Thursday, April 30, 2009

Humanitarian Efforts - Page 3

There are no pictures with this Post. None are needed. This is a very touching story, having to do with yet another humanitarian program being conducted by the Church here. Read on.

Another area in which the Church has been able to provide significant blessing to the people of Mongolia, has been in offering a program for addiction recovery. This program seems to attract mostly nonmembers but has touched many lives and many of those participants have eventually accepted the Gospel. Elder and Sister Hitchmough (originally from Canada), have been directing that program for the past 18 months or so but will soon be returning to their home in Canada.

At our weekly staff meeting yesterday, Elder Hitchmough gave his customary report of their efforts – as did all of us. First, he reported on the work being done as we all teach English (another area the Hitchmough’s have responsibility for). Then, he reported on the addiction recovery program.

He told us about the most recent meeting they had just held for addicts. Twenty seven gathered at this particular session - a full group and then some. It was also the last meeting for this particular series – a sort of graduation, if you will. It came time to start and he closed the door and began the meeting.

Within a few minutes, there came a knock at the door. Elder Hitchmough opened the door to find three men looking at him. He described them as large men who were swaying and smelling heavily of alcohol - obviously intoxicated. He wondered if he should let them in and then thought, ‘I’m not big enough to stop these guys anyway!’ and he opened the door.

They sat down in the room, and the instructor (a local Mongolian resident - someone who speaks the language must, of course, do the actual teaching here) started the normal process of having everyone tell about themselves and how they were doing. As she came to the first of the three intoxicated men, he was fast asleep and Elder Hitchmough found himself hoping that the instructor might just pass him by. She didn’t. She woke him and asked him to tell about himself.

He said his name was Batbold and kind of drifted off again. She paused for a moment but finally moved on to the next person. However, before that next participant could begin, Batbold raised his hand and asked for another chance to speak.

He explained that he was ‘ . . a member of this church’ but that he was having a very difficult time and needed help. He broke down in tears as he shared some of his feelings and what had brought him there.

The three were not sitting together but the second of the three men was already in tears as he explained that he was brother to the first man. He introduced himself as Batbaatar explaining that he too was a member of the Church. He, too, pleaded for help.

The third man was also a member of the Church. In fact, he told them that he had once been a branch president. He could barely remember the good feelings the Gospel had brought him (the touch of the Spirit) before this addiction had overtaken him, but he wanted those feelings back again. He, too, asked for help.

After the three men had first entered the room and sat down, Elder Hitchmough had begun writing notes as fast as he could, detailing information about these three new participants. As things settled for a moment, he looked at the paper he had hastily grabbed and on which he had been writing. He hadn't had time to pay much attention to what was on that paper, but found that it was the poem, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” (Elder Hitchmough was having difficulty by this time in finishing his story.)

He shared the portion of that poem that happened to be right next to his notes:

“And many a man with life out of tune
All battered with bourbon and gin
Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd
Much like the old violin.

“A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game and he travels on
He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.

[There was about a two minute pause here as Elder Hitchmough fought to gain control of his emotions again]

“But the Master comes
And the foolish crowd never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the Master’s hand.”
. . . . . . . . Myro Brooks Welch

Some things seem more worth sharing than others.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The First Mongolian Stake!

It was announced earlier today that the first Stake would soon be organized in Mongolia! That is wonderful news! The area now covered by the Ulaanbaatar District, will be split and become Ulaanbaatar East District and the Ulaanbaatar Stake.

It is difficult to envision all that this type of change entails. A new Stake Center will need to be built (a site has been selected); there are no High Priests in a District, so many who are now Elders will have to be ordained High Priests so that positions in Bishoprics, a Stake Presidency and an entire High Council can all be filled; and Stake leaders will also have to be called for the youth, Primary and Relief Society organizations.

Mission field areas also have no Patriarchs so a Patriarch will soon be ordained. Anyone in this mission will them be able to receive Patriarchal Blessings through him - something only young missionaries called from here to serve in areas of the world where Patriarchs, already exist have been able to receive until now. This Patriarch will potentially be a VERY busy man for awhile!

It also opens the door just a little bit wider to the possibility of a temple being built here in the near future.

The Church is growing in Mongolia!