Monday, February 17, 2014

I'm not in Kansas Anymore!

Muhuu Ger Bolth,

Well it is safe to say I'm not in Kansas anymore!  Well everyone I am here in MONGOLIA!  This place is incredible.....cold, cold, COLD, new, and AMAZING!  I am so blessed to finally be here and doing the Lord's work. How great is my calling!

Well after a very long flight, stopping at LAX, and Korea, we made it to Mongolia! When we got off the airplane it was time to go through Immigration, which we have heard is the "make it or break it" point.  We can't declare any religious affiliation, we are English teachers.  As I approached the Immigration counter, I'll be honest, my heart was beating 100 miles per hour and I was very nervous. The good thing is, they didn't ask me any questions and I went right on through!  Haha, there was nothing to worry about!   We got our bags and then our new friend, Batbolt, the Mission Driver, grabbed us and we went to his car.   It took about 30 minutes to get to the mission home, and on our way there, I was literally in shock!  This is such an amazing place, and it is definitely not as "third world" as I thought!  There were nice cars everywhere and people wearing nice clothes!  Seems weird that I am saying that, but I was not expecting that!   One of the first things I noticed right off the bat was that there are 100% no road rules!  ANYTHING GOES!  I'm dead serious.  I was kinda scared a couple times, but we made it to the Bayanzurhk safely!

We then met President Benson and his family!  They are so great, and I really felt their love for me right from the start.  Sis. Benson made us tacos for dinner and we had played some get to know you games.  Their kids are soooo cute and funny!  They were crawling all over me, and soon enough we were rock climbing in their room! President Benson interviewed me, and then we were off to bed. I went and stayed with Elder Hill and Elder Sims for the night. They are great Elders, and have been here for a while.

The next day we walked back to the Mission Home real early in the morning.  I considered this my first walk on Mongolian soil.  Holy cow!  It was nuts.  I felt like I was in a movie or something.  We were walking through straight slums.  I mean trash everywhere, pigeons everywhere, old rusty playgrounds everywhere, and an extreme amount of pollution!  Once we made it to the Mission Home we had some training, then the AP's took us out to lunch!  My first mongolian meal was........Sheep with potatoes, carrots, and onions.  It actually was really good!  The AP's ordered for me, so I just had to trust them!  To drink I had a nice boiling glass of some mystery juice.  That night I went back out with Elder Sims and Elder Hill, and taught a few lessons.  It was a great experience to say the least. Thursday night we had a huge training with President, and all the new missionaries were assigned their Trainers.  My trainer wasn't there because he was traveling in from Muran, the countryside.
So that night I spent the night with Elder Papenfuss and Elder Ericsson.

Friday, my trainer arrived!  Elder Ulziibayar!  He is a native Mongolian!  I was kind of nervous at first, but he does speak a little English so that made me really ecstatic!  He is a 3-year convert, and he is from here in UB.  He is such a great Elder, and a great example to me.  He keeps me in check!   But anyways, later we moved into our apartment and went to the Zack to buy a lot of meat, potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Elder Ulziibayar is a great cook, so I am very excited about that!

We then went to the Mission Home where I met a member, who turns out to be my sponsor, but I didn't know this at the time. She took me to her car and we were off!  Well soon enough, we were pulling into a building and getting out of the car. I really had no clue what was going on, so I just followed her.  We waited in a long line, and then we were taken into a little room, where a nurse was waiting for me.   So I am assuming it was a hospital of some sorts.  Well my name was called and they motioned for me to roll my sleeves up. So.....I am in a pretty sketchy building, which turns out to be a hispital, in the middle of Mongolia, and they want to take my blood!   Well I was pretty nervous, but the blood drawing commenced...haha!  Then we went to another building where I had to go into a room, take off everything but my pants, and they put me in this weird machine and did some tests.  I am not sure still to this day what it was, but I assume it was an X-Ray.  Oh, I'm making memories!   Saturday we left our house around 12 noon and rode a bus out to our area.  We are serving in Xaalthaast, and we are "White Washing" it,  which means we are both brand new to the area.  The area is about 30 minutes from where we live, so the bus ride is required.  Bus rides are Crazy....Anything goes.  Once we made it out to our area,  we just walked around with our member list trying to meet members.  We walked around from about 1 till 8 p.m. and we didn't find a single soul.  That's just how it goes though!  The neighborhoods here have no structure or organization so it is very hard to find out where people live.  Good thing I have a native with me or else it would be impossible.  After my first full day of work, I was dog tired and crashed at about 9:45, thirty minutes after we got home.

Sunday was great!  We went to a member's home before church and had lunch!  This was my first member meal, so I was pretty excited!  We had a lot of Boads (like dumplings), which are Mongolia's traditional food, and then some mystery soup.  I still have no clue what it was but there was a sufficient amount of fat floating throughout it.  Church was great!   Elder Wilson of the Asia Area Presidency came and spoke in Sacrament Meeting.  He spoke in English so that was the only thing I understood all sacrament.  He did have a translator so the Mongolians could understand.  After Sacrament, I taught my first lesson to one of our progressing investigators!  Her name is Althmaa Egch, and she is scheduled to be baptized on March 14th!  We taught her about being obedient, reading her scriptures, and the importance of prayer.  My companion had me carry the load in this discussion, so I was on the spot!  I did the best that I could and she understood everything I said, which wasn't that much, but I would consider it a success!  Sunday night we went to the Branch President's home and had dinner, mystery soup again, and discussed how to strengthen the branch! They spoke a little English so I could understand the overall jist of the meeting.

All and all, I love this place!   I know I was called here for a reason, and I can't wait to find out why!   I am so blessed to have a member of the church as my sponsor!  This means I will have so many more opportunities, so for that I am feel truly blessed.  This place is a whole new world with stray dogs, drunk guys on the streets, and pollution beyond belief.  UB is said to be the world's most polluted city, but I am loving every minute of it!  This work is work!   It is hard and tiring, but I wouldnt have it any other way.  I know this gospel is true, and I am truly a messenger of Jesus Christ.  How great is my call!

I love you guys!

Elder Harris

This picture was taken from our airplane as we were flying over Mongolia. I don't know where we were. 

This picture is of the sisters that traveled with me, our trainers, President Benson on the right, and his two kids. Ulaanbaatar is in the background. It was freezing!

With my trainer and companion, Elder Ulziibaytar. Notice that Elder Ulziibaytar has his mission badge on. He can wear it because he is a native. I cannot wear my missionary badge, except in church settings.


  1. What an interesting experience you are having. I am so glad you are getting some good food to keep you warm and look forward to hearing more of your missionary experiences. God Bless, Cassandra Hafen

  2. A bit different then doing a short out and up, or hitting a kicker in the numbers I bet. But since the expectations haven't changed, and it is not your in nature to disappoint, This experience will be another "Mark did it again didn't he" things. hehehehehehe Stay warm, stay safe, and hurry home Toto. :^)