Friday, February 26, 2010

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off!

Things are happening here faster than we can tell you about them! Here's a couple of the latest.

Friday night, the Branch closest to where we live had a baptism. Nothing really unusual in that. They have baptisms pretty much every week. But this baptism was unusual, just the same.

The first to be baptized was a really cute 8 year old girl. That's still not unusual. All the kids here are the cutest you have ever seen and lots of them are baptised every month!

But the second person to be baptized, was this 99 year old grandmother. That's right, 99 years old! That is a record for Mongolia and we wonder what the record is for the entire Church!

Her family has been members for some time. But a while back, she told them she didn't want to stay home anymore on Sunday. She wanted to go to Church with them. So, she did!

It also seems that she had been having some dreams. In her dreams, her husband (who past away 30 years ago -- he was only 71 or so!) had appeared to her and he was all dressed in white. She said, "I want to go to church and if I see someone dressed all in white, I'm goin' to hang on to them!"

Well, she was soon the one dressed in white! She no longer has the use of her legs and had to be helped by two Elders as they went entered the font. They held her up, offered the baptismal prayer and then immersed her. But, not having any control of her legs, they floated to the surface! It only took a second attempt to succeed and she was thrilled.

"I don't have long left here and I want to leave prepared," she said.

This was one of THOSE baptisms, can you tell?

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Also on Friday night, KSL News in Utah ran a story on the difficult winter Mongolia is having. Bruce Lindsay of KSL is a neighbor to the couple now serving as the Humanitarian couple here -- Elder and Sister Lasson. Bruce phoned Elder Lasson and conducted an interview from half way around the world. It is a pretty accurate story. You can see it at this link:

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Thought you might get a kick out of this picture. We have seen this sort of thing in many countries. People try to use English words but don't really know what they mean.

Hair cut anyone?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tsagaan Sar

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.