We attended our assigned branch again today - the Nalaikh (pronounced Nal lock - sort of). I'm getting much more used to driving, now. Thinking I'm ok with it. Of course, the only time I have driven is on Sunday when there is merely about one fourth the regular weekday traffic. Better not get too confident, yet!
The picture is us with one of the older branch members dressed in traditional Mongolian attire. We like our branch and the members there but wish it wasn't quite so far. It's difficult to get to everything in the branch we would like to. And they gave us branch callings today, too. Melba is an unofficial member of the Primary Presidency (there were no openings) charged with getting the Primary to run properly. The Primary President often does not come. We think they are just not sure what they should be doing. I am the 1st (and only) Counselor in the Elders Presidency and have the same assignment - teach them what a quorum is and how it should function.
We also spoke in Sacrament Service today at the branch. We spoke of Christmas and families and the branch members really seemed to enjoy what we said. Mom did 1/2 of hers in Mongolian. The Branch President (one of those recently returned unmarried misisonary we've written about) was our interpreter for the rest. The missionaries all felt that he is easily the best at getting it right. It still is really challenging to not know the language. There is so much more we feel we could do to help them if we did.
We also came across this little ice skating rink during yesterday's shopping trip. The 'rink' is simply an area in the middle of town which is fenced off to keep the cars from driving on it! There is no special ice forming mechanism, just the ice that nature provides. But the people were having a lot of fun with it! But why would anyone want to find the coldest place in town to go frolicking in! Brrrrrrrrrrr!
And we thought we had better show you one of the nicer stores which they do have in Ulannbaatar. This is the State Department Store. Unlike what we have shown you in the past, this is a 'real store', several stories high, all run and operated by one owner -- no individual little shops as is so common here. They even have a curtained off room to try clothes on! This one is very much like the stores in the US. There are a couple of these kind of stores around but the majority remain the co-op type stores.
And they do have everything here; grocery section, restuarant, clothing, appliances, jewelry (obviously), art, electronics, etc. But it also tends to be a bit higher priced than the local version of the 'mom and pop' stores we have shown you.
Just thought you ought to know 'the whole story.' Things are not as bleak as we might have led you to believe! But we really liked the simpathy the previous pictures tended to generate!