Friday, May 10, 2013
The semester is winding up at the college and I am grateful that I won't have to be teaching double-classes for much longer. I have enjoyed the challenges of teaching, particularly getting into the text of Ephesians with my students, though always more could have been done. The students still have finals in a few weeks, so there will be some marking to do!
In language, things continue to slowly improve. My teacher and I have been reading Piper's "In our Joy" together, which has been quite fun. It's particularly interesting when we find things in Mongolian that sound odd, or have enough translational ambiguity that they could mean virtually the opposite of the original.
I'm taking an online course in communicative Koine over some of the summer months, I'm hoping this will improve my own communicative fluency, and help with the ongoing challenge of teaching Greek.
I'm hoping that in Autumn I might give preaching directly in Mongolian a go, we'll see though.
We have a short trip to Aus planned for early August. Catching up with people and doing some PhD related things.
And that's all the news from here at the moment.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Well, most of you hear about our many travels over the last few months, none particularly to our personal preference. We spent a month in Thailand waiting to see if visas would come through, and then made the decision to come back to Mongolia on tourist visas, so that we could at least be here and wait out the time.
When we came back it then turned out that after another week and a half we had to leave again, not because of a problem with our tourist visas, but to obtain our other new visas. We decided to head to Korea for a week, for a couple of reasons.
So we spent last week in Korea. The visa process went very smoothly, and we picked up a work visa and spouse visa to return with.
One of the highlights of our time in Korea was that we had some Danish friends from our church in Australia who are now in Busan. So after collecting the new visas we caught the train to Busan and spent a few days with them. It was very refreshing for us and a great chance to spend time with them. We also attended their home group which was lovely.
We're now back in Mongolia, and Seumas is able to teach and is getting stuck in to classes. Rachel is carrying on with language study and meeting up with some women. We're grateful to be back and really looking forward to settling in again!
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Things keep changing rapidly in our quest to get back to Mongolia.
At first it seemed like things would work out relatively quickly, then it seemed like they would take forever, yesterday we completed going back to Australia for a while, and today...
We've applied for tourist visas to return to Mongolia. Hopefully there will be absolutely zero problems, we'll pick up those visas tomorrow and be on our way.
The next obstacle, naturally, is finding a way back to UB. There's a reason you're not meant to leave flights until the last minute. Once we hold some hot little visas in our hand we will book some tickets, and not before, but we've been scouting as best we can. So if things hold on this course, we could be back there sometime in the coming week.
Of course, everything could change again tomorrow, I suppose.
Our tourist visas will keep us in the country for a while, and then we'll need to exit and re-enter again, so this is a temporary measure, but one that at least allows us to go 'home' for awhile.
Monday, February 11, 2013
Well, we're now in Bangkok. We had a lovely time at our organisation's conference in Chiang Mai (apparently the go-to place for such conferences), and then enjoyed a very pleasant holiday in Phuket. We don't really like Phuket, to be fair, but Rachel's parents came and met us in Chiang Mai and we four went to Phuket and stayed in a fabulous hotel and there was much swimming (by Seumas), and eating pizza by the pool.
Last night we caught an overnight train up to Bangkok (Rachel's parents having departed by air), and we are here until... we leave. We have two nights in a nice hotel here (complete with rooftop pool), followed by 4 nights at a Christian run guesthouse, and then we're out of plans.
The good news is that we heard last Thursday that processes are indeed underway for us to get the right permissions to return to Mongolia on a work + spouse visa. However we're not quite sure when this will happen, certainly not before the 15th. We can stay in Thailand until the 26th our current entry, before we would have to visit some other SE Asian country.
It's tricky, because we're out of our 'holiday' mode. It might sound nice to be indefinitely in a lovely place like Thailand, but essentially we're in a kind of limbo. We aren't really on holidays, but we can't really get that much work done here, and there's no definite end-date for this hiatus.
So that's us, hanging out in Thailand and probably trying to spend less and less while we wait and see. Looking forward to getting back to Mongolia as soon as we can.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
I'm writing this post really to give a little update about our visa situation and to ask for your prayers. Part of our timing for being in Thailand was to switch from student visas to a work visa and spouse visa. This would enable Seumas to take up teaching classes in the college on his return. The timing of this has become complicated due to our travel plans as well as the Embassy going to be shut for a few critical days.
