Tuesday, July 6, 2010

June part 2

This is a continuation of the blog for June.  June 23 and 24th we had a "senior outing" for senior missionaries.  Below you can see us getting ready to leave.

Our first stop was at "Thirteenth Century" a theme park to show what Chingis Khaan's camps were like.  He developed a series of camps for different purposes.  This is his guard camp and was used to train guards.  This was the flag of Chingis Khaan--the valcon on a  blue sky.  Do you recognize this fierce Mongolian Warrior?If you look closely you can see that this camel's humps are bending over--it needs more water!  (Mongolian camels are Bactrian or two-humped camels.)

This was the herdsmen and family camp.  They get cashmere from the goats by combing them in the early spring.  Cashmere sweaters are very soft!  The sheep are sheared with large scissors. 

Here is a Mongolian family.

A warrior and his fair maiden.....

At one of the camps they had a "king's ger."  Supposedly this is where Chingiss Khaan would have lived and enterntained when he was in the area.
This picture is from the Religious Camp.  Shamanism is the ancient religion of Mongolia before Buddhism was brought in.  There were five types of Shamans--from 5 parts of Mongolia.  They don't talk much about their beliefs.  Many Mongolians today are afraid of Shamans. 
This large statue of Chingis Khaan is quite new.  When you visit this statue you can go inside and come out on the horse's head to enjoy the view.   Chingis is holding a golden whip.  There is a saying, "Every Mongolian can conquer the world if he takes his whip in his hand."
Our lodgings for the night were quite comfortable!In the morning we went for a horse ride.This is a view from a monastery high up a mountainside.  When the Russians came to Mongolia they killed most of the Buddhist Monks (by getting the populace to do the killing).  100 escaped from here and hid out in some nearby caves.

These cannisters go around when you push the handle to "roll" them.  You put names on a paper and put them in the prayer "roll" and it helps those people to be healed.These cannisters went all the way around the monastery.  This monastery is used today by people who want to be healed.  (Personally I think if you could make the climb to the monastery you probably had pretty good health!)

Here is "Hor-Hog" being prepared.  It is much like a dutch oven stew, but they put hot rocks from the fire inside with the meat and vegetables to help it cook.  When it is done people take the hot rocks in their hands and pass them quickly from hand to hand and back.  This is supposed to be good for your health also.  Just don't burn your hands! On this day we were at a camp in the countryside as part of our Summer English Camp (more below).

We taught a two-week English Camp for the teachers of English at the Health Sciences University.  Most of them were Russian teachers, but when the Russians left about 17 years ago they had to start teaching English. We really enjoyed getting to know these Mongolians better.  During the academic year we also teach English at the University.  Two students from BYU Hawaii came to help with the camp. They are in the red and white shirts near the middle.  We consider working with these people and others we teach one of the rewards for coming here.  They are a very special people.

Monday, July 5, 2010

June 2010 - Long summer days

June 1 in Mongolia is "Women's and Children's Day."  All the children had new clothes.  The streets and squares were filled with entertainments for children.  The girls looked so pretty in their fancy dresses and the boys in their new shirts and pants!
Sukhbaatar Square was filled with booths of all kinds.  It was fun to see families out together. 

 Everyone was taking pictures so I had to take this one of Clair and his sumo-partner.

June 4th was our anniversary. We got special permission to go to Terelj, a national park near Ulaanbaatar to celebrate. We went horseback riding on the short Mongolian horses. Above you can see some cows and yaks. The long hair on the yaks sways from side to side as they walk. We crossed the river several times on our ride getting our shoes wet

These pictures are from Youth Conference. Youth from 14-18 came from all over Mongolia. Some traveled three days and two nights on buses over very rugged roads just to get there (and the same on the way home). You can see youth here making a baby quilt as part of the service project. About 350 youth were there.

The theme of the Youth Conference was "Be Strong."  It was very moving to hear them sing the theme song. 

We had a talent show, lots of classes, a dance, devotionals, and time for scripture reading.  The camp was in a lovely green setting in the mountains.  There were lots of wild flowers. 

Sister Mary Cook (a counselor in the YW general Presidency) and her husband came to the youth conference.  He was the first mission president in Mongolia.  He talked about "leveraging your life with the gospel."  Here is his lever demonstration.

Small groups met in the trees for instructions.

In this picture you can see Naraa helping us wash some apples.  Naraa is always doing service.  This morning she got up at 5:00 a.m. and walked to the camp.  It took her 4 hours!
It was a delight to see small groups on the hillsides reading their scriptures in the early morning.  Most, if not all, of these youth attend early morning seminary.  Sometimes they walk to seminary in the dark with 40 degree-below-zero weather!
Sister Cook (on the left) gave a workshop on the new YW program and talked about preparing for the temple.
This wonderful sister is from Bulgan.  We just opened a branch there a couple of months ago.  She was baptized less than a week before Youth Conference and was made YW President.  People here are amazing!

This is the road to the camp. No, it is not an 8-land highway! There are very few paved roads outside of the cities.  You pick the path that looks the best.  If it is not good enough, you just make a new one!  This was a very bumpy ride!

We enjoyed seeing a Mongolia Culture show with Brother and Sister Cook while they were in Mongolia.  This man was doing "lung singing" which has a sound I cannot describe.

Here is our "Family Home Evening" group.  The like to play games.  This one is called "Oo-Ah."  Groups of 5 people make up a short movement (with sounds).  Each group has to do their movement and then another group's movement.  Then that group does their own followed by another.  It is quite fun to watch.  But very difficult for us to play because the words sound like a bunch of strange sounds.
Here we are in our office.

We teach English at the Health Sciences University of Mongolia.  We also helped Deseret International Charities with a project to fix up a language learning lab for them.  This is our opening ceremony.  It was fun to see the improvements being made.  In addition to the lab that we helped with, each teacher took her own initiative (and I think her own expense) to fix up a room.
In this picture are:  Back: Nimaa, Naraa, Boloroo.  Front: Clair, Annette, Byankhuu.  We teach this group (a family and a nurse who works for them) English lessons.  They work very hard.  They heard about our wedding anniversary and bought us Mongolian wedding rings.  We had to present each other with the ring.  It was very fun and very nice of them to do. 

One sad note: Another couple went with us to Terelj since they also had an anniversary.  Unfortunately, he had a heart attack.  Fortunately, he had a doctor with him.  But there were no facilities to take him to.  After two hours we miraculously got them to the hospital that takes care of heart problems.  The services there, however, were practically non-existent.  I thought this little Buddhist shrine in the hospital room was interesting.  Prayer was the best medicine available.  Clair ended up accompanying them to the U.S. for further medical treatment the next week.