Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just a really quick post to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and to thank our family for a really nice Christmas morning! Got up early to open the gifts they sent us. Wonderful family!

More details later!

But we've got to go. They've started us in meetings at 7:45 this Christmas morning! Go figure!

Monday, December 21, 2009

VISA's Are Approved!

In a somewhat sudden and unexpected turn around, one government official indicated today that all of our missionary VISAs were being approved! We'll wait with baited breath for it to actually happen, but this is really good news!

It will likely take a a couple of weeks to round up all the missionaries who have been reassigned all over the United States and then to ship them to Mongolia, but they will be coming!

President Andersen is thinking that January 15th looks like a likely date. Yipppeee!

The best Christmas present ever!

The Wheelchair

Batbold is the 2nd Counselor in the Mission Presidency and is also a full time employee of the Church, being charged with overseeing all of the apartments that must be rented and cared for for nearly 200 missionaries! He is a wonderful man and a truly great friend to many people. We had he and his wife over for dinner recently and he told us this story (actually he told us several stories; this is just one of them).

This past summer, he and his wife went to an area of Mongolia called Murin and nearby
Khovsgol Lake. It is about a two day trip to reach that area from here and much of it is, again, on roads that would more accurately be described as trails. But, they were on vacation and Khovsgol is one of the most beautiful areas of Mongolia, so they decided it would make a good vacation spot and be worth the trip.

They traveled down the outlet river a few kilometers from the lake itself. Batbold is a fisherman and thought that a bit of river fishing sounded fun. Finding a nice looking spot (there's no shortage of them there!), set up their tent and settled in for a couple of days of relaxation and enjoyment.
It wasn't long before Batbold thought it would be a good idea to walk a short distance to a nearby ger and get to know the family who lived there. These are a friendly sort of folk here and ger people especially welcome visitors most any time.

He found a somewhat older couple living there with there disabled grandson; nice folk who were very cordial and welcomed his visit. There was a wheelchair in the ger and Batbold thought it looked sort of familiar. He asked the family where they had been able to find a wheelchair in such a remote area. They told Batbold that a friend of theirs had a daughter who was disabled but she had passed away some time ago. It had been her wheelchair and the friend had offered it to them. All they could remember was, "It came from some 'latter day church' or something."

As he examined the wheelchair, he found an emblem on the back of it: "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." The family could not read English and 'latter day church' was all they had remember of what their friend had told them.

When Batbold read the label, they asked, "Do you know anything about them?" He answered, "I work for that Church!"

The wheel chair was in pretty bad shape. Years of dragging it over the countryside had taken a toll. He had tools along so he did what he could to patch it up a little. But the young man had also outgrown the chair and his feet drug the ground. It was obvious that a new one was badly needed.

Batbold promised them that he would see what he could do to get a replacement. One that was in better shape and big enough to properly fit the young man. The family expressed their thanks but were obviously skeptical. Many people here will often promise things that they are not able to or even do not intend to really do.

Batbold returned home. Then, last October, President Andersen felt he needed to visit Murin to see how missionary work and the Church were doing. The entire mission Presidency made the trip, including (of course) Batbold. He got permission to take a new wheelchair along -- one of 750 we had recently received in our latest shipment (see previous post).

They reached Murin and when an opportunity presented itself, Batbold asked to be excused so that he could deliver the wheelchair. President Andersen, of course, agreed. He drove approximately 75 km to reach the area where he had found the family. But when he arrived, he found that they had moved in anticipation of the coming winter. That's what a nomadic people do. And that's why they have gers.

He was able to find one family still in the area and they knew where his missing family had gone. He drove the remaining 5 or 6 kilometers and found them, just as described. When they saw him coming, they were very surprised. 'We didn't think you would really come back!'

He said, "That's what we do in the Church. When we make a promise, we keep it."

He gave them the wheelchair, a Book of Mormon, a Liahona and a few other things and they were very grateful.

It has only been a few weeks since this occurred. We'll try to find out what has happened since and let you know.