Within the last couple of days, we have learned that 18 or so of our missionaries are going to have leave Mongolia sooner than expected. That includes 10 young missionaries and four senior couples. Bummer! It seems that their residence permit/registration has expired and Mongolia is no longer able to renew them.
An explanation is in order -- Readers Digest version.
Missionaries not only have to have a VISA to enter the country, we also are required to obtain a residence permit within a few days of arrival. Both are required -- one to enter the country for longer than 90 days and the other to actually live and remain here. The Church has not been able to obtain new VISA's for some time now. But all, including those of us with current VISA's, also must also obtain the referred to permit which is then good for a period of one year. That permit must then be renewed annually. Mongolia can not longer renew those permits under the current structure of the Church, here, and renewing or obtaining the is giving us the latest challenges to overcome.
When permits were renewed a while back for those who have been here a while, Mongolia would only renew them until June 5th. They hadn't fully decided, yet, what they were going to do and, therefore, renewed them for a shortened period of time. So, both new arrivals and old timers are facing this particular difficulty.
But, we have come to understand some things from a little different perspective over these last few days. Mongolia has, in fact, been very kind and generous to us for many years, making exception to laws which have been on their books for a long time. It seems that we have been far above our legally allowed quota, probably for many years. And now, Mongolia is expanding and growing at an increasing rate with much foreign interest in their rich mineral deposits. And they have a need to protect who and what they are, at the same time.
That is not unusual. The U.S. has had strict entry requirements for a long time, too. Most countries do. Those who do not, have often paid a price, some having lost most of their culture and much of their identity. Inner Mongolia (now part of northern China) is one of those.
We no longer disagree with what is being done. We are only sad that it has to be. The saddest of all, are those who must leave within the next few days and will finish their missions elsewhere.
The senior couples mentioned must leave, but, with Mongolia's help, it looks like a mutual acceptable and beneficial way has been found to allow them to return. We should know for certain within a couple of days, it looks like.
We also hope that a solution can be found for the younger missionaries so that they will be able to return within a fairly short time. The sisters, however, have been permanently reassigned to Washingtion, D.C. Their shorter time of service does not make it likely that they would be able to return.