Monday, September 23, 2013

Busy Schedule

For a P-Day, I seem to be pretty busy!  I taught English classes from 10-2 and then did translation work for deaf members from 2-4. But that's okay. We do have a deaf investigator who is progressing toward baptism, and we are grateful for that.

I went to the countryside again on a training split.  It was far enough away that we spent the night--sleeping on the floor on some blankets.  It was a fun opportunity, but I'm realizing that being in the city all the time isn't so bad.

I was thinking last week about how the scriptures often speak of Christ as a Prophet, which might seem strange because Christ is more than a prophet; He is also the Creator and Redeemer.  Well, I considered that the root of prophet in Greek is pro phemi, which means "to speak in behalf" (of God).  Prophets fulfill this role throughout the scriptures, whether they are called as the president of the Church or are also a Seer and Revelator or, like with some Old Testament Prophets, just have a quick message to deliver.  But Christ is the Greatest Prophet.  For the duration of the Old Testament, He spoke on behalf of the Father and represented His Will and Divinity, directing the affairs of Israel and being for all effects the Father Himself.  When Christ came among the Nephites, the Father said that in Christ, He had glorified His Name.  He had given His name and authority to Christ throughout history and Christ had, of course, done exactly as the Father Himself would.  But in this light, it seems to me very fitting that Christ is called a Prophet, as no greater Being has ever spoken on behalf of the Father with more perfection.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Random Notes

Mongolia is an interesting place to live.  Food involves some kind of meat, oil, dough (or rice), carrots or potatoes, onion and other spices, and fat.  They are combined in various quantities and forms but are more or less the same.  Khurag (which means 'a piling together') is basically all these things fried and steamed in a pan.  Tsuyuan has no potatoes and a lot more dryish noodles.  Shul means "soup," which has a lot more water and oil.  My favorite is Khuushuur, which takes the dough and instead of noodles makes it like some sort of scone filled with meat and the other basic ingredients listed above.  Buuz are like Khuushuur, but instead of the scone the are more like Chinese dumplings.  We also eat potato salad.  We make mostly Khurag and Tsuiwan at home; we used to get chicken but recently we have been getting horse meat because it is inexpensive, tasty, and lean.

Ulaanbaatar combines rich and poor in an interesting way.  Near the center of the city, huge malls and skyscrapers give the feeling of Japan or Korea.  However, outside the apartments and city center the city is surrounded by a huge thick ring of ger koroolol (tent district).  This is composed of a net of streets dotted by wooden or cement houses about 1,000 sq. feet or less.  Among them are countless yurts (ger, tents) that are round and white like you see in photos.  They are relatively small but will house an entire family.  These yurts have electricity and a TV but not running water.  The inhabitants of these dwellings include people from all walks of life, from college students to employees of various types of companies.  Many of the people we teach the Gospel to live in such homes.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Did I Say Winter is Coming?

Well, it snowed today.

We had a lot of new missionaries come in last transfer.  It has been easier lately for American missionaries to get their visas.  That's why the other zone leader and I each also train new elders.  It's good, though. As zone leader, it is important for me to uphold the rules and be a good example. I enjoy it.

I'm still translating for deaf members at Church, and I'm settling into teaching English classes again.  It looks like I will be teaching a lot this semester.  I make it a point not to speak Mongolian in my class, so the students will have to speak English.  It's hard, though, to get many students to participate in small discussions or other such activities.  That's necessary for language learning, so I'll try some different things.

We had a pretty good week and started teaching a few new investigators.  We met a nice deaf family on the bus and hope to be able to teach them the Gospel. I have seen the Lord bless our work.

Did I mention it snowed ... in September?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Winter is Coming

Fall is here, and winter will be along soon in Mongolia. I don't think it got much past 80°F here all summer, which is hot compared to -40°F, which is what we have to look forward to. 
We had good attendance among deaf members and investigators at Church Sunday. One of our investigators came, but he left before we could meet with him. I decided to pray with my companion to decide if we should go to his  house to meet with him, since we had just met yesterday. While praying, I felt we ought to go. We took the 30-or-so minute busride to his house and got there, and he was out. As we were walking toward another investigator, we saw him on the street, and we went back with him! I felt we were blessed for following the Spirit. We had a nice lesson about the plan of salvation and the importance of baptism.  

Another of our investigators is just in the process of learning sign language, but she is making great progress in her ability to comprehend what we are teaching.  The Lord works through the Spirit, and this is helping her learn. We always tell our investigators they don't need to just believe us, but they must ask for themselves.  There can't really be conversion without the Holy Ghost.

I'm a zone leader this transfer, still assigned to teach in sign language. I'm also training, which is interesting. We two zone leaders are in the same appartment along with our two trainees. Mine is Elder Baldandorj and my fellow zoneleader Mainbayar has Elder Erikson.  We are all working on meeting with members in our ward boundaries to find more people to teach.

I started teaching my English class again this week.  This semester I have one class that meets twice a week for 90 minutes each.  Most of my new students (20 of them) have very little English.  My class is a "conversation practice" class, so I have to figure out how to help them converse when they don't have much experience at all.  It will be interesting. We had an opening ceremony on the first day: the principal had me say something inspiring and motivational to the students and other teachers, then some famous singers sang two songs that were very nice, and the year had begun!

Elder Sims and his companion in downtown Ulaanhaatar.