Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Final day in Monglia

This is a close-up of how the city generates electricity and heat for UB by heating coal.

We wanted to do a project in this district, but this governor only has an industrial area--the project sites were really not needed--we will look further in this same district.

In this area there was one water station that no longer was being used as a dump station--instead, they were getting city water and no one seemed to be suffering.  

The Broadway Pizza has several restaurants in UB.  It is the same place we ate in the 'Marilyn Monroe' room.  The music softly piped in is American.  The other day I had the best salmon meal ever here--and it cost about $10!

It was finally time to leave, so we took a goodbye picture with Elder & Sister Nay and our translator, Mugi.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Looking for future possible water project sites

This is one of our church buildings--the opening to the left is part of this pretty building.

Above and below, the church building where we attended church on Sunday.  A police station is being built next to it, and from the other (main road), it obscures our building.  The workers saw the finish work on our building and wondered how it was done so well...but from what we've seen, their buildings look pretty good to us.

The side view of our church building.

Mugi & Nay's are standing there with a few politicians and people that came out to meet them.  The politicians like to be seen doing something for the people, and the people want to have a chance to ask for something from their politicians, so everyone is happy to be there.  Note that no one is very warm right now--the wind makes this sunny day a very cold one--almost like it is coming off of snow, except there isn't much snow around.

We always like to visit local kiosks to find out how much water they sell and other information.  This one had just run out of water and they were all waiting for the water truck to show up.  He sells a lot of water at this place.

They are putting in the curb, and then will add an asphalt sidewalk next to it.  We have been surprised at how many good roads they have even in the outskirts of the city.
All the people are trying to sell the last of their vegetables--it is beginning to freeze.

On the left is the wood--the sacks are filled with coal, which most people use for heating and cooking.

We were amazed at the lovely medium strips they have dividing some roads, but after sitting in traffic we wished they'd make them narrower and add more lanes!

As you can see, they city has some pretty good infrastructure--traffic markings on the street, and even a signal.  Note on the left side of the street the lanes are pretty stopped up.  We add an hour leaving and coming back into the city--if it weren't for the traffic we'd save a couple of hours each day.

Note the hygiene instructions painted on the walls of this water station.

We have seen many of these places--it is some kind of Buddhist worship site.  Note on the right side below the brick home with the white fence.  They want to put a borehole on this side of the fence because the water is available on the other side of these homes, which are being blocked by these homes.  They have been asked to sell a narrow strip of land and fence it off so that people could access the water--they won't do it, so they want something on this side of the fence.

In this same area we were told that someone found something-or-other that was ancient on this man's property and so they've set up a dig operation--I wonder if the guy is happy that people are camping on his lawn and digging it up?  Maybe he is getting something for the bother of it.
We liked this spot better than the other one behind the white fence.

They wanted us to build on this landfill area--we told them if we did build, it would be on solid ground in this same area.

We want to add some type of sign on our future water projects, reminding the people about their hygiene training.

It was so warm inside this water station that we all wanted to stay there--she was burning coal and it was toasty!

Look how modern some parts of UB are.

We took Mugi to a late lunch here at the Broadway Restaurant where I had a rummy salmon dinner for about $10!

Tomorrow we travel a bit further to check out one more area and then will pick the best areas to turn in future water projects.  It will be a long day.  Tomorrow night we'll be heading home.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sweet Success, in Mongolia

We finally found some beautifully built buildings, that were also selling a lot of water!  This is a dump station, where the truck backs up the ramp and dumps the water.  The tanks are 7,000 liters.  These water points are receiving 1-3 water dumps every day they are open.  They are closed Mondays and Thursdays. 

 They have nice steel doors, and below, notice that they also have interior doors.  

This lady totally decorated her space.  People are hired to sell the water, which they turn over to the government and then receive a set salary.  One lady wanted her place to look nice and didn't want to wait for the government, so painted the interior or her kiosk herself.

Walking toward one of the dump stations.  It was a very cold day today--it was supposed to get up to 46 degrees.  The wind made it feel colder, but it was sunny.

Each one of the buildings looked so nice.

We saw this little one as we walked about.

I can't help taking yet another picture of the city from above.

