Hello everyone, how are y’all doing? The summer time has officially hit us here in Mongolia. The days are much longer, hotter, and slower. School is out which means that everyone has left the city. Much like how people might go on vacation or visit family in the summertime in the states, it’s pretty much the same story here. Everyone’s grandparents and extended family live in the countryside so they all leave the city and go visit their relatives while they have the chance in the summer.
Because of this, work drops off quite a bit in the summer. You go from having 10 people interested in the church to 0 because they all left the city without notice. Luckily, we’ve still found plenty to do and have been staying busy with service, helping people out, and teaching new member lessons.
We had a baptism a couple of weeks ago and for lack of a better term, it was definitely a Mongolian style baptism. We had everything ready for it. The girl who was baptized is named Энгцэцэг and is friends with Уртнайсан and Батцэцэг, the 2 girls we baptized last month. She seemed excited for the baptism and crushed the baptismal interview. But, in the week leading up to the service, all of the district that the church was located in, чингэлтэй, lost power. The very few stoplights located out there were black, peoples houses and gers had no power, and of course, the church was also out of power. This caused quite a problem because now we had nowhere to perform the baptism and it would’ve been too last minute to change when or where because it had already been announced in church the previous Sunday. Here, if you don’t announce it in church, it’s not going to happen because no one is going to know about it. There’s almost no other way to talk to people and pass along information reliably except for speaking with them in person. It feels very old fashioned sometimes. Anyways, as the day drew closer for the Baptism, we started wondering what we were going to do. Then, we get a call from our well water lady who needed more water and help with something else that she didn’t really go into detail about. So we hopped on the hour long bus ride out to her house deep in the чингэлтэй district and spent a few hours in the hot, afternoon sun getting her water.
After we finished getting all of her water, she told us to wait but didn’t tell us why. My comp and I went inside her small home which also didn’t have power and discussed what we were going to do about the Baptism the following day. Then, she called for us to come outside where we found 2 other men talking to her from the local power company. They asked her if we were the guys and she said yes and then they told us to follow them. Little did we know, we were now about to help them put up some new power lines and hopefully restore power to the чингэлтэй district. Apparently, they came to her house the day before and told her that they would need to use her house to help run some new lines out to the deeper part of the valley and began setting some things up but needed some help from some taller people to actually put the lines up and finish the job. She said she just happened to know 2 tall people who could help hahaha. Keep in mind, I’m not 100% sure of the legitimacy of this information, this is just what my comp and I interpreted of what she told us after the fact.
Anyways, I climbed on top of her house and secured a line to spot they told me to, then climbed on top of this random storage container that now happened to be in her yard, and secured it there as well. Then, after crossing a dirt back road and a little river I helped one of the power guys secure it to the telephone pole with the old lines already on it. The views during this whole process were pretty cool.
After that, they said we were good. We gathered our things and left. The next day, as we got everything together for the Baptism we noticed a few good signs on the way to the church, working traffic signals and little shops with power again. We finally got to the church and were relieved to find that it had power! We actually took part in restoring the power, not only for the church and our Baptism, but for the whole Чингэлтэй district haha. I don’t actually know if what we did really had an impact on anything at all or if it was more of a coincidence but either way, we had power and the Baptism was on for that night.
It was scheduled for 6:30 but it wasn’t until around 6:25 when the first people showed up, the girl being baptized and her 2 friends. Then around 6:30 the bishop rolled in and asked where our speakers for the service were. Wondering the same thing, we called the people we asked to speak and they both said they weren’t coming despite saying otherwise just a few hours earlier. We tried getting into the office to print out our programs for the service but it was locked and the bishop forgot his key. At this point, it’s 6:45 and we have no speakers, no programs, no pianist or conductor, and no refreshments because everyone fell through. Then, as if their timing couldn’t have been any better, the mission president and his wife walked in. We greeted them and made small talk as we tried thinking of what to do. As they went to take their seats, we went out to the foyer to find that a couple more people had shown up and started thinking on our feet of what to do. We found the bishop and wrote out a new program for him to conduct with on a piece of paper from my notebook. He said he could give one talk and we found the ward mission leader and asked her to give the other talk. I stepped in as the pianist and a sister missionary who showed up filled in as the chorister. My new member said the opening prayer and I said the closing prayer, and the ward mission leader’s husband went out to a little convenience store down the street to grab refreshments. It turns out that while all of this was happening, the girl who was being baptized’s friends called the other youth in the ward and invited them and we actually had a pretty good turnout with another 15 people or so showing up. Around 7:00, we decided that we had enough things in place to go ahead and give it a run and we began the service. This actually was pretty normal for a Mongolian service. At my first baptism the service didn’t start until an hour after scheduled. It’s just a different way of life around here, they have their own way of doing things.
The service began and I actually have to say, it was a great service. The spirit quickly filled the room and took over, present the whole time despite the rocky start. Everything went flawlessly after we started and it all ended up turning out great. We had a cake for her afterwards and all of her friends were there with her, encouraging and supporting her. It really was a great thing to see. Her and her 2 other friends who are practically inseparable are all really solid new members and have testimonies and faith like I’ve never seen before. I’ve watched them all grow so much and become so much happier and open up to me more. We’re all good friends now. I could honestly go the whole rest of my mission without any quote on quote “success” and be fine because of how solid these girls are and how much I’ve seen their lives change. It really has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. I can’t compare it to anything else I’ve ever done or any other feeling I’ve ever had.
Even though it seemed like, at times, all odds were against this baptism, everything still fell into place and the end result ended up being great. After the service, the mission president and his wife came up to us and told us how great the service turned out and how obviously present the spirit was throughout the entire duration of it. They said it was a great thing to see such a bright young woman with a great support system and good friends surrounding her to help her along the way. I couldn’t have agreed more, there was definitely something special about this service and whole aspect of her and her friends all coming in together and being welcomed by the other members and youth with open arms and fitting in so seamlessly. It’s been a wonderful thing to watch. We’ve been keeping in close contact with them and teaching them new member lessons and going to activities with them. They haven’t missed a beat and have been at every activity and church service since we began teaching them. They really are great young women.
As for how the service turned out, I just have a simple but firm testimony of how the Lord’s hand is in all things whether we see it or not, and everything will work out if we just trust in Him. Even though things may not always pan out the way we think it should or the way we envisioned it, the end result will still be accomplished, no matter the means, as long as you have good intentions, a true desire, and a willingness to work for it. Of these things I bear my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
A recent picture with a member family we met with to prove that the food hasn’t killed me yet. Just so happens that this little girl is about the sassiest 6 year old in all of Mongolia.