Well, this week is Naadam in all of Mongolia! Naadam is the huge summer holiday here where they have three huge events: Horse Racing, Archery, and Wrestling. But, since I am in Choibalsan, it will not be celebrated this week. They celebrate it on their own at the end of the July because we are so far away from any other population. I am pumped for it, but missionary work will be dead on those days. From what I hear, it will be like letting missionaries off on Christmas morning.
Before I get started telling you about my week, I have to tell you that the package that you guys sent so long ago was finally delivered to me on Thursday! How long did it take? Like 3 months, I think? I was so excited! Dad your letter brought me to tears and I will treasure it forever. I will also treasure Grandpa Harris' blanket you sent to me. I know he is watching over me here. I feel him sometimes, as weird as that may sound. I will write you a letter about my experience and my feelings about when I opened this package, I just don't have time today. Thanks again, mom and dad, for this box. I love you guys.
To answer some of your questions: Mongolians do play soccer but have no national team that I am aware of. They all love playing and watching it, though. I have been getting World Cup updates from people here. Last night I was at a new member's house teaching a lesson and the Brazil vs Netherlands game was on. It was fun to watch for a bit, but too distracting. Mongolians love the NBA too. Everyone's favorite team is either the Lakers or the Heat! Also, fishing has been good. We had a Mutual activity this past week and the theme was "Fishers of Men!" Haha! We just went out and had a spiritual thought from the account in the Bible where Jesus tells John and Peter to put down their fishing nets and "Come follow me" and he will make you fishers of men! It was was fun and the youth loved it. They love catching fish!
Anyways, the work is picking up, and we are finding and teaching. We had to drop a few investigators that were just 0% progressing. That is always hard, but sometimes necessary. Along with that, we have picked up a few new investigators! One being a 24 year old English teacher (she is Mongolian), named Munkhzolth. She is a really great person and has great potential! But sadly she did not come to church yesterday. When that happens, that is the WORST!! The other is actually a 9-year old little girl, named Namolthon, who is the daughter of two inactive Mongolian RM's (returned missionaries). Her parents called and told us that she needs to be baptized. Since she was not baptized at the age of 8, she will be considered a convert baptism. The father, Gansukh, served in the Oklahoma City Mission there in the states and has great English. He was also the Branch President here in Choibalsan 6 years ago. I hate to say this, but we really don't want to baptize her unless her parents are active, so we are really going to focus on reactivating them. I know they know the Church is true and important, otherwise they would not have called to have their daughter taught the lessons and then baptized. We are really going to push for the father to baptize his daughter, and not us. That is the way is should be.
I just want to take the time to say that I know this is where I need to be. We had a lesson with our new member family, Gerelthtsetseg & her daughters this week, and also mom's friend on Facebook, Sister Bolorerdene and her son, ErdeneMunkh, sat in. The lesson was short and simple, from Chapter 5 in PMG (Preach my Gospel), Learning and Teaching in the Church. As we taught, I was just overwhelmed with love and compassion for these two families. I just pray and hope that I can do something for them that will everlastingly lead them to our Savior. I can't describe what I'm talking about in detail. It is more of a "Marc" thing, but I LOVE these people. I speak somewhat weak Mongolian (compared to them), and I won't be around to have the relationship that I would dream of having with them, but I know they love me, and they make it known. I love them too.
I love this work Mom and Dad. I love Choibalsan with all my heart, and I do not look forward to the sad day when I am transferred from here. I know my Savior knows me and these members that are so new and fighting with everything they have to hold on. It is so evident. The hand of the Lord is here, I know this for certain. I feel it every day. I am so blessed to be a part of the great history of this growing Vineyard of the Lord.
"When nameless faces have become my best friends."
-Nashville Tribute Band
Until next week,
Me standing in front of one of our member's yard. That is the font door to their "hashaa" (fence). The only thing is... they don't have a fence.
Look what finally came! The box my mom and dad sent 3 months ago that we thought was lost forever. So excited!
This is my "emee" (grandma!). Her name is Purew, and she is 76. She was baptized about 8 years ago and is SO STRONG in the gospel! We love her! She feeds us homemade "huushuur" once a week, and man is it good! "Huushuur" is traditional Mongolian food, something like a scone with meat in it. Delicious!
The beautiful landscape of Choibalsan, in an area we tract quite often. The "Big Skies" of Montana have nothing on Choibalsan!
These are the children of two of our investigators inside their ger. This was what was for dinner... fortunately (for me!) we had another appointment and we had to "go"!
Another shot of "Whats for dinner!"
One more picture of Elder Odd and I from last week.