Sister Nay says that they have these little workout equipment parks all over the place.  There was also a rugged basketball court next to it and other equipment to either play on or work out on.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A few more pictures, Mongolia

He stopped smiling when I took his picture, but he had been excitedly playing with his Happy Factory Car.

Elder & Sister Nay's kitchen--a little bit small.  I asked if I could help with the dishes--she said it was too small for two people to do dishes.  I used to have a small oven like that in Kenya--I called it my 'Susie Bake Oven'.  I loved it though--everything cooked much faster!

The church even had an upstairs.  It was so pretty.

Above & below, views from our window on this very cloudy, snowy, and windy Sunday.

Sister Nay talking with Jim in her living room.  Their leather sofa was really nice!

Saturday & Sunday in Mongolia

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Yesterday we spent the morning relaxing so that E/S Nay could get things done on their P-day (preparation day) and then went for a very long walk with them that afternoon.  Traffic is impossible so we often walk to beat the taxis getting to where we want to go, plus exercising feels good and keeps us warm.  We walked to what is called the ‘black market’ where they sell knock-offs.  On the outskirts of the marketplace it is not so crowded, but once you get into the heart of it, it becomes rather claustrophobic.  I am not much of a shopper anyway, so after a while I just wanted to get out of there.  Jim would love to have purchased tennis shoes (they are very reasonable) but no one sells his size 13 shoe, let alone sometimes even at home.  They had all kinds of goods to sell including food and it seemed to go on forever—it would be easy to get lost in the maize of shops.

The not so crowded outer part of the ‘black market’ where you can walk without being pushed out of the way. 

Afterwards we went to the puzzle museum.  The puzzle creator is old now, but he made his first puzzle when he was 11 years old.  These are usually made of wood, and are fitted pieces—you know the kind you can’t seem to put back together right.  Unfortunately they don’t allow pictures, but there were puzzles that were tiny and huge and everything in between.  I didn’t know this but they have international puzzle fairs each year and give prizes, which of course this man has many of.  His display tables were also fitted pieces of puzzles, and many had inlaid semi-precious stones.  My mind cannot think in these terms and I could not do one of these even simpler puzzles.  The young woman guide would say, “He will give you $1,000 if you can put this puzzle together in 10 minutes.”  Then she would take it apart for us.  We didn’t even try.  In all these years, no one has ever managed to win any money from him.  There were toys, magic tricks, and dolls on display from every country, and two Ger’s (traditional homes) to walk into.  The women always go in on the right side because that is where the ‘kitchen’ is.  The men always enter on the left, where their ‘stuff’ is.  

We had walked a very long way and were so grateful to get back to the hotel to rest our weary feet.

Interesting facts: *When in tight spots like the marketplace, people don’t bother to say excuse me—they simply push you out of the way.  *The black marketplace, because the aisles are full of people and it is narrow, is a good place to get robbed.  Elder Nay was robbed, but the only thing he had in his back pocket was his handkerchief—he got it back anyway, just because he wanted to let them know that they couldn’t get away with it.  They had tried to divert his attention by two guys having a scuffle, while the third guy picked his pocket.  One of the missionaries had his backpack slit—because of the shoving, he didn’t even know anything had happened till later.  *I was terribly confused by the fact that this hotel is called the Chinggis Khaan and everything else is named using this spelling.  Hadn’t we all grown up learning about the great and terrible Genghis Khan?  The reason they have changed his name is because Genghis means crazy, and since they revere him, they changed his name—what Chinggis means, we do not know.  They revered him because he united all the Mongol tribes and encouraged religious tolerance and he is considered the founding father of Mongolia.  The terrible part was when he and his descendants conquered and massacred other nations.  *Corrections to my spelling: tukruk (money) is spelled tug rug, but it sounds like the way I spelled it.  I also have since seen the word for Harrow (sections within a District) spelled Khoroo, but also sounds the way I spelled it, with a guttural sounding ‘Kh’.  *We asked about drug use in the country.  It seems their biggest problem is alcohol.  We have seen several drunken men since we’ve been here—we are talking extremely drunk.  *Obviously they just love to spit because you see it all over the ground.  *When in a restaurant you can order hot water—I prefer my hot water with chocolate in it!  You can also order hot milk.  Elder Nay felt that they serve hot water for two reasons—one to warm you up, but also to show that the water is boiled and safe to drink.  So, one night we drank hot water with our meal because they brought it to us unasked for—surprisingly, it wasn’t so bad.    

