Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Our First Month in Mongolia

December 3, 2009 we left for our mission to Mongolia.  Here we are, ready to go, with all our suitcases and pockets stuffed.

Two other couples traveled with us--left to right:  Sister and BrotherAnderson, (Us) and Sister and Brother Powell

At the recommendation of a nice Korean church member we met on the plane we tried “Bi-bim-bop” in the Seoul airport. It was very different. Some of it tasted like eating grass or sticks.  The toppings were very hot.

The first thing we noticed on arriving in Ulaanbaatar was the smell of smoke.  Ulaanbaatar is the capitol city. There is a lot of air polution and smoke from the coal burned in the gers (traditional homes someimes called "yurts"). The temperature most days since we have been here is below zero-sometimes well below zero - but there is very little snowfall—just ice on the ground.

Here is a modern building (partially finished) in downtown Ulaanbaatar. Some people call it “the sail.”

This is the government building on Sukhbaatar Square. This is the site of many peaceful protestations in the past.

The do have Christmas trees in Mongolia!

We live on the third floor of this apartment building.

Here is our one-room office. We see sick missionaries here.

Shopping with Baatar (second from the right), our driver, and other missionaries. He carries all our packages and is a great help to us.

One special mission activity was to take all new missionaries to Zaisan hill where a special dedicatory prayer was said when the first mission was established in Mongolia (April 15, 1993).

We went there at 7:00 a.m. when it is still dark and the temperature was 40 degrees below zero.

We sang some songs and read the dedicatory prayer and had time for a few comments and pictures.  It was so cold my flashlight froze and wouldn't work.  My camera would only take pictures of the frost on the lense, so I borrowed these pictures!

The Mongolian church members are wonderful people. They are very dedicated and enthusiastic about the gospel. The young people are especially looking for direction in their lives and find great joy in the gospel.

Here we are on Zaisan hill. We dress warm here!

The senior couples played some Christmas carols on the bells for our Christmas program. We learned that it is harder than it looks to play the bells.

Christmas Eve at President Anderson’s home

Our first Mongolian food was ьууз (left) and хуушуур (right).  They are basically dumplings, but one is steamed and one is fried.  There are different fillings, but often lamb meat is used.  We also had a couple of Christmas cookies.

This nativity set shows a “ger” or typical round Mongolian home.

 For Christmas everyone dressed in traditional Mongolian clothes. Annette is wearing a “deel” and Clair has a Mongolian jacket.

These young American missionaries dressed up too!

The Mongolians like bright colors and they look beautiful in their holiday clothes. These pictures were taken at a special Christmas dinner and talent show we had with all the missionaries.

The missionary on the right is doing Mongolian “lung singing.” They sing from way down in their lungs and make very unusual sounds. I read that they can even sing a chord with more than one note at the same time.

These girls are doing a traditional dance of one of the Mongolian ethnic groups. It reminded me a lot of American Indian dances.

A special family we have gotten to know is Elder Khuder’s family. Here they are dressed in their traditional Mongolian clothes.

Elder Khuder is in kidney failure and we have been helping him get dialysis and possibly he can get a kidney transplant. His family invited us to their home (a “ger” or what we might call a yurt) for a family home evening.

In the middle of the ger is a stove used for heating the home and cooking. Around the sides are the beds. There is no running water or indoor plumbing and very little space. It is constructed of a wooden frame and thick fabric walls and roof.

Here is Tamira adding wood to the fire.

The people of Mongolia are becoming very special to us. We feel a lot of love for them and from them. They often have very little, but they do all their can to serve.

We hope you have a “Merry Christmas” and send our best withes to all of you for a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Clair and Annette Eliason