It’s been such a busy week but not everything we do can be turned into words. However, the biggest “stand-out” of the week came from a Mongolian returned missionary, an outstanding young church leader named Tulga. He was assigned the arduous task of traveling to Salt Lake City for the World Conference of Families—we’re not sure what the exact name was. When he came back, he told us that he had seen the Logan temple (his former companion lives close by), Brigham City Temple, Ogden Temple, Bountiful Temple, and attended the Salt Lake Temple. That was very impressive to a young man who is required to make a four-hour flight to the closest temple to Mongolia (Hong Kong). Then, he proceeded to tell us that another impressive Utah sight was the traffic. He said, “The cars are so nice to one another. Everyone knows how to take turns!” Oh, how we laughed!!! Sometimes, Utah drivers are known for their bad driving, right? But, if you live in Utah be grateful for what you have because it could be in a place where cars DO NOT take turns—that would be Mongolia. Here, the attitude is—I’ll beat you to the front—we’re not sure where that is!
We finally received a phone call from the Ministry of Labor and we started teaching English this week. We both had THREE people and are hoping for more but with only a few weeks left to teach we’ll go and do what we can in the time we have left. The people have certainly become our friends and it was nice to see so many greet us when we returned. They told us that they’ve laid off many workers and those that are left are extremely busy so maybe English is a lower priority in their lives right now. With the short time we have left, we’re not worried about taking on new students just to drop them.
Fifteen new American missionaries have arrived in the past two days. The new mission doctor and his wife are among them. We have met some of the new ones and they look like they are some of the best, but that’s the impression we always have and it turns out to be correct. The more seasoned missionaries are anxious to teach them the language, the culture, and the best way to teach the gospel. It’s amazing how quickly they learn—the next time we see them, most of them will understand and be speaking as if they had always known Mongolian. It’s quite a miracle to see!
Periodically, we receive the local newspaper in English. Yes, if you know Elder Francom, he devours it! He read one of the editorials entitled, “The Outdoor Toilet and Mongolian’s Future” and chuckled so I thought I’d share the jest…There is a Japanese company that only gives business loans to women but not until the boss visits their home and check out their bathroom. It states that the restroom of a home or an office is a mirror that accurately indicates the culture, hygiene, state of affairs, and capabilities of its owner. (Quick…how clean is your bathroom???) Then the author started in on the conditions of the bathrooms in Mongolia. Of the three-million people here, about 45% use pit latrines by digging a hole in the ground and building a small three-sided shelter (wood or found materials). With harsh wintertime outhouse trips, with badly polluted air, and flies that can carry bacteria onto food, Mongolians’ health can be affected. AND…only 65% of the population consumes water and food that has been sanitized. Mongolia is behind North Korea on access to improved sanitation facilities (flush toilets). Mongolia knows that this reflects the poor standard of living here but no one wants to deal with the issue. The article suggests that everyone needs to wash their hand—a cheaper solution than seeking treatment after becoming ill. UNICEF has donated modern facilities to kindergartens and school dormitories and the health of the students has significantly improved. The final statement sums it up–“In order to have the city’s toilets meet the needs of today, it is time to launch a modern toilet infiltration initiative to improve the public health.” We are so happy to see someone address the issue BUT…when you go into the ger districts you understand how next-to-impossible it would be. Gers seems to land in any spot that hasn’t been taken and the roads are more like paths that snake around wherever there isn’t a fenced in ger. A plumbing plan would displace so many people. Yes, it would be so worth it but try telling that to those who have used a pit most of their lives. Apartments have been built to try to lure ger-dwellers into them but there are such high costs involved compared with ger living. Isn’t it a crazy situation? Again, evidence of Mongolia being a developing country!
So, we’ve rambled on and on and it’s best to quit. In closing, I found a quote by one of my favorite people, Ardeth Kapp. She stated, “A feeling of self-worth comes from an understanding of who we were, who we are, and who we will always be. We did not come to this earth to gain our worth; we brought it with us.” We are all so important and we need to remember that our Heavenly Father sent us to earth already with great value and many talents. Let’s all try to recognize our significance and build upon it in all that we do…every day!
Elder & Sister Francom
(I didn’t take many pictures…I must be running down!!!)