Wednesday, May 18, 2016

An English Conference in Mongolia - Week 20

Dear Family and Friends,

This week has been really great and the weather went from extremely nice, to very bad, back to really hot. I think that it heard me smack-talking it because Monday was AMAZING (especially with that call!), Tuesday was the day that I talked about the weather in my email because it was rainy that morning, and then Wednesday it snowed a wet, heavy blizzard; but I guess the repenting of it all worked because yesterday and today are hot! Like walk around in short sleeves hot. I love it! They finally turned the heater off in our apartment complex (you cannot control it too much in each room) and life is cooler and wonderful. I also live pretty high up, so even when it gets warm, all I have to do is open the window and the place instantly cools down. It is great!
Snow adventures from Wednesday! We got burned (stood up) by one of our members after we tracked through the snow for about an hour. We were right in front when she called and said that, because of the snow, she was in the city with a friend. Life of a missionary!

Enjoying the snow!

More from the snow adventures! 

This week, though, I spent Thursday-Saturday in an all-day English Conference for Mongolian natives. There were about 200 different English-language teachers who attended and we were able to host them around and demonstrate how we teach English in their schools. The food was delicious and the companies were amazing. The more sponsors that we have working with DIC (the charity that I am with for my visa sponsorship), the better the working situations will be and the more that we will be able to have more volunteer English teachers come into Mongolia. It is very important that we always perform our very best each week in the classrooms because we want to provide GREAT service. I really do love being a teacher and am thinking about ways on how to implement these skills at home. I did end up talking to one of the speakers, the ESL Director from BYU-Provo and talked about what it might take to seek a Master's Degree and he gave me his business card and said to get in contact with him after my mission. Lol, who knows, possibilities. I really like my job so much that I don't know if I would want to permanently change it. 

Some of the most exciting news is that we have an investigator and I was finally there to extend her a baptismal invitation! Oh my gosh, it was such an amazing Sunday. We have been meeting with this lady for about 3 weeks and at first, she seemed confused as to why we were there and we weren't really sure why she kept inviting us back. It was kind of strange, she was incredibly nice, but it didn't seem as though we were making progress and she continually rejected our invitation to come to church with us. We asked her a couple times and received the same response. However, yesterday about 10 minutes into the Sacrament Meeting, she popped up!!! Oh my goodness, she came to church and me and my companion almost jumped out of our seats we were so happy. Everything also lined up perfectly because the Sacrament meeting had a handful of youth speakers (about the age of her children) bear their testimony, the Sunday School lesson was about feeling the Holy Ghost, and then Relief Society was about the Plan of Salvation and the Three Kingdoms--this worked perfectly because we were going to meet with her an hour after church and go over the Plan of Salvation with her. When we were teaching her, I felt like she had such a clear understanding, and then at the end of the lesson, we asked her if she would prepare to be baptized when she knew the truth of the message by a member holding the Melchizedek Priesthood. She said of course!! I am so happy.

Going to church really helped because I think that the other members helped make everything make sense. This is the Lord's work and He will do it as He sees fit. I am so thankful to be a part of this. I love being a missionary and being able to teach English, both are hard, but they provide the best feelings in the entire world. 

I love you all!

Sister Olsen 

Spot the snowman! 

This is Puje, she is the English-Mongolian translator for us who helps us make good sentences. She reminds me of Tia Biatriz. :)

This is a little girl who moved here from Provo so she speaks perfect English. We are basically BFFs now.

Picture of my district (minus Elder Urness because he was busy and couldn't come)

These are all of the American Missionaries (or atleast most of them!)

Me and Sister Harker. She was borrowing an outfit :)  
Professor Evans from BYU

If I HAD to be part of a pack, I think I would pick this one.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mongolia with Sister Olsen

Dear family of Sister Olsen,

Elder Funk and I are in Mongolia to see and participate in the English teaching Workshops and to attend the Ulaanbaatar West Stake Conference.

Today after the workshop we met Sister Olsen. It was nice to visit with someone from our home town of Aurora. So many changes have occurred since we left Aurora six years ago. 

Please say hi to our many friends in the Aurora Stake. We understand that President Dorny was released as Stake President.

Sister Olsen is happy and enjoying the work in Mongolia. What a wonderful place to serve.

