Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 8

This morning after devotion time some of us went to the church for a 'class' which was designed for new believers. 7 people came and learnt the basics of how to read teh Bible, how to pray, and how to do a quiet time/devotion Then they all did one right there and then. Also they decided to keep meeting together daily to do them.

Reading the Bible for the first time

We had a very Mongolian lunch and then set off on the 2hr drive to Tosontsengel. Tosontsengel is reputedly the coldest settlement in Mongolia, it gets to -50. It also holds the record for highest recorded barometric pressure on Earth. We met with some local believers in the church there, maybe 8 or 10, and had a time of praise, prayer, testimonies, and prayed specifically for some people there. It was a very warm time of fellowship.

Praying for some people in need


With the believers in Tosontsengel


After this Enkhtsetseg and Enkhtuvshin visited a family to share the good news while the rest of us had some dinner with local believers in a small eatery. It was soup and I do not really get along with Mongolian soup. Anyway, then the 2 hr drive back to Их Уул

This was our last night in town so we had an extended time of worship and prayer and I shared in Mongolian from Acts 20:17ff. Probably some of my most extended Mongolian discourse in the whole trip. Also we took an offering among our team for the local church and prayed several times, and received some gifts, and took many photos





Giving some wisdom from the Scriptures

All the team with our host family (L to R, top: Davka, Erka, Badril, Seumas, middle: Enktuvshin, Tyyla, Enkhtsetseg, Onoroo, bottom: Bagii, Naraa, Nyamka, and our driver Selenge)

I'm running out of days for "meet the team" so I better double up. Onoroo (on the left below) is middle-aged, has two small children, and I think her husband left her. This is reasonably common. She took special efforts to make sure I didn't starve. Enktuvshin (on the right below) is 49, but often acts 21, she also worked illegally in Korea, and then went to Turkey (legally) where she worked and did some kind of ministry there. She gets very enthusiastic and gesticulates like she's Italian.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 7

We started the day late, because it was Sunday. So this meant Devotion Time at 9am instead of 8am. Which meant breakfast afterwards at 10am, and over to church for the service at 11am. Except no-one was there at 11. I thought this was unsurprising, since we are in Mongolia, and in the countryside, but the team thought this was not good and we should pray. Well, it's never bad to pray. So from around 11:20 people started to arrive, and over time it filled completely. But only one man came.

Church Times


Erka shares



Erka preached/testified, and after the service there was some discussion time. Then all the women left, just as Bataar turned up with a few other men. Davka explained to the gospel to them while I went home, where Enkhtsetseg had prepared lunch. There was not really time for the others to come home for lunch, so we ate and went back to church for the children's program. It was a lot like the previous day, with games, singing, and Davka gave a talk from Luke 5 about the calling of Peter.

Some Young ones
Enkhtsetseg sharing from the Bible
All this finished up reasonably early, so in the afternoon it was decided to climb a mountain. Off we went, with some snacks, and after some fun in the snow, we climbed a relatively small hill. I said this was not a mountain. We took photos, ate snacks, and prayed.

Then Nyambaa (the younger son of Naraa the elder) and I set off up an actual mountain. Bagii, Onoroo and Tyyla also followed. It was a bit of a climb, but well worth it.

In the evening two women and a child turned up. Nobody introduced anybody, they just turned up and then they were eating dinner with us. It turned out they were travelling to the city but one bus had not arrived so they were waiting for some other bus. After dinner the team shared the gospel and conversed with them. Finally we started team meeting at 10pm! Which meant midnight bed-times.






On top of a hill

On top of a mountain

On top of the world

Meet the team! Let's talk about Erka (Erdenebat). Erka as a younger man accidentally hit a pedestrian who later died and Erka had to serve time in prison. This really devastated his life. At the time he visited many shamans and lamas to try and avoid this penalty. After prison he went to Korea and worked as an illegal immigrant in the countryside. After two years his wife said, "I heard that the church will help people, let's visit the church", so they went to an English-language church. They didn't understand anything but they felt very welcomed. Eventually they met a Mongolian woman at their church who said that there was a Mongolian church nearby and they should come to this. So they went and learnt about Jesus. At this time Erka was converted. Although he worked on the other side of Korea, near Busan, he would travel back every week to serve in church. Then God blessed them financially and they returned to Mongolia where he operates a medium business and is involved in church planting. He is also very nice, a good organised, and sings marvellously.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 6

The devotion this morning was from Romans 11:33 - 12:8. We had aarts for breakfast. It is kind of like sour milk curds, but then you can make a drink out of it.

