Note: It is great to see others visiting the site! We originally started it for our family and thought perhaps a few of the ward members might occasionally visit. We are really surprised to see so many others leaving comments! Glad you can all visit, though we are curious about how most of you even found us!
We went out to the countryside yesterday. No, you don't understand. I mean, we REALLY went out to the countryside yesterday!
Two of the Mongolian brethren that we work with here in Ulaanbaatar wanted to take a couple of senior couples on a little trip away from the city. These two brethren own a tour company and are quite familiar with doing things such as this. Their intention was to have us experience what we might refer to as a trip 'out in the sticks' -- that is, far away from Mongolian city life as we have come to know it. They said they just wanted to show us around and let us see the 'real' Mongolia. Oh my! Maybe we 'bit off' more than we bargained for!
But first, along our route, we came across this shrine beside the road. It is apparently felt that it can bring good fortune when one stops, walks around the shrine three times and deposits a stone nearby. When a large truck drove by and honked his horn, our guides promptly explained that some are too lazy to stop, so they just honk as they drive by! However, they had to honk three times!
The roads were . . . well . . . interesting -- again! They were paved for the first part but were not nearly as good as those on our trip to Darkhan, Erdenet, etc.
We went about 40 kilometers south and east of Ulaanbaatar to a little town whose name escapes me. There we picked up a lawyer friend of theirs who was expecting us. It seems we were on our way to visit some of his family.
During the rest of our journey, we went from paved roads (well, sort of), to unpaved roads, to where is the road! When you get out far enough, the roads really aren't roads at all but just paths across open fields where the locals have driven in order to reach their gers. And when one path becomes a bit difficult (like after a storm), they just drive somewhere else, thus the multiple routes you can see in the photo.
We did finally arrive. These are photos of our host, his family and their ger. Note the solar panel right next to the ger. When we were invited into their home, we noticed a television and one light bulb. The solar panel is used to recharge a battery which in turn powers the tv and the light when needed. The contrasts are, indeed, striking as we see different parts of Mongolia.
Our host family, had quite a bunch of livestock, as well. He told us, in fact, that he had about 250 head total. Most were out of sight but we did see a few horses, a small herd of cows (kept close by for their milk), and one goat, which we were soon to learn was there for our benefit. We'll tell you more about the goat later. You're not going to want to miss this one! It is a story all by itself. Trust us!
The family was very nice and we enjoyed their willingness to share their life with us for a few minutes. That is the lady of the house in the picture and her husband seated just behind her. Those are traditional Mongolian Dells they are wearing.
When we asked, we were told that they get needed water from a well about 6 km away. That's about 4 miles. They pack in enough to last from 4 to 7 days, each trip. That would be difficult enough in the summer. We can't imagine doing that in the winter!
Next is a picture of Elder Caldwell taking a little ride. When he saw the horses, he couldn't resist! He grew up with horses and this was just a little journey back in time for him. 'You never forget how to ride a horse!' And yes, seniors are allowed to do such things while serving! It is, of course, a different story for the younger missionaries.
We will need to break this down into two or three different segments. We had a really great experience. And trust us, the best is yet to come!