We feared for another week of “bed-to-bed” reporting and then we realized it was a “book-ends” kind of week. Something happened at both “ends” of the week. At the first of the week, we were still entertaining our Asia Area self-reliance and PEF Loan managers. We invited them and our Mongolian team to our apartment for dinner on Monday night before they left the following morning. We decided to make a good old fashioned American meal with baked chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad, rolls and dessert. It seemed to please everyone and we really appreciated our managers’ visit since they addressed some of our concerns about the Self-Reliance Initiative in Mongolia.
Then again, on the other end of the week, we attended our first DIC Opening Ceremony or Turning-Over Ceremony (it seems to have many names) at a women’s and children’s hospital. There were doctors, technicians, and nurses all gathered for the opening of a big eye-care project for children that the DIC sponsored along with Orbis. (Orbis is a big international non-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide.) Mongolians are big on ceremonies and certificates and it was all evident at the event. There was a red carpet at the entry, bright green badges for important people (we both wore one), speeches spoken (thank goodness Elder Francom is quick on his feet), champagne and candy to partake of (water for us), and a red ribbon to cut after Elder Francom and others put on white gloves. The only thing wrong with it all was that this all happened outside—and it was freezing!!! Once we finally were able to walk the red carpet to the inside, we warmed up with traditional music from a horse fiddle and then were escorted into a small inner room. The technicians showed us two computerized machines that ground two lenses into the perfect prescription for glasses. Then, the second machine cut them precisely to fit into the frames of glasses that was inserted into the front of the machine. After the machine cut, and smoothed the edges of the lenses, they snapped perfectly into the frame and the glasses were ready to wear. In fact, two young girls entered and were presented with their own glasses made especially for them. Thanks to Puje, our translator for the event, we were told that this eye center will serve over 10,000 Mongolian children every year. They will offer their services to children in the hospital as well as start giving vision screenings to all the school children in the city. The glasses will be free to some and will be discounted by 30% to those who can afford to pay. When we told missionaries who teach English in schools, they were excited because there are so many squinting students and there are too many to sit those with poor sight at the front—not enough room. Remember last week’s pictures of the school room and imagine being stuck at the far back—even good vision might not be enough help???
If one ceremony was good then TWO ceremonies are even better! Friday night we attended a second ceremony. The DIC sponsored a abused women’s center to help them print teaching and coaching materials as well as furnished a water machine and a couch and chair set with a rug underneath. The owner is a less active member who went to America on her mission so she had excellent English and she really was so appreciative of our help. This time it was my turn to “speak” (with Puje’s translation) and I talked about women needing a safe place so families can grow strong and true to move the country of Mongolia forward–I just happened to read Elder Perry’s final conference address the day before. We ate pizza and other treats and finally left to walk home on a cool but nice Friday evening.
Oh…I guess we need to put one book in this “bookends” of happenings. We did the “We have given our last Michigan Test” dance all the way home on Tuesday night!!! We have enjoyed every minute of teaching the prep class and cheering on those who really desire to pass. We hope to hear good news and a few weeks. For some it is just another exercise in proving to themselves that they are getting closer to conquering the English language and to others it is VITAL that they pass and get to BYUHawaii. We hope to deliver wonderful news to many soon. Yes, we’ll probably start another prep class for the test the will be given after the beginning of the year but it will be another senior couple who administers it.
This is our General Conference Saturday and we have been blessed to participate in it. The children’s choir made us homesick for grandchildren and for the sweet spirit of Primary back home. The talks inspired us to do better and to stay connected as grandparents and parents. And, Elder Holland’s talk made us reflect and tear-up a bit as we thought of all the wonderful mothers in our lives–including a daughter and daughters-in-law and a dear sister. Our hearts are full and we are so grateful to be able to return tomorrow and partake of the wonderful spirit that accompanies conference every time. We are thinking that we feel the spirit a little more intensely being so far away but we have visions of sitting with our family member next April. That is almost the perfect dream for our future.
We love you all and hope all are well and happy!
Elder & Sister Francom
Yes…I have pics but I’ll post later!!!