As we mentioned, our host family was very cordial and made us feel very welcome. Two of their little granddaughters were staying with them for the summer (a common thing here in Mongolia) and they were as cute as little buttons (especially the youngest one)!
Not long after we first arrived (and actually before Elder Caldwell's horse ride), the family offered us a little bit of lunch. If you look closely, you can probably identify the following: bread, butter, white cheese (both made by our hosts), a spread made of cooked milk, flour and sugar, hot milk (they like hot drinks here and prefer hot water over cold) and, yes, wrapped pieces of commercially purchased candy. It was actually pretty tasty.
Sister Caldwell is drinking some of the milk in this picture. It was not the arig we have seen on other occasions, but just hot milk watered down a bit, with a little bit of salt. It didn't seem to have the off taste we have found in the store bought milk. Notice the furnishings just behind Sister Caldwell. Considering what they are, some of the gers we have been are rather nicely and comfortably arranged. There were also two queen sized beds.
During the afternoon another man appeared herding a small group of horses. He then caught a couple of them using the hoop you can see in the pictures. But then he just let them go and we couldn't quite figure out what he was doing until our guide explained that it was all just a show for our benefit!
You can see that this little valley is rather pretty in it's own way. Lots of green grass and rolling hills --- and quiet! Noticeable by their absence is the lack of trees. That is the rule in this part of the country. However, other parts (which we also hope to visit) are very mountainous and full of trees --- kind of like Utah! We have seen pictures and they have shown a completely different side of Mongolia we do hope we have opportunity to visit, at some point.
Then it came time to start preparing dinner! Again, we had no idea all of this was going to be taking place. We thought we were just out for an afternoon drive! It soon became apparent we would be a bit longer than just the afternoon (which was a bit problematic for us -- we were supposed to be at a baptismal service that night with dinner for our branch missionaries). But it really was an interesting trip and well worth it!
Now, remember that goat we mentioned? Well, our host and our vehicle driver (I forgot to mention we had a driver - that's him in the blue pants with the stripe), went over to the coral, grabbed the little goat, threw him on his back and pinned him down. Then they cut a incision in it's stomach, reached in and . . . . well, you get the picture! We had goat for dinner! Surprise! We didn't even know we were going to have dinner!
Elder Caldwell grew up on a farm were it was part of the routine to do things similar to this. It wasn't something he would care to see every day but it wasn't new to him either. The Sisters, on the other hand, hid in the ger and waited for it to be over!
It really was an interesting process. Once they had the insides cleaned out, they hung him from a post and burned all of the hair off, using propane torches. Before the advent of a the torch, they would put it over an open fire to remove the hair.
We will finish our story in the next installment!