This weekend was Tsagaan sar, the traditional Mongolian (and Chinese and elsewhere) Lunar New Year. There are a lot of traditions in Mongolia.
This Heviin Boov (pastry castle) isn't eaten until the 5th or 6th day of the lunar new year, so it is more for display on the first few days. If you visit a family, the host shares some of the cooked mutton. Don't worry, we didn't share in any of the drinks on the table....We did eat the traditional buuz I have written about before. They are meat dumplings.
We also were allowed to wear traditional deel (pronounced daylth) on the New Year. When you visit a home, you walk over to the eldest man and greet him traditionally by putting your arms under his arms and then putting your head to the right and left side of his head and saying traditional greetings.
As we visited the homes where we were invited, we couldn't do a lot of missionary work because people were too involved in the holiday. But a man on the bus was impressed with my deel and spoke to me in Russian. I understood him but responded in Mongolian. He asked us to call him. We will see if he is interested in the Gospel. Do I look Russian?
|Elder Sims and Elder Hill on the bus in Ulaanbaatar. With a photo-bombing Mongolian.|
|Out in the cold in a deel.|
At one point, we were invited over by a man one of my old companions had contacted, and he invited us over for tsagaan sar. It turns out he was a retired Buddhist monk. He was very polite and I learned a bit about Buddhism. He had a very nice family. It would be wonderful to teach them, but he didn't seem very interested in Christianity. He said he doesn't oppose it at least.
I gave a talk about tsagaan sar in Sacrament Meeting and compared the New Year celebration to renewing baptismal covenants with the sacrament. Just as it is a cultural duty on tsagaan sar for people to visit all parents and older siblings and traditionally greet them, and people are saddened if someone doesn't come, I mentioned people who had been baptized and weren't coming back to renew their covenants. I encouraged everyone to reach out and invite back people they know.
So, happy new year. We will be glad to get back to our regular schedule of teaching and working with members later in the week.