Saturday, July 4, 2009
The 4th of July in Mongolia!
Even over here in Mongolia, we manage to celebrate the 4th! Opened, of course, by a children's parade!
There is quite a contingent of Americans over here between the Embassy, the Church, other religious organizations and business ventures. Years ago, the Embassy started this celebration, but then decided that there could be some complications in having the Embassy itself sponsoring the event, so employees assumed the organization of it with the Embassy's unofficial support.
Most of the folks working at the Embassy live in an apartment complex called Star Apartments -- quite a nice place to live, actually, but also fairly expensive. This is where the celebration is held.
Sister Caldwell and I have been serving on the committee which organized this years event. Sister Caldwell was in charge of children's activities and I helped with the food. We both helped with ticket sales.
The US Ambassador spoke to officially kick of the events. He read a speech apparently written by President Obama for this years holiday. You'll have to look close, but that is a picture of him speaking!
He also officially opened the food lines! That was the best part of his whole visit.
We had a small group of vendors come and offer their wares for sale. The small ger pictured is children's size and is, in fact, an actual ger, constructed exactly like the larger ones but on a much smaller scale.
It was really a fun event and everything went well. There were over 500 people in attendance. We had hot dogs and hamburgers (of course!) along with brauts and four pit cooked pigs! And the senior couples made all of the potato salad for the meal! We'll tell you about that sometime!
There has been some difficulty in handling the crowds in the past. It apparently took over two hours to feed them all last year and the lines to get into the event were quite long. This year, we had no lines at the entrance and, despite having a larger crowd, feed them all in about 35 minutes!
Each American is allowed to bring one Mongolian with them, if they want. And it's a good thing or most of our missionaries would not have been able to attend. Most have Mongolian companions!
We had children's activities, a desert contest, a photo contest and adult
activities. Our missionaries really liked the sack race, the three legged race, the egg race and the rope pull -- among others! These guys really put there all into this! But it seems we were pitted against a group of American Marines stationed here! They came as part of the Marine Corps band (yup, we had the actual band there!) and to do most all of the cooking at the grill! They were great, but they ended up eating a lot of smoke! And our guys did ok against those big bruts!
We cooked the dogs, burgers and brauts on about 12 feet of those half barrel briquette grills. And we are really glad we had a cool weather day!
I ended up running the food lines and supplies the food lines from the grill. I've never run so hard in my life!
Oh yah, there was also the water fight(see pictures below)!
They kind of liked that one too! We put some Elders in charge of 'protecting' the water balloons. Ok, so it was like putting the mice in charge of the cheese! Oh, well! And the fact that the temperatures didn't get above 66, didn't even slow them down!
The people here don't have celebrations quite like this, where we get together and play games and have activities that all can participate in. And it has become a really popular celebration. Half the Mongolians in the city would come, if it were possible and we could let them. But that many people would be impossible to deal with or to really find a place for.
Our party ended at about 4:00 pm. We weren't able to have the traditional fireworks -- too much liability for our little group. However, the city of Ulaanbaatar sort of took care of that for us! Later that evening, there was a display behind the hotel across the street from our apartment. And by 'later' I mean 'LATER'! One o'clock in the morning! We were all fast asleep (were being the operative word here!)!
As you can tell, it was a very successful day. But we went home exhausted!
So, happy Fourth of July to you all! Hope you had as much fun as we did!