It must be SPRING—the trees and grass are showing hints of green, the coats haven’t been touched all week long, and the Mongolian Saints are ready to plant gardens. We’ve been consumed by The Garden Project for the past few weeks to make this gardening happen but it really all started last February as the Kimballs and Farleys came and encouraged participation and formulated plans with Priesthood leaders and their needy members. Once church headquarters in SLC approved each plan, they returned the plans, then we re-taught ourselves how to use Excel and made spreadsheets for all the ward/branch units. Since this is a cash society, it has been a challenge to order and pay the local venders but Pugee, the financial officer for the church, has worked miracles and made it all happen. How we appreciate her efforts!!! We have many water barrels and carts, seeds of every kind, tools, hoses and pumps ready to be taken to the Saints by the Priesthood leaders. They will distribute these items to specific poor and needy members (and in some cases, nonmembers) who are willing to plant a garden so they can provide food for their families. This afternoon, the Priesthood Leaders are here with trucks to take their orders back to the members–there is probably going to be a lot of gardening happening this weekend! Of course, the work has only just begun for them and us. We will continue being the “middle-man” as the Priesthood leaders and members report their progress and successes to church headquarters. The idea behind the assistance is that the members will feed their families, share with their neighbors, store food for wintertime, maybe even sale some for money, and plant again on their own next year. This is another amazing program from the church to help members become self-reliant.
Mother’s Day was another nice spring day. I woke to a video from my children and grandchildren. They all held a poster in their hands that said, “I’m glad you’re my mother/grandma because…and the traditional Primary songs were playing in the background. Of course, the reasons went from peanut-butter sandwiches, to taking them shopping, to texting with me in Mongolia, to spoiling them! And, they were all filled with lots of smiles and the love came through loud and clear. Yes, I’ve watched it a few times and it is forever embedded in my heart. What a wonderful family I have!!! All of us seniors celebrated Mother’s Day together with Sunday dinner and then telling our funniest story about our own mother. Elder Francom had such nice things to say about his mother and I told the traditional story about my mother, her arthritis and her Viox. Oh, I love my mother, miss her so much and think about her so often. If you want to know more, I’d be glad to tell you sometime…but not in a blog!!! OR…ask one of our kids! I’d love to talk to each of you about your special Mother’s Day but I guess a blog is a one way communication…
Our English teaching has been going well but the number of students vary from three to six. We were hoping for more but we’ll continue to consistently teach those who are willing to come. The Ministry of Labor called on Friday and asked that we not come because so many people were out of the office or had late afternoon meetings. Nice Friday break!!!
We had a Senior Zone Conference on Friday. At first, we were all wondering what we’d done wrong but it turned into an extremely uplifting meeting. All the seniors took turns training each other and then the President and Sister Benson trained, also. He asked that we provide additional support through shadow leadership–it is not a new concept in the church but we’re being asked to do that with the District and Branch Leaders. The church is so young here and the leaders are really good people who are trying to figure it out within their cultural background. It is a challenge for them and it will be a test for us as we try to help them become a mature church group. However, they are amazing as they come and support firesides, workshops, and special meetings–their diligence and spirituality surpasses that of Saints back home on many occasions! We are up to the challenge, with the help of the handbook, and will try to bridge the language gap to help the leaders so they can continue growing and becoming many stakes and with their dream of a temple in their mist.
To conclude the conference, we went to a restaurant out where lots of “X-Pates” live. These are Americans who are living here and working here and Mongolia really caters to their tastes and life-styles. It’s clear across town so we don’t get to take advantage of these extras too often. We had lots of sushi, and other delectables–even tried eating a tempura orchid (a little sweet but mostly tempura)! It was quite a day and we were fed well–both spiritually and physically!
We are thinking a lot about our task with the Mongolian church leaders. How we take such things for granted back home. Appreciate your leaders’ understanding and all that they do! May we all live the gospel and follow the counsel of good, experienced leaders in the Church. We will all be blessed and we will be able to avoid many problems if we are listening and following their counsel. We are grateful to have great leaders back home and to have a bit of experience to put leadership skills to the test here. Of course, with the help of the our Savior, many things are possible.
Take care of one another!
Elder & Sister Francom