What’s more American than a BBQ on July 4th?  We thought we were being very patriotic as all the senior couples and President Benson’s family gathered at the side of our apartment building to eat dinner.  We had a small grill, some briquettes and lighting fluid, with camping chairs or plastic stools surrounding it.  We were ready.  As everyone gathered and added their food offering, you’d have thought we were back in the states!  We had all the fixings for hamburgers, potato salad, veggie tray, Jell-O salad, and a red/white/blue cake.  We were set.  It could have been the best memory ever except…it ended up being quite a miserable time.  The WIND—it blew until the charcoal died, the chips flew, the plates and cups disappeared, and our plastic stools even blew away when left unattended.  We tried to hold on because there was a small play area at the back of our apartment building and the Benson kids were having a great time.   When we were sufficiently wind-whipped and President Benson needed to get back to the mission home for an appointment, we called it good and quickly went inside.  No fireworks were in the mix but we decorated with three little American flag that Angie sent in the mail and duct tape proved stronger than wind.  Happy July 4th to America!

Happy Naadam to Mongolia!  Last year at this time, we were still trying to make sense of this new culture when Naadam hit.  It has a lot of history behind it.  Mongolians were always known for their great conquests for many centuries.  The early armies were divided into groups of soldiers and the leader chose warriors based on their strength, movement, and flexibility.  These skills were best displayed through wrestling, archery skills, and horse racing. Before and after major battles, these three “manly” sports were displayed and through time have evolved into the yearly Naadam Festival.  You know how Americans love to shoot baskets in their free time?  Well, Mongolians love to get in a wrestling hold and try to take each other down.  Body building is a serious pass-time and a lot of wrestling takes place at weekday church activities.

Somehow, Naadam started on Thursday this year—the church building was very quiet.  Then, on Friday, it was another quiet day.  In fact, we came to the building and I cleaned the basement kitchen while Elder Francom worked on his computer and prepared for the Michigan Test.  On Saturday, the seniors are going to the Opening Ceremonies minus the Francoms.  We have the fortune of giving the Michigan Test that morning.  Not our first choice but…we did go to the Opening Ceremonies last year so we really are OK.  Sunday will be church as usual but lots of people go to “the country-side” so we’re not sure how many will be there.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will still be celebration days so we won’t be going into the mission building then, either.  You might think we could really do some fun things but the whole city shuts down.  Restaurants are closed, movie theaters are closed, super markets are closed, and stores are closed—including the Black Market.  Well, we’ll find some things to do—we’re sure of it!

As we were out shopping to prepare for this long week, we commented on how much we have learned in the past year.  We went to the meat market and picked out meat without cringing.  We ordered our vegetables and knew which bills to pay with.  We knew our way around the city and crossed the streets without the fear of cars squishing us.  We know so many good people and we call several by their name–we try to say it correctly but we’re sure they politely know what we mean.  Yes, a year makes a big difference!!!

This entry is short but we’ll make it long on pictures!  Our good son, Kurt, has helped us fix the picture problem, we let’s catch up!  We’ve read many of the tributes from President Packer’s funeral and were so impressed that President Monson called him his “longtime friend in the work of the Lord…one that left a legacy of Christ-like love and service…Boyd K. Packer knew the Lord, and the Lord knew him.”  What beautiful words to be known by!  May we all continue to strive to find Christ-like love and service in all that we each do.


Elder & Sister Francom


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