Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's!

The senior missionaries got together for a little Valentine's celebration last evening. And it was one of the nicest get togethers we have had. Everyone brings a potluck dish and so how we just happened to all bring really great things! Several commented that it was exceptional.

So here'e some pictures of the group. The first is of us having dinner together. Notice the Happy Valentine's sign on the wall in the background. The pictures will show most of our group which is assigned here in the capitol city. However, one couple had a branch obligation and arrived late and one other couple were in Hong Kong -- the other missionary who broke his arm but found it necessary to have surgery to correct it.

The two brethren at the pool table are our mission president (President Andersen - standing upright) and our mission doctor (Elder Anderson-taking the shot). And we have another senior couple stationed outside of Ulaanbaatar who are another Elder and Sister Anderson. Yes, it is sometimes confusing!

Elder Nelson of the Quorum of Twelce arrives at 11:00 pm tonight. We are excited about that and look forward to his visit! He'll be here for a couple of days and we will have opportunity to visit and talk with him.

Oh, by the way, it was minus 36 degrees this morning! Ouch!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Teaching English

We have been teaching English for some time now and are becoming much more comfortable with the process. Sister Caldwell has taken most of the burden in preparing those lessons and they have been going very well.

We teach two classes; one to a group of the local court judges and their secretaries and one to employees of the national archives here in Ulaanbaatar. In each group, we have had one ask us this week if they could come to our church with us. That is pretty exciting!

The first photograph you will see is of the court. The one circled (Judge Saikhansetseg) is the one who has asked to come to church. Those sitting on each side of her are also judges. The man sitting on the other side of the table is the Chief Judge. The others are secretaries.

The second photograph is of the archive employees. That’s the group we have the most fun with! The one with the arrow pointing at her is Ganaa and she is the one who has asked to come to church from that group. She started talking to us after the class and then pointed at my name badge and the name of the Church. Then she asked if she could come. Well, twist our arm a little bit harder! We also have name badges that just say “Deseret Charities International”. We are asked to judge carefully which to wear in that we can not teach about the Church in these classes at all. But I was glad I was wearing the one with the name of the Church on it!

Both of these ladies will be bringing their husbands and we are excited!

This week we have been talking about holidays. There is a national holiday this month in Mongolia called Tsangan Sar or White Month. It comes with the new moon (which will be the 24th and 25th this year) and is their celebration of the beginning of the spring season. That seems a bit premature to us! The temperatures have just dropped back down into the officially frigid range and we are in the middle of a snow storm!

But we had them tell us about their celebration and we told them about Valentine’s Day. Everything will shut down here for the two days of Tsagan Sar, including our mission offices. It is a very big celebration here with lots of food (especially white dairy products), visits with family, gifts are given and more.

Then we told them about Valentines. They had fun with that! Sister Caldwell made Valentine cookies which we had them put frosting on. If you look closely at the picture of the Court Class, you can see the cookies. We also had them make a Valentine card and explained about Cupid and his “arrows”. We had them make up sentences using their new vocabulary. One young girl drew the word arrow. Her sentence was “I arrow husband.” And she meant it in the good way!

Teaching English to foreign speaking people is an interesting process. We do use an English to Mongolian dictionary when we need to but usually we can pantomime and they can figure it out! In the process, we come across things in the Mongolian language which we think are really strange. Like different words that are used for exactly the same thing and we think that is really awkward and silly. That is until we realize that English is even worse at doing the same thing! We are just so used to it that we don’t give it a second thought.

One thing they have a lot of trouble with is words ending in -ed. They always want to pronounce them work-ed (two syllables) rather than worked (one syllable). And the exceptions (such as worded, forwarded or forested) don’t help the process any!

And they don’t seem to use articles here as much. They would say something like they are ‘to store going’ (also notice the reversed order), when we would always add an article like ‘the’ – ‘we are going to the store’ or maybe 'we are going to a store'. That is to say, we always add an article except when we don’t. Like ‘we are going to work’.

Oh well.