Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Seems and Smells like Home

Asked when we were coming home from Mongolia someone said: "I think we are home".

Things are good here. Renee is baking apple pie.

Renee's Latest Reflections

Hello all!

I just wanted to write a few interesting tidbits about life here so far.
Shopping: There is one western style "supermarket" called Nomin. It reminds me of a cross between Costco and walmart. They have electronics--washers to refridgerators and stereos--, beautiful mongolian made rugs ( wool-from the next smallest city Erdnet), clothes, as well as the food and household items in a regular supermarket. We do not go here very often as the types of food they carry are pretty similiar to other places plus some European candy :) Each apartment building here is about 5 stories high and houses probably about 500 people. We are in building 4-4 on the first floor. Every building has its own little store (at least one) that carries the essentials--bread, boxed milk, TP, candy, flour, apples, potatoes (so far). It is quite nice having to walk only 40 yards if we need something. I'm sure it will come in handy when the temperatures drop. The building right across from us is even stocking "Pringles" and yogurt and tuna. He seems to be very aware that 4 Western families occupy two of the closest buildings. It is a little hard to get used to shopping so frequently and not stocking up like I used to at home. The majority of our shopping is done at the beerg--the open air market. Here they also have everything from pig's heads on a horse cart to electronics, curtains to tires, couches to banannas. This is fun (kind of). We are still learning our way around. You cannot just go and get what you want and go home. It is akin to a scavenger hunt finding what you want, and the weather can make it unbearable. There is really no real soil here, just sand; so when the wind blows it is good not to be outside. Thankfully we have had only a few days like this, but they say the spring is like this nearly every day. Someone asked me about grinding meat. There is a meat grinder in the market, if you like they will grind it after you purchase--I haven't gotten my nerve up yet. They grind quite a bit of mutton to make a meat pancake they call "hosher". There is something about the smell of mutton that is not easily gotten rid of. They do not have much lamb. Mostly mutton, goat (which they try to pass off as mutton), horse, and beef. I have yet to see the chicken. At first I was worried about learning my cuts of meat--now I just try to remember the correct word for beef. We have had some mutton--at our homestay, and by accident and at a restaurant--some of it is OK but mostly always not preferred.

School is pretty good. We love our teacher. She will be 30 two days after Jeremy. Of all the teachers, she speaks the most English. The classes are very small. One teacher: 2 students. She has agreed to teach us at the guest apartment next door when the weather becomes unbearable. All of the teachers are worried about Johanna being brought outside. Our two week crash course is completed. Studies included Post Office, Restaurant, Greetings, Introductions, Banking, Phone Lingo etc. The greeting is "Sang Ban OO"

Darhan is known as a city of youth. There are at least two universities here and it is true, everywhere you look, young people--all are learning or want to learn English. School boys in the courtyards think it is a grand game to say "hello" in the courtyard over and over. I think it is the only word they know. They will follow you around mimicing your words in English and getting a real kick out of themselves. For the most part though, English is not spoken here.

For all of you that have been praying for my aversion to the cold--how about this for an answer from the Giver of Every Good and Perfect Gift:

The apartment we are in used to be used as a Kindergarten. By law, Kindergartens are required to have extra radiators installed. Instead of having the usual 6-7 bars we have two rooms with 14 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is so warm right now (once the city turns the heat on Sept.15 there is no temp adjusting or "off" switch until they decide to do so-probably mid-May) that we have to have all of the windows open. Our temp gauges indoors are reading 80+ some days (and evenings).

Jeremy's knee seems to be healing. We are so thankful for the Korean doctor who has been treating the wound--daily for two weeks and now every other day. The only downside is he insists "no showering"! He doesn't want the infection to flare up again. He has given two injections and several rounds of antibiotics. What an answer to prayer to find someone to give it the attention it needed on this continual basis.

