Monday, May 20, 2013

Graduation Speech . . . Check

I think Dad may have jinxed the weather last week on Skype as the cold weather set back in and we got hit with some high winds and snow fall on Saturday.  In case you were keeping track that does indeed beat out last year's May 16th snowfall for latest snowfall in the year. It's really hard to imagine heat and humidity at the moment.
This week we focused on three investigators in particular who are all preparing in quick succession for baptism.  We met with all of them at least twice and some more than that. Combined with my last scheduled week of English teaching at Jonon Institute of Technology (can you believe that) and the week seemed like it was over before it began.  
Because it was the last week of school, I promised all my students cake and a movie Unfortunately, we couldn't get the movie to work in either class, but the cakes turned out great and holding them for the the ten stops on the bus each morning has my forearms looking great as well.  In the class on Thursday we just ended up talking about the past 18 months and the class presented me with a cool CD with pictures of the class and their performance from their New Year's celebration.  They all signed it and then we all took a picture together.  That was great and that's about how I figured the last day for my other class would go on Friday, but I was dead wrong.  On Fridays I always teach one on one with my sponsor first and then go teach another class.  He informed me that all classes would be cut short and that after 30 minutes we would all watch the graduation ceremony for the graduating class.  So we quickly ate the cake and all went upstairs.  This is where it got ridiculous.  Allow me to paint the scene .  .  .  About 60 or so parents jammed in the back of a small room; many of them wearing their traditional deels having just come from the countryside and probably never having seen a white person before.  The graduates were lined up in the front of the room and there was an MC.  The MC was extremely tan. I seriously thought he was black when I first saw him. And he had curly, long hair in a ponytail.  I'm pretty sure he thought he was invited to announce a sporting event up there.  It was unclear if he was announcing the names of the graduates or the starting lineups for an NBA finals game. He was pretty enthusiastic.  I was contently watching from the outside of the room when I get the nod from the sponsor to come on in.  It took more than one nod, but I did make my way up to the front where I was immediately given the mic and asked to give a speech.  I'm not sure how it went, but everyone smiled and clapped.  The climax of the hilarity was when after I spoke we all sang a song and that was the end.  The only thing before me was a guy who read a poem.  I had literally been planned in as the graduation speaker.  To top it off, afterwards the class that I had been teaching before the ceremony had prepared a few gifts to give me, including a miniature light-up ger, a framed morin khur with four golden ankle bones, and a few hand painted leather pictures.  Elder Muldowney also received flowers and an assortment of other goodies.  It wasn't until reviewing the events later with Elder Muldowney that we appreciated how memorable of a day it was.  Riding the bus home with bouquets of flowers was also pretty memorable. lol

I took a  bit longer on that story than I would have liked but let me just switch gears and share another small moment from the week away from English teaching and a lot closer to our real purpose in Mongolia.  It came in the small class gathered for the investigators' lesson at church on Sunday.  The teacher who is a returned missionary, taught a wonderful lesson on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ and closed with this analogy which was new to me: It is difficult for us to
comprehend for obvious reasons what it must have been like for our Heavenly Father to sacrifice his son on our behalf. Our finite understanding of every concept including that of love, limits our ability to imagine the grief and the difficulty of the situation.  But to bring the idea just a bit closer, picture a railroad worker in charge of switching the tracks for the incoming trains in order to send then safely in the correct direction. One night as a train comes bustling down the tracks, he sees with horror his only son wander onto the tracks.  Quickly he checks other options, other ways that he can send the train in order to avoid the loss of his son and the passengers on board the train.  In a split second search he finds that all the other tracks are blocked by other trains and unable to accomodate the incoming train.  His choices are limited to two: Allow the train to run its course and allow his son to die in order to save the passengers on board or deviate the train and lose all of those on board  In this fictionalized account and in our own lives, we know the choice that the Father made. He sacrificed his son for the benefit of us, the passengers on the train.  Unfortunately many will never know, nor even fully appreciate  the significance of the sacrifice, but two thousand years ago a loving father counted the cost and paid it, paid it in full. Bent solely on the purpose of bringing us safely home. Amazing!
Have a wonderful week,
Elder Neuberger

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