Friday, November 7, 2008

Well, we attended our final senior missionary testimony meeting tonight. Sister Caldwell and I bore our testimonies -- in Mongolian! We didn't do too badly, either! But that's 'cause we had a good teacher, Enhee Chuluun (see picture). She is from Mongolia but served a mission here in America. She is living here, now, and going to school. We have grown to really like her and she has been really patient with us as we have tried to learn a bit of the Mongolian language.

We could not understand anything that was being said (everyone spoke in the language of the country to which they are going) but there was a good feeling there. It was really great to see a Tongan Elder who was large and stout enough to have played half of the offensive line of the San Franciso 49ers all by himself, sit down and play "Called To Serve" for us as we sang the opening song. He is a good piano player!

Today, we also began classes on how to teach English. It's really quite interesting. We are learning a lot about our own language as we study Mongolian and as we learn how to teach it to none English language speakers. There's more to it than one would think.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thought you might like to see our new Mongolian missionary name tags. Looks sort of weird!

Thom asked how the food is here at the MTC. Not bad, really! They do an amazing job of serving thousands of people at every meal and the food is actually pretty good. Perhaps a bit too good and too available! We seem to be putting on a extra pound or two!

We bid farewell to the 13 Mongolian Elders today. They left the MTC at 5:30 to make their way to Mongolia. The one Elder we thought might be traveling with us, received his final medical clearance this morning and is on his way, as well. Boy, we wish we could be with them!

We had our last Welfare Training today. Many of the couples in our group will be leaving for the mission field, now. However, Sister Caldwell and I are scheduled for EIL (English as an International Language) training on Friday (tomorrow) and Monday. That is where we learn how to teach Enlish to the people of Mongolia. We are required to be certified to do that teaching before we will be allowed into the country. Once that training is complete on Monday, we will then head home Monday afternoon and finish our preparations to fly to Mongolia Tuesday evening. Our visa's arrived today along with the return of our passports and we have our travel intinerary, so we are set to go!

It's getting close, now!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We need to do a bit of back tracking here.

Monday, we again traveled to Salt Lake City for training. Our first stop was Welfare Square where we received instruction in the Welfare system and were then given a tour of Welfare Square. Again, we are amazed at the scope of what the Church is doing. The Welfare System grows and/or processes it's own floor, vegetables, soaps, toothpaste, bread, cheese, gelatin, butter, potatos (including dehydrated), peanut butter, jam, honey, drink mixes (i.e "Koolaid"), pasta -- and the list goes on and on and on.

Stored in graneries at Welfare Square is 61 million pounds of wheat! And those graneries are not the largest owned by the Church!

But perhaps the most impressive item -- to us -- is a poridge called Atmit. It was develped originally by Ethopia who (as a result of previous postive experience with the Church in Welfare needs) approached the Church and asked if we could help produce it. Atmit was originally a mixture of fine oat flour and goats milk and was intended to help divert the growing problem of starving children in Ethopia. BYU did an extensive examination of it's nutritional value and found it to be exceptional. Dehydrated milk was substituted and vitamins, minerals and sugar were added. The Church now ships over 1 million pounds of the mixture to needed areas around the world.

They showed us a picture of an eight year old African girl who weighed 20 pounds! To say she was nothing but skin and bones would be an understatement. I was certain they would tell us that the little girl and died and that was what they were trying to prevent. Then they turned the page and showed us a picture of a healthy young girl who appeared to be happily engaged in a useful activity and told us it was the same young girl six months later.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

   It is amazing to have spiritual experiences virtually everyday! But such is the nature of the MTC! Tonight, we had another fireside. Sister Julie Beck (the General Relief Society President) spoke. She told us a couple of stories about missionary work and then asked missionaries to step to a couple of prearranged microphones to share any feelings they had experienced or inspiration they had felt while she had been speaking. I thought,"She's brave!" and wondered if anyone would volunteer. I now find myself very humbled.
   Those young Elders and Sisters are amazing. Many of them stepped to the microphone and shared feelings and thoughts that evidenced a faith and maturity that we never had when we were that age! The work of the Lord is in good hands!
   And to be there and sing the hymns of the Gospel again was wonderful!

   Today, we also met with the senior couple (Elder and Sister Soderborg) whom we are replacing in Mongolia. (see picture above of us with them) They returned home Friday. They were able to share many insights and much counsel with us. Things like where the bucket is when we need to heat water the old fashioned way (i.e. when the central hot water system is not working), the eighteen inch oven, that we have a washing machine but there are no clothes dryers in Mongolia, etc. We can't wait to get there!
   But they are a wonderful couple and we know we have some rather large shoes to fill when we finally get there!

   We are becoming rather attached to the Elders bound for Mongolia. They have been delayed a bit in their departure. They were supposed to leave today but their visa's did not arrive. I kept checking at the travel office and Salt Lake received those visa's this afternoon. They will arrive here tomorrow. I ran right over to the Elders to give them the good news! They were VERY happy!
   We believe our visa's will be with theirs and should know for certain tomorrow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thought you might enjoy a couple of pictures of our 'digs' here at the MTC. As you can see, the rooms are not Marriott quality, but they are not bad, either. But then, we are not in them much anyway!
Sister Caldwell is most grateful that we have our own restroom facility in room!

We had testimony meeting today. The branch we were in had all non-English speaking missionaries who are going on English speaking missions -- including about 10 or so Mongolian nationals assigned to various English speaking missions. But they had to bear their testimonies in English. And they did really good! They didn't hesitate at all, but just got right up there and did their best! They were wonderful!

The Branch President had all us new ones introduce ourselves and when we said we were going to Mongolia, all the Mongolian nationals let out a cheer!

We love these young missionaries!