Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Good Things Happen when you Leave the House

Dear family,

Time is just ticking away here and this was an amazing week, so many good things are happening--and then do you know what happens in two days? June begins! (lol, then 16 days after that?). Mongolia is beginning to feel like it caught on fire and it is always warm--I think the biggest problem is that I cannot handle 70-80 degree weather anymore. You spend so long with the temperature so low, that the hotter it gets, the more you feel it. I feel like I am walking into an oven everyday now, but my companion from Arizona is loving it.  She literally has said, 'I like feeling like I am melting.' Well, at least someone is loving it, because it is not me. 

However, like I said, great things are happening here. I think the reason is that this is one whole week where I have not been sick and dying, so we have been following the request of our mission president and leaving the house at 10 AM every morning and we have had so many adventures, seriously, I love it here. We have gone on walks, we have tried to find houses, things get interesting when you have to leave your house at 10 AM, you cannot proselyte, and nobody really wakes up until 10; you find other things to do. I was talking with a lady from the school that I was at and to her, I am simply a volunteer English teacher and for respect to my visa, we do not talk about religion unless the person brings it up. So she asked me if I was going to stay here throughout the summer, and I told her no, I would be going back to America soon. Then she asked if I would come back, and I told her that I would in about 2-3 years when I save up some money for it. Then she asked if I would go to different countries to do volunteer work again after I get home, and that lead to a fun conversation with me and my companion as I was walking home. Would I serve another mission after this mission ends? No, not right away. However, I do want to serve Senior missions and have my heart set on at least two: coming back to Mongolia for one and the second is to go anywhere in South America. So that will require some planning and time because that is something that you do later in life.

I feel like I am scattered today, so as a result, you will get the week breakdown instead of my 10 AM adventures!

Tuesday: we left the house at 8:30 AM, then came and emailed you! It was great talking to you. We went on a hike after grocery shopping and spent time with Sister Austin. She was one fantastic companion. 

Wednesday: Running those errands at the BZ (Bayanzurk/Mission Home). This was fun because I was able to donate some of the medical supplies that I brought and never actually used like Mole Skin and and ankle wrap, drop off letters to friends saying good-bye, and then I was able to chat with Sister Harper for few minutes. She is such a great mission mom and makes you feel so good about yourself. We also were able to run into some other missionaries and that is fun-we had to pull some stuff off the computer and they were there doing the same things: printing forms, making copies of records and whatnot.

Thursday: I actually don't remember this day at all. Whoops.

Friday: Big Plan outside and we were able to have a yummy lunch at KFC and then plan for the upcoming week while being surrounded by families outside. IT was hot and we went to this park that has a fountain and there was like one big water fight going on, it was so cute. One girl actually fell into the fountain, then after that, a little boy decided to go for a swim decked out in everything that he was wearing including his baseball cap. We loved it, but it was so hot. Afterwards, we walked home and then headed back out into the blazing heat to walk around our district (we have 6 different ger districts) and looked for houses. We then walked back to the center of town, caught a bus, and we went to Songino. THis was my last area and I MISS it and LOVED being there. I saw some of my favorite members and was able to attend a baptism for the father of a family that I visited often last summer.  

Saturday: Oh man, this one was great! I left my house and met up with a member at the church, a lady that I just love, and got my coming-home skirt, it is so pretty. :) We also walked around the ger district and found a couple more houses to help my companion take over and it was a slightly colder morning, so we were in sweaters. The one day that it was cooler, but then it became warm by 11:30, so back into the oven we went. 

Sunday: The best morning outing option-- going to church. 

Monday: Yesterday was awesome! I started to pack to get ready to go home and make sure that I could get everything that I needed in my bags, I became so stressed out, that we ended up leaving to walk to my school. I accidentally kept a key to the locker and needed to return it. As we were walking by the Sukhbaatar Square (the center of town), there was a huge military appreciation service going on! We saw the military dancing, singing, marching, and even a marching band that played 'Uptown Funk' with a little dance to accompany it. We took a minor detour and watched for a little bit. Guess what happened next, though! We started walking to the school and were followed by two officers on a horse! Hahahahhh, I kept looking back at them and laughed about what would happen if we were trying to run away from the horses and how we'd get away (in each scenario, we lost and the horses won). Then on the walk home, we ran into them again on a completely different street, that one was the awkward moment where we kind of just looked at each other and then walked separate ways. 

