Have you ever had visions of eating a cooked celery salad? Envision the thinnest of long celery stalks cut into ½ inch pieces, a few slices of red pepper and a couple of pieces of carrots cooked together with a just a hint of vinegar and garlic. How about a pickled cucumber salad? Toss cut pickles together with green peppers and tangy ___. Then, translucent rice noodles mixed with other vegetables. The tofu salad was really quite good also. All of this was served with a soup made from kale, mushrooms, and eggs in a beef broth. It really was good enough to have seconds! AND…a Mongolian meal wouldn’t be complete without buuz!!! We finally found some that were homemade and wonderfully flavored with beef inside and soy sauce or sesame oil as a dip. It was quite a meal that we attended as a going-away dinner for Boyandelthger and her family. She is leaving to spend the coldest of the Mongolian winter months in Sweden and she wanted to have us for dinner before she left. We enjoyed our visit thanks to our translating Elders and we learned a little more about Mongolia. All women retire at age 55 and are given a pension of 200.000 tugriks (about $100) per month. It seems to be a flat rate for all. The men qualify for a pension at age 60. She said that she cannot live off of that but she lives with two daughters and two granddaughters. She also has a daughter living in Korea and this other one in Sweden. Boyandelthger’s non-member husband died a few years ago and she traveled to the Hong Kong temple and is now sealed to him. She has a picture hanging over her bed with him by her side standing in front of the temple, thanks to someone’s photo-shopping skills! Her daughter, Enkhtuya, came a bit later. She works in a bakery so our dessert was the Mongolian form of éclairs—all puffy with a white cream filling. However, she is also a silversmith and she showed off some of her creations. They are truly a special family and they have been blessed with many talents and their love for the gospel and family members is very evident. They will always hold a soft place in our memories of Mongolia.
American food was our treat to some Elders between General Conference session last Saturday and then some of us senior sisters made the Sunday potluck a little more nourishing with crock pots full of soup. Usually, the Sunday Conference potluck consists of snack items picked up at the market late on Saturday night. We think it was a success and we know they ate better this time.
As far as work goes, we were able to finally answer all of church headquarters’ questions about a maternity hospital needing five labor and deliver beds, two fetal monitors, and two newborn warming tables. This DIC project has been in the system for about six weeks and it finally passed! We are so excited and so were the maternity doctors and nurses. In the past, they have had one large room for all baby births and they remodeled hospital space into five private birthing rooms. Now, they will have the proper equipment as well as be able to include the fathers in the birth. Up until this time, the fathers had to wait out in the stairwell during the whole process. We are so excited and we’ll bet the new dads are, too!!! We also had a second project pass that had to do with training and counseling teens that were involved in crimes. They actually asked for FIVE motorcycles but DIC doesn’t furnish such things so we helped them with printing, some whiteboards, and posters. The end of the year and the end of the money is upon us so we’ll just concentrate on getting these finished up, written up, and closed out. The new DIC couple, the Maynes, will be here just days after we leave in December so they’ll be properly trained in the MTC and we hope to leave all DIC related things complete and tidy.
The PEF Loans are still coming in but not at the rate they were in September. Elder Francom and Miigaa seems to spend a bit of everyday working with them. We have had more new students than ever this year. It’s a bit more complicated now because every applicant has to take a 12-week course called “Education for Better Work” so they cannot decide to go to school a week before it starts. Besides this course for university students, we also offer a course called “Starting and Growing My Own Business” which is a great fit for a developing country like Mongolia and “My Job Search.” We actually facilitated “My Job Search” with a few English speakers and it was an amazing experience. These are soon to be part of the American culture and they are guaranteed to help anyone become self-reliant if they really want to be.
We’ve actually had three snowstorms with lots of nice autumn days in between. This weekend has turned rather cold and we’re not sure if the temperature will climb much higher. Oh, that wind can be so frigid! At least we’ve got a little “winter in Mongolia” experience so we know what to expect. Experience is nice! We are gaining more experience in Mongolian food, in Mongolian customs, and in Mongolian thinking. We are also gaining more experience in service the good people of Mongolia. Service is the most important elements of our mission. As President Uchtdorf states, “As you lose yourself in the service of others, you discover your own life and your own happiness.” We are happy in this life far from home, far from our family and dear friends. Service puts a smile on our faces many times everyday and we are blessed to be asked to serve in Mongolia. We are grateful for our testimonies of the gospel and all that we are learning.
Take care of one another!
Elder & Sister Francom
Last week’s pics are first! 🙂