Well this week has been such a crazy roller coaster ride! There has been a lot of changes here in the Mission, and in myself. I am very grateful for the opportunities that I've had this week, though. I have started to see our companionship, our work, my understanding of the Mongolian language, and also Elder Ulziibayar's English progress.
On Saturday we had a stake conference-style meeting. Elder Wilson and Elder Toronto from the Asia Area Presidency were here to speak to the Saints in Mongolia. The purpose of this conference was to prepare the saints here to receive a temple in Mongolia!! How this will be accomplished was what was addressed the entire meeting. In Mongolia there are approximately 10,000 members. About one thousand are active. Out of those 10,000 members, 1000 have served missions. That is one-tenth of the membership! That is crazy, especially when the church is only 20 years old here. Out of those 1000 returned missionaries, only 100 are active. The saints here were told that Mongolia needs to have 1000 current temple recommend holders in order to submit a request to the First Presidency for Mongolia to receive temple. Problem is, there is barely 500 members who have a current temple recommend. Then on Sunday, another big conference was held at this theater-type place in downtown Ulaanbaatar (UB). All the members in UB were there! This place was packed. It was like all the members in Vegas coming to the Thomas and Mack. Again Elder Wilson and Toronto spoke. A temple in Mongolia was the topic again and many re-alignments were made to the wards and branches. I was in the Khailaast Branch, but now we have combined with the Chingaltai Branch to form the new Jargalthant Branch. We are now a part of the only Stake here in UB, as well. There were many more realignment, but it would be hard to explain it all. This was all done for the sole purpose of preparing Mongolia for a temple! How exciting is that! I know that my responsibility as a missionary here in Mongolia is to assist in that process. It was so incredible to see all the faithful members there, wanting to know what they needed to do to receive the blessings of a Temple in their country!
This past Monday my companion and I went to the "Zaak," the underground market of surprises! I was amazed at all the meat and other things! It was crazy! Meat from every animal imaginable was just on a table ready for sale. We went there to buy some groceries and we also bought horse meat! We shall see how that goes! Like I said, my companion is a good cook! Then on Monday evening we went up to that member's house who lives on top of the mountain for their son's birthday party! It was really great, and we were able to share a special gospel message with him. Funny thing is, his father looks just like Donny Osmond! Mom, I know what you are thinking.... No, not Donny! But, yes! He is the Mongolian Donny!
Tuesday was a day for my record book. The day prior (Monday) was such a great and beautiful day! A coat was almost not even necessary. So my companion and I thought Tuesday would be the same.... NOPE! We got out to our area (a 15 minute bus ride) and it started to snow! On top of that, the winds were so strong! I was literally freezing! We were walking around all day with our heads tucked in because the wind was blowing the snow and dirt right on our faces! The snow and dirt were blowing so hard, it hurt! I am not lying when I say that it was literally painful. This goes down as "The Official Coldest Day of My Life." This day was hard because no one was outside and for some reason no one would let us in, so we literally just suffered in pain and agony all the day long. Makes for good memories though!
Wednesday I woke up feeling refreshed because I had a great, WARM, nights sleep. I made two eggs and a piece of toast, and then I realized that we had bought milk on P-Day so I decided to have two cold glasses with my breakfast. I was feeling fine, but then about an hour later in personal study.....it hit me. I didn't know what it was, but it hit me! I told my companion that I was dying, and we both kind of laughed it off, but then about 10 minutes later I ran into the bathroom, ripped off my shirt and tie, and had a nice date with my head in the toilet. The best part is, as I am dying in the toilet, my companion comes in and starts giving me a back massage! Preach My Gospel teaches about unified companionships, but this took it to a whole other level! Best Friend Award right there! So in trying to find out what the problem was, I discovered that pretty much all the milk here is at least 3.5% fat. Are you serious! No wonder I couldn’t hold it down! I have been drinking skim or 1% for as long as I can remember! So the rest of the day I went around feeling like garbage. Our mission doctor told me not to drink or eat anything but Sprite and it will pass. So I carried a bottle Sprite around that entire day. I was amazed how this literally was sucking the power and health out of me. I was dizzy and I had no strength. We were getting no work done because I physically couldn't do it that day. I felt so pathetic. This has never been like me to give up and not be up for a challenge of a hard day's work, but I caved. We had to go home and I just went to sleep. I slept from about 6 to 10 p.m. When I woke up we planned for the next day and then I was back to bed. I woke the next day and still wasn't feeling too much better, but I wasn't going to waste another day. ESL training was scheduled for that day at the church with all the American missionaries, so we headed on over. It was so great to see all the Americans! There are about 80 missionaries in Mongolia right now, with about 30 being American. It was a fun few hours to see everyone, and take some pictures. I met an elder from Henderson! His name is Elder Palmer and he graduated from Coronado HS! Crazy, huh? Weird how I had never heard that he was here and we live only 15 minutes away from each other back home.
The work is going great. As of right now, we have four investigators and two with baptismal dates. It is crazy how I can hardly understand what is being said in a lesson besides what I am speaking myself, but I can feel the Spirit so strong, and I feel such a love for the person we are teaching. That is such an amazing experience. I guess it comes with the Mantel of a Missionary, and I love it!
I'll close by saying that I know my work is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the leader of this church. It is His church. I am here for one reason, to bring souls unto Christ. I am so blessed to be here at such a crucial time, when Mongolians need the Gospel the most, and also when the Mongolian Saints have been told to prepare for a Temple!
"Kick and Stroke. Kick and Stroke." --The 4th Missionary--
Officially the coldest day of my life!
Elder Palmer and I. Elder Palmer is from Henderson and graduated from Coronado High School. It's ironic that I have gone around to the other side of the world to meet someone who lives only 15 minutes from me back home.
Elder Ulziibayer took this picture of me during study time.
A picture of a great family in our branch. This family is the family who lives at the top of the mountain. Cutest kids, right?!?
The birthday boy! The's a cool young man in our branch.
Elder Ulziibayer and I!
The birthday boy's sister, Elder U, and I.