The highlight of this week was spending time with Booted and Batbayar. We had heard about them and we had even read about them on the internet. They had wanted to have all the senior couples to her home in the countryside so we all went out on Friday afternoon. Booted is the closest thing Mongolia has to “a national treasure.” She is a church member and the most famous opera singer in Mongolia and her husband is the Stake Patriarch. What wonderful representatives of the church they are! They joined the church when it was still very young here–in 1998. Booted was even invited to sing with the Tabernacle Choir back in 2013 and she shared her beautiful memories with us. After introductions, they seated us around a large make-shift table and had so many wonderful dishes–vegetable salads, pork and chicken dishes, and soup made entirely from her garden. And, of course, buuz were piled high and we were a disappointment when we didn’t eat them all–oh, the infamous Mongolian buuz!!! We brought a large bowl of fruit and Booted said we’d have it for dinner–after all, food doesn’t know it’s owner! Cute saying!!! After eating, we were treated to a mini-opera and it was a pure delight. We Francoms are not really opera fans but her music was absolutely beautiful. She even put on her beautiful dress from some of her concerts and played the part in full. Batbayar has Parkinson’s disease and sat and enjoyed the afternoon. He asked the men to give him a blessing of health and then, when they took us outside to see their large garden he almost ran down the sidewalk and surprised us all! He was walking quite well with only a cane and enjoyed showing us around. Batbayar and Booted have a big yard surrounding their home with grass, lots of berry bushes, and a greenhouse full of flourishing plants. As we were leaving she gave us each several cucumbers from her garden and a CD of her opera music. Such a sweet couple with a beautiful warm spirit!
We also visited another family this week. He works at the Bayanzurkh Building as a maintenance engineer and he lives in a ger district about 40 minutes from the building. We drove and drove and dodged pothole after pothole. When we reached their place they had a warm greeting for us. We visited a little and the children–a girl and a younger brother–were so cute. The baby was about two months old and full of smiles. It was probably one of the simplest gers we have ever been to but so full of warmth and love. Outside, they had a brightly colored swimming pool, a swing with a soccer ball sitting ready to be kicked. They were so busy with the mom attending school and the dad working. We really have a great appreciation for all that great families do to provide for their families here.
President Benson has given us some help for DIC. Puje, or Sister Puresuren, is a widowed Mongolian sister who served a mission to England several years ago. While on this mission she was called to go to Finland to work with Russian Saints who attended the temple and needed help with their native language. Puje knows three languages and speaks them all very well (we stand in awe at these kind of people). She has a son and a daughter who both left Mongolia to attend BYUHawaii but fled to American instead. They both live together in Orem, have simple jobs in a restaurant, and are now inactive in the church. Oh, she misses them so dearly but she will never be able to obtain a Visa so she can go see them because this makes her a humongous flight risk. Yes, she would love to live in America to be close to her kids but she is stuck here. She has just started serving a six-month service mission and she is all ours to help with DIC. We hope to get her running most of the projects since she can speak to other Mongolians and she has contacts in the government–she used to work there at one time. She’s trying to get to the bottom of the wheelchair project and helping to contact others so we can have clarification on items. It will be such a blessing to have her around. We are trying to include her in a lot of senior meetings/activities because she needs to belong somewhere and has such a giving heart. She joined the church at the same time as Booted and Batbayar and they are good friends–she arranged for our fun afternoon with them.
So, the days march on and we are seeing the Mongolian Saints respond to all the workshop groups we are starting to hold in the Self-Reliance Center. The translations have finally been completed–such a long wait and so exciting!!! We are in the ninth week of our English “My Job Search” group. And now, we have over 65 young people taking the “Education for Better Work.” Our manager is trying to call more facilitators so the groups can be smaller. We have a unique problem over here–some church members are so hungry for the gospel that they try to treat these groups as another Institute-like class and just come to learn. We just cannot manage them along with the members who need to be in the class so they can receive a PEF Loan. We wonder if this type of enthusiasm would be present in other parts of the world??? A wonderful thought caught my eye this week as we’ve been trying to solve this issue. Robert L. Millet reminded us all to “Make wise and effective use of the days in which we live on earth for how we spend eternity will be inextricably linked to how we spent our time in this life.” May we all follow the example of these Mongolian Saints and spend as much time as we can, learning and growing to follow Christ’s teachings. How grateful we are for their examples. We are so blessed to be serving a mission and our testimonies of the Church of Jesus Christ are growing with each wonderful experience.
Take care of one another and let’s use our time doing good works!
Elder & Sister Francom
We just happened to look out our window to see this comedy routine. This could happen anywhere–when there’s a will…there’s a way!!!