So last week's letter, as noted by a few viewers (Kyle) was a poor effort. In an effort to make amends, let my take it back to the week before and add a few details about the 20th anniversary celebration. Where the letter started dying was explaining the end of the week, particularly the last couple of firesides and the circus event. Both firesides on Wednesday and Thursday night were wonderful. Having all the old mission presidents come back was such a sight on the stand and there was such a power in their presence. They all gave unbelievably uplifting talks inspiring the Mongolian saints.
The only event that was really scheduled for Friday were the baptisms. Throughout just the city area alone there were over 25 baptisms. Everyone was excited and there were good turnouts everywhere. At our building however there were just two baptisms. Ours and one of Elder Bayartsogt. As expected, Narmandakh was amazing. She showed up thirty minutes early and was ready to go. For the first time in Mongolia we had legitimately no water problems which brought all the stress levels way down. We were however, missing our speaker who showed up as it was his turn to speak, quite literally running into the building and on to the stand. After a bit of out-of-breath huffing and puffing he gave a wonderful talk on the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Elder Muldowney preformed his first baptism and had no problem with any of the words. It was neat to stand and watch, thinking of myself just a year and a few months before. I led the music, the best part of that is just seeing how many people in the audience you can get to smile. Then Narmandakh got up and bore her testimony of the Savior. She said she has a lot of testimonies but the most important and the biggest one she has gained is that of the Savior. She went on to explain how her life has been filled with greater joy and love for others. It was great and as an example to all of us she brought one of her schoolmates to the service.
Saturday brought the finale of the week long celebration and quite a bit of practice before hand. We practiced at the church building in the morning and then moved it over for one more dress rehearsal before the performance at the circus. On the way we went to one of the very few places here that sells anything close to resembling a "burger". The good thing is that after a year plus in Mongolia it tasted like something up there with Five Guys to those from my group. To those who have just recently arrived here, it was a little less than anticipated, lol. The practice was going great until we ran out of time to get all the curtain calls practiced. Fortunately, we winged it all and it went great. The famous Mongolian LDS opera singer sang and they showed a video presentation of when she went to sing with the Tabernacle Choir. We should get a CD copy of the whole event so I won't go into too much detail . . . but most of the people are referring to me as "that one dancer guy." Good times! The best part was President Clark's duet at the end with an RM. After all the applause the lights went out and they started singing "A Young Boy Prayed" while scenes from the restoration went on the big screen in the background. It was such a great way to end not only the event, but the week as well.
Last Monday was a blast! We spent the day as a zone holding eagles and riding camels. Eagles are really heavy. We took tons of pictures and Elder Lloyd sat and chatted with me for the bus ride out and back. The Chinggis Khaan statue was awesome just for the fact of how far outside the city we got to travel and for how in the middle of nowhere we were. The museums inside and the giant shoe were also great fun. All the pictures I took are on Elder Lloyd's camera, so hopefully he sends a few to you today and I'll get the rest from him later. (Sorry no pics)The rest of this week went amazing, without Elder Muldowney having to teach English, we were able to PR in lessons taught and help invite a number of people to be baptized. We climbed a mountain to teach a lesson to a less active member. Elder Muldowney also took a bit of a swim after falling out of a tree into a river. Fortunately it was shallow . . . I tried to stop him, I promise Sister Muldowney! The lack of English teaching was such a freedom and gave us two completely unobstructed days to work. With the combination of waking up early every morning for a little basketball we are worn out in the best way possible.
I enjoyed a scriptures from Moroni and Paul this week in my personal study:
Why are ye aashamed to take upon you the name of Christ? Why do ye not think that greater is the value of an endless happiness than that bmisery which never dies—because of the cpraise of the world?
7 For God hath not given us the spirit of afear; but of bpower, and of clove, and of a sound mind.
8 Be not thou therefore aashamed of the btestimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy acalling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and bgrace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not aashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
When phrased in Moroni's question above, it seems obvious what great joy and lasting happiness that we can gain from our testimony in Christ. And yet as Peter knows only too well, refraining from shame in your testimony isn't always that easy. Which is why in the words of Elder Holland, I guess there really can be no "casual Christians", because in the heat of battle they will be come "Christian casualties."
Have a great week!