We just finished celebrating Tsagaan Sar (literally, 'White Month'). The holiday is celebrated on the day in which a new moon appears in February -- the same as the Chinese New Year celebration. This year, it also happened to fall on Valentines Day, February 14th. Tsagaan Sar celebrates family and friends (with emphasis on family) as well as the beginning of Spring. Members of families may travel long distances in order to be with their family, as circumstances permit.
This year (us being 'old' veterans and all, now) we were invited to many homes to share in their celebration. Traditional Mongolian food is served such as rice, a large variety of dairy products which most of you would find . . . interesting, and buuz (pronounced more like boadz).
This first picture is with the Grandpa and Grandma from Naliakh Branch. They are the best! We were in their sons home, which used to be a small restaurant, at one time.
The second picture is of the Nalaikh missionaries at the same home. The first day of Tsagaan Sar, we visited homes with our missionaries. It was fun!
The third picture is in a more traditional ger. This is the home (ger) of what we call a "mini-missionary" who served in Nalaikh for a short time. That time included Tsagaan Sar. Mini-missionaries are members who are close to mission age, and are asked to 'fill in' temporarily as missionaries when there are not enough companions temporarily. Then we get a group of missionaries back from the MTC and the mini-missionary returns home.
As for the beginning of spring -- yah, right! Sort of hard to believe when the day before Tsagaan Sar, it was 34 F below zero! But this is our second winter here and we now believe them. Well, sort of. The day after Tsagaan Sar, the temperature did, in fact, start going up! And it has continued a very slow but steady improvement almost everyday since! Recently, we hit a balmy 20 degrees and the snow on darker colored surfaces actually has been melting! What a wonderfully warm day!
It will likely take a while for it to even reach the freezing mark, but it has been very tantalizing on some days.
And it is very needy. Livestock losses have hit the 2.3 million mark and are still rising. It will take Mongolia a few years to fully recover from this one.