This week we ran into a senior couple who had served in Mongolia a few years back. We asked them about the weather and the brother said to us, "They love to say this in Mongolia, ‘There’s no bad weather, just bad clothing’" True that! Double true!
Best moment of the week: Every Sunday night there is a devotional that everyone attends. There are about 2200 seats in the gym (stadium seating/bleachers and on the floor) and a couple hundred more in other rooms that receive a live feed of the speaker (roughly 3000 total). In the main gym where we were seated there are two huge projectors on the walls that also show the camera feed so that everyone can see clearly. Also, they'll use these screens to display slides and visuals. This time there were two mics set up in the aisles. We were sitting on the first row of the bleachers right behind the mics. President Wilkins (the speaker) began and gave a nice talk on some of the difficulties we will face on the mission. About halfway through the talk he posed a question to the audience and asked people to come up to the mic to answer. A few people came up and the camera panned to the mics. You could clearly see myself, Elder Lloyd, and Elder Call on the screen. After the first person gave an answer the speaker said, "I recognize a young man sitting behind the mic and was wondering if he would care to answer". For a second I thought he was talking about me and I started to rack my brains about where on earth I could have met this man. Fortunately, Elder Lloyd started laughing next to me and got up. At the time I figured it was someone he knew from back home because he lives in Draper, UT and seems to know half the MTC. I wouldn't find out till later that Elder Lloyd being his borderline unhealthy social self had run into President Wilkins in the lunch room twice and started up conversations. So President Wilkins only recognized him from these encounters. hahaha Anyway, Elder Lloyd got up and gave an answer and President Wilkins asked him if there was anything else. At this point he looked around to me (still on camera behind the mic) and I, thinking nothing of it, shrugged and shot him a thumbs up. Apparently it was hilarious because the entire place started laughing. And for the beginning part of this week we've been regarded as celebrities by the occasional passerby. Memorable stuff!
We received a letter this week from one of the two missionaries in the previous district that already left for Mongolia. He talked about the food that he's been eating. We have also talked about food for a bit in class. Way better than everyone thought. Apparently there is some sort of stir-fry (seriously looks like Mongolian bbq) that’s fantastic. They eat meat filled dumplings like they're going out of style and some sort of fried dough. Vegetables and fruits actually are available, and apparently the stews are great. The only questionable items so far is the aaruul which is some sort of candy. It looks like decorative hotel bath soaps and has been described by our teacher as tasting like baby vomit. Elder Woodward said it was like cheese that went bad 30 years ago and tasted nothing like cheese. However my teacher also said that by the end of his mission he couldn't get enough of it. Along with the candy is the drink airig which is the liquidized form of the candy and is usually drunk hot as you come in from the cold. The teachers also loved this by the end. It’s gotta be better than caju juice, although I’m sure it’s no abacaxi. (a Brazil reference that may be lost on a few of you. Ask my family.)
All of the Roman alphabet speaking missionaries (Spanish, German, Portuguese, etc.) are getting their travel plans this week. I can’t believe we will have been here seven full weeks tomorrow. Most of the 9 weekers are crazy to get out of here, like they couldn’t stand another week. However, there’s a certain calm in our district and the other 12 week programs because we realize that we need all the language teaching we can get before we get out of here. None the less I pumped out of my mind to get to Mongolia. The first thing we do when we get there is head straight to the Zax (huge open market) to by huge coats. Which seems like a good idea because apparently the coats there are a lot warmer and a lot cheaper. This seems like a good idea except for the question of how we are going to keep our blood in liquid form on the way to the market. hahaha oh well.
There is always special musical number before the devotionals and Elder Call tried out this week on Wednesday. He played an arrangement of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" and nailed it. It went through the roof high (the kind of notes that if you’re off at all sound terrible). He got them all. The sister who runs the tryouts was up in arms about how good it was and told him yes yes yes! So we know he’s in but we are waiting to see which week he will be playing.
Another musical note . . . Our district sang in sacrament meeting this week. We sang “I Am a Child of God” in one of our district meetings when President Taylor was with us, and he said we needed to sing it in church. So we practiced and ended up singing two verses in four parts and the last one in unison. It was awesome and all in Mongolian.
We were privileged to hear from another member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles this week. Elder Ballard was here on Tuesday. My favorite part of the message was when he related a story from his own mission. Serving in England and on his first day, all the missionaries went to a square and spoke to a crowd. The mission president called him up and asked him to speak on baptism. He said, "I said all I knew about baptism in a minute and a half.” From that point on he promised the Lord never again to be unprepared in anyway. This obviously resounds with me as I struggle with a new language and it strengthens my resolve to learn the language as quickly as possible, so that I can be as effective as possible for as long as possible. So that when people are set in my path I will be prepared to share the gospel with them.
Finally, rumor has it that President Monson (the president of the church) is coming tonight. We are singing "Consider the Lilies of the Field" which apparently is his favorite song. And we were all given a copy of the latest Ensign magazine (fantastic issue, so thorough and yet so simple) and asked to read it and bring it tonight. Either way it should be a fantastic devotional.
see ya next week!
Elder нюубэргэр (yup I get the fish in my name)