Saturday, August 1, 2009

Choibalsan Continued

Everyday is a new experience here in Mongolia. The drive to Choibalsan was long, but the countryside was absolutely beautiful -- one of the good things about all of the rain we have been receiving. Miles and miles of rolling hills covered with tall green grass, bushes, etc. July is typically the wet month here but it has especially wet this year. And the landscape definitely reflects it.

Several in our party found it necessary to make the obligatory stops along the way.
You know, 'when nature calls, nature calls'! But there were rest stops along the way just like in the states.

Well, maybe not JUST like in the states! But they did have the local version, at least. Outhouses are better than nothin'! Even when they are like the one pictured; no seats, mind you, just a crack in the floor boards that you do your best to aim for! Some were quite concerned about the safety of those flimsy little boards they were expected to stand on! But we had no mishaps and were soon on our way again.

This particular 'rest stop' was in a little town called 123 -- 123 km from Choibalsan. We were almost there!

We also stopped along the way at a nice river to have lunch. And between the two cars we really put together a good lunch! It was kind of nice but it was starting to get hot at that point.

Finally we arrived and 0ur visit with the saints in Choibalsan was very nice. We discovered yet another thing that we take for granted in the states. The members were absolutely thrilled to have visitors from the local church headquarters here. I don't think we have ever been hugged so many times in one visit! They may only have visitors two or three times in an entire year, there. It is likely we will look at visits from our stake leaders a bit differently when we return.

While we were there, one young man received his mission call. But many of the youth here, are the only members of the Church in their family. So, family support for such things as mission calls is often missing. But we all gathered around in the Chapel as he opened his mission call. It was rather touching as we watched him carefully open his call and read where it was that the Lord needed him. We gave him hugs, congratulations and then all sang, "Called to Serve". By the way, that song sounds just as wonderful in Mongolian as it does in English!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


First, a quick note: The rains we posted about on July 17th have continued. The one we wrote about took 29 lives and caused a fair amount of damage. We had another heavy storm about a week later and the streets turned to rivers, again, though not quite so bad nor as long lasting.

Then, as we journeyed to Choibalsan these past few days (the real purpose for this post) we found on our return trip that another area had been hit. There were several new lakes in one of the small towns and the fairly new asphalt road had been washed out in a couple of places forcing us to 'off road' it again for a time.

These have been very unusual rains and we wonder if they will continue. Now to our Choibalsan trip.

We took the Workshop that we do, to the farthest away point yet in our mission experience. Other seniors who have gone west to Choibalsan have taken the plane. But not us. NOOOO! Clever us, we decided to drive! Thought it would be interesting and save some of our limited office budget. Live and learn!

Many times we were stopped by herds of horses, sheep, goats, camels, or cows. They seemed to really like the road, for some reason.

The roads were like these which you can see trailing off seemingly into the horizon. Well, we not only drove as far as you can see here, but through several such stretches before we were done.The pictures pretty much tell it all! The first 3.5 hours was fairly good paved road. The last 6 hours were on "roads" such as those pictured.

Much of the time this was our view as we followed President Andersen (our mission president), with whom we traveled. And we thought "Eat my dust" was only an idiom!

The rains helped make for an interesting mix of terrains (pardon the pun)for driving in. The potholes and mudholes were bad enough, but we really were challenged to the limit by kilometer after kilometer of washboard! Give me mud holes any day!

Mongolia really is a wide open country with lots of open space. It is about seven times the size of the state of Utah and just a bit larger than Alaska. That is a lot of land for less than three million (2.9 million) people to roam around in. For comparison, Utah has nearly the same population size (approx. 2,850,000).

We finally arrived in Choibalsan at about 5:15 pm and were happy to be out of the car. We tried not to think of the drive back to UB!

What more can we say!