My dad’s travel journal part 12
Sunday, August 29, 2010:
Happy Birthday, Sheryl…and Happy “real” Anniversary to Carol and me. Though it is the 29th in Ulaanbaatar, it is the evening of the 28th in the U.S. Carol & I would have been saying our vows about now. I got some pretty good sleep last night…perhaps as much as 10 hours. Chris & the boys were up when we ventured out around 8 AM (actually, when I went out…Carol had already been up and showered earlier). We just relaxed this morning,…did things like watching the kid show “Handy Manny”, ate some oatmeal, called my sister in Arizona,…and then dressed for church (though it would come much later in the day). A cool breeze was coming in the window and it was sunny outside. The high for the day should be in the mid-60 degree range. Since church doesn’t happen until 2 PM, the plan for the day is sightseeing. Elijah wanted to go out and look for pretty rocks to put into the aquarium, so I took him out and we searched nearby streets and playgrounds. We were in light-colored dress pants, so soon had dirt on us. When we got back home, it was time to head out for brunch…just a bit before 11 AM. We caught a ride from a passing car and went downtown to Naran Plaza (tall bldg), and up five floors, to New York New York, a wonderful restaurant. The food was American …and scrumptious! I had long whitefish fillets. Carol had a bacon sandwich. Ah…the taste of home! We had huge cans of Arizona Ice Tea. The boys could go outside and run on the terrace around the building. I went out to look around town a bit. We took another car back home at 12:45. We ate some of the leftover birthday cake and then prepared to leave for our walk to church. It seemed to be quite a ways there, though Chris, Tiff, and family are used to it. It is far enough that Joel got to ride in a stroller. I would have never found the church if you’d given me instructions…and couldn’t find it again today, if I tried. We went past some buildings that I recognized and others that we’d never seen before. We made many turns, and squeezed between two buildings that were maybe 18″ apart. While doing that, my mind turned to earthquakes. Ulaanbaatar lies on a major fault line. As we were walking, we passed neighborhoods filled with poor kids,… playing in their yards, but likely knowing nothing of the God who saves from sin. What a task…to figure out how to win them. Soon, we arrived at Eternal Light Wesleyan Church. The rented church sits in what we would call a ghetto back home, but is actually quite nice, and full of wonderful people. We arrived late, so service was in progress. Though we understood little of the words, as the congregation sang there was an obvious sense of worship. Hands were lifted, eyes closed, tears being wiped…lots of seeming joy. Chris sat between Carol & me and translated quietly from time to time. At one point, the congregation stood and extended both hands in the direction of each visitor…”hands of blessing”, and they sang to us. One lady came over and hugged us. Pretty neat way to make people feel wanted. A missionary from New Zealand was the preacher this afternoon. His name is Ewen. His topic was “Give us this day our daily bread”. Because of our presence there, he preached in English and had Pastor Otgonbayar translate it into Mongolian. I felt a little bad for the people, to have to listen to both languages…because of us. Ewen told us later that he’d repeated a phrase or two because he didn’t think the interpretation made his point adequately. Once a month, three of the Wesleyan congregations have a “joint” service, so there was a pretty full church on this particular morning. Balloons decorated the sanctuary…left over from the prior day’s wedding ceremony. The mix of old-young, male-female was better today than normal, because of the three groups. Usually, this particular church has a quite young congregation….many college-age…or thereabouts. After church, we gave some Christian trinkets, bookmarks, toys, etc to one of the Sunday School teachers so she could give them out to her students. We had also taken a bunch of teaching materials (picture pages, etc) to give to them….left over from a prior quarter’s literature at Herald & Banner Press. After church, we visited in the yard. We met Sarah, another missionary, who came from Washington state. She & husband, Chris, live near the church and have adopted at least 2 Mongolian children. They have 4 kids in their family. She was a wonderful lady to be around and to converse with, very warm & friendly. We took our leave of the place at around 4:30 or 5:00 PM and walked back toward home. Most of the way there, a homeless boy visited with Chris. He had been a thorn in their flesh at times, but was potentially a prospect for salvation. I thought to myself, who knows…perhaps a church leader someday? Tiff told us that for some reason, his enunciation of Mongolian words is better than most people, or at least…was easier for her & Chris to understand. We stopped at a park and let the boys play, before returning to the apartment. Tiff set out some leftover food, so we had soup, tacos, biscuits & gravy, birthday cake, etc. Then we played Wii games for awhile. Elijah decided to sell me a notebook full of his artwork for 1,500 tugrik (a little over $1). After the boys were in bed, Chris & Tiff got out a big sack of sheep’s anklebones. We used them to play several different Mongolian games. Now, we could better understand how they spend some of the time in their gers, or while watching their herds. Before playing the games, I called a friend in Arkansas, Dwight Spear, and had a chat with him. He and wife, Rawlene, had recently been on vacation…and I wanted to find out how things had gone for them.
