To celebrate the best day in the entire world, I dressed like the American flag today. I know what you are thinking, how in the world are the people in Mongolia going to deal with this much awesomeness? To be honest, they are taking it in stride and just thinking in their hearts how glad they are that I get to share my great nationality and love of country---haha, or they just ignore me. One way or the other, right? Gosh, I really do love the Fourth of July so much and am going to be as American as I can and get hamburgers and milkshakes to celebrate. I will definitely take a picture.
This week, though, has been a very HOT week in Mongolia. Just last week, I was talking with my companion about how I thought that it was a lie that Mongolia was going to get hot, but Mongolia taught me not to be a skeptic. The sun is out and the breeze has seemed to take a rest, Windy Ulaanbaatar has become an oven. I am not that graceful about the overheating, but as of July 1, I am constantly hot and sweating. It is not that pretty, so today I am on a hunt for a fan as well (wish me luck!), but my sunscreen is really coming in handy. However, this has been a very fun and busy week otherwise.
On Monday, a group of us went out to a picnic by a river here. This river was in my previous area, so it was a fun and relaxing afternoon of enjoying the sunshine and listening to water babbling in a brook. I could have honestly stayed there forever, we even splurged and bought a watermelon and busted out the peanut butter that came in the mail. It was great! There were also three little boys that came and joined us and they ended up walking away with a bag full of chips, cookies, a bubble wand, and I even donated my Cola to the cause. They were so cute, I love all Mongolians.
By Tuesday, Sis. Bollwinkel and I set out to actually look around the area that we now serve in--so Songino is on the complete opposite side of UB that I used to be on and is just as big, so there are 5 different bus routes that go out about 40 minutes from the city. One of the routes is straight 'hood' where I don't think that I will go there at night, but the other three that we have seen so far are BEAUTIFUL! I love this new ward that we serve in. There is only one more route to see and I hear that it is just as pretty as the other 3, so we will see. The only kind of bummer is that most of the members and investigators live closer to the city, so we won't go that far out too often. In the other ward, there were two inactive families that we visited all the time, so we'll see what ends up happening. But I am happy and love my new companion. It is honestly just wonderful.
One really cool thing that happened this week is that I am going to have my first baptism on Friday at 6:30 PM! She is wonderful and so completely ready to be baptized! We went over to teach a lesson last week and it was almost like she knew the scriptures better than me, I am so happy for her! The new mission president and his wife are AMAZING as well. I am so happy to have been here with the Bensons and now I am excited to see what the Harpers have to offer. Good things are coming, I know it.
I love you all with my whole heart,
(Enjoy those beautiful fireworks)
(Email from this past Sunday - dated July 10, 2016)
Dear family and friends,
Oh man, today has been so much fun, this is one of the reasons for the delay in my email. Today is Naadam here, it is a huge celebration and like a 3-day long Mongolian-style Olympics where there is wrestling, horse races, and archery. We went to the opening ceremony this morning and there were dances, singing, and the parade of people and military. It is a fun celebration of Mongolian heritage and pride, oh man, I LOVE being here--it even has me thinking that if I end up staying longer than next 4th of July and being here again, that wouldn't be too bad of a deal, except no fireworks here. This week has also been raining a lot, so the weather has been humid and cooler than normal, so in other words, today has been fantastic. About two weeks ago, I also went out and bought a Deel, the traditional Mongolian dress, and people have been calling me a Mongolian all day. Hahahah, I felt like a bit of a celebrity because there were foreigners EVERYWHERE today and they kept stopping me and my companions to take a picture with them because they liked our dresses. It has been so much fun. I am still not a fan of Huushur, so even the 'special' ones that they made today weren't my favorite, but it was a good experience to eat it. Me and Mongolian food, I don't think that we are ever going to really get along 100%, but that is okay, I always get to cook my own breakfast.
However, speaking of this week, I had my first baptism! It was the best feeling in the entire world to be with her on the final steps of the process and watching how excited and respectful she was at her baptism; she was completely ready for it. Before the service, my companion and I just sat with her before the baptismal font as she read the scriptures and just kind of took a moment to be still, normally, there isn't that opportunity for stillness. It was amazing! We were also there to help afterwards and just talk with her a little about her feelings before joining up with everyone else to conclude the service, these are precious moments. Just being with her during this small moment has made me realize how much I loved her, completely, and wanted her success. I really did feel complete joy because of her decision, it is not like I tried to take any credit for myself (because I am one of the least involved missionaries that have helped her as I am the newest and speak the least), but I was just so happy. It is like when I saw any of my nieces or nephews for the first time and knew that life would be different from that point on; I may be just a small part of her life, but she has made a huge difference in mine. At the service, the Sister Missionaries sang, 'I Need Thee Every Hour' and that was when it clicked that I can't wait to see what other good things come into her life because of this decision.
As we all know, a baptism is not complete with receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost the following Sunday. What an adventure. So as I said earlier, it has been raining buckets this week and there really isn't a drainage system here, so everything just kind of floods. So on Saturday, it drizzled on and off all day, making the air extremely humid--worse than Tennessee after a rainstorm in the middle of summer--and it was hard because there isn't any air conditioning, so you just because hot and sticky. Blah, that feeling, this is probably another reason that I did not go to a more tropical place. Then, the ground was already saturated, it rained hard all morning on Sunday. The water was everywhere! Luckily, I had my rain boots because in some parts of the road, the water went a little below mid-calf. The problem was on Sunday with all the rain, our new member wasn't there, but she also has 3 little kids under the age of 7, so we thought she might be stuck. My companion and I went out and walked to her house to help her so that she could get to church and seriously, there was flooding everywhere around her house. What normally is a five minute walk turned into 15 because we kept having to find ways around the water. Once we got there, it turns out her kids were not going to be coming to church, so we ended up walking back to church with here. We had to take 3 different routes because of the water. I made a joke and said, 'ta ariun cyncnii beleg avah heregtei' ('You need to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost') and she made a joke of how she knew and someone was trying to stop here because of all of the flooding. I love here.
We made it to church 25 minutes late, but she received the Gift. She leaned over during Sacrament meeting and even made a comment of how the ordinance felt like her baptism all over again. Seriously, she is wonderful.
So between the crazy rain storms, English lessons, and Naadam, I am loving life. I hope that you are having a great summer so far.