Another week in the books. The scary thing is that we could leave any day. The really scary part is that we could not leave any day. The suspense is kickin us around pretty hard, but we have a lot to learn. One especially significant tidbit I learned was that the Lord's Missionary Training Center forges onward regardless of whether we have a plane ride in sight or on land of the blue skies on the horizon. The four remaining elders in my district pretty much all came in with a screw loose, but sometimes the anticipation accentuates our individual eccentric attributes. Needless to say, we have fun.
The Mongolian is coming along we like to hope. Listening to native speakers talk slow is encouraging yet humbling. Listening to native speakers speak normally is difficult and listening to native speakers talk about anything but church is suicidal. We have been teaching a lot and learning a lot. During class time our teachers teach us Mongolian in Mongolian and we are happy to report that we can ask where the bathroom is and other useful inquiries. I refuse to say that I am confident in my Mongolian linguistical skills nor do I feel prepared to hit the streets of Ulaanbaatar and contact people while running away from dogs. However, I do know that as I obediently study and prayerfully listen to instruction the Lord will assist me in this endeavor to which he has called and set me apart to labor in.
A few fun experiences of the week:
I have been wearing the same tie for 2 weeks now because I told a fellow who gave it to me I would wear it everyday until I left. Unfortunately I am still here and the once fly and fashionable neck ornament is becoming dull and drab in my ever more refined eye. The back story to this story it I got the tie from an Australian. When I first arrived in the MTC all of the Polynesian, New Zealand and Aussies intimidated and scared me. As I have been living with them and playing sports with them I have come to respect them and learn to love them and not be afraid to take the first step in initiating contact. They are a bunch of goofy, spiritual teddy bears, mate! I am rather proud of my New Zealand accent actually :)
We taught a group of english speaking missionaries serving stateside from all around the world a few weeks ago. We thought that we would be in our respective mission before they had left the MTC. They left yesterday and today. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have met taught and learned from these fantastic elders and sisters. They are an example to me of giving up everything (including thier native language) to come to America and further the building of God's Kingdom. And they are so HAPPY! All the time!! They brighten my day and I try to emulate thier Christlike attributes of faith and hope.
Thank you for resolving the driver's lisence issue and I am relatively confident that I will recieve the card before the time it is required to be used. I realized, right after I sent it back that I do not have any form of photo ID if I don't get my visa and passport. Therefore, I would be unable to travel anywhere by plane if I got reassigned, so I suppose it is expedient that I get that back. I am glad things worked out. I REALLY do not want to come home to a warrent for my arrest. (For those 3rd party readers, this issue was a minor infraction in which I did not turn in paperwork for. I am still legally able and spiritually worthy to serve a mission right now!)
Finally we had a wonderful 4th of July celebration here at the MTC. It was a wonderful, respectful, fun event commemorating the birthday of our nation and saluting the triumphs of the church in this great country. The program ended with flags from dozens of nations being presented by citizens of those nations. Including Mongolia! Sister Gaitheema bore the flag of her country with great pride and I felt a stirring in myself for the courageous country of Mongolia. We then watched fireworks and yelled the names of heroic revolutionary figures of Mongolia ex: Chinggis Xhan, Cyx baatar, choibalson and others. In Mongolia, on New Year's all the men in the city climb to the top of a mountain and yell encouragement to the rising sun of the New Year. 20 degrees below and no fear produces a spectacle of culture and excitement. I think us yessing at the fireworks helped sister Gaitheema feel at home.
Perhaps I will be able to call home and talk to you more in person, mom, but then again perhaps not. I am happy and healthy (stuck at 195 lbs and growing stretchmarks but it is okay) and learning and working hard. The country of Mongolia has just finished elections, which had put 5 American's visas on the backburner, and is now celebrating Naadam, thier holiday similar to our Independance day, which will inevitably keep 5 American's visas on the backburners of the consellate's desk. Oh well. I have a lot to learn.
I am just about out of time, but real quickly I had a few insights about my missionary purpose, which is: To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored Gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end (I like how it sounds in Mongolian better) This statement is what I am all about as a missionary. I am maybe starting to grasp what this means in application to my investigators whom I will teach as well as myself. I know that through serving others and developing a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, I can recieve eternal life. Baptism is a gateway, but it is not a measure of MY success. I have known this, but I still thought that I need to be a good missionary and help people recieve the ordinance of baptism, and I do, but the most important work I can do is help people become happy through learning about and following Christ. I love this work and the people I will soon teach, wherever they may be. Thank you for the update and I am SUPER excited to get mail :)