” or “Christ’s Resurrection” in one meeting. Again, it shows the infancy of our church here in Mongolia. However, thanks to our family back home, we were THERE…in our backyard…as the grandchildren ran around at the annual Easter Egg Hunt. We received wonderful pictures and videos that made us so happy yet so homesick!
On the English front, we have good news to report—we received the results of the Michigan Test that we administered in March. FIVE people passed it with FIVE others scoreing almost high enough to pass! This is our first success and we are so excited and those who passed are very thrilled to put it mildly! We had three practice classes before the test but we really cannot contribute the success to three little classes. We’re not sure why, but it happened and we hope to repeat it every time! We are teaching a Michigan Test Prep Class once a week until the next testing time in July. We teach and practice the grammar, vocabulary and reading portion and if nothing else, the young people are working with English words and phrases to help cement the language. Oh, we’re hoping four months of this will produce even more success!
We finally were called to come back to the Ministry of Labor for English teaching. However, the new director is not sold on the idea so he wants it offered AFTER working hours. OK…we’ll try it since we have no say. On Monday afternoon they called and said that the employees were in meetings. On Wednesday, their driver was on the road for forty-five minutes because of after-work traffic. Once he picked us up it took at least that much time to take us to their office so we were late and only three people waited. We suggested that they come an hour early on Friday but the driver showed up at our building ten minutes before we were supposed to teach and so we cancelled it since we knew no one would be waiting. So, we’re a bit frustrated and I’m sure they are, too. We are ready for the coming week but not sure how it’s going to work. The traffic is so bad at the end of the day and we’re not looking forward to the drive but we’ll do it if we can make it work. Time will tell….
It’s late…we’re tired…we are going to sign off! However, we are grateful for all of you who read our adventures. For some reason, home is feeling farther and farther away but our family is so wonderful to help us be part of life. We appreciate all the Francoms and Beechers who have gone before us and Chad, Angie, Scott, Kurt, (and Colton, too). Then, the grandchildren are the best part of all–we’ve had lots of birthdays lately so have been skyping a lot. How great our family is!!! Family is the key to our eternal happiness and with a lot of hard work, we’ll make it. We love our family, we love the Gospel, we are grateful for the resurrection of our Savior and His atonement and all that it means as we try to become an eternal family.
Elder & Sister Francom