Saturday, December 19, 2009

Elders and Sisters and Seniors . . . Oh, my!

Well, we returned 12 missionaries to their homes on Wednesday of last week; five local Mongolians and seven from the states. Good missionaries, all. But they had served well and their missions were complete, so we wished them, Bon Voyage.

Then, on Friday, we sent 24 new Mongolian missionaries off to begin their missions, and most of them will serve here in Mongolia. We had firesides for both groups, one on Tuesday and the other on Friday.

The new group had just returned from their training at the MTC in the Philippines. It was good to hear their testimonies and of their experience in the MTC and of their first visit to the temple. It brought back memories.

Two and a half years ago, there were 12 young men and 18 young women serving missions from Mongolia. Today, there are 72 young men and 54 young women serving in the Mongolia mission alone. And there are around 100 more serving in other countries. That’s amazing!

But, as you can likely figure, most of the referred to new missionaries have only been members of the Church for one or two years. And most are the only members in their families. Several of those had nonmember family members in attendance at their farewell fireside and were then sent off to their assigned missions/areas. Some of those missionaries shared their desire that their family might accept the Gospel and join the Church soon. All expressed their appreciation for the help and support that they had received, even from nonmember parents. There was a good Spirit there and it was an enjoyable evening.

Actually, most of the young people who are members of the Church here, do not have parents who are members. Therefore, the Church is the only place they can look to for support and guidance regarding such things as the Word of Wisdom, chastity and other things which tend to plague the youth today. That adds somewhat to their challenge of remaining true and faithful. But true and faithful is what they are, none-the-less.

It was interesting and strengthening to hear the depth and breadth of the testimonies from these new members and missionaries. They truly are house of Israel and much of good is yet to come from them and from Mongolia.

Oh, and our new seniors are sure terrific! It's wonderful to have them here!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Good, the Bad and the . . .

We have some good news and some bad news. Which one do you want to hear first?

Ok, first the bad news.

Our battle to get VISAs flowing again, took a turn for the worse. There was a meeting held with some government officials a few days ago which did not go well. It wasn't even close to ok. Voices were raised and they accused the Church of lying. It seems we are not the favorites with some of those officials, right now.

In fact, the concern for the moment may not so much be whether or not we can bring new proselyting missionaries to the mission, but whether or not the current ones will be able to stay. Ouch! Now, we don't think it will come to that but it is something of a concern, though thus far only a small one.

To help avoid that possibility, though, no foreign missionaries will be able to do ITLs for the foreseeable future. ITLs are 'Invitations To Learn'. Missionaries approach people on the street and ask them if they would like to learn about the Gospel. We never have been allowed to go door to door, but ITLs work pretty well. But, we do not want to risk 'upsetting the apple cart' any further so ITLs will only be done by local missionaries, for now.

Now the good news.

The Lord is still in charge.

Recently, local Church leaders had a wonderful idea. They asked all members to hand out a six question survey they had created which asked such questions as, "Would you like to know more about your family history?" or "If you knew that Jesus Christ had again talked to someone on this earth, would you want to know about it?"

The result was the gathering of over 3000 referrals from people responding that they would like to know more! So, at the same time that ITLs were significantly restricted, the missionaries were blessed with 3000+ member referrals! That should keep them busy for a while!

Our little Nalaikh Branch (the one Sister Caldwell and I are assigned to) received 900 of those referrals! It'll take them months to work through all of them! If 1 in 10 of those were to join the Church, we would probably need to split the branch!

One step back and two steps forward!