Friday, April 16, 2010

The Saga Continues

We have managed to get ourselves into another pickle!

We have learned that Mongolia is requiring things a bit differently than we thought. It has to do with church buildings.

For most churches, every congregation and building tends to be a separate entity without a lot of correlation between them. So, Mongolia requires registration for each individual church unit. Weeellll, we thought that registering our main office building would cover all of our units organized under the jurisdiction of that particular office. After all, we are not separate units but are very much part of a single organization, all teaching the same, etc. So we were covered, right?

Not so much!

So, now we find ourselves in bad straights. We have been told that we can no longer use those other buildings until they are properly registered. The trouble is, the government committee having that responsibility will not meet again to consider registrations until June! Ouch!

They have relented (again) and are allowing us to hold Sacrament meetings on Sunday, but that is all. No full block, no seminary, no mutual, no baptism, etc. Bummer!

But, we are doing the best we can. Most baptisms will be held in the one main office building (the only building properly registered - the Bayanzurkh Building for those of you are are familiar with the mission). Alternative sites are being sought for Seminary. That's an important one. And the rest . . . . we'll let you know as we find alternatives!

And tonight is Friday night so we held the weekly baptisms all in this one building. All 21 of them! At least all except those in the countryside. Their buildings are registered and in good shape, so they are ok.

So, the work goes on. It will be interesting to look back at this in a few years and see what the perspective is. Probably a bit different than the one folks might be inclined to have right now.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conference Weekend

For most of Asia, and more specifically, for us here in Mongolia, this was General Conference weekend. It is available to us live via the Internet or satellite, but the time difference is simply too great for us to be able to watch it then. So, we generally watch it on the weekend following the actual conference.

It is translated into Mongolian (and many other languages, of course) as it happens and is received over the satellite system, recorded and then burned to DVD. The English version is also recorded and stored on DVD at the same time.

Then, the senior couple missionaries all join together in President and Sister Andersen's apartment (5th or top floor of the Church building here) to share in the experience as we watch each session. Our time table (as they refer to schedules here) is, however, a bit different. Saturday's first session begins at the traditional 10:00 am. But the second session is begun at 1:00 pm, closely followed by the Priesthood session at 3:15 pm.

And, as the brethren all watch the Priesthood Session, the sister's are busily making homemade cinnamon rolls for all to enjoy at the end of the session! Yum!! (Sister Caldwell out did herself this time!)

Sunday's sessions are held similarly with the first session at 10:00 am and the last session at 1:00 pm. The seniors all bring potluck stuff on Sunday and we have lunch together.

The young missionaries and other members of the Church listen to Conference downstairs in the Chapel, at the same time. The young American Missionaries, however, do get to hear it in their native language in another room in the building.

And, as always seems to be the case, Conference was uplifting, enjoyable and very edifying. We try to single out favorite speakers, but it is difficult. So very much of good instruction and counsel is given that it is sometimes difficult to absorb it all. So, it is wonderful to be able to download the sessions and watch them again. Including the Priesthood session, which began being included in the downloads at about the time we entered the mission field.

And then we can also read and study them even more thoroughly in the Liahona (we don't get the Ensign here much).

Actually, the sessions are now available within a few hours after each session since the launching of the Church's new beta website ( That means that anyone, anywhere in the world, can see recordings of conference sessions within hours of their occurrence. What a marvelous thing the internet can be.

We marvel at the organization and operation of the Church. There is not another worldwide organization that we are aware of, that is able to maintain the consistency of instruction and the unity of operation as does the Church. We have come half way around the world and find the Church the same here as in Utah, even despite the relatively young age of the Church and it's members here. Such adds testimony and validity to our assertion of who is at the head of this Church and as to whose Church it is.

Some things we remember from Conference sessions, include (of course) President Monsons' remarks about how he and Sister Monson met and the development of their relationship. Funny! Oh, and how many of you noticed his comment about Mongolia in those same opening remarks? We also liked President Uchtdorfs' counsel that without love and compassion, we are like clouds without rain or trees without root. Simple and simply profound.

There were many others, like Elder Packers' and Elder Morinos' talks. And then there was Elder Hales and and Elder Hollands talks and . . . well, you get the picture. Maybe we'll share more of what we liked later.