First an attempt at answering your questions:
My companion is from the city (Ulaan Bataar). We see people that he knows all the time. It’s pretty funny.
|Elder Bayrtsogt and me|
He probably knows 20 English words. Mostly church related.
We live alone, just the two of us. The apartment is not as nice as that first one, but it works just fine. We live on the sixth floor with no elevator which is hilarious.
We live kind of far from our area because there are no apartments in our area. We live on the edge of the main city and take the bus up to the ger districts.
The church building is super nice. Like something from America which is in stark contrast with its surroundings. But because of this everyone knows it.
About sixty people attend sacrament meeting at the branch.
The church music you sent for Christmas is great, plus I got more from Elder Jolley. My companion loves the music even though he has no idea what it says.
Of course I’m wearing my boots. And the rest of the winter stuff works great. It gets really cold walking around the gers all day. Staying warm consists of boots, huge socks, leggings, UnderArmour, my suit, big coat, and gloves and walking really fast!
Mongolians live for P-day basketball. It’s ridiculous.
Yes, Preach My Gospel is in Mongolian as well as a lot of other church manuals and such.
I can’t believe that it’s already been another week!
|A view back toward the city|
I think I told you that Elder Bayrtsogt (that’s my companion) and I are both new to the area. So, this week we got a list of members in the branch from the sisters in our area and set off to introduce ourselves to members, find less active members and contact all of the investigators on our board. A tall task, but where else could we start? Many of the addresses were wrong and others were unfindable due to the interesting organization of addresses in Mongolian ger districts that is no organization lol. However, it all led to some very cool experiences. Monday was difficult and it was immediately apparent how much more real the poverty is here in Khialaast. Many of the people we met had faces creased with years of difficulty and they listened only hesitantly, skeptical from years of living in difficult situations. But we continued to teach and testify (maybe my companion much more undeterred than myself).
We began Tuesday the same way working our way through names on the list, slowly and surely. Midway through the day we found the house of an 80 year old lady. When we entered her home we found out that she was the only church member in her family. She had been a church member for almost ten years, but in August had become ill and unable to attend church. She had been confined to her bed for the last 5 months. Crying she told us how she felt alone and forgotten. We asked her if she wanted a priesthood blessing and she agreed. Afterwards we shared scriptures and assured her that she was never forgotten and never will be forgotten by the Lord. We were able to pass her name along to the branch president this week. While we were visiting with the grandmother her 16 year old grandson watched from a chair in the corner of the room. At the end of the visit he asked if he could visit with us later. We excitedly wrote down his information and gave him a restoration pamphlet. As we left the house it was hard to say anything as the Spirit was so strong. Not 50 yards from the home a man stopped us in the street and asked if we could come to his house. We followed him up the road and he explained that he had visited with the missionaries before in another city. We visited with him and his friend and then were invited to the next door neighbors’ (relatives) where we introduced ourselves to 4 more people. We invited everyone to church and were on our way. That night we meet with a less active member who has a son and a daughter on missions and we testified of the blessings that come through missionary work. Her daughter is serving in San Francisco.
Thursday I taught English in the morning into the afternoon, but we still made visits with some new members and investigators. At about 7:45 we were out of people to meet with. We called about 20 people . . . all busy. So we prayed and continued walking. We got a call 10 minutes later from a new member who lives at the top of a mountain about three miles away. She wanted to meet. My companion and I looked at each other and started laughing so hard, but we told her we were on our way. In the darkness we slipped and fell the whole way laughing until we made it to her house. On Thursday night we had the opportunity to go out with a ward missionary for our lessons. Bat-erdene is 4 foot 10 on a good day and great to be around. He would try to say things in English and then start laughing for 10 minutes. He brought a wonderful perspective for our investigators in all of our lessons.
Friday was service day. We started by cleaning the church. Elder Bayrtsogt and I volunteered for the bathroom which was making the whole building smell like an outhouse. It took us an hour to work that all out and then we headed to the same new member’s house to help move coal. In Mongolia you buy your coal by the metric ton and the truck comes and drops it off as close to your ger as he can get. Which in this case was about 100 yards below this sister’s ger. We shoveled the coal into 50 pound flour bags and carried them up the hill. About half way through a car tried to pass the heap of coal. The roads are kind of like switchbacks with tires laid down and covered with dirt to prevent erosion. Two of his tires slid of the side of the road and the car bottomed out on these anti-erosion tires. We felt terrible, so we tried to help. After 10 minutes of pushing, most of the surrounding neighbors had assembled to watch. Enlisting their help we were able to lift the car back onto the road. Fortunately most of the kids agreed to stay and help move the coal up the hill which helped us finish much faster. Nevertheless, Elder Bayrtsogt and I are still sore.
Sunday was great! We had our meeting with the branch president followed by church and our branch missionary meeting. I got to translate once again in investigator class for the senior couple which often times turns into a sort of Pictionary where I try to follow diagrams and words written on the board. Fortunately, the Richardsons are very patient. What a great week! The Lord has guided our efforts as we do our best to learn this new area. It’s been tough and a little lonely at times, but a wonderful challenge that has tried both faith and courage and leg strength (holy cow that’s a lot of hills). It’s wonderful to look back on the week and see how the Lord has blessed us in so many ways. As we petition for his help he will provide a way for every righteous desire. The branch in Khialaast is truly like D&C 49:25 and Matt 5:14-16.
Have a wonderful week,
D&C 49:25 Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.
Matt 5:14-16 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.