Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Ding-A-Ling Choir

As part of our Christmas Conferences, the Senior Missionaries formed a Bell Choir. President Andersen and his wife have a set of bells that their family has used for years.

We played three numbers at the conference on Christmas Morning; “Good King Wenceslas", "Coventry Carol" and "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel". We actually did a pretty good job! And it was kind of fun! Bells just seem to be an integral part of Christmas.We were surprised at how expensive the bells are. During one of our practice (video above), one of the choir members decided it would be fun to sort of toss his bell in the air and catch it at the end of the number. Both President and Sister Andersen simultaneously lunged for his bell as he did so! They apparently run $100 each and up!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Missionary Work

We had mission conferences during Christmas Time. And, as usual, they were quite good and we learned much.

During part of those conferences, several of the missionaries were invited to share some of their recent missionary experiences. You know, success stories and how it feels to be a missionary. One sister (Sister Mansfield) told of an experience her and her companion recently had.

As they were walking through a ger district (gers are little round portable homes like those that are called yurts in Russia - about 15 feet in diameter), they came across an elderly grandma carrying water from a common well to her ger (there is no running water in a ger). These wells can be a mile or more from any one ger. The man hauling water in this picture is fortune to have a cart. Many do not.

Jumping to her rescue, the sisters helped her carry the water the rest of the way to her ger.

Along the way, they talked. And soon they asked if she would like to learn about Jesus Christ. After all, they are missionaries. She said, ‘yes’.

It would be helpful, at this point, to mention that older people here in Mongolia are most often of a non-Christian belief and generally do not readily listen to the Gospel message. For years they were ruled first by China (with their Buddhism and Shinto beliefs) and then by Russia (which demanded a non-religious environment under socialism). We have learned much about what socialism can do to a people since coming to live here. It has been . . . well . . . eye opening, to say the least. We are grateful to have been spared that experience and admire these people for their resilience.

But, as a result, it's largely the young who readily accept the Gospel message here. Those who were not tainted by socialism. The older generation seems hardened and sometimes even made cynical by the old socialist regime which many of them spent half of their lives dealing with.

But not always.

Before reaching the ger, these sister missionaries were able to make an appointment for a return visit. The appointed time came and when they returned to the ger, they found grandma and her 75 year old husband waiting. Grandpa had no teeth -- but he did have a lot of questions. Both were anxious to learn and listened attentively.

They were invited to church and came that first Sunday. They were 10 minutes late but they came. It’s difficult for people in their 70's to walk to church. Especially when a cane is the only help they have.

They haven’t missed a meeting since.

Even during the recent quarantine, when there were no large gatherings allowed, grandma and grandpa would walk all the way to the meeting house anyway. The missionaries had anticipated things like this and would always wait at the building to help those who came find a member home where Sacrament Meeting was being held. Grandma and Grandpa always came. They wanted to learn more of this new religion they had found.

But worship services are not all they have been interested in. One just has to mention any other meeting or activity and grandma and grandpa will likely be there. We wonder how many members back home would be that faithful and determined. And few of them have to walk – with or without a cane.

Their baptism date is set for a week from this Friday. We think that is one baptism we would like to attend.