After breakfast we went to the boarding home at the school I went with Davka, Tyyla, and Enkhtubshen, to see the older kids (12+), while another team with Enkhtsetseg went to work with the younger kids. In our group, Davka taught a kind of social-lesson about relationships and how children react to family problems and so on. Through the lesson he also gave his testimony, and at the end he explained the gospel.
Morning program with teens

...and with younger kids

 Then there was a youth-group style game. People were in teams of 3, two people holding hands were the "cage", while the other stood in the middle and was the "bird". Then there was an odd person out, who would call out "cage", "bird", or "earthquake", and either all the cage-people, or all the bird-people, or everybody, would have to swap places. There was some confusion at first, but once it was sorted out, much fun was had.

In the afternoon there was a second set of children's programmes. The younger kids met at a court/stadium/hall, while the older kids came to the church. It was kind of like an evangelistic youth group, and many kids came. So there was singing, some games, Tyyla did a bible talk, and there was some discussion time. I spoke a very little bit. Afterwards it was compulsory to have one billion photos with every combination of kid and leader. It finally finished about 5 and there other team came to join us.
Afternoon program, Younger Kids
Youth ministry, Mongolian style

There were many photos

Then it turned out we were going to visit another family. I don't know what the connection was. Anyway, we went to their home and ate horse-meat хууршуур. Horse meat is much better than mutton, just so you know. The young daughter in the house did a display of some Mongolian contortionism for us.

Mongolian Contrortionism

In the evening the team had found some instant coffee, Nescafe classic, which they were very excited about since they knew that I drink black coffee. Also there was a push-up and sit-up competition. I came second on push-ups, but let's be clear that I had excellent form. I won sit-ups. Also a lot of dart-playing this evening.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 5

As aforementioned, waking up early is not very helpful. Also I had some odd dreams. Anyway, for devotion time I shared from Isaiah 55. Leading a devotion in Mongolian is probably on the outer limits of my language skills, but it seemed to go well.

Today I went out with the men to visit some houses of believers. The women were doing something, I think offering massages and facials for women. Anyway, the first home we visisted the wife was a believer. The husband came in and we sat around drinking milk tea while Erka shared the gospel with great clarity, enthusiasm and urgency, while the man sat patiently and listened. Another woman who was some kind of relative also came a listened.

Visiting times


Next we visited a ger, but only the children were home, so we left some gifts and continue on. The third family was the ger of the brother who comes along to morning devotions, Baatar. Two other men were there, and the wife of one of them, and various children. Again Erka did most of the talking and sharing the gospel.

When we came back for lunch I decided it was safe to share that it was my birthday. Safe in the sense that no crazy Mongolian celebrations were likely to ensue.

We had planned a worship time at church for 2pm. Of course this really meant 3pm. The women in our team had been doing these massages since about 10am. About 15 people in all came to the worship time. We sang some songs, and then Badril preached the gospel with great passion. He is very passionate in general. Later in the trip we made fun of the intonations he uses when praying.

Worship times


After the worship time we sat around and had some snacks and question time, and Davka shared his testimony. I probably ended up hearing Davka and Erka's testimonies 4 or 5 times, which really helped me get a grip on the details.

Davka teaching another hermeneutics lesson


In the late afternoon I spend time with Enkhtuvshin and Badril as they prepared fresh хууршуур for dinner. Badril used to work as a European-food cook. Also I sat down and taught Enkhtsetseg some English.
Badril cooking up some хууршуур



Then it was dinner! Birthday dinner! They had made a kind of cake, and had a candle, and sang Happy Birthday in English, and there was even a gift. Also fresh хууршуур is the best хууршуур.  It was so nice, one of the best birthdays.

Birthday times!


It took a little bit to decipher the card

And then review time and then bed, the end.



