Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Choibalsan is where the Lord wants me for now.

Dear Family,

So is everyone still in the Christmas Spirit, or is the tree down and homemade fudge gone?  Man, just know that the mission doctor's wife, Sister Lewis, had some real home made fudge in their office, and HOLY COW, it was so amazing!!  I just savored it for like 30 seconds and thought about one thing... American Food.  Then I realized I was sinning (haha), then I had to get out of there before those thoughts were impressed on my mind!

Anyways, let's start with Christmas here in Choibalsan. Tuesday night (Dec. 23rd),  we had a Branch party, and man what was looking like a total failure ended up being so good and the talk of the night by the RS President was so great!   There was like 25,000 Toogs (13 Bucks) in our Branch Account, so we just bought some Saa (like silver sparkly paper that hangs from the ceiling) and a great Santa suit for only 7,500 Toogs (3 Bucks)!   We planned a pot luck and just hoped members would bring food.  Also, I started a new tradition here in Choibalsan....the White Elephant Gift Exchange, but the way dad plays at the Fire Station, more competitive.  The members brought tons of food, and they LOVED the gift exchange!  Being Santa was fun, but eventually it got super tiring. Yes, I had parents forcing their crying, scared children to take a picture with me just like in the US.  Some things never change!  Anyway, it was a Total Success, and pretty much free!  Last year, they spent like 3,000,000 toogs on the Branch Christmas party, so everyone was AMAZED that we did that on 25,000 Toogs!

Christmas in Ulaanbaatar (UB):  on Christmas Eve, we flew in and went straight to Elder Papenfuss' apartment and spent a little too much time talking into the night.  Waking up on Christmas Morning was a little hard, but the excitement of talking to you guys got me going.  UB in the morning is a sight to see.  Smoke is layered like only ten feet off the ground.  And then there's the occasional frozen dog on the side of the road... gross, but that is My Mongolia and I wouldn't have it any other way!!  :)   Talking to you guys was great, and in my opinion 30 minutes was perfect.  Just got the good stuff out, and that was it.  I love you guys so much, but talking for an hour is hard (emotional) for all of us.  I missed talking to Matt and Ryan and their families, but I'm sure they understand since they are RMs. Actually, I didn't wanna see their ugly mugs anyways... saved the mission office a new monitor (their faces might have cracked it)!  HaHa!  We then started putting together tons of Christmas choir songs for the Mission Fireside, and that was great to sing Christmas songs in Mongolian!  Soon the Christmas Fireside started and everyone saw the Benson's new little baby boy.  Man, President was so proud!  The Fireside was great, and so was the Food.  All the missionaries sang plenty of songs and some were so funny. The Mongolian Elders sang an old Mongolian song called "Minii Eej" (My Mother), as a tribute to Mary, and man every sister in the house was in tears.  I have already starting to learn it :)

The next day, my companion and I went to the Zaak (Market) and bought some warm clothes and just looked for cool stuff.  Fun Fact: All cool stuff at the Zaak is in the Buddist and Shaman section, so it is super weird and sometimes uncomfortable when you hear people practicing banging on the Shaman drums for sale.  Anyways, we almost bought a wolf paw for like 12 bucks, but decided that was not a good idea.  There was also a whole freshly-killed wolf, gutted and all, for 130 bucks,  (They sale wolf stuff under the table because it is illegal to kill wolves in Mongolia, so when you talk to them about it, they are always super suspicious.)

Well, then that night, the 26th, we went to the baptism of an 8-year old girl whose family is all members.  It was super sweet, and I was so happy for the father and mother.  That night I went on splits with a new missionary from West Jordan, Utah, and it was just "flashback city" of me a year ago or so.  It was a good evening and we enjoyed our time together.  I feel so blessed to speak and understand the language as well as I do.  It is truly the hardest thing in the world to not be able to talk to anyone. The next morning, my comp and I were off to Choibalsan again, and back to real life.

As you read my last email, I know I sounded pretty bummed about staying in Choibalsan longer. I have been praying for help and just asking for the Lord to give me a renewed desire to serve in Choibalsan.  I can truly say that I have received those blessings and quite fast.....even before meeting with President Benson.  I just had the overwhelming feeling that all is well, and to stop worrying.  Just know, that all my feelings of sadness, are long gone.  The Lord truly blessed me and answered my prayers, and has helped me find strength beyond my own.  Yesterday at church, I was just so happy to be back in Choibalsan and to see the members. After church when we were closing down the chapel, Elder Tsend-Ayush and I just looked at each other and smiled.  It was such a great day!   But my meeting with President Benson really help to perk me right up too and it got my spirits going again.  He told me that my work here is not quite done yet, and that when we are in the service of the Lord it is not where we serve, but how.  He told me about that when he was a missionary, he served in one area for 16 months, and how it truly ended up being such a huge blessing to him.  He praised me left and right, and told me that I've been such a blessing to the Branch.  He also told me how great it is having no worries about the Choibalsan Branch.  I was not looking for that praise, but it was nice to hear.  You just feel so alone out here.....truly in Outer Mongolia.....like you never hear from the city (UB), and they never hear about you.  President Benson is....in a one word summary....a BOSS.....a GIANT (okay, that was two words).  Choibalsan is where I need to be, and where the Lord wants me for now.  I truly know that.   I will stay here for as long as He needs me here, and I can see success coming soon!

Until next week, Хайртай Шүү

Love you all,

Elder Harris

Pictures at the Branch Christmas Party, December 23rd

Can you guess who Santa is??

President and Sister Benson with their family and their brand new baby son!  So good to have them back!!

 Christmas morning in Ulaanbaatar!

Christmas Day with our new missionary, Elder Papenfuss, from West Jordan, Utah.  He and his companion have an awesome picture of the Waters of Mormon!

 Christmas Skyping with the family!

1 comment:

  1. So glad to hear he is feeling happier :) I am glad to hear that he had a good Christmas!