Sunday, July 31, 2016

A Week of Realizations - Week 31

Dear family and friends,
Did you know that yesterday was Harry Potter's birthday? These are important things to remembers; therefore, me and my companion had a celebratory dinner of Shepard's Pie (improvised because some of the ingredients are baihgyi here) and it was delicious. I have always wondered wha Shepard's Pie tasted like, and now I know and my life is more complete because of it. Life is wonderful.
In other news, this has been a VERY HOT week here. Hot enough to feel like I have been melting everyday, I am wishing back for the cooler weather, but do not want the COLD weather to settle in, it is a fine balance, really. This week has been nice though, and it started with a very nice FHE on Monday night. We were visiting this family with 4 little kids under the age of 7 and for the closing prayer, the 6 year old said the cutest thing, 'thank you for letting the sisters visit us and please let the light guide them this week. Please let them come back to visit my family." So, when was the last time that you let the Light guide you? Have you gone out doing good? It is the little things that make the biggest difference in people's lives and usually takes almost no effort on your part, you just need to listen to the little promptings within you to do something good. This is the Light of Christ. Every person is born with it and is often described as a conscience, but it is a wonderful gift that helps us understand how to help others and recognize truth. I love thinking of a light being within me!
However, as with the norm here in Mongolia, we had quite a few cancellations on us. Basically every single day someone will burn us, thus is the life of the city in Ulaanbaatar where everyone is out enjoying the beautiful countryside before the winter sets in and locks everyone inside for months on end. I really can't blame them, I would want to be out in the countryside, too. I did have a tender mercy this week and was able to snuggle up with the cutest dog and just love on her for a few minutes. I did an STL split with Sis. Ruyter, working in her area of Unur (it neighbors my ward boundaries), and met the cutest boy with a friendly dog. As a rule of thumb, you do not ever reach out to touch a dog, even the ones that are considered pets, because they have a really bad habit of biting. At this house, though, the boy was petting her and I couldn't resist. I pet her and just hung out for a few minutes, it made me miss Lucy SO MUCH! They both have the same color eyes and this dog was reveling in the fact that I was petting her, I cannot describe how much I loved it. Animals have this way of looking at you and giving you unconditional love, everyone needs to feel that way some time.
I have been making HUGE strides with my language, though! So, I have started to actively take and make phone calls. I hated the phone when I first got here. With the phone, there is a lack of clues as to what people are saying and they cannot see me and see me make motions for what I am trying to say, it is all about language speaking and hearing. Intimidating. My companion was feeling kind of sick, so I decided to just grab the phone and go for it. Luckily she was close enough to listen in to jump in if it became overwhelming, but I did it! I am able to sometimes answer questions during church, talk to kids, and my reading and pronounciation is getting better. Oh my heck, Mongolian is hard, but I love it! I picked up this little brown book that I received in the MTC and flipped it open to a random page and was able to start to read the words without a huge struggle (I happened across a word that I COULD NOT say in the MTC for the life of me and was able to pronounce it this time). The Lord really is helping and I feel like a more functioning adult now that my tongue is becoming unlocked. A lot of it is just having the faith to open your mouth and go for it (after diligently studying) and do everything you can. There is this saying that I am starting to appreciate, 'if you have faith, you will speak the language." It doesn't say how well, just that you will do it. I am starting to open my mouth, and Mongolian is actually coming out. I LOVE it. I know that this is the work of a loving Heavenly Father because I am not a natural linguist.
So, in all, the celebrating, dog-petting, Mongolian-speaking, and call-making moments, are helping me realize that I really am in the right place at the right time. In my opinion (lol, or from my thoughts), I am in the best mission in the world.
I love Mongolia.
Sister Olsen
Hahahah, on a side note, I was teaching an English class on Saturday as a Speaking Club and one of the students riled me up into getting on a soapbox, if you will. he was saying how he was tired of how it was easy for Americans to go to any country in the world and be fine, but it was not that way for Mongolians. I disagreed and told him that everyone had to work hard. Finally, he got me to the point where I told him that if he wanted to make changes, it was going to have to start with himself, he has to find places where improvement could be made, become active in his community and government, and do everything to make positive changes. Nobody is going to just hand you an easy life. You need to work for it. The class ended shortly thereafter, so I don't know how well he took it. Life. What can you do?

So yesterday, we basically hiked a mountain to see a member in what felt like  1,000 degrees, just to find out they weren't home, so we took refuge in the shade of utility vehecle. Me and my comp were just taking silly pictures when the kids from the neighbor's jouse came out to play. Hahah, you should have seen their face when they saw two 'gadaa hyns' (foreigners) sitting outside their fence where they were going to play. Normally you do not get foreigners out in the ger districts, so it always takes them by surprise when they see us. The oldest one, when she saw us, was like 'yawna' (the 'oh man' phrase) and the mom came out to see who was outside of their house. We had to do some quick explaining, but the kids were a good sport and posed for the picture.