Sincerely, Sister Funk

What a GREAT Week - Week 19

Dear family and friends,

Oh my gosh, can I just say how wonderful it was to see you yesterday!!!! It seriously has become the highlight of my week, month, mission--just knowing everyone was okay and seeing your wonderful faces has brought SO much peace to me. I know that I have one amazing family and support group, better than I could have imagined. You are so wonderful and I love you very much. To top it off, you were the cherry on top for a wonderful week!
This past Monday, I was able to spend some hours for my P-day going to the Mongolian outdoor market--I think that it is also known as the black market--and there were so many things to look at and try-on (I did walk away with this tomato red skirt and a mustache cardigan). One thing that I learned: Mongolians HATE bartering, but they will do it. I have been able to barter down the price of a couple souvenirs that I have bought (you are going to love them) and on the clothes. The only place that I don't dare to barter is at an actual store, that would be like going to Walmart telling them that I wasn't going to pay the full amount. They would just kick me out, they have enough business without mine. But it was nice! It is funny because Mongolians are either about 5 inches shorter than me or 5 inches taller than me (not many are my size exactly), but I still have some of the biggest feet around. I was looking for a size 42 shoe--not because I NEEDED it, but I figured that I would look--and they basically laughed at me. I am about 90% positive that around winter time when I buy boots, I might just look in the Boy section because they should have bigger feet. One of the vendors made a comment of how 'all Americans have big feet'. Oh well, it's the truth, what can you do.

This this Tuesday was beautiful and I was so hot! I kept telling my teaching companion of how I couldn't cool down and I walked around without a jacket. It was wonderful. Mother Nature must have heard my complaints because the next day there was this crazy blizzard that hit with wet snow. It was the kind where the minute that it landed on you, it melted into a puddle and my companion didn't have a hood on her jacket and it looked like she had taken a shower outside. HJahaha, her hair was so wet! To top it off, I was attacked by a puppy on the same day. So I have been very good about not touching the stray dogs, but this one was a 6 month old puppy and he lived around a university, so you could tell he had experience with people. Well, I don't know what happened, but when we walked by, he got up and started prancing around me. He then started kind of play biting my skirt and my bag for about 5 minutes, lol, I was flabbergasted as what to do. He even looked at my companion for a minute, but decided to keep playing with me. We tried walking away and he kept following biting at my skirt, just playing around. Even a Mongolian tried to help and distract the dog by calling him away, and it eventually worked, but by the end of the encounter, he ended up having ripped my leggings. Since Mongolians are tiny and I am preserving my leggings as much as I can, I decided to sew them closed. I did a pretty good job, if I say so.

Anyway, we ended the week by spending the entire Friday day helping to clean the church and had a pizza for lunch and dinner. For as hard as the weather is here, Mongolians really take care of the city and their property, as evident by the work we did at the church. We had some missionaries scrubbing the stairs outside, I was scrubbing the chairs (including the bottoms and the legs), followed by hand-washing the fence outside. When I think of how we take care of things a home, i don't feel like I have ever hand-washed anything, we wither power-wash it or just repaint the area. It is a really cool and different way of taking care of the place. There are always dozens of Mongolians walking around sweeping the streets and picking up bottles for recycling. It is a really cool way of being a good steward of your surroundings.

Other than that, I as still being trained by my same companion for the next 6 weeks--by which time the next round of Mongolian-speaking missionaries from the MTC are set to arrive. Yikes! I will lose my 'new' status and that is more intimidating than anything else. It will all work out, I am really working on my language right now, hoping for the best. 

Since I just called home yesterday, I feel like I don't know what to say. I do know that I am very thankful for family. I am grateful for technology allowing me to hear from you weekly and your letters make the sky a little bluer out here (the sky is beautiful all the time). I love this work.

Have a wonderful week and know that you are incredibly loved.

Sister Olsen

Random Spring blizzard the blew in

My teaching companion

The hole in my leggings is from that puppy!

Fixing my leggings


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Our "movie night". We watched missionary training videos

Monday, May 2, 2016

Spring has Come to Ulaanbaatar! - Week 18

Dear Family and friends,

That is right, Mongolia is becoming consistently warm and beautiful, the plants are starting to come back to life and the best part is that the birds are out and chirping all day long. I love them! Here, it seems for birds that we only have a variety of the little brown finches, ravens (the all black ones and the black and white ones), and a handful of pigeons. I really don't like the pigeons, but there are not nearly as many in the country as I swear were in that blue complex that I lived in, so it is easy to ignore them. The little finches, though, are my favorite and are little singing puffballs of pure happiness. The idea of not having birds and trees in Mongolia really distraught me more than I could adequately describe, but do not worry, there are birds and trees in Mongolia. Lol, the weather, though, is more like Colorado that not because as warm as it has been, it snowed/rained on May 1 and today is still a little more on the cooler side, but it is going to be warm again--I believe in it.