Slowly we are getting our place set up--trying to do so before the weather makes it impossible. Wood is fairly scarce here so furniture is an issue. You can find some things from China like shelves and coffee tables. We have some twin beds and chairs and table the mission is letting us use. We have a mattress and our bed we contracted with a German carpenter who lives here--should be done mid-October. We were able to purchase a kitchen hoosier-type cupboard from the mission, left by a past missionary, as well as a stove and refridgerator. Our next concerns will be with dressers and desks--a pretty important peice of being a student:) We got the cheapest automatic washer we could find--didn't think it much of an issue that it was a floor model and all the labeling is in Russian :) So this took awhile to figure out--in fact, I'm still not certain I am using it correctly. I was delighted though. Even though the romance of a wash/spin type which many have here was a draw, the price was the same and my efficient? sensibilities won out. There are no dryers and we have no balcony, so I usually dry on a drying rack in front of the heater at night so I can put it all away in the morning.

I hope this isn't boring --some will appreciate more than others.


1.) The continuing adjustment, especially for the girls--not only is mommy's time taken up with school but also with new baby Johanna and extra effort of "life" here.

2.) Continued health--there have been some bouts with food/water reactions etc.

All for now--


Sunday, September 25, 2005

When I picked Johanna up this morning, I could feel that she had grown...really stretching out. Posted by Picasa

Trying to capitalize on the good weather. Days have been around 70 again. The heat is on in our apartments, which makes it around 80 degrees inside!  Posted by Picasa

Basketball is pretty popular. The other night I heard the bouncing ball well after dark. I couldn't see the court, but I could hear it. Posted by Picasa

Lydia playing in front of our apartment and a western view. There is a big Buddha statue on the hill on the horizon. There were a bunch of people up there on Saturday when I took this. Posted by Picasa

What's new??...Renee was sick.

We finished our two week survival course in Mongolian language. Renee is a superb student. Gold star time, for sure. Our final day, we went out with two teachers. They took us to a carpenter's shop and we bought a tiny little stool for lydia. Then we asked for something else, and she said she'd have to come to our house to take measurements. So we practiced giving our address and phone number, all in Mongolian.

Friday night we had extra spaghetti with the meat from the market that Renee ground a few nights before. So we had company for dinner. We really enjoy our friends who have been here for two years with CAMA. Maggie and Lydia play with their two boys who are 5 and 2.

Saturday night we went out for a meal while our friends watched our girls. It felt great. Except a few hours later, Renee started feeling sick and has been down most of today, Sunday. I think she's feeling better now. But she's had stomach sickness a few times now...

We're gaining on the unpack/setup process. It feels good to settle. We're getting more furniture all the time. Had a potluck dinner tonight with the rest of the mission family here. There was ateam of doctors from LA with us. They go to another town tomorrow w/ their travelling clinic.

All for now. JB

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Homestay from Renee (news as of 9/10/05)

We got our internet set up the middle of this last week, but the placewhere we are staying does not have a phone, so for now we only can write whenwe come here to the apartment for something.How is everyone there? Tommorrow (Sunday) will be a week since webegan our homestay. It is going pretty well. We have already tried sheephead--I even had to choke down two peices because I got invited into the grandmothers room where she was feasting after they had already broughtus our taste. I was just innocently walking down the hall:) They are allvery hospitable and they of course love the girls and spoil them terribly. Ireally think their teeth are going to rot with all the candy.Some quick prayer updates. We just completed our first week oforientation with the team. It was very encouraging. Good to learn about Mongoliaand the team we will minister alongside. We were just informed that forlegal purposes we have to begin language study with a two week crash course onMonday! Yes, Monday. Originally, they told us we could begin after ourhomestay on Oct. 1st but now our Visa situation is giving us a monday deadline. In some respects it will be good because we will actually be living with Mongolian speakers to practice with. Our hesitations lie inthe fact that our apartment looks like a bomb exploded. I tore through allthe luggage to find warm clothes for this month, but nothing is unpacked.We are having furniture built--dressers, etc. But there is no where to putthings away right now, and while living with our family and doing orientation, we have not had time to go shopping for washing machine mattresses etc. I don't have to tell you--as a mother, you can seewhere this would make for a disorganized maybe frustrating life while tryingto be a language student. (I guess I will have all the long, cold, winter toset up house huh?) Anyway, another hesitation is that the Feilds--ourcurrent informant for the field and the homestay are going home end of Sept. fortheir 3 month home assignment. They are helping us procure a house helper/nanny and carpenters for furniture. I kind of feel like time is running out to have access to their help. That leads to the last hesitation--my girls. We have options open for my schooling times and locations and their care, we just have a lot of decisions to make acouple weeks earlier than we thought.I guess this is a good segue to the prayer requests:Pray for the decisions we need to make about school times, finding a caregiver, if Maggie will start preschool, and how I want to organize mytime and tasks for the next year at least, while in school. You know Iam not good at making quick decisions. Pray for His wisdom for Jeremy andI.Pray for Dennis and Marilyn, the new feild directors that were on oursame flight. While doing their homestay, their 3rd floor apartment wasrobbed two nights ago. They took the computer and camera and all his winter clothes. They are pretty shook up and are reallly feeling the loss ofthe computer as it had all the feild stuff on it too and the robber hasaccess to everything.Keep praying for Jeremy's knee--it has become infected. A Korean doctorsaw him for free yesterday and reopened the wounds and cut away dead fleshand gave him a shot!!! Pray for complete healing of the knee that he may beable to use it again soon.Pray for protection against the enemy--he is trying hard at every angleto discourage. Lord give us eyes to see and your Word to combat theseattacks.I have stayed healthy and the girls--praise the Lord, I have even dranktap water a couple times. I am managing to choke down the steamed saltymilk tea served at least 3 times a day. They say this winter is going to be avery bad one:) We can get a taxi to anywhere in Darhan for 9 cents!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

