Sunday, March 6, 2011

February - Tsagaan Sar is the beginning of spring

Tsagaan Sar is the Mongolian New Year celebration.  There are many customs and traditions.  One of them involves the platter of sheep meat you see here--all parts included.  They are arranged in a special way.  For three days people visit their relatives and friends and enjoy their traditional foods.
Some of us senior couples enjoyed celebrating with our MTC tutor's parents.  In the middle of the table is a traditional "cake" made from layers of "cookies" and other sweets.  This cake is taller if you are older, but always has an odd number of layers.  We don't eat it during the celebration, but can eat candies from it.
The most important part of the Tsagaan Sar meal are buuz.  They are a type of steamed dumpling filled with mutton.  People prepare 500-5000 of these in preparation for Tsagaan Sar.  It is their favorite food.
Here is Dashdavga.  His Mongolian deel is typical of the Buriat tribe. 
This is the family of Dashdavga and Enkhjargalan.  They had three children (one in the U.S. and Enkhbayar and Baigalmaa in the picture).  Then they felt they should adopt two little boys.  After that they adopted two nephews whose parents have died.  We admire them for the good they are doing for these little boys.  They have had them all sealed to them in the temple. 

Dashdavga and Enkhjargalan in their Buriat deels.  Enkhjargalan says hers reminds her of a pioneer dress.

In a snowy woods...   (these are larch trees, which look like pine trees in the summer, but lose their needles in the winter.)
Mongolian countryside scene (near where we cross-country ski)
A special treat for us was visiting the home of Bayankhuu's 84-year old mother on Tsagaan Sar.  She was very excited to have Americans visit her home.  She sang some traditional Mongolian "Long Song," and really belted it out!
One of our primary children-- doesn't she look lovely in her traditional clothes!

This is her grandmother and Aunt in their traditional clothes.
We visited a children's shelter with the Lassons who were doing a project there for Deseret International Charities (the church's charity organization).  They donated an industrial refrigerator and and industrial cooker.  They also donated bedding and school supplies.  A few other organizations joined in and the children got toys and neck warmers, etc.  These children are abandoned.  The shelter works to find their parents or to find them another place to live.
Here are the Lassons making their presentations and receiving a recognition award. 
About 30 children from this shelter were chosen to go to a home that teaches them music.  They have formed a musical group and give concerts.  It is wonderful to see what they can do.  Four of them came and played the Murun Khorn (Mongolian traditional instrument). 
A women's group in Ulaanbaatar knitted neck warmers for all the children.
Baatar (a driver for the mission) has taken us into the countryside to cross-country ski several times.  This time he brought his grandson and it was fun to watch them having fun. 
Another pretty view of the larch trees on a sunny day.
Clair skiing in his wolf fur hat.

We pass this woman on the way to our English lessons.  She is out on the sidewalk selling things (mostly candy and cigarettes) even on the coldest days. 
One day when we went to ski we came across a competition.  It was fun to watch them ski.  Sometimes they have competitions where they ski and also do some shooting as part of the event.  They also have skiing with archery.
This our translator, Zaya, and her husband and daughter.  Her husband was baptized this month and we are very happy for them.
The work is going well here.  We are always learning to appreciate more things about the wonderful people here .  There is much to do before we leave Mongolia.  We hope we will get some of it done.