Anyways, life. It is great. Leave your house and a whole lot of fun things will happen.

Tuesday (today): left my house to email you, and now we are going on another hike!

Love you all,

Sister Jessica Olsen

Just some random moments. Last week, we decided to get our shoes polished, I went right after my companion. My shoes were really dirty and I got charged twice the price, then I walked through a ger district later and they became just as dirty. That is the last time I will try to polish my shoes as a missionary!

Hahaha, also, for 10 straight days, we saw Sister Hansen and Guild every single day. That never happens.

Good-bye Maynes and good-bye my favorite two new members (they are going to the countryside for the summer). Hello my old church building on the far side of town. My heart exploded with happiness when I got there, I love it!!

Post baptisms shinnanigins. Those few minutes after a baptism are one of the most fun times to be a missionary.

Hahahahahahhah, this was such a funny moment, let me tell you a story.

So after the baptismal service, we were on the other side of town and it takes about 40 minutes to get home by bus and we left at 8 PM. As we were heading out, my companion looked at me and said that she was craving a BLT and we needed this really delicious coconut sauce (that tastes like Thai food) and it was located at eMart-the most amazing store in all of Mongolia that is a mix between Ikea and Target. We live 15 minutes away by taxi, so if we went straight by bus, walked fast, then got in a taxi, we'd be home by 9 PM, 9:30 is our hard curfew. 

So we went for the challenge. Except that we got on the wrong bus in the beginning. Then we had to walk back to a different bus stop, then accidentally got on a second wrong bus (it turned when I thought that it would go straight). We ended up getting off 2 stops before we should have, then grabbed our purses tight and RAN to eMart and go in the store by 8:54 PM. We then ran through the store and grabbed lettuce and went to find the sauce, but it was not there. What the, it was there 5 days earlier!

We started to walk away and in my head, I thought that I would get chips as a consolation. Then, out of nowhere and no where that it was supposed to be, we saw ONE JAR randomly on an endcap. Miracles! We grabbed it, then ran to the register. We then ran outside and got a taxi. By now it was 9 PM. Amazingly, there was also no traffic, so we made it to our complex by 9:08 PM. We sped walked inside and texted that we were home by 9:10 PM.

We made the most delicious sandwiches that night-it tasted like miracles and victory.
These were the horses that basically followed us on our walk to my school and the random military appreciation

So cute story about the kids. We were on the bus coming home from an appointment and they kept looking back at us--this is nothing new. All Mongolians just stare at us foreigners. Then, we started playing a game with them, where they would look at us, we would catch their eye and smile, then they would quickly turn around. It went on for 10 minutes. Then all of a sudden they had oranges and had a slice in their mouth and would poke their head up and smile with the peel popping out, then when we laughed, they would turn around. 
As the bus became more full, they would poke their head around different people and give us the same smile, being just a buch of goof balls. 

Then, when it was time for us to get off, we came the the door, right behind them, and they were bot bravely smiling and goofing off trying to make us laugh. It was the cutest bus ride of my life.

The other picture is of me starting to pack and jam everything in my bag. It is a real struggle.
I got it all to fit in! I am going to check the weight later and then I am set to come home!


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Find that Silver Lining

Dear family and friends,

This has been such a great week here in Mongolia and I am entering into the third week of the transfer, meaning only 3 more until I am home. I promise, I am not very distracted, but 'missions end and we all go home' couldn't ring more true. I love being here, but I am so excited to make my way back and discover if I can put to the test everything that I have learned out here and really become a better and stronger version of myself--also, can I maintain it? I know the answer: only if I really have a sure hope and work my butt off. Then yes, all things will work together for my good. You make a plan and just kind of stick through it.

This week has been very good and I think that one of my favorite days of my mission happened last Saturday. I think that I smiled and laughed all day long. So when my companion and I woke up that morning, we were looking at the day as if it were just another Saturday, but it had rained in the early morning hours, so it was cold, wet, and cloudy. We had missed doing 'Big Plan' earlier in the week, so we were both just going to kind of drudge outside in the wet, go to the local cafe and buy some smoothies, then make our plan for next week. Oh man, did we have a surprise coming--I think that both of us were not really in a talkative mood even and hadn't really talked during the early hours. We weren't made or fighting or anything like that, but it was just a quiet cold morning. Also, I slipped off a curb the day before and slammed my foot halfway on the curb, so I couldn't even workout that morning because half of my foot was sore (it was only bruised for a day), so I didn't even have any endorphones to run off. It was just looking like it was going to be a hum-drum sort of day (we all have those).

