Monday, March 25, 2013

What fun!

Just to illustrate how different this mission is from other missions...

As far as the government is concerned, we are only English teachers.  Then, in our spare time, we are permitted to talk to people about the Gospel of Christ, but only by invitation. That's why there is no proselyting.  Or street contacting.  But, nevertheless, we have a lot of investigators.  If people ask what we're doing, we usually respond "English teachers," but that doesn't stop us from having wonderful investigators.  

All the American missionaries only can serve in Ulaanbaatar, where there are about twenty different areas.  Our English teaching assignments stay the same the whole two years.  Currently, we both are an hour commute away from our assigned schools because we live in the absolute farthest apartment for missionaries, but most of my other areas should be in walking distance of my work. I start next week, by the way! When we teach, the teaching missionary teaches and his companion just waits and studies.  Not the best situation, but it is how it works.  Now, my companion and I will probably overlap, which usually doesn't happen.  We'll just have to figure it out! That's what you do on a mission.  

The Lord gives us success.  There is no way we could teach here, what with English-teaching and no contacting of any kind, if the Lord didn't prosper our work.  This really is the Lord's work, and he will forward it.

This is a great mission. By great, I mean, occasionally frustrating and difficult, but also great.  If missions were measured by the tastiness of the food and your freedom to contact people, it wouldn't be very good.  But since missions are measured by the worth of the souls we are here to teach, Mongolia is the best mission.

By the way, so far, I have met Mongolians who speak all the languages I know best: French, German, Russian and Chinese. What fun! 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mongolia is Great!

Mongolia is full of new and intriguing experiences, but it's great!  My companion is a good cook, and we have been experimenting with various ways to cook chicken, potatoes, peppers, and so on.  Our little kitchen is workable; our apartment was built in the Soviet era.

We have some great investigators, and I love teaching the Gospel. Our ward is nice.  I spoke on my first Sunday there.

So, being a missionary in Mongolia is complicated.  We live in the weirdest mission, I'd say. We can't proselytize in public, but we can teach in private.  Missionaries who are not native Mongolians are not allowed to go door to door or to approach people in public.  We have to be quiet when we are out and about, but we can teach freely when we are introduced to someone in private.  We do not talk about the Church when we are teaching English at our jobs.  The native missionaries are free to speak to strangers in public.  It's challenging because I want to talk to people, but the law won't allow it at present.  But, as the scriptures say, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God.  So everything we go through here is completely worth it for the people we do teach and baptize.  And nothing we have to do here is in vain, so long as we are working hard and doing our best.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Frozen Steppes of Asia

Guess where I am!  That's right! The cold steppes of Asia!  Actually, it is not that cold now.  Some days.  Except for a few days ago when we had to walk around in a frigid ice-sand storm.  Cold deserts are fun!

The flight was like all flights, really long but you survive.  Going to Korea was cool! The airport was more like a mall with airport terminals stuck on, so many shops!

So, I got here Sunday night (3 March) and spent the night with two Elders who I then followed around on  Monday for their P-day activities.  They took me to the Church office building, and we went to the airport to pick up the rest of my district that was arriving on a later flight.  Then we started normal missionary stuff.  We read Elder Maxwell's dedicatory prayer on Zaisan Hill where he first gave it.  Then we did various things at the office, got some training, and met our companions.  Mine is Elder Lloyd, which is funny because his name is pronounced the same in Mongolian as it originally should have been in Welsh!  What a coincidence.  We live in Onor, the farthest western area of Ulaanbaatar.

My companion teaches English at a private elementary school, and he has between 1-4 hours of class during the day Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.  During that time, I study language and read the Book of Mormon, but I will soon also be planning to teach my own English class.  I'm not sure yet, but it sounds like I will be teaching at a sort of community college, or rather, a school between high school and university.  But I probably won't start until April, so they say.  Anyway, I will be an "employee" of the school, giving tests and issuing grades and all that.  It will be cool.  You may wonder how we can teach any missionary lessons with a part time job.  But we are plenty busy, mostly because Mongolians are awesome!  Essentially, we replace tracting time with English time, and then we teach investigators we meet through referrals, and it's great.

The food is ... interesting.  It's hard to get a cold drink, but we can buy delicious juices at the store.  Most drinks are heated (go figure, it's cold here).  One drink is called hyerem; if you want to taste it, mix milk (the irradiated, Mongolian kind) with water and a lot of salt, then drink very warm.  It's an acquired taste.  I could go for some lemonade.

Elder Lloyd is a pretty good cook.  We made some sort of chicken stir fry a couple of times.  Once we had a stroganoff of sorts, which was like stir fry but with horse instead of chicken.  That was pretty tasty.  Dried sour milk curds are not tasty.  But I'll get used to them.

It looks ... cold!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Joshua landed in Mongolia on Monday, March 4th.  His new companion is Elder Lloyd and his mission president is President Clark.  His new mailing address is the mission home.

Joshua wrote a short letter just before he left the MTC, clearly anxious to leave and be on his way.  He wrote: "If you want to know how I feel at this moment, just put on a suit coat and go sit in your room for three hours.  To know what I will feel like next week, go outside without a jacket and lay in the snow... Hey! Why did the missionaries cross the Pacific? To get to the mission on the other side!  Hah! Hey, what was Genghis Khan's favorite position in soccer?  Mon Goalie!  Wait, wait, where is the best city in the world to get Christmas pancakes? Julen-batter!  Sorry, that was lame.  Where is the grass actually always greener on the other side?  You-lawn-better! I had better stop.... A poorly planned pun is like the color purple: you were only half-ready so you blew it."

Anyone can tell Joshua was getting a little stir crazy, but then this is actually pretty classic Joshua.  He will write next week on his P-day.