Monday, May 5, 2014

I love Choibalsan

Cauh yy?

This week has been literally the best week of my mission yet.  I love Choibalsan, and I really hope and pray that the Mission finds me a sponsor here so I can stay.  On Wednesday, a lady from the Mission Office (her name is Tuvshin) is flying here to work it all out.   Keeping my fingers crossed!   She's a great lady and I have faith that it will all work out.

So first off, I have never been more tired in my life as I am this week.  It's a good tired, though.   Monday through Thursday, waking up at 5:30 for Seminary really kills you.  It reminds me of my Seminary days when I was late like everyday.....(which I regret).  I love Seminary here, though.  The kids love it, and they love us.  Seriously.  We also receive like 100 American dollars a month from the Church to make breakfast for the kids each morning.  I make pancakes all the time for them, and they love the American food.  They think it is weird, but delicious.  So when Seminary is over we go home, shower and start our studies. We leave the apartment around noon and we are gone all day until about 9 pm.  We have a ton of responsibilities........Seminary, Institute, Mutual, Firesides, ect.  There is something to do everyday with regards to running the Branch, and whatever it is that day usually takes us a few hours, so we are at the church quite a bit everyday.  Honestly, getting this Branch up and running properly is the #1 task at hand, then missionary work.  I feel we are doing a good job at balancing it though, and teaching investigators and trying to re-activate less active members.  But the needs of the Branch require a lot of work. On Sundays, my companion and I teach Sunday School to the investigators and the youth, then we teach the Priesthood lesson to the youth.  There are not enough active adults to fill callings so we have to fill the gaps.   It's hard, but we just smile and keep working. I feel really outta my league with this Ward Clerk calling.  #1, no training. #2, MLS (the church data base software) is in Mongolian, and #3, I can speak Mongolian, but I have difficulty with reading comprehension.  So running the Branch Records and whatnot is a really difficult task.  I feel I'm in over my head, but I know I am receiving Heavenly help though. Sometimes it is just hard to recognize it when you feel like you are getting nowhere.  We know we have been entrusted with a "Stake in Zion" and we are doing our best to keep it going.   Did I tell you that I love my companion?  He is so great!  We have the same work ethic and outlook on how to accomplish things that need to be done.  We share the same desire to work and serve in this Branch.

I love the members here.  I received such a warm welcome and they all help me with the language so much.  I will be teaching a lesson and will stumble on some words and they will just smile and help me.  I love it!  At first, I was embarrassed, but I now am so grateful for it.  That being said, my language is getting a lot better. I mean A LOT.  Grammar is making sense and sentence structures are getting engrained in my head.  I especially love our new members in the ward.  Right before I came, my companion baptized six people.  They all have such solid testimonies and you wouldn't even think they were brand new members when you hear their understanding and see their faith.  Two women, Sister Ayone-Erdene and Sister Gelthinthestheg, are like our "moms away from home."  They are both new members of only a month, yet they feed us every night!   Literally such a blessing.  They have been teaching us how to cook Mongolian food.....well just me, because my comp already knows.  I got some new recipes for us to try when I get home!  I am pumped about that!

But hands down, the youth are the best.  There are like 5 boys and 5 girls and they are golden.  One 14-year old boy has become our best friend.  His name is Erdene Monkh.  He is seriously like 4-1/2 feet tall.  He helps me all the day long with my language and he is with us at literally every appointment and lesson, except when he's at school.  On Tuesday night we were walking him home.  It was a dark night and pretty cold.  Out of nowhere, Erdene Monkh took hold of my hand.  At first I was a little taken back.   I looked at him expecting him to be smiling at me to make a joke or something but he was just looking straight forward at the sidewalk ahead.  That is just Mongolians for you.  They are so loving and they just want to be accepted.  Erdene Monkh is 14, he's in the teachers quorum, and he's had a pretty rough life.  He has no dad, but his mother is really active and is the Primary President.   He sometimes gets picked on by the bigger kids because he is so small.   When we walked him up to his 5th story apartment, honestly I was a little scared.  By far the seediest apartment building I have been in here.  I mean there was a dead dog on the stairs, dim lighting, people drinking and smoking everywhere, and I had to breathe through my mouth because of the smell.  He let go of my hand as we walked down the hall to his apartment.  There was a group of about 5 big guys literally sitting right in front of his door smoking and drinking and going about being "merry."   But Erdene-Monkh walked right through them, unlocked the pad lock that keeps his door locked and we went into his apartment.  I couldn't help but give him a pat on the head for his bravery, and then he told us, "They won't mess with me."  Such a great kid.  I was humbled by his room, no bigger than 12 ft x 12 ft.   No kitchen, just a little room and a toilet.  Him, his mother, and another young man from the ward, Erdene Monkh's friend, live there.  But, then you look at the faith and bravery of this little 14-year old kid, you look at his mother's strong testimony and you realize that they are just fine.  They don't need more. They don't even know what "more" is because they are content with what they have and with their standing in the Lord's Kingdom.  I hope we can all strive to be like this 14-year old boy and his mom.  He now holds our hand whenever we walk him home and its dark.  He just needs to feel loved and protected.  We will be his best friends and his example.

The work is great. About six investigators strong, four being youth that were brought to church by their friends!  I love it. One kid, Erdene Monkh's best friend, a 14-year old boy named Tsengoon, will be baptized on May 16th!  Too early for river baptisms, but in the summer, we do RIVER baptisms!  I am pumped for that!  This Sunday we had 6 investigators that came to church.  Majority were youth.  I love it. We are building Zion, and we are baptizing future missionaries and church leaders here in Mongolia.

Fun Facts:  I ate sheep liver this week. It was a solid meal, I really liked it actually.   We had a 28-year old woman from Atlanta, Georgia in Church yesterday.  She is in the Peace Core and lives here.  We invited her to church and she came!  We taught the investigator class in half-Mongolian and half-English.  It was pretty cool.  I kinda don't like teaching in English anymore!  You want to be too detailed and you just spit out too much information.  Teaching in Mongolian is great because I am forced to teach simple doctrine.  I just thought that was a weird comparison.  I did not think I would walk away from teaching a lesson in English with a negative feeling.  She was great, but she said because of Peace Core rules she can't take our lessons.   I kinda wonder about that, but it's Okay. She thanked us and said she had always been impressed with Mormons.  Hope to see her back again.

I love you all.  Basketball is calling.

Elder Harris

This is a really strong family in our Branch. They made us dinner a few night back. 

The kid in green is one of our investigators, Tsengoon, and his best friend, 
and our BFF, Erdene Monkh!

We put together a clean the church service activity, and we had quite a few people show up! Here is a pic of all the people who came. The Relief Society sisters made food and the men worked. The three boys in the back are all investigators and the woman with the yellow stripes is also. So great!

The yard had like over 3 feet tall weeds covering the whole thing, and after 3 hours it looked great! Still not done though!

Blue skies! This is the city center! They call it the "Golthompt."

In our office at the church. 

Hoop Vision. The nicest court in Choibalsan. 


  1. Most amazing! That little 14 year old is just - wow. I am so happy for Elder Harris! Yeah!

  2. Hi Marc! I was that Peace Corps Volunteer you mentioned in this post. I hope all is well with you! I am in America now, but I have enjoyed reflecting through some of your writings on here.