 Today let's meet Badril, or Oyunbadral as his full name is. His second child was born a few days before leaving on mission! He was a cook for 7 or 8 years, and now is thinking about taking over as the pastor in his local church. He loves to sing and play the guitar, and prays very loudly. Also he wears this hat that makes him look like the captain of the ship. I think it goes well with his facial hair.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 4

There is a problem with waking up at 5am when everyone is sleeping in the same room. It's difficult and pointless to actually get up. Unless, I suppose, you are making milk-tea for everyone, but that was not my lot.

So it was get-up time at 7:30 and then devotion time from Psalm 23, followed by Mongolian breakfast. The plan for today involved in going out in groups of 2 or 3 to invite people to our programs. But first stop was to visit the student dorm; I suppose it is more like a boarding house for children from families who live not in town. We were supposed to meet some teachers in charge there, but they weren't there, so then we did go out into the streets.

I went with Enkhtsetseg, and we would stop and say hello to people and explain who we were and invite them to various things that were on at the church pertaining to their demographic category. We ran into a few people hauling water, so it was decided to head to the water-station. This was a good strategy, as we could just stand there while people came to get water and people would come to us. Enkhtsetseg has a good friendly manner about her which is perfect for talking to strangers. Though countryside Mongolians are very approachable, and the Mongolian language means that everyone is your brother/sister/little sibling/grandma/grandpa.

An Emee carries her water



Getting the water



It might have been -20 or so outside, I don't know. I didn't feel too cold, I think this is a function of superior quality clothing. Anyway, after an hour we walked to the house, but there was no one there, then to the church. Davka was at church preparing some lesson materials. Davka taught Narantuya (the church elder) and her son Baggii a series of lessons on Bible Interpretation over 3 or 4 days. Anyway, we then walked back towards the school, and met with some of the team, and there was discussion about meeting the aforementioned teacher(s), but then it was back to the house for lunch. A lot of walking around in the end.

Lunch ran late, finishing up at 2, which was when we were meant to be at the church (it was a 5 min walk away). So anyway we hurried over. I wasn't sure why we needed to hurry, since it's Mongolia, but surprisingly some people were turning up. We had separate men's and women's meetings this afternoon. The older brother who was coming to morning devotions came, with 2 other men; there were many women there also, maybe 15 or more. The men's meeting was hard-going, they were not super responsive or talktaive. Meanwhile the women's group went well, and later some of us came in to join them and we prayed for six women to receive Jesus that day.

The Men's meeting, a little subdued

Praying times!

In the late afternoon/evening it was rest time. The students had decided to specially cater for me a little, and prepared a meal with rice, beef (instead of mutton), a fried egg(!), and vegetables. Then of course there was team-meeting time.

Today let me introduce you to Enkhtsetseg a little more. Here's a nice picture of her.

My friend Enkhtsetseg
We spent quite a bit of time talking. She became a believer at 16, after reading a children's Bible, which she then read about 5 times. She worked as a journalist, knows some Russian, and before coming to Bible College spent 3 years ministering in countryside towns. Her main ministry passion is for children's ministry. She knows a little English and likes to practice it. Also she likes to ask "why?" a lot, and tease her teacher. After college she plans to return to ministering in the Mongolian countryside. Lastly, she takes a lot of pictures.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 3

The first thing we do of a morning, once everyone gets up (which happens relatively smoothly since you are all in the same room and once a few people are up you pretty much need to wake up, unless you are Davka), is have a devotional time. We sing a few songs, then someone shares a bible passage (Acts 6:1-14 this morning) and everyone has some time to think and reflect and then everyone shares some thoughts, then more singing and simultaneous prayer.

Then we get to breakfast. It is a relatively affair involving bread, jam, a kind of soft flour biscuit (боов), and of course salty-milk-tea.

About 10am we headed outside. Not much usually happens in Mongolia before 10am anyway. The first stop was to visit the local governor/government official, I don't really know what his title is. But there was a town meeting on, so we had to wait. So we waited. For about 2 hours. People came into the local government building. Some also waited. Some came and went. Our team talked to some people. Enkhtsetseg and I went out and visited a few shops and came back. Still waiting. And then it finished and we went to meet the local boss-man. Erka shared about our programme and who we were and gave him a gift, and told him of our desire to bless the community, and then we prayed for the director and went on our way.

