Friday, November 21, 2008

They are really putting us to work now! We have scheduled approximately 10 classes to teach in the next little while! English, Career Workshop, Starting a Business, Computer Use, Michigan Language Test, Test Preparation -- well, you get the picture! I resurrected a small computer lab and we are trying to get it put to use. There seems to be alot of excitement and interest concerning the classes we are scheduling. We hope they all work out!

We are also posting some new pictures. Thought you might like to see the living room of our apartment. Kind of drab, but it is one of the bigger living areas among senior apartments. We hope to spruce it up a bit before we are through.

The other picutes are of one of the markets they like to use around here. If you look carefully, you will see small sections of the building, each with their own proprietor (so to speak). The counter you are seeing is home to about 3 or maybe four business, each having 10 or 15 feet along the display your looking at. This is how many people make a living here. Very small businesses that would never support anyone in the States but which do provide a meager living here in Mongolia.

Note the meat section. No one knows how long the meat sits there on the counter before it is purchased. You just tell them what you want and they start slicing off of the larger pieces. Note particularly the tasty looking pigs heads! Yum!

The owners tend to be very honest. Some missionaries just hold their money out and the owner takes what is needed to make payment! Personally, I prefer counting it out! It's been interesting to become familiar with their currency. They have no coin; bills only. They have bills for 10 cents, 20 cents, 50 cents, etc. It is really a fascinating environment we find here!

Monday, November 17, 2008

As promised here are some additional pictures. This is of a walking trip to the State Department Store (likely so named under Russian rule). The first picutres are of Sukbaatar Square (I think I got the name correctly) which is a complex of government related buildings surrounding a large open plaza.

The statues are all of Chenggis Khan, of course. He is still very much an icon here with the Mongolian people very proud of that part of their history.

The next pics are of us at and in front of the department store. You will first see me in a typical Mongolian hat. The next picture is mom's reaction when she saw me in it! I think it is rather cute! I didn't buy --- yet! But I'm going to!
Lot's of souvenirs we've seen that we want to purchase. But, plenty of time for that.
We'll post more later.

We had our first real experience in the office today. But not for very long. Still had meetings to attend and things to take care of in getting settled. Not the least of which was getting the internet turned on in our apartment -- which we did! This is our first blog from the apartment (pictures included as promised)!

Mom is feeling right at home now. Sbe made her first batch of cookies for the local young adults! We'll be meeting with them in just a few minutes.

Things look better each day, even though it's already really cold here. Never gets above about 25 degrees or so.

We did go to the 'Black Market' today. What a experience! It's called the Black Market because that's what it used to be when under Russian rule many years ago. The Russians didn't allow private business, but they didn't real succeed in stopping it. Today, it is just another conglomeration of individual people trying to sell a few things to make a living. It's open air and we nearly froze. But it is really something! Lot's and lot's of people and tons of wares. It seemed like we saw acres of shoes!

We'll plan on Skyping tomorrow morning (our time, Monday evening at about 5:30 your time). To answer a question Becky had, we can audio Skype on a conference basis, but not video. We'll work out some sort of schedule later.
Got to go. All our love to everyone!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

We are finally at the office to get to work, but it appears we forgot to ask what time to come in. We hurried to get here by 8:00 and we are the only ones in the building! From reading the signs (should have done that yesterday when we were here for Church), we think the office opens at 10:00. How's that for banker's hours??!

Jason asked what we will be doing in our spare time. So far we have been going to "welcome Caldwells" parties in all of our spare time, but that ends Wednesday! Each senior couple has had us to dinner or taken us out to dinner and then on a tour of something. Saturday was really fun. The Clarks took us all over town (walking) and to 2 really nice stores. Of course the nice stores are expensive. He also asked if we needed books. We brought a couple of books (including the set Jason bought us) that we would like to read, and apparently the game of choice around here is dominos. Everyone has their own set of dominos and there is fierce competition! We had a social Saturday night for everyone and the minute dinner was over, out came the domimos. If you don't care to play dominos, the church has it's own pool table!! Go figure! They said dad was a "shark"! And one of the couples (they are church employees--not missionaries) is going home for Christmas and they are bringing us back our own set of dominos! It's a must around here.

We also have the option of going to the "black market". Dad is going to brave that one today. They say keep your money in a deep pocket and keep your hand wrapped around it. Even at that you will find one or more hands in there with you!!! Sounds like a crazy place. The elders are going over there today. We have been shopping several times over the past couple of days (in regular UB stores) and every time we go to purchase something, our guides say, "It will cost 1/2 that much at the black market". Course if you lose all your money there, it may not be worth it!

The weather hasn't been too bad---yet! We have very warm coats. Dad bought a hat. You'll see it in the pictures. We are waiting for the Clarks to forward them to us. We forgot our camera Saturday, but they took some great pictures of us. We also want to sent you some pictures of our apartment. It shocked us at first, as I'm sure it will you. But it is starting to feel like home and we are beginning to fix it up to fit us. That is one of the reasons for the black market trip today--to pick up some things.

The kitchen is very small, and the bathroom is full of exposed rusty pipes and our washer is smashed in there as well, but the living room is nice and we have 2 bedrooms (one is an office). I did a batch of wash this morning. They don't have dryers here in UB. But I am considered a pampered woman--I have THREE drying racks. I could do an entire week's wash in one day if I wanted to. Most of the couples have only one and they wash a small batch every day.

We are changing our diet a little. We will be going back to more casseroles. And, Jason, they actually do have Spam here!!! We have been able to find most things. There aren't a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables, but they do have them if you are willing to pay the price. I bought a tiny sack of grapes (maybe 1/2 pound) for $3.30 Saturday.

We are meeting with the people over English today, so we should get more assignments. And tomorrow we meet with everyone else--meetings all day long. We were told we stay VERY busy. The employment is our "day job" then the branch is our weekend and night job. We help with all their activities and meetings. We are being assigned to a branch about 40 minutes out, so it will take up more of our time. We go to their weekly baptisms and their Church block and their family home evening (plus anything else they think we should help with). Then of course, we add 1 1/2 hours of traveling to each thing.

We do a lot of walking. I think that will help with the weight. I don't think the food is going to be a problem. We haven't been able to find CLR (lime away). Don't send any yet, but that might be something we would like to have sent over. This is getting long. We will be sending pictures later so we'll close.

We love you and we miss you, especially the little ones (nothing personal about the big ones!) Give each of the grandkids and big hug and a lot of kisses from Grandma and Grandpa.

Elder and Sister Caldwell (aka mom and dad)