Then, the most amazing thing happened. We walked outside and on the side road, when I kept seeing people walking down the middle of the street. Jaywalking is common here, but there were more than the usual amount. Then, as my companion and I kept walking a few more steps and paying attention, she turned to me and said, 'is this road closed down? Where are the cars?' Oh man, then it clicked and it instantly fell into place what was happening: it was Mongolia No Car Day! I remembered having experienced it last year and remembering that the center of the city was completely shut down. Instantly, I found that silver lining. I pulled out my camera and said, 'Companion, let's do Big Plan at Papa's Cafe!' meaning that we were going to walk to one of the further locations and go through the center of the city. Suddenly, instead of only noticing our own personal 'blah mood' we noticed all the kids outside riding their bikes. Instead of complaining about the rain, I was able to put on my rain boots and jump through puddles. We heard laughing, we heard bike bells and the sound of kids roller blading, and we heard so many birds. Do you know what we didn't hear? Car honking, brakes squealing, and we didn't smell the typical pollution even on a clean day. It was wonderful.

All of the people outside were smiling, and I couldn't help but smile in return. My companion and I started chit-chatting as we walked and acted like cars going down the middle of the street. We experienced the peace that I swear can only be found in Mongolia among these quiet people. There were so many families just outside walking around and there were so many kids whizzing around on new skates, bikes, and any other wheeled mechanism you could think of. 

About halfway through the day, we had an appointment to meet a member to pick up some stuff over at the church in the outskirts of town. So we left all of the quiet happiness and went back to where all of the cars were and the typical smells and sounds associated with it. Go figure, because of all of the closures, those who were driving were more frustrated and honked more often because of the increase in traffic by those who did not participate in the joyful closures. We had to walk a little further because all of the bus routes were disrupted, but we were still having a good time. We then made it to the church early and ended up just waiting in the church parking lot, but we had some visitors. There  were some local kids who had jumped through a hole in the fence and were just running around going wild in the parking lot playing this game of Zombies because they kept biting each other. There was a 'home base' where they were safe, but when they saw us coming into the gate, they started to yell and run away thinking that we were going to punish them for breaking in. My companion and I just walked in, said 'bayartai' as the kids ran passed us, then went and sat close to the church doors on a ledge, then those kids, for the outside, started to peer in at us. Then, they noticed that we weren't yelling at them, Then they all started to jump through the hole again and play far away from us. Then they became more brave and started to come closer until they lost all sense of fear and were jumping and climbing all over the place like they were before we entered the lot, but I think that they were having even more fun, because it was now like they had parental supervision. The only thing that I could say was , 'please don't eat each other' because I have never had to say don't bite in Mongolian. Then they just went crazy and my companion and I were like, well, if they couldn't be enjoying themselves in the center of the city like all of the other kids, at least they are playing in the church parking lot. It was safe and probably had the same feeling as the other kids playing in the middle of a closed road. 

They made the most of the situation and became our new little friends. 

After our meeting, we had a district meeting to attend and it took us right back into the center of the closed city. Pure happiness happened all over again. I loved my day.

So here is what I learned from it all, find the thing that will make you happy for the day and really enjoy it. Even on a rainy and cloudy day, you could just have one of the best days of your life. 

I love you all,

Sister Jessica Olsen

So these is from my District Meeting--we played a fun game--and the little kiddies that I wrote about who came and became our friends in the parking lot. Look at them, really cute and just a bunch of goobs

There were so many people and I loved it all. Hahaha, then we ran into SIs. Hansen and Guild--I haven't gone a single day in the last 10 days without seeing them. 

Okay, this is my last round from that day, there was just so much cuteness that happened. I love the picture of the little one about to walk through a puddle.

Hiking fun!

SO we went on the Bogd hike again--I went at the end of February and it was covered in snow. It was so hot and green this time around. MTC SIsters reunions are the best!

LAST DAY OF ENGLISH! We celebrated by getting some delicious Mexican food.

Well, maybe, the school said that they might ask us to come back in and teach the teachers for a week once the school year is over on June 1, but I won't ever teach the students again!