Enkhtuvshin shares the good news as we wait for the town meeting


Next stop was to meet the school principal. Again there was more waiting involved. This is the Mongolian way. He seemed a little less friendly to my understanding of what was going on. Later someone explained that while he had no particular objections to our activities, other parties might have some. Also the timing of some of our events had to be renegotiated.

Davka, Badril and I discussing the possible afternoon program


After lunch back at the house I went along to the church with Davka and Badril. We were to meet some people. Who? I just had to wait and see. One man came who expressed that he believed, but he did not have a clear understanding, so Davka shared the gospel from Romans 5 and gave a good explanation. I caught that the man's name was Otgontsog or something like this.

Then 3 elderly people came to the church. I'm not sure who they were or how they heard. Anyway, Davka and Badril again shared the gospel with these people and answered several questions, particularly about how Christianity differed from Buddhism and Shamanism. The two men seemed to be understanding and a little interested, while the women was less interested and saying things about how it was pretty much the same.

Some of the team visit a local family


Those three left and we talked some more with the first man, until he also left. Then I helped with preparing some material for the kids' programme. This mainly involved cutting out paper hearts. The rest of our team showed up later, they had gone out visiting some local families. We heard that some other people were meant to come to visit the church but for one reason or another they didn't show up.

One local believer


So the team had a time of prayer and praise at the church before heading back to the house. Enkhtsetseg decided my hair was too dirty and so insisted on helping me wash it.

In the evening there was some free time after dinner, before our team meeting for the evening. Team meeting is a bit like morning devotion time, except there is also "sharing about the day"; I noticed that the Mongolians seemed reluctant to be too critical in their review, and I decided I should probably adopt this pattern myself for the time being. There was a lot of discussion about the programme since particularly the childrens' programmes had to be rescheduled. There was also much discussion about whether we would go to Tosontsengel on the following week or not. Bed time was quite late.

Now, I feel I should also introduce my team mates, so today we'll start with Davka. Davka is about 25, he is from far western Mongolia. His father became a believer after falling from a camel and becoming at first a bitter alcoholic. Eventually led to Christ, he and his mother become quite transformed, and Davka was so curious about this drastic change that he needed to check out what had transformed his father so dramatically, so he went to church. There he heard the gospel and became a believer. Davka also serves in my church back in Ulaanbaatar. I think his plan is to head back to western Mongolia after graduating and serve the church there. He is quite a smart-alec too.

Davka being a little bit cheeky

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Mission Trip, Day 2

Well I slept very well that first night, I was worn out from the day and probably not drinking enough. The students decided that I would have instant noodles for breakfast instead of the Mongolian fare that the old grandfather was dishing up. I was feeling much better, and we packed up the van and got ready to go. It was snowing and we were concerned that driving might become (more) dangerous. Also we had to push start the van. Actually we had to push it quite a way to get it going.

Across the Steppes


The drive on the second day was even more beautiful than the day before. The 'road' disappeared, or rather was marked by the fact that no-one drove on it. We passed mountains, forests, a lot of snow, a frozen lake, a river flowing through a volcano-carved canyon.

For lunch we stopped in a small town called Чахир, and I took the initiative in saying I would eat бууз for lunch. Right choice for me, much more manageable. We reached Их Уул сум about 3 in the afternoon and stopped at a monument for obligatory photos.
Obligatory Monument Photo

Then we reached the town itself, which is beautifully nestled among, as the name says, many mountains. There are two bridges over a river to reach the town, a wooden one that had been closed and then a second one that had never been open. After some weaving around a phone call was made and a path across the river was worked out.

First we stopped at the church elder's house, but no one was home, so we drove to the church, but no one was there, so we drove back to the elder's house and more phone calls were made, and a passer-by informed us that she was in some meeting somewhere. Eventually her son turned up and restrained the dog and let us in, followed by making some milk-tea for us.

Tired after a long journey


Many a game of darts was played


So we settled in and waited for the elder, Narantuya, to come home. Then there was dinner and a visit to examine the church. There had been talk of staying there but it was deemed too cold and we were to stay at Narantuya's house. So there we had singing and prayer and eventually returning home for bed. Bed meant all the meaning sleeping on the floor of the 'living room' and all the women sleeping in the 'bedroom'. 'Room' is a bit of a loose definition, there were no doors in the building anyway. And that is day 2!


Eternal-Life Church

The team assembled