Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Week of Training - Week 15

Dear Family and Friends,

Oh my heck, this has been such a fun and crazy week here in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia! We have had quite a few training meetings and I have been able to spend time learning how to be a better missionary despite any language issues--that will come with time and faith. Mongolian is considered a hard language for a reason, to be fair, all languages are difficult to learn so my heart goes out to any single person trying to learn anything other than their native language. 

To begin the week, we had Zone Conference on Tuesday and it was WONDERFUL! It was a full-day event from 9 AM to 4 PM and all of the missionaries in our Zone were able to come together and be edified. Our Mission President is amazing at switchin
g between English and Mongolian (think of Popi with English and Spanish) where every missionary was given a headphone and had to take turns wearing it and taking it off depending on the language that was being spoken. President Benson is making our mission a dual-language mission, so all Americans learn Mongolian and all the Mongolians are learning English, it is really cool. So to begin, you will randomly be called to give a 3 minute talk and it needs to be in both languages, and about 10 people go through this. We then were spoken to about different subjects like Faith, Diligence, Learning to Find, and Being a Good Teacher. It was fantastic. To finish the conference, the rest of us who did not give a talk was asked to bear a 2 minute testimony (in both languages). It is nice because I was able to say most of it in Mongolian, but for the part where my thoughts became too complex for the Mongolian that I have learned, I was able to say it in English. 

I spent Wednesday with the Sister Training Leader on a split--this is where you spend the evening and next day with one of the STL's seeing how they work--and it was nice because you learn different ways of being a missionary. My trainer has an amazing ability to understand and have correct pronunciation in Mongolian even though she has only been here for 10  months, this is what is most important to her. The STL that I spent the day with (Sister Bennett, she also has a blog) has a different approach and is so stinkin' friendly with all of her investigators and speaks a little louder where I just had a feeling that she shows her love by being friendly with them. Right now, I feel like I mostly can only offer a smile, but in the end, I want to being able to ask questions and let them know that I really care about how they are doing. I love people by trying to be their friend. I don't know if that makes complete sense, but I want to make people happier than before we met. I want to be able to serve them a relieve their burden by any small degree, even if it is with a happy attitude. I loved it and am really excited for the different transfers that will be coming my way, there are so many personalities out here and I cannot wait to see what I can learn.

My favorite day of my entire mission came on Thursday, this was such a fun day! We started with the normal studies (about 4 hours every morning) and I was able to work with my companion about both of us contributing to the work, even though we are both still learning how to be good missionaries. The Lord's hand was in the work. I had two people who came to mind and as soon as we reached out to them, they were able to make appointments with us and or give us reference of who to reach out to. It was amazing! It was such a small thing, too. We also reached out to a Less Active member that we haven't been able to speak with for the past 2 weeks and she finally answered the phone and let us know that we would be able to meet with her. Right now!

So we basically went running out of our apartment because we still had to take that hour long bus ride. Off we went and had an appointment in the same area 3 hours later, so this was divine intervention that led us to call here out of the blue. The problem, though, is that we didn't know quite which stop to get off at because there may have been another stop rather than the one we usually take. It turns out, the bus doesn't stop twice for this little Gep district--we saw the town that we needed to get out at quickly fading in the rearview window of the bus--these buses also speed down these country roads. We were able to get out about 5-7 minutes (riding time) after the stop that we missed. We had some time, so we decided to walk it.

Oh my heck, what a decision to make. The wind was STRONG and we walked right into it--I saw this little brown finch trying to fly into the headwind and it was flapping it's little wings and made absolutely no progress. I thought that it was going to be a quick 20 minute walk because we didn't ride the bus for too long, but again, I was wrong. It was a solid hour walk into the wind and every time I smiled I probably swallowed a pound of dirt, I would estimate that we ended up walking about 3 miles. With the cold wind, it felt like an eternity, but we were in the country-ish, so it was absolutely beautiful. I would take that walk again. 

We then wandered around the district for another 45 minutes trying to find her house, if you do not know the neighborhood, it is so easy to get lost. Luckily, none of the stray dogs were aggressive, I will have to take a picture some time of these dogs. Finally, we were just kind of standing there at a loss, when I saw this guy walking toward us and I had a feeling that he was going to be able to help. Well, he was probably a little tipsy, but he was able to help. We handed him the phone and the lady told him how to get to her house (directions are hard to understand in Mongolian) and so he led us along... except he held my hand the entire time. It is kind of a Mongolian thing to hold hands, everyone does it. I wasn't sure if I should have pulled my hand away, but I was wearing gloves (and looked like a goober with my hat and ear muffs), so I figured it was okay.

We made it and was able to share a nice lesson with the member. She is so cute and was watching her little 2 year old grandson, it was like being at home. With all the time lost between trying to get there, we could only stay with her for about 30 minutes before heading out to the next appointment. The next lady, when we got to her house, ended up having an issue at work and wasn't home, so we met with her mom, two daughters. and neighbor. Those kids made my day! I let the little one wear my badge and we played a game where they told me how to sat body parts in Mongolian (like eyes, chin, hands) it was really cute. 

I loved this day so much because absolutely nothing worked out the way that I thought it would, but I don't feel like a single moment was wasted. The Lord knew that we were trying with every possible way to fulfill our calling and I think that the full effort was what counted. We built relationships and I wouldn't trade that for the world.

Being a missionary is VERY humbling, but I am glad that I am here. I think that I am learning how to be a better person for it.

I love you all!

Sister Olsen

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