Sumpteretc's Blog

What's on my mind at the moment

Month: March, 2008

Thank you, Japan!

Japan has announced that they are giving Mongolia $230 million for a new airport in UB. The current airport isn’t that terrible, but this is certainly a generous gesture on Japan’s part.

You know the population of Mongolia is small when the Prime Minister attends the football championship for 11-year-olds and awards the medals.

In a recent meeting with the Indian ambassador, the mayor of UB was urged to name a street in the city for Mahatma Gandhi. Does that seem like a strange request to anyone else?

endangered saiga

A species of antelope in Mongolia is being threatened by, of all things, traffic. This article tells how the saiga is being endangered by its migration route being cut off by a man-made road. Mongolia has 4 people per square mile, far fewer in the affected area. It’s hard to believe that the antelope are having to stop and wait for a green light.

True Lemon

If you like lemon or some other citrus flavor in your water, you might try these free samples from True Lemon. Plus, when you request samples for yourself, they also send samples to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

blood and oil

We’re still a little uncertain about the healthcare situation in Mongolia, but apparently there is a shortage of blood. Apparently, the National Blood Center paid handsomely for blood in the 70s and 80s, but now that they’ve gone to a volunteer basis, donations have dropped off precipitously.

This article is primarily about the other kind of blood–oil–and Mongolia’s need to build an oil reserve. What I found interesting, though, was the statement that the togrog is falling in value even more steadily than the dollar. It’s hard to imagine a currency doing worse than ours. Maybe that will alleviate some of the effects on inflation for us, although it doesn’t do much for the rest of the country.

Mongolia is receiving somewhat of a cash infusion, though, from the burgeoning tourism industry. Prince Alwaleed of Saudia Arabia recently visited Mongolia and met with some of the leaders, so this probably speaks well of Mongolia’s chances to see some luxury hotels in its future. This has been a growing need, due to the massive mining operations currently underway and more just over the horizon. A new airline flight has also just been initiated to try to lure some of the 40,000 annual visitors to Lake Baikal to Lake Khovsgol in Mongolia.

TB in Mongolia

This article brings up another health concern about modern life in Mongolia. I have seen several articles about drug-resistant TB in surrounding nations, but apparently tuberculosis is a concern in Mongolia as well. Up to this point, we have not had Elijah vaccinated for TB, because we haven’t wanted him to test positive every time he has a test for the rest of his life. This, however, may change our perspective on the situation.

Given Mongolia’s feelings about Inner Mongolia and their strong connection to Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalai Lama, I was surprised to see that Mongolia is supporting China’s treatment of the Tibetan riots. Mongolia’s foreign minister says that “Mongolia always believes that Tibet and Taiwan were inalienable parts of Chinese territory.”

Spring Lake Auction

In case I forgot to mention it (and I probably did), we had a great trip to Spring Lake Wesleyan Church in Michigan last month. They had a missions auction on Friday night which raised $14,000 for the work in Bosnia and Mongolia. Here is an article in the Grand Haven, MI paper about the auction.

Mongolia news update

While the U.S. can’t seem to get their interest rates low enough, Mongolia keeps raising theirs. Their policy rate is at 9.75% and may go higher if this doesn’t check the out-of-control inflation. In the US, I’m a saver, not a borrower, so the low interest rates are poison to me. In Mongolia, I’ll strictly be a consumer, so all I care about is low rates of inflation for myself. Naturally, lower rates of inflation would be of great benefit to the Mongolians as well, but making money impossible to borrow may not help them out of their economic slump very readily.

On a happiernote, a new deposit has been discovered in southern Mongolia, which contains 4,000,000 tons of copper and 398 tons of gold. Not a bad addition to the 32,000,000 tons of copper and 1,000 tons of gold found just to the north last year. You would think finds like that would brighten the economic outlook.

Unfortunately, the Mongolian government seems likely to spoil the deal by grabbing huge portions of the profit. This may be a boon for the economy in the short-run, but how many foreign investors are going to keep pumping money into Mongolia when they see that it’s reverting to a command economy?

Maybe the government needs the tax money to pay their back debts to New York City. It turns out that diplomatic immunity doesn’t apply to property tax evasion.

And, in technology news, Buddhist lamas have dramatically sped up the process of copying their Scriptures by discovering scanners and the internet.

Inflation in Mongolia

I’m getting nervous about the runaway inflation in Mongolia. Their economy seems to be in complete turmoil. This article says that “Mongol Bank’s inflation measurements had it at 15.1 percent in December 2007, but in the year to January has it at 17.5 percent. The inflation rate rose another two points in January of this year, despite the government establishing a council to stabilize consumer prices.”

We are raising our support based on February 2007 prices. Real estate has doubled since then, and vehicles are way up. I hope we don’t arrive on the scene only to discover we can’t even live at poverty level in a developing country.

all-expense paid bike trip

If you’re looking for a free bike trip, here is a good option. All you have to do is get yourself to Mongolia and bring your own bike. There are lots of nice perks included, such as “ministerial support and sanctification.” How often do you get that thrown in on a bike tour?

Catholics in Mongolia

It’s a little discouraging sometimes to think that there are only a couple hundred Wesleyans in Mongolia. This was put into a little perspective for me, though, when I read this article, which mentions that there are only 415 Catholics in Mongolia, despite the fact that they have been at work there since 1992 and currently have 70 missionaries in the field. It reemphasizes the difficulty of spreading the gospel in the country, but where else on earth is The Wesleyan Church nearly half the size of the Roman Catholic church?