As most of you are aware of by now, the Self-Reliance Center is in the basement of the Bayanzurkh Building. Most of the action, in any given day, takes place on the 4th floor where the mission office is as well as the doctor’s office and English language library. Sometimes, we feel left out of all the action and other times, we’re so glad we work where it’s quiet and we can accomplish a bit more. One day, a young lady was ushered into our office and Elder Francom struck up a conversation with her (I was up with all the noisy-ness trying to learn a little about this crazy Mongolian language). Our office was probably the closest place for a Mongolian to find English speakers. She was from Switzerland and spoke French, German, and English. She has been up in Erdenet camping for the past week with eight others. She loves Mongolia because the land is so beautiful and she has found the people to be so friendly—she hopes to come back again. All her friends went shopping and she decided to find a Christian church instead. The hotel sent her here! She is Protestant and is not looking for a new religion but was willing to listen a bit. When I returned, we took her to the Service Center on the third floor where we knew of a Mongolian who had spent several years in Switzerland. They had a few things in common and then we went into the Distribution Center and bought her a Book of Mormon. We suggested it would be great reading material on her long flight home the following day! She was a sweet person and we hope we planted a seed or two as we visited with her about our church.
On Thursday night, President Benson asked all the senior sisters to fix a nice dinner for thirty men who were coming to a Priesthood Leadership Meeting. We had lots of ideas—all centered around MEAT—and in the end we went with hearty beef stew, or “Mongolian soup” as it is known by the locals. We bought a big 9 kg hunk of meat, potatoes, onions, and carrots. We also bought all the fixings for a big vegetable salad (they LOVE cucumbers) and you’re never wrong if you make chocolate cake for dessert. We washed, peeled and cut forever (it seemed) and put it all into our four crockpots and let it simmer all day long. That evening, we set the room up and waited. Before long the meeting was over and the men swarmed the room ready to eat. Before we knew it, they were taking TWO dinner plates—one for Mongolian soup and the other for the salad. They piled both high and went and sat down. Of course, they returned for seconds and then started bringing containers and plates so they could “take this delicious food” home to share! Obviously we made too much food but they also had fewer in number than expected. Some even took several small plates of cake. Oh, these people can eat!!! However, after cleaning up, we all went away knowing that we had succeeded in our assignment from President Benson because he wanted it to be a nice dinner for these church leaders.
Speaking of eating…we fed four Elders this week. I made a BIG lasagna because I know how they eat and by the time Elder Francom went back for seconds, all he could do was scrape a little sauce from the bottom of the pan–it was gone! It was Elder Huckvale’s birthday and he came last year on his birthday so we made it two in a row. He’s a great missionary who was in our language group at the MTC last year. He’s from Idaho and loves wolves.
We also went and saw a wonderful family in their apartment this week. Muugii and Muggi are really Munkhtsetseg and Munkhbaatar but they both have the same nickname and have just welcomes a baby boy as their first child. They told us his name but it just isn’t possible to remember it…sorry! Muggi (female) was the translator for the Nays, the DIC couple until last November when they returned home. Her husband, Muggi, and she also just passed the Michigan Test in March and have been accepted to BYUHawaii this fall. Now, they have to pass the biggest hurdle—getting three visas to America. The powers-that-be seem to easily turn down anyone who might be a flight risk. We hope to see them leave this fall. When we called to see if we could visit (we had gifts to give) we told them we wouldn’t be staying for dinner. Well, you don’t tell Mongolians to NOT FIX FOOD! We were served a feast of a variety of salads—cucumber and pineapple, tomato and ??? (very good!), and potato salad. AND, of course, buuz—lots of them! Oh so much food and we were getting up to leave when Muggi’s mother brought in more warm buuz and we had to sit and “enjoy” warm ones. Oh…too much!! What a wonderful family and this new baby is dearly loved.
We’ve had a lot of rain lately which brings cooler weather. Summers are not as hot as in Utah so we’ve seen lots of days in the 60’s and August is just beginning. Rain usually isn’t too much of a bother unless you live in a place where walking is your main mode of transportation. Of course, potholes make great puddles as well as all the uneven sidewalks and we try to navigate the best we can but we’re a bit wet even with an umbrella. We keep thinking about all of you back home that just jump in the car without caring about weather. Nice thoughts that will keep for the future!
We are grateful to be serving a mission. We are aware of all the blessing of living in America but we also see that all people everywhere strive for the same things–love of family, nutritious food, adequate clothing, and a good place to call home. Of course, living the gospel and feeling loved by our Heavenly Father is paramount, too. These good people here work so hard for so little that we are truly humbled so much of the time. It makes us stop and count our blessing.
Thanks for being another wonderful blessing in our lives!
Elder & Sister Francom