Here are some pictures of what I will see during my normal day. The last is a Water Station. The gers do not have plumbing, so they will need to walk over to a well (water station) and get water several times per week to drink. So, everywhere you go, you get boiling hot water to drink (an extra assurance that it has been cleaned) and you do not waste water, it is precious out here, so you drink every last drop. I will never leave anyone's house with anything in my cup.

This is part of my new area. Lol, look at the walls of the ger, it is rolled up because it is so hot.

Yoga on the rocks (ahahahahah, get it?) and pics from this week .I bought all of these clear sheets to organize my papers and they fell out of my arms into the middle of a backstreet. My companion had to help me clean it all up!


Monday, July 25, 2016

Being a Missionary is a lot of FUN! - Week 30

Monday, July 18, 2016

Delicious Day has been Established - Week 29

Dear Family and Friends,
I love celebrations! They are fun, it is good to get out, you get really great pictures, but there are also not very many people to meet. They are out having too much fun. Life. What can you do? I'll tell you what we did, you get out there, give everything that you have, then go home and try to call and meet with everyone that has ever been contacted by a missionary in our books, and then after all of that (without success), you say, "at least I am here" and be happy. That was the lesson that I learned over and over again. Everyday, we were burned, on Saturday, we were burned 6 times over, even our back-ups burned us; our emee who cannot even leave here house burned us. Thus is the life during a celebration week when you are white-washing. 
To help explain, being 'burned' means that your appointment stands you up after confirming the appointment the night before (at 10 PM). Either that, or they cancel while you are in route. We had one wonderful Less Active sister that we were going to meet and after she gave a very excited confirmation, we were on our way to her house when she gives us a call (less than one hour before the meeting time) and let us know that she was suddenly in her summer home. We don't give up on them, though, because we are hoping to meet with her tonight instead. 
So, we decided to establish Delicious Day and make a delicious dinner to celebrate that we are missionaries doing hard work. I don't know, maybe the Lord knew that we needed to eat dinner instead of just going to an appointment (Some times we get fed, some times we don't. Mongolia does not have a Dinner Schedule like at home). Oh man, my companion is a great cook, so Delicious Day actually is quite delicious. We tried making potato-huushuur for the first dinner that was established and then for Delicious Day (again) she made 'Bollwinkel Goop' (that tasted like mole) and I made flour tortillas. From scratch. By hand. It was amazing.
So moral of the week, keep your chin up. Life is not always going to work out the way that you planned, but that is not a reflection of who you are as a person or necessarily caused by what you are doing. Sometimes, the entire country will take a week-long celebration and make it impossible to meet with people. Don't worry, though, Sunday will always come. 
Yesterday was probably one of the most amazing days of my mission because I realized that I am becoming the type of missionary that I have always wanted to be. We gave a 5 minute talk over the phone to the 'long distance' branch (it is a call-in Sacrament meeting for those living too isolated to go to a meeting) and I thought that it was hard, but doable. Then, while we were going to head over to our ward starting within an hour, we received a call from the bishopric asking us to give talks during Sacrament because the assigned speakers were not going to be there. So I fretted a bit while on the bus thinking of how my Mongolian is too crazy to give a talk, but my companion tried to talk me off the ledge. When we arrived, though, there was so much that we needed to do before that I didn't have time to worry about it until I was suddenly at the pulpit before the congregation. An amazing thing that happened was that all of my nervousness left as I opened my mouth to speak. At that moment, I knew that I became a better missionary. The talk that i gave was irrelevant, the words and language are simply a vessel, by standing at that pulpit I proved that I am becoming the missionary that will do whatever is asked of me, inside or outside of my comfort zone. I am becoming a true disciple of Christ.
I love being a missionary.
I love you with all of my heart, 
Sister Olsen
Making Huushuur

This was the establishment of Delicious Day! 

Us trying to do planks before eating dinner, because why not?

You have to wear your deel, it is a must!

Emergency clean session! Sister Hansen was on a split that night and helped clean!

Sister Hansen from my MTC group. 

Me and Sister Bollwinkel making plans on being more healthy and not drinking as many cokes. They are so delicious here, it is a real problem.

My tortillas!

The Bollwinkel Goop. Don't they look delicious!? 

This is the long distance call branch

My favorite!! All of my roommates are making contributions/pictures for my weekly letter home. 

Instead of helping them, I was in the shower! It makes me laugh because this is how I know they love me!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I Love America & Naadam Fun! - Weeks 27 & 28