Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Theater with Elder Nelson

Monday evening, all the seniors went with the Nelson's and Hallstrom's to a little Mongolian theater nearby (you can see Elder Nelson and Elder Hallstrom in the fourth picture down). It looks as if it has been around for a long time! It is really quite a fun little place. And we really enjoyed the show. Many forms of Mongolian music and entertainment were presented and it was really educational as well as entertaining.

The first number was really interesting. By way of background, there are a lot of people who feel that the Mongolians are descendant from Lamanites who came across many years ago on a ice bridge at the far end of Alaska. One of our Elders is a Lamanite from America and he felt certain he was teaching his own people. And, indeed, he was usually mistaken as a Mongolian. Well, the first number in the show was a old Mongolian traditional song. And as I sat there, it sounded very much to me like an old Cherokee chant. It would be easy to make that kind of connection.

The Mongolians have also developed a somewhat unique and amazing talent of using their throats to make sounds like an musical instrument might. I have included a video of a young man demonstrating that talent. It is really something. If you listen carefully, you can hear the rather constant sound of the Morin Khuur (the string instrument). All of the rest of the sounds are made in his throat.

There were also singers, dancers, a contortionist, and actors. We'll show more pictures -- when we return in 2010!

All in all, it was a most enjoyable evening.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

An Apostle Visits Mongolia

Elder Russell M. Nelson came to Mongolia this week. For most members here, it was their first opportunity to see a prophet and apostle of the Lord. It was a wonderful occasion. He arrived late Sunday night and stayed on the fifth or top floor of the mission office building in President and Sister Andersen's apartment -- a rather nice place very capable of housing the Nelson's as well as the Hallstroms (area president) who came with them. We first saw him Monday morning.

He made a tour of the mission office building first thing in the morning. We were grateful to be able to shake his hand and to speak with him and Sister Nelson for a few moments (they asked us not to take pictures -- rats!). As they entered our little office, Sister Nelson was very taken by a carpet picture of President Hinckley we have hanging on the wall (see accompanying picture). We purchased it from a local carpet business a couple of weeks ago. She mentioned that it was beautiful and thought the Hinckley family would really like one. Well, it just so happens that the salesman had left a second one with us so we suggested that we could send it to the Hinckley's. She thought that would be wonderful. We are working to make that happen, now. And, yes, that really is a piece of carpet!

The first meeting we were able to attend with them was later that same day. All the missionaries in Mongolia had gathered to hear Elders Nelson and Hallstrom. The meeting was held in the mission office building at 2:00 pm. During that meeting, we received very good council from both the Nelson's and the Hallstrom's and will try to share some of it with you over the next couple of posts.

Before the meeting started, the missionaries gathered on the stand and practiced singing "Called to Serve" in the Mongolian language (of course) but also while singing the song in Mongolian sign language. There is a significant portion of the population here which is deaf, due to various conditions and circumstances. The song was very impressive. Thought you might like to hear it so I've uploaded some video.

Among the many things we were taught was one which became particularly meaningful for me. Elder Hallstrom noted that many in the audience would be dutifully recording what was said. And he knew that would be a good thing. But he added that it would be an even better thing if we recorded what we thought and felt. I decided to follow his counsel.

The adversary had been pestering me with particular persistence that Monday. I was having some difficulty staying focused and attentive to the Spirit. It was not a pleasant feeling and one I wanted badly to be rid of. But then, as I followed Elder Hallstrom's counsel and began to write down what I was hearing and particularly what I was feeling, the adversary fled. I had a great feeling of peace and well being settle over me and I understood the wisdom of Elder Hallstrom's counsel.

Then I had another thought. You know, one of 'those' thoughts! The ones where a light bulb sort of comes on and we think, "Oh yah!" I wondered if writing in a journal couldn't have the same effect. And I began, I think, to understand the counsel we have often been given to write in our journals everyday, or at least as often as we can. Especially about our feelings. It can be a powerful tool sometimes.

More tomorrow.