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. 

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