***It is 7:30 AM Sunday morning here in Mongolia and it is 4:30 Saturday afternoon in California.  We got to witness the baptism and confirmation of one of our granddaughters (CJ) via Skype—who would have thought, even a few years ago!  Technology is amazing, and today we are especially grateful for it!

We took a taxi to church because I can’t walk far in my church shoes and it was VERY cold—icy winds blowing, snowing lightly.  Luckily, it will be the coldest day of our trip.  Some of our church buildings here look like ones in Utah, made of brick, and are nice-looking and they are beautiful inside as well.  It is a shame that they only have about 30% activity here.  About 30 people attended Sacrament meeting.  All the people in this branch are from the Ger district (meaning they live in traditional homes and are usually poor).  At church an American missionary translated for us in Sacrament meeting and Sunday school.  He translated in Priesthood for the men but in Relief Society Sister Nay and I just read our scriptures because the only English speaking sister was giving the lesson.  We handed out some of the items we brought to donate—some have been given to others for their branches.  We gave out blankets, ties, a few toys, and some dresses.  Afterwards we were invited to have dinner with the Nay’s.  They have a nice, cute apartment and we had a wonderful dinner.

Inside the chapel where we attended church.                                 

                  These ladies will deliver some of the donations when they go Visiting Teaching.  They were all so grateful for the dresses, toys, ties and blankets.  Many were distributed to other Branches.                           

Since a typhoon is finding its way to Hong Kong, we are wondering if we’ll be able to get home this week.  I guess we will see.  We have been listening to the sad news in Kenya where we still have many friends and pray for them and all other places where we have heard of natural disasters and man-made terrorism.  Times like these can make us feel rather depressed, but I always think of what our church leaders say that we should have hope and feel the peace that comes from Jesus Christ. 

Love, mom & dad, Jim & Karen, Elder & Sister Greding

Friday, September 20, 2013

More pictures, Friday travels.

Above and below, a beautiful area where we found a kiosk that was 1 year old.  It reminded us of Park City, Utah.

A property marker that was illegally too close to our kiosk.

There was a major leak inside the kiosk that either the government or the people are to fix.  They didn't bother--certainly these people could do it or the government, very easily.
Decorated stairway for the wedding at our hotel.  We usually eat our breakfast in a certain banquet room, but every other day it is being decorated for yet another wedding so we go back further into another, equally large banquet room.  This hotel is rather large.
Friday evening we attended a cultural show--the costumes were incredible and the talents varied--it covered all the tribes of Mongolia of long ago.  They had singing (throat singing too--what?), dancing, orchestra, and a contortionist.  Too bad they didn't allow picture taking.  Afterwards we went to a restaurant.  All the tables were full so they put us in this room upstairs (note the picture of Marilyn Monroe).  So we ate our dinner here!  
Our hotel is constantly hosting weddings.  This is just one of the decorated cars outside the hotel.

Friday our day began by visiting with the man who is in charge of delivering all the water to the dump stations.  He was very interested in us doing a water project in his area, which was 8 hours away.   He even invited us to go fishing with him!  We told him that for the time being, we wanted to work a little closer to UB.
This is the mission president's wife and her two youngest--the other two are in school.  Both she and her husband served missions in Mongolia as young adults (gee, they still are quite young, aren't they?).

This water project was put in by the Japanese.  Our kiosk is just in front of this.  This is still being used by the people but just for their animals.  Ours is being used for the clean water.

As we traveled around looking for our kiosk, we found this successful water point.  The boy is pushing the water cart carrying his cans with the father following.  

We finally found our kiosk.  The problem is the road to it was fenced off (this project is one year old).  We couldn't figure out why this project was in an area that looked like Park City, Utah.  The homes were large and beautiful--couldn't they do their own water project?  The best thing about the day was finding out who this contractor was--the construction was really good.  And, it is still being used, more in the summertime than in the winter.
This used to be the road into the water point, but in the background you might see a fence.  This was in the middle of a goat pasture.  Check out the home in the background.  Most of the homes in this area were beautiful.  Very few looked poor.