One of the things that we have noticed is that many missions organizations in Mongolia overlap somewhat. World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Global Partners, and others are all at work here. Chris & Tiff have been involved in giving out Christmas shoebox gifts at their own church…provided by Samaritan’s Purse. Religions, other than Buddhism, are slow coming to this vast country. The Catholics have a large church in UB, but only one, and a small percentage of believers. The Mormons are very visible on the streets of UB and have built an impressive building there. However, they have already had some of their people deported because of their behavior. We saw one small Baptist church. Churches are NOT plentiful here. There is a huge need for missionaries who will learn the language, suffer the hardships of filth, inconvenience, and severe winters…and who will commit to years of service. Ewen told me today that it takes about 6 years before a person truly earns the trust of the people. At least, he felt that to be true with him and Pia. He told me that they had recently returned from western Mongolia, an area that had been devastated by an extremely harsh winter. Many of the people had lost their entire herds…destroying their livelihood. The govt. had been paying people to bury the animals.
A church in Switzerland (Pia’s home) had seen two PowerPoint slides depicting this situation. They immediately sent $15,000. Another church, or group of people, did a similar thing. Because of their compassion, food, etc. had been provided for 270 families over several months. Now, these people claim to know the name of Jesus and profess a faith in Him. Who knows the fruits of those gifts? There are several things that come to mind to me today as I think about the missions work here. I will write them down so that I will remember how to pray, and in hopes that those who read this journal, will also join in the prayers.
-Pray for Chris &Tiff’s visa situation. It appears that at least one of them must find
a means of “employment” in Mongolia. They went there on “student visas”, but at
the end of the two years of language school…those visas will expire. The status of
“church worker” is almost impossible to achieve, so they have to find another
reason for the govt. to allow them to be there. (Note: As I type up these journal
notes, I have an update. Since we have returned to the states, Tiff has secured a
teaching position at a school there. It appears that the visa application process has
been started. If she gets a visa, it will be possible for Chris to get a “companion
visa”. Pray that it will all be approved).
-Pray for a church that wants to purchase its own property. Currently, they pay
rent, and share a building used by others. They have their eyes on a piece of
property, with a building…available for $110,000 (U.S.). However, being a church
filled with young, college-age kids…they have few resources for purchasing it.
They hope to find others who are willing to help them with this dream.
-Pray for leadership/relationship issues within this church. Satan does battle every-
where. Chris & Tiff are trying to not get entangled in internal church struggles,
but, because of their position as Global Partner (Wesleyan) missionaries, it may
be necessary to take some uncomfortable steps. They feel that their mission is to
mentor new leaders for the church of Mongolia. When one leader stands in the
way…they must have godly wisdom as they deal with the situation.
-Pray for the safety of the missionaries. They live in an environment that most of
us would choose to avoid,…broken stairs, crumbling sidewalks, terrible roads,
open manholes, dangerous traffic, animosity toward Americans, disease from
tainted foods & water, etc.
-Pray for those missionaries who are trying to raise children in another country.
Just how much of the native language should they learn? How do they learn
English alongside that language? How should they educate their children? How
do you home school, work a job, and still be an effective missionary? How much
freedom do your give your little boys…to roam outside among the drunks, broken
glass, etc.? How do you entertain them during a church service in which they
don’t understand anything that is being spoken?
-Fast & pray that the light of the Gospel may penetrate the immense darkness of
Buddhism and Shamanism that has a grip on many of the Mongolian people.
Our God is willing and able to do abundantly more than we ask or think. It is His desire to save the people of Mongolia. Will we do our part to ensure that harvest?
Having written down much of this in the late evening on Sunday, I am about ready to get some sleep. It is around 43 degrees outside…fairly comfortable in the unheated apt.
I have finished my task. It is 11:40 PM….another day is done. Good night.