Sunday, September 22, 2013

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

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