Look! Mongolia really is a beautiful part of this big world of ours! Last Saturday, instead of cleaning and shopping on our “P-Day” we went for a day trip to discover some interesting and beautiful places of this far-away country. All eight of us seniors boarded a van and headed west. Our first stop was at a ger camp where they treated us to “One Day in Mongolia.” This is what we did…
Then, after lunch, we headed out to Hustai National Park, Land of Wild Horses. After being schooled at the small Visitor’s Center we hopped back in the van and were hoping to see elk, deer, marmots, and wolves. But, the animal we were really on the lookout for was the Przewalski horse. It isn’t really a horses we were told, because it has 68 pair of chromosome where the horse only has 66 pairs. In fact, it is more closely related to the zebra and that explains its different look. They called them “Takhi” and are the only living wild ancestor of the domestic horse. There are a total of 320 horses in the park—the only place they live in the world. We saw the horses in the distance as well as elk and marmots everywhere. Also, there are many Neolithic graves, the oldest are over 4000 years old. These are Turkish grave stones with man-like features. When a rival took over, they chopped off all the heads and feet—somehow, the heads were reattached. It was a wonderful day to be outside enjoying new adventures. It was quite a ride as we traveled only on bumpy dirt roads—we were air-born a lot of the time! They just drive so fast no matter the surface!!! So, next time… we’re going to make sure we have a van with seatbelts and better ventilation!
We hosted all the seniors at our apartment for Sunday dinner last week. It’s always a lot of fun to be together and laugh at ourselves on this crazy mission to Mongolia. Since we were gone most of the day for church service, we had a crockpot roast with the fixings. There was a lot left over so Elder Francom invited a set of missionaries to help clean it up on Monday after we were finished with English teaching. We warmed it all up and they showed up as promised. It was Elder Harris and his Mongolian companion, Elder Munkhbold. Elder Munkhbold is a Mongolian wrestler and he LOVES meat—when I know he’s coming I have to make sure there is plenty! I was hoping I had enough to satisfy him but for some reason, he wasn’t that eager this time. I invited him to have seconds but he turned it down. We had ice cream and I was glad I remembered the cookies in our freezer so the meal was adequate. They were about ready to leave when we answered a knock at the door and there stood TWO MORE ELDERS!!! What? Of course, we made them feel welcomed and sat them down to dinner–it was like they had been invited but neither of us issued an additional invitation. We were so happy that Elder Munkhbold was not very hungry that night!!! They slicked it up and hurried off to appointments but we’re still wondering how it all came to be. Oh well…we helped FOUR Elders eat well that night!
The mission president held another Senior Council Meeting again this week. He has chosen to call it that because there are so many seniors with much more experience in the church than him—he has never been a bishop, a high councilman, or in a Stake Presidency! Oh, he’s plenty capable but he is just so young that these experiences haven’t yet come his way. So, it’s a “council” as we make suggestions and ask questions. He is asking us to concentrate on our calling as advisors to District Leaders, to teach them, then have them teach the branch leaders to reach greater heights of leadership. It is almost overwhelming to think of all the extra things we need to do. Elder Francom and another senior are going to help the District Presidency raise to new heights while some of the others are assisting the Branch Presidencies with greater understanding. Then, the rest of us are training the stake auxiliary leaders. This is more a MLS Mission (Member Leadership Support). Later that same day, President Benson came down to the basement into our office and asked us to be over the DIC (Deseret International Charities). There should be a senior couple running it full-time, but no seniors are coming as far out as we can see. So, that means we are doing several full-time missions at the same time! The charity work that is done by the church here is very important and keeps our name on the “good list” so we foreigners can enter Mongolia. The garden project we recently worked with was sponsored by the DIC. The DIC also does wheelchair donations, provides money for more water stations to be built, and even helps people get on their feet again if they home was destroyed by fire. We are still waiting to be trained but we hope to be able to give it some time in an already busy schedule.
Friday night we went to a Birthday Party for a 70 year-old church member who is an opera singer. Her husband is the Patriarch for Mongolia. Pugee, a dear Mongolian friend of the seniors, introduced her to us and we all wished her a “Happy Birthday” with a kiss to both cheeks! The whole event turned into a night at the Opera. At one point, I leaned over to Elder Francom and asked if he knew which language they were singing in–Mongolian or Italian, and he replied, “Does it matter?” We both got a quiet laugh out of that one. Oh…what a journey we are having!!!
Never fear…we are healthy, we are happy, we are challenged, we feel God’s love. We encourage all of you and ourselves to find a place for service in our lives for that is one of the best ways to grow to become more Christ-like. He served the one and He served the multitudes. We are blessed to be in Mongolia and are growing in service as we help with a simple PEF Loan or travel miles and miles to Baganuur for a Sunday.
Take care and enjoy the countdown till school is out!
Elder & Sister Francom