This is the CMA church in Darhkan. The welcome we received was unbelievable. The presence of God transcends language. The caption above the guitarist/singer says in God is Love in Mongolian. Posted by Picasa

Here is the view from our apartment window on the morning of September 16th, 2005. We had heard it might turn cold Friday. That's snow out there, folks. And it was cold! Posted by Picasa

This is EEmay, the grandma of the family we stayed with for more than a week. She is carrying a big thermos of milk tea, a mongolian favorite. And also a new one of mine. She was is generous with hers and shared many a cup with me. She's 93. JB Posted by Picasa


Yesterday is two weeks in Darkhan. This feels like the first weekend we've had in quite a while.
We're back in our apartment after 10 days in a home-stay with a Mongolian family. They took good care of us, supplied a steady of diet of the Mongolian milk tea which is music to Jeremy's mouth - and candy for the girls which was the same for them. Now we are having to cook for ourselves while we set up a kitchen and whole household. It's more work, but we need to do it sometime before the homework from language school gets more and more intense.

Last night we did get to watch a DVD, first one for the girls, them after they finally fell asleep, one we got not a few laughs out of.

Then today was spent talking to grandmas on the phone and cleaning and setting up the house, unpacking all our gear. Tonight we ran our for burgers and fries. The burgers here are kind of breaded and come with cucumbers and ketchup. All told their not bad. And the fries are quite good. Tomorrow is church and maybe try to pick up some household gear at the market. Then we'll have to hit the homework again, sometime when the kids are asleep or on handsfree mode.

So that's it for our first full weekend in Mongolia.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

"I've never had dinner on a plane before!"

Hello Friends and Family:

With all the goodbyes and farewells behind us, we are now aboard (Aug 30) our 11 hour flight to Seoul Korea, where we catch our flight on to Mongolia - I think about a five hour flight.

The girls are holding up well so far. Korean Airlines is really taking good care of us. They served us a meal in the first couple hours of the flight. Maggie's reaction made me think of you. Her eyes and voice lit up as she turned to us and said, "Hey! I've never had dinner on a plane before!." We all ate good, and hope to settle into some sleep soon.

Until later,

Traveling Mercies

We were just recovered from an emotional final farewell with my brother, wife and neice as we entered our gate area.

Right then we saw our friends and field director Dennis and Marylin coming for us. They had been at the gate for some time already. They remarked how they thought there wouldn't be many people on the plane. That was when we told them that all the other passengers were stuck in line. Our fifteen bags took about an hour to check in, Ugh.

Our carry ons were more than we could carry. So the Maves' help was great! Now they are entertaining Maggie and Lydia a few rows back from us - hence I have time to write this.