How is everyone doing? It's been a while since I've sent an email but luckily I'm finally here. Mongolia is insane. It's so different than everything I thought it would be like. Like I said a while ago, I don't have very much time to send this email so I'll mostly just hit the big events that happened and give a quick spiritual thought. I'm in an internet cafe though so I can't have my scriptures with me. So basically, this email is probably going to be short haha.
Getting in was crazy, I felt like a secret agent sneaking into some crazy country. I don't have much time to go into the details but there was a pretty stern interview with a customs agent who ended up bringing out another agent to talk to me. I never thought I'd get in. Once I finally cleared customs, I got into a little chase with some sketchy guys who I had no idea what their intentions were. All I need to say is that it was kinda scary and I'm glad I got away from them haha.
The driving here is literally insane. I swear there's no rules or laws here. People just drive wherever they want to, cut off whoever they want to, and go crazy. I saw a Prius hit a motorcyclist and then just go around him and keep driving. It was insane. After I saw that it was like a wake up call saying, "Hey, you're not in America anymore." That statement would only become more and more true longer I was here.
My first night in country, I went to a ger. I'm in an area called jardgalthant (I don't have a mongolian keyboard so I just Anglicized the name) and it's pretty much all gers and mountains. It starts at the edge of the city and just fans out for forever. It's a beautiful area.
My first ger.
On my 2nd night in country, we had another appointment in a ger. That night was kinda crazy. We took a bus out to the ger district, then walked quite a ways to the bottom of a mountain. The family we had the appointment with came to pick us up. There was a man driving with his wife in the front seat. There was 4 of us missionaries total, we opened the backseat to find their little 2 year old son back there. Somehow we all squeezed in the back of this little sedan with the little 2 year old bouncing around wherever he wanted to go as we drove haha. The husband took off and started flying up the mountain. Once we got to the top we had the craziest view of the ger district and Ulaanbaatar off in this distance as the sun was setting.
Their 2 year old son.
Ulaanbaatar way off in the distance.
The view of the ger district from the ger we were at.
Once we got to the ger, we went inside and were treated to a very tasty meal. My comp looked at the food, looked at me, then smelled it and said, "Yep, I know that smell all too well. Ask her what it is." After I asked her she said, "getec." My Mongolian may not be very good but I do know that getec means stomach. My comp said that they use the word getec to refer to stomach, intestines, and just guts in general. Then he said, "Well dang, organs on your 2nd day, you're getting the full magnolian experience now. They're breaking you in real quick." He says magnolian instead of Mongolian to me because it sounds similar and actually sounds pretty funny when he just casually drops it around. He's a really cool guy and a great trainer. His name is Elder Wadsworth. He's 21 from Augusta, Georgia and has been out in "Magnolia" for just about a year now. We get along super well and both like to work hard but have a good time. It's been smooth sailing so far.
Once I found out that what I was staring at in my dish was organs, it suddenly made it much less appetizing. I finally pulled myself to give it a try and let me tell you, that first bite was rough. The taste was horrible and the texture was even worse. There was some crunch inside the slimy, gooey organ which I found out was dried blood. That first bite almost came back up, I'm not gonna lie. After that I stared at the rest of the bowl and thought to myself, "How am I ever going to eat this whole thing?" I just silently said a little prayer to myself and asked to just be able to eat it without throwing up. It was the longest meal of my life but luckily none of it went projectile. The hard thing about eating nasty food here is that you have nothing to wash it down with. The water is really polluted and dirty so they hardly ever drink that. Their favorite drink here is this kind of curdled, spoiled warm milk that they put salt in. So eating a nice bowl of organs and chasing it with a steaming warm glass of salty, spoiled milk definitely takes the cake for the most interesting/gross meal I'll ever had in my life. I'm sure this is only the beginning though.
I haven't been here in Mongolia for very long but I can definitely already tell one thing. These are the happiest people in the world. I had a little moment in the ger that we ate organs in where I just took a step back and looked at the situation from an outside perspective. It blew me away. These people live in a tent that I can't even fully stand up in, sleep in the same bed, share the same toothbrush, poop in a hole in the ground outside their tent, and eat animal guts. It kind of depressed me just to see how poor they were, yet they were so daggone happy. They gladly invited us in and gave us all of their food even though they have nothing. These were people who were truly humbled and faithful. I'll go so far as to say that I may never become that humbled in my whole life, just as most people reading this email won't either. It is so easy to forget what's really important when you live in America, have everything you want and more, and have more distractions than you probably even recognize. These people have nothing but each other and the Lord. I know for a fact that the only way to find happiness that is here to stay is to root it in love. Love for your family and friends, love for one another and your fellow man, love for the Gospel and for our Savior Jesus Christ, and love for our ever-loving Heavenly Father. I promise you that if you take just 30 mins at the end of your day to unplug, put your phone down, and just think, reflect, pray, or read the scriptures, that you will be a better person and that you will have the capacity to love even more. Don't get too hung up on the monotonous everyday tasks of life. Take time to just slow it down and love people. Serve whoever you can whenever you can. If you can even do just 1 simple, little thing, to make someone's life a little easier that day I guarantee you that it will make them so much happier and brighten their day and boost their mood. Through loving our brothers and sisters, we ultimately show our love for the Savior and grow closer to Him. I testify that through doing these things that we can be happier and find more joy and fulfillment in our lives. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
The family that we ate getec with is in a picture that I attached below since I ran out of room to send pictures. The people really are happy, I swear, just for some reason they never smile in pictures.