Saturday, September 13, 2008

More Details

We have learned much on just about a daily basis! We have talked with the Missionary Department a couple of times, the MTC in Provo, have received emails from the area Welfare Specialists in Hong Kong and spoke on the phone with President Andersen, the President of the Mongolian Mission! And it seems that the Area Presidency and President Andersen need us there sooner than December. So we have moved our departure date to October 27 and hope we will get our Passports and Visa's quickly enough to make it all work.

We have now learned that there are 20 branches with nearly 8000 members of the Church in Mongolia. That's about 400 members per branch! But there is no Stake there, yet, so the branches can not become wards. Part of the reason that there has not been a Stake organized yet is that the members are nearly all under the age of 30.

Mongolia was created under a Socialist government. Free thinking and expression were not exactly the norm. Thus the older generation is very slow to change or adapt new ways. It is the younger generation which has pushed for a free economy and a democratic government. The result is a membership which is largely very young -- both in age and in Gospel experience. Leadership is still in the making. But the people, we are told, are unusually strong in Spirit and are committed to the Gospel. It will likely not be long until a Stake is formed and the Church there takes a giant step forward.

Mongolia is quite an economically poor nation with an average annual income of $2100 US. Nearly 40 % live a nomadic life with yerts (or gers as they more commonly call them) as their home and shelter. Gers are dome shaped tent like dwellings covered with sheep skin which can be readily broken down and moved. None-the-less, the national literacy rate is an incredible 90%!

There are officially no proselyting missionaries in Mongolia. We go under the umbrella of the Deseret Charities Foundation. Our duties (as we have learned them thus far) will likely include about 15 hours per week of formal teaching of the English language, positions in the local branch and managing the very active employment office there, as well as any other duties President Andersen assigns us. The Church offers many opportunities to these good people to improve their education and employment opportunities.

We have official become pin cushions, now, with the need for at least 17 shots between us! Ouch! Our arms are indeed a bit sore!

We thank you all for your wonderful support and are really looking forward to this opportunity to serve the wonderful people of Mongolia.