Sunday, February 7, 2010
Seminary in Mongolia
“I hope all of you who are eligible are attending seminary. This organization provides wonderful opportunities to learn the doctrines that will make you happy.” President Hinckley
President Odgerel (the Stake President and a full time CES/S&I employee - we have posted about him before) was quite shocked when early morning seminary was finally attempted here. The area authorities had encouraged him to do so, but he had resisted for a couple of years insisting that the kids would not be able to get up that early in the morning, fight the extreme cold in Mongolia and walk the sometimes significant distances to attend Seminary so early in the morning.
We understand! Public transportation here is not in operation much at that time of the morning and one could feel really guilty about asking our youth to go out in these extreme weather conditions to attend an early morning anything.
But he started feeling promptings and he finally decided to give it a go as school began last fall. And he couldn’t believe the response. In fact, he has been downright shocked to see numbers reach over 300 students in attendance at times!
The youth are really terrific here and want to learn about the Gospel. Our own youth in the Nalaikh Branch got up to bare testimony and talked about how they loved Seminary and how much better their school day is if they attend seminary first thing in the morning.
One story is told of the Branch in Khovd (i.e. quite isolated in the far western end of Mongolia). A couple of people are paid to always be on site and keep the boiler running in the Church building there, 24 hours a day, during the winter. It is VERY cold in Khovd!
One morning, a knock came at the church door. The boiler attendant opened the door to find two young men standing there in the dark. They asked if they could come in and he quickly invited them to do so. Then he asked what they were doing out so early. They told him they weren’t sure what time it was because they didn’t have an alarm or other clock in their ger (home). But they didn’t want to miss Seminary so they had woken up and decided to go ahead and make their way to the church building, just to be sure. They asked him what time it was.
It was 3:30 in the morning when they arrived! That's not a typo - it was 3:30 AM!
So they hung around for several hours until class actually began. We told you they wanted to learn about the Gospel and were thrilled with Seminary, but . . .