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!


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