We all have played guessing games from the time we were small. Spring weather in Mongolia is a great time to polish up on this childhood pass-time. Will we need a coat or a jacket today? Will we need boots or shoes? What about mittens and umbrella? Scarf or no scarf? However, there’s another guessing game we play in Mongolia that we had forgotten about all winter long. Will we have hot, cold, or no water today?!!! Yes, this small problem raised its ugly head this past week as we got up to cold water one morning. We waited it out and finally got a bit of warmth for a couple of showers. Then, another day while we were cleaning, the water-flow turned to a drizzle and then vanished completely—not for long but it was inconvenient! Ah…the memories of “The Water Game” from last spring and summer. We have two new sets of senior couples since last summer and they were a bit unhappier than we older, more experienced couples. Yes, we had sympathy for them but assured them that they would get used to it as it came and went all summer long. In reality, I don’t think it is any easier for us but it’s a guessing game someone loves to play with us all—deep down in the depths of wherever the water comes from!
Last weekend, we had a visit from Elder Toronto, the Asia Area Seventy—we think we briefly mentioned it last week. His family has lived in Beijing for over twenty-five years. His wife and daughter came with him and they were delightful. His daughter just returned from a mission to New York where she taught members in Chinese. We have a Mongolian Sister Missionary who is in New York teaching the gospel in German. (She met Sister Katie Beecher last week at transfers!) New York is certainly a diverse place, isn’t it! While they were here we had a special Asia Area Conference with a 30 minute opening with Elder Toronto and then we heard recorded messages from several General Authorities and Elder Nelsen of the Twelve. It was another great day with ENGLISH, once again, being highlighted. If that wasn’t enough “Americana,” LOTS of American-looking people came into the building right before it began. Then, we quickly remembered that they were from a group that had been advertised–they were the BYU Wind Symphony. We visited with them and they became part of us as we listened to instruction from the brethren. We sat with the Benson kids and helped Sister Benson entertain them with gospel puzzles—no games—on our ipad. Later that day, we treated some Sisters to dinner and then attended a fireside presented by the BYU Wind Symphony.
On Monday, we seniors all made big chocolate cakes and hosted the 50 Wind Symphony players for Family Home Evening. We had over 150 Mongolian youth come and join in. Both groups shared testimonies, musical selections, and games. The Mongolian youth had so much fun teaching the BYU youth Shag-gi—more commonly referred to as “ankle bones.” From the sounds of things the Americans enjoyed learning and competing and many of them returned home with a lucky bag of ankle bones to share with family and friends.
On Tuesday evening, we were entertained by the BYU Wind Symphony in concert. What is a Wind Symphony? Well, it’s all the band instruments that take air-movement to make sound—thus, “wind” in the name. They played every instrument from the tiny high-pitched piccolo to the very large contrabass saxophone—the guy that played it was hardly tall enough. This was a concert in a large hall in the Communist Party Building. Many non-members came to be entertained and we don’t think they were disappointed. The band not only played regular concert numbers (sorry, they were announced in Mongolian) but they actually presented some beautiful Mongolian pieces. You could even pick out the sounds of horses hooves as they marched along in Chinggis Khaan’s army! Lots of people were so moved that they sang along and enjoyed every minute of it. Of course, the band got a standing ovation with a march by John Philip Sousa as an encore. After a long walk home in very chilly weather, we were ready for bed! The band did two night’s concerts and then were off to Korea next and then Japan. What a fun trip for these young people.
We are in the mist of the first English Language Teaching Conference that the church has hosted for Mongolia. Of course, there is nothing “church-y” about it. All of the missionaries and church employees are known by Mr. Mrs. or Miss for two days. We have three professors—one from BYUHawaii (Dr. Anderson), one from BYU (Dr. Evans), and one from Hong Kong (Sister Gong—Bruce Lindsay’s sister). They are teaching all the English teachers from Mongolia good teaching strategies that they can take back and use in the classroom. It has been a good experience and we’re being reminded of many things we can do to improve our own teaching.
Teaching…things are looking up! Tushin, the church member in charge of all sponsors, went to lunch with some representatives from NESRIC. When she returned she assured us that there was a new level of commitment for English learning. Well, our driver—the main problem—picked us up all three days this week so we had plenty of time to fight the traffic and arrive with a few minutes to set up for our classes. We both had classes of 5-6 students but only 3-4 students on Friday. We’re not sure we’d want to stay after work at the end of a week, either! We hope the problem is solved and more students will hear about it and join in. We actually had two people come to the English Conference on Friday so that showed more promise.
In honor of Mother’s Day we want to wish all you wonderful women a happy one. We have many women who have made a difference in our lives and helped us along the way. Elder Francom’s father’s wife is so good to us all. She makes sure they visit with us and we appreciate how she cares for Rick’s father. We have the best of daughters—if you are lucky enough to only have one, then Angie has made us so grateful that she’s ours. She has a wonderfully understanding heart and is so great at communicating and sending things—with five kids she is so busy but she does so many extras that will forever make a difference in her family’s lives. Shelley, Chad’s wife, is so accepting and has always been so comfortable to be around. She has many talents and is another great mother. Melissa, Scott’s wife, is so positive and works so hard to help her kids be successful. She smiles no matter what! Alanna, Kurt’s wife, has been so patient as she has nursed her newborn along with such tender care while making sure that life moves on for the rest of the family. Amy, Colton’s wife, is so busy yet finds time to make sure her family comes first. Her own family is complex yet she includes us in her circle. With these women in our family, they assure us a bright future as we move forward together. This is a time to reflect on special women and special mothers who have preceded us. We are grateful to our own mothers, for their example and comfort when we were children and their consistent efforts to serve us throughout our lives. May we each be grateful, for mothers, for their faith in us and their encouragement through all the years. We know that our Heavenly Father is always aware of our needs and sent mothers to help us be successful. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you great women!!!
Elder & Sister Francom