This week has been really great! The beginning of the week was a little slower, but it picked up pace as the days passed. I think the most eye-opening realization is how important participation is in class, both education and in church. So on Tuesday, my teaching companion (Sis. Bollwinkel) and I had planned a really fun day of games and conversation for out English classes. On Tuesday we taught the older students and of the 6 classes, only half really participated and it was like pulling nails trying to get the other classes to talk to us. When they do not talk, the lesson becomes boring. Also, considering that our specialty is conversational English, if the students do not talk, we are wasting each others' time. So Tuesday was a hard day, but it was A LOT of fun on Thursday with the younger students. They played the games, talked with us, and the day flew by. I really like my assignment as hard and wearing as it is; I applaud all professional teachers out there. I can catch a glimpse of how this could be a very rewarding career. One of my favorite experiences so far was in my 7th grade class--this one if you let go of control for a single second, the class goes absolutely insane-- and there are two trouble students, but I told them how great I noticed they were being and that perked them up to be even better. There is another girl in the same class that speaks basically no English, so throughout the class, I will take a couple minutes to help her individually. I love her! This class even gave us some cookies because I think that we are growing on them.

However, as I said, the classes are absolutely draining. It is some of the hardest 12 hours of the week to equalize how rewarding they are. So, on Thursday we were rewarded by being able to have dinner with an American couple who are out here for employment. We went to this really delicious Asian restaurant (hahah, in Mongolia) and I had Chinese food, like high-quality Chinese food. What we even nicer was that the wife is like a mother-figure out here and just pours her love out without conditions and I was about to 'talk shop' with the husband. We talked about his relocation experience moving from America to Mongolia and the company that he used as well as what I would have done for him if I was the Relocation Consultant. It was nice to have a minute of professional chatter--I realized how much I miss work in some respects. Learning Mongolian and trying to teach lessons in the language is great, but I have a very limited vocabulary, so I can never really explain things in detail like I would like. This is a blessing, when I think about it, because it keeps me from relying purely on my own strengths and wits--I know that I need help in everything.

Also, this week ended with a couple conferences on English and being a good missionary. They are always empowering, I need to take pictures of all the missionaries sometime, there are some great people out here. That took up a huge portion of the weekend.

Oh, but some really cool news is that my companion and I arrived about 10 minutes early to an appointment on the outskirts of the city and guess what! There was a camel out there and I was able to ride it!!!!! Oh my gosh, it was so cool! They are so stinkin' tall and when they walk, it is as fun and awkward as you could imagine with their gangling legs and knobby knees. They do have a crazy sounding noise and their mouths are no joke, but it was so much fun. 

Yesterday, I did have a very humbling experience learning that the Lord is in the details of our lives. We were invited to an FHE originally set for Monday (today), but due to some circumstances, they moved it to Sunday (yesterday). The only problem is that last week, they asked my companion and I to bring a cake because there are 4 little kids there. There was a misunderstanding last week where we thought they asked if would could eat cake, when in reality they asked if we could make the cake, so we promised to have one for this activity. The problem is that we were planning on making the cake on Sunday night for Monday, so with the even being moved up, the cake was not made. After church, my companion and I basically ran home to try to make this cake (we only had one free hour before our next appointment) as a last-ditch effort. Everything worked out... this was probably the best cake that I have ever made/had. We had just enough of all the ingredients, it cooked quickly (finishing 10 minutes early, giving it enough time to cool down to cut), and the kids loved it. I don't think this was a blessing for my companion, I feel like an instrument in blessing the lives of the member and the kids. It was amazing. I know the Lord helped.

I love this work and I love the people of Mongolia.

I love you all also!

Sister Olsen

So many horses!

Look at this camel! 

This is one of our investigators and a member that comes along to help us teach. 

This was one of our Mutual nights. 

I love Mongolia. 

This is how we had to carry around the cake that we made for the kids. (Thanks Grandma for the bag)

My "treat"! 

This is my teaching companion! Sister Bollwinkel. 

They took my blood for a visa test and I bruised SO BAD. You can't really see, but it was bad.