We were hoping to return to Mongolia on the 14th of Feb, but this is almost certainly not going to happen now. We are having a few difficulties ascertaining exactly what has and hasn't been done on the Mongolian side about our visas - the processing of paperwork there is not our responsibility, so its hard to follow up. We are also having troubles changing our flight home, firstly there is a lack of availability to simply postpone at short notice, secondly the uncertainty about whether these new visas will actually be available in due time. We certainly don't want to have to change flights again.
It's becoming rather stressful, so please pray both for our peace about it, and for swift action by others, prompt communication, and God's sovereign grace to rule over it all.
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
We've been here 7 months now, well just over that, and that means 6 months of language (we had a month-long break in August). Summer was nice, not too hot (compared to Aus anyway), though unusually rainy. We went out and visited some fellow Aussies working here in Arhangai for a week.
What else? We decided to change churches, at least our Mongolian church. Our former church moved to a new location and a later time, and so we decided to try a couple of other churches at that time. Eventually our church decided to move back, but we settled on another church and are going there for 5 or 6 weeks. It has been hard to make connections, but that's okay. I (Seumas) can understand the general content of the sermons (usually), and find the preaching quite good (and biblical). That is a great encouragement.
The weather is turning now. We had our first snow a little while ago, but the ground is not blanketed yet. The coming week has a few days forecast not about zero (Celsius). We have sealed up our apartment windows as part of the process of getting ready for winter. We also had a second interior door put in just yesterday. Conveniently the workers turned up just before our teachers came to dinner for the first time.
The reason I started writing this post was mainly to talk about language. At least for myself this has gone very well so far. This was to be expected, but it's still something to be happy about! In the WAYK "Travels with Charlie" schema, I am kind of a low 3 - what happened at the party last night - level. I can make myself understood about a fairly wide range of things, even if my constructions at times are a bit strange-sounding or I have to resort to more basic words because I lack specific vocabulary. Talking in the abstract and about complicated matters is still beyond me. Understanding is usually the major stumbling block - it's not unusual for a whole stream of Mongolian to be totally unintelligible to me.
Reactions vary. Usually when I engage Mongolians in some conversation they are pretty impressed with my level of Mongolian, especially after 6 months. This is very complimentary, but there are plenty of unintelligible moments to keep me in line! Often Mongolians assume you know zero Mongolian, which ranges from awkward, to just funny when they speak English and I just reply in Mongolian. I prefer to discourse in Mongolian where possible.
I'm at a stage where I'm going to try tackling more reading. I have one book by Piper in Mongolian, and can input that into FLTR, which makes reading easier! I have a few other books I might try down the track too. I *should* watch Mongolian tv, but we don't have a stand alone tv unit, and I don't really know what to watch in terms of Mongolian television online.
There is still a long way to go language-wise. I don't want to settle or fall short, but really achieve a level of being able to speak and engage fully in Mongolian. That's on my side, I will try and get Rachel to write about her own experiences sometime.
Okay, hopefully more frequent updates coming to this space!
Oh, ps. I will be in Australia from 28th Nov to 11 Dec, for some university stuff. But I'm pretty flexible and would love to catch up with people. Get in touch.
Friday, July 20, 2012
On our end, the motivation is clear and relatively strong - having left a host of friendships and relationships behind, we are the far-flung ones, and in the relative absence of strong social networks and engagements in the here, our strong desire is both to communicate to people 'back home' (even though 'home' is kind of here), and to hear from home.
But on the other side, for those 'back home', that desire is not strong, nor is it in the front of the mind. For those we have left, life continues, and the everyday happenstances are shared and communicated with others, and our absence gets closed over, little by little, but very quickly. Perhaps only when a distinctive moment reminds you of the absence, "oh Seumas would have liked this", "oh Rachel would have said this", will the prompt come.
I want to disown the idea that I write this to guilt anybody, or in response to anything in particular. I'm just taking note of the phenomenon, and perhaps trying to raise your awareness. The internet is a tool that creates certain forms of communication, it bridges distance, and creates immediacy, but it also creates illusions of closeness and engagement. Particularly, the ability to 'post' can create the illusion of sufficiency. I have written, therefore I assume you have read. But that is not true, broadcasting is not conversation.
In our age, it's the intentionality of communication that is under a certain kind of threat. That one might communicate in order to communicate, rather than broadcast in order to share. That conversation might actually be for the other rather than for myself.
Of course, this whole post is ironically a form of broadcast, not conversation. But that is exactly why it is what it is, I want to broadcast this, because it's not for anything or anyone in particular. For that, you'll hear from me.