Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Hard Winter

This has been a tough winter in Mongolia.

Gratefully, we seemed to have been spared the worst of it here in the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. But in the countryside, particularly in the western part of the nation, conditions have become so desperate that Mongolia has declared a state of emergency and has asked neighboring nations as well as the United Nations for assistance.

In some regions, the cold has been even worse than here where we are – and it has been a long cold winter here. But we haven’t had much snow where we are. In those same western regions, snowfall as reached 120 cm. That’s deep enough that livestock can not forage for food nor reach areas where food might normally be supplemented by herders. The result is that over 1,100,000 head of livestock have died. That leaves a number of herders without any livestock at all and many others with only part of their herds left. No livestock, no way to make a living.

And meat prices have already started to increase. That will likely continue.

And in many of those outlying areas, children come to small towns where they actually live in schools provided for them. It would be impossible for them to travel the 100 to 300 km back and forth from their prairie homes (i.e. gers) to schools and back.

Unfortunately, we have been told that the snowfall has also hindered train delivery of coal to several of those small towns. Apparently, boilers in those small schools (already in bad repair anyway) have frozen and burst leaving them without heat. Not a nice picture to think about.

We don’t know all of the details, we are sure, but things are rather difficult, at best. A significant break in the weather is not likely for about another month, so the situation will likely become more difficult. Thus the state of emergency declared by the government.

The Church, of course, is responding. What that response will be is not yet fully determined. It is likely that money will be donated in addition to whatever additional efforts might be made. The government here is much better equipped to know what is needed and to deliver it than we are.

Just the same, members here are stepping up as well. This Saturday there is a drive being held by the District here in Ulaanbaatar, to collect clothing and other needed items to help those in the countryside areas.


A quick (though tardy) update.

The Minister of Immigration did promise to have needed VISA’s approved. However, others in the system seem to continue to make the process as complicated and delayed as possible. VISA'a are no longer actually being denied, they just are not being processed.

Having done pretty much all we can, we are letting the Lord handle the particulars on this one. But our total missionary numbers are shrinking and we don’t have very many foreign missionaries left, now. And we remain concerned about being able to keep the new senior missionaries here. We can manage to keep them here about another 4.5 months before it becomes really critical.