Yes, we are back in Mongolia.
After a fairly (relatively speaking) straightforward flight to Korea, hotel stopover, and flight to Mongolia, we were landing on a clear Saturday afternoon with the sun shining and the temperature in the negative teens. We had some apprehension about having only a document assuring us we would receive visas, but it turned out to be a straightforward process and visas were speedily placed in our passports!
And the first new thing to notice was that the conveyor belt for luggage has been upgraded in the airport. Modern living! We picked up our luggage and then headed out to be met by our friend Puje. He is the one whose son has ongoing health issues; the two of them had been in the US recently and the prognosis is looking good that one day his son might give up his medication and live a 'normal' life. Praise God.
It has been a busy week for me (Seumas) in particular. We had a very warm reception at both of our churches on Sunday, especially at our Mongolian church, which was very nice for us.
On Monday things were a little bit quiet. I went to visit the college but Monday is rest day so zero people were present. We also went to visit our Mongolian teacher, which was a good reconnection.
Alas, in the difficulty of getting into our apartment on the Saturday night (one lock had been changed and we had two sets of keys and didn't realise that the lock had been changed so it was confusing), one of my bags had fallen to the ground. When I opened up my tablet on Monday night I realised that the screen had been shattered quite comprehensively. Actually the touch screen still works, but the glass is cracked all over. I have some moderate hope of getting it fixed here but it seems unlikely. Also a tap stopped working so we had to get a building plumber to come and look at it. And my monitor didn't want to talk to my computer (we at least fixed this with a new cable). Lastly my printer doesn't like windows 8 and so now I have to print everything through Rachel's computer. Many frustrations!
On Tuesday I was straight into work. I discovered just half-way through the flight, in Korea, that I have to teach the second half of a course from last semester. Also I have to make up about 3 weeks of missed classes. So this week I taught 14 hours of class.
Also on Tuesday we went out to Immigration with the college secretary. This was to file our registration. It used to involve fingerprints and photos, but ours are on file, so it kind of went quickly, except that we didn't have all the right documents.
Then on Wednesday it was determined that I also need to have some medical tests for my work permit! So the secretary met me at school and we went off to a Mongolian district hospital. I was quite dubious about this. It was very crowded. Once we arrived she phoned a nurse she knew. Then the nurse led us into another building and we queued for some blood tests. They only do 50 tests or so each morning, and if you don't get a number, too bad, unless you are pregnant, or a foreigner with friends. Mongolia is definitely "who you know". I was quite pleased to see a needle come out of a sealed bag so at least there is some chance it was fresh and I won't die of blood-borne diseases. Then we had to go back to the main hospital building for an x-ray. A similar system seemed in progress but I was taken in as the last person of the morning to get an x-ray (at 9:30!)
Also I am scheduled to go with some students on some kind of mission trip to the North west. I don't really know anything about this yet. I suppose it will become clear-ish in due course.
On Thursday the Dean of Students approached me and asked if I could preach Friday chapel. So that was another thing to be done. Fortunately I was preparing to preach on Sunday and work through a sermon that I had previously done and connected with material I taught in class this week. I never enjoy preaching through a translator but it is the only way. Also there was some misunderstanding about one of my classes, so I had to teach a class (Ezra-Nehemiah) unprepared on Friday.
Then we had church music practice. Music practice is often preceded by choir practice so I inadvertently joined the choir! Musical instruction in Mongolian is an interesting experience. Rachel also came and sang. Band practice followed choir practice so it was about a 12hr day at college.
In other college news, there are some financial issues for the college at the moment. Please be in prayer for these. If you would like more details, email me.
Saturday we had a committee meeting for the International church. Since we left the country right after we were asked to join the steering committee this was actually our first time at a meeting.
And that's a week back in Mongolia! It's cold (below -20 most days), the air is very bad (I am wearing a mask to and from work), the people are pleased to see us, and life is busy like everywhere.