Saturday, November 14, 2009

We Love the Internet!! (conclusion)

Guess we'd better finish the story before we get lynched!

As mentioned, we finally greeted Brother Griffiths as he made his way through the airport. We weren't seeing what we had expected by way of boxes, etc. in which computers might be transported. So (not having been through this process before, ourselves) we figured they might still be making their way through customs and we would need to pick them up somewhere.

But finally we asked him how it went with the computers. And he said, "Great! They're all right here in my bags!" He had packed them all in his luggage, only needing to pay for one extra (though rather large) suitcase! They didn't even bother to ask him his name. Just checked him through without even saying 'goodbye'! And he had twelve computers (not the eight or ten we had expected, remember) -- six laptops and six desktops (minus the monitors for the desktops)! Twelve of them!

We were ecstatic!

We dropped the computers at the office, separating out his personal belongings and then accompanied him to his hotel, the Chengiss Khan which was conveniently right next to the Church building.

The next few days were hectic as we traveled a great distance, held firesides, meetings and even managed to combine it all with our usual workshops (which the outlying areas do not get much of = we taught our workshops while he was meeting with people). It was tiring, but very productive.

Back in the big city, we made ready for what we knew would likely be the biggest crowds, of course. And we were not to be disappointed. The chapel was full to standing room only. There is a large amount of interest in all this!

Before he had to leave, we managed to squeeze in a shopping trip to purchase a few odds and ends for the lab and then we sent Brother Griffiths back to Hawaii.

Just a few days after he left, remodeling began downstairs near our own office, as rooms were switched around and refinished to make way for the new computer lab all of this excitement was for, to begin with. We had to be very creative to make it all work, for space is already a big premium in that building. We had proposed a solution, but had doubts that all of which had been requested, could really happen. Oh ye of little faith. It all did!

So, the downstairs kitchen (see the first picture above) became a new office for the Stake President/Church Education System Manager (President Odgerel for those of you who have been following our blog -- see the 'under construction picture and the final outcome in pictures two and three).

The Returned Missionary department (where they have been tracking down Returned Mongolian Missionaries who had sort of gotten lost around the world, many of whom needed help coming back to church) moved to President Odgerel's old office.

The kitchen moved to a much smaller room which had housed the senior missionary library (not quite finished, yet), and the old Returned Missionary office (the largest of the rooms) became the new computer lab/senior library (see the last picture -- also not quite finished).

I think I got that all straight. Each room was refinished as they went and it is really nice! The only ones not getting a nice newly redone office is . . . us! Oh. well!

But the work continues. We had to find a way to monitor things adequately as lab use began. So we contacted a firm in Utah called Lanschool. We had used their product a lot in schools in the Granite District. They agreed to donate their software to us! With it, we are able to view all lab workstations from a remote admin computer, record any site they visit on the internet, assume control of their computer at anytime, thus being able to illustrate how something is done (or to kick them off if they have done something they shouldn't!), restrict where they go on the internet, if we need, and more. It is really a great tool! Thanks, Lanschool!

But now we need to see if we can find licenses for Microsoft Office so students can adequately complete and submit their home work to BYU-H. So I emailed Microsoft and TechSoup (Microsofts partner for donations) but haven't seemed to get much of anywhere with either of them. But just last week, I received an email from a man in Minnesota, I think. He said that my email to Microsoft had somehow been directed to him by mistake. He expressed his appreciation for the work we were doing here and then said that he had forwarded our email to a group he thought might be able to help us with the needed Microsoft Office licenses! Me thinks there was no 'mistake' here. Hopefully we will soon see results from that. We'll let you know.

And through all of this, the Service Center here in the mission (you know, the ones who run all the finances and the day to day operations of the Church here) have been fantastic! They seemed to readily see the potential value of all of this, as well, and have done whatever they could to make certain things happened from their end -- like finding a way to fund all of the needed remodeling and then make it happen. And we mean fast! Thanks a bunch all you wonderful SC people!

Now we just have to figure out how we can pay an individual to manage the lab without causing tax problems. But the SC insists they will find a way! At this point what I need the most a just a little more patience! It's been a long road but worth every step!

We'll post a couple more pictures when everything is completely finished so you can see the end results!

And that's the rest of the story (well, so far!)!


Rick said...

If you can't get Microsoft Office try OpenOffice ( It is free and saves files in Office format.

Angie said...

What an amazing story and thanks for finishing it finally!:) Its so cool how the Lord made so many things fit together and workout. Good luck with the last few things to get it going! you guys are doing amazing things for the people there!

R and R said...

Negative 17 degrees FAHRENHEIT???!! It's only November! My poor mommy and daddy!! I think you guys may be in for a LONG winter!

It is amazing how small computers are these days. Glad to hear they all arrived safely!!

meglex said...

Sounds like everything 'magical' worked out how it should have, that is awesome!! Were you the one in charge of the remodeling? That is for sure your thing, glad that you get to put it to such good use over there.

Mr C said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Rick. We actually have Open Office on all the machines -- the Church uses it a fair amount in some areas. Some if it is even better in some ways than Office(i.e. Impress slide show is good). But the learning curve tends to be a bit high and not many people are familiar with it here. I need to keep the learning (and teaching!) curve low and make this as self sustaining as possible 'cause when we leave . . .

Lindsie, DJ and Jarod said...

Well, now you can see the reason you were called to Mongolia. Who else could have figured out how to get that lab set up AND help remodel the whole building!!

Marcia said...

I finally got the internet installed. Actually, I finally am in a home. I loved the story. You see, your talents would not have been so utilized in Nauvoo as in Mongolia. I am so impressed at the work you are doing, and yes, my prayers are still with you that the swine flu will go away and the doors will be opened to the missionaries to come and serve.