Well this letter comes after a personal victory of somehow organizing a 22 missionary, city wide, 2 zone soccer game. It took us since last Wednesday to get all the details worked out and the go ahead from President, but it went off with out a hitch. The only disappointment being that we weren't able to put up the W. A late hand ball in the box derailed our comeback efforts. Everyone seemed to have a great time and we even organized for everyone to wear their teams' colors so we all looked super professional as people were walking by. My entire group was there and fortuitously ended up on the same team. Elder Naef had brought an American football as well and that got a few tosses at the end. A quick visit to the dentist for my companion's fallen out molar and then to the seamstress (unrelated to the dentist don't worry). That brings us to the Internet cafe and then to some shopping before getting out and meeting with two investigators this evening.
Looking at the week ahead mark your calendars for Tuesday where we will be teaming up with the khan uul elders to demolish a house. I've been looking forward to this service for two weeks now and we are pretty excited. It works out really well because we will run a quick zone training near the to-be-torn-down house right before the project. If it's as awesome as it sounds like it is going to be, I may have to find a way to send pictures. This Wednesday brings the elections for your next Mongolian president. Odds are in favor of President Elbigdorj staying in office for another four, but I'm personally pulling for the 12 time Nadaam wrestling-champion-turned politician, B. Baterdene. He's a student of my sponsor and they are really good friends. In the event of a victory it could mean a quick trip to the government building to take some pictures. My sponsor has educated me on politics in Mongolia so that I can and "wow" people when I start talking about political parties and what not . . . good times, lol.
Looking not much further past that to the next Monday and then Wednesday brings the arrival of the new mission president and the leaving of President Clark. As always the turnover will be quick. They won't spend more then a few hours together, just enough to turn over the keys to the Land Cruiser. It's hard to believe that President is really leaving. Seeing missionaries come and go is one thing, but the President has always been there and it seems like something that just shouldn't get changed. Because one of our investigators was meeting with President Clark this Sunday I was able to visit with Sister Clark for a moment. They'll be booked until the moment they leave working all the way down to the wire. As far as meeting the new mission president goes, there are no major mission events for another month or so, but I imagine we will get to interview with him for a brief moment. We will have a zone leader meeting the day after President Clark leaves on the 4th of July. (hope Sister Benson makes burgers, lol)
Speaking of food I didnt really know where to fit this in, but in response to a question I haven't really eaten much fruit besides bananas, apples, and oranges. Anything outside of those are only available if you're really looking and they are all way more than a missionary budget would allow. A bag of grapes goes for about 15 American dollars. Fruits is awesome.
Our investigator Naranchimeg has passed her interviews and is set to be baptized this Friday. It actually works out perfectly because our branch president, who is her best friend's husband, will be back in town this week for the event. It's been a long time coming for her and she has shown unwavering faith despite some difficult setbacks. From experience I've learned that a friend in the gospel is the largest defense against inactivity. With the help of the wonderful ladies of the Relief Society we have been able to surround Naranchimeg with wonderful friends and acquaintances. Elder Bayrtsogt also has a baptism that night and we are going to throw together a musical number for the evening. Everything looks good to go.
We have a couple other investigators poised for baptism including a young man who lived for 10 years in America. I LOVE preaching the gospel in Mongolia, would not trade the experience for anything. However, there was a special something in bearing my testimony and sharing scriptures in my native language as well as his. He's 19 and planning on attending the University of Chicago in the fall.
A great experience I had this week was going on our first splits as zone leaders. This week we worked with the Songino elders and I took Elder Odd out in my area for the day. He has just experienced his first weeks with a native companion and the stress and anxiety was a bit visible on his face. As we had a closing interview at the end of the split I smiled inside as he listed a number of things that had bothered me in the same way a year and a half ago. As we sat and spoke of ways to overcome the problems he was facing I could see so clearly in my mind the way that each problem was to be resolved through my own specific experiences and the promptings of the Spirit. After the many missionaries who have blessed me in my service in Mongolia, it was a wonderful experience to turn back and lift another just beginning.
A lady had us over for dinner this past evening and served us the gel that gets boiled off when you boil sheep bones. You mix it in with your boiled water as a drink. The surprise on peoples' faces when you tell them that you have had some unusual Mongolian food before and that no, it won't make you throw up if you drink/eat it, never gets old.
Still loving Mongolia,