Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas Day Service

 Posted by Picasa

Another Party for Christmas

Two churches rented a hall and shared a common service to celebrate Christmas. They are both from the outskirts of town where our smaller church in Darhan meets in a tent (Mongolian Ger). We were hoping to go to church in a Ger on Christmas, but a big party of Christmas Day service was pretty good.
At least 50 people came up and shook our hands and squeezed the girls. It was memorable. I think we were the only non-mongolians there. Posted by Picasa

Christmas Eve Visitors

We had Christmas carolers from church. They "Wished us a Merry Christmas" and were gone. They must have had a long night ahead. It was okay because we were tired and the kids were in bed. Whichever one was still awake got to get up and see the spectacle. I have video, no photo.
There were about 20 of them.

Earlier, neighborhood friends of the girls happened to stop by in time for Cocoa, a Christmas Movie and the Christmas Story. The funny thing is they already know Jesus, and talked about where they go to church with thier families. The eight year old girl was especially shiny when she spoke of the Savior. God has been working in Mongolia long before we got here. Posted by Picasa

Everyday in Mongolia

Just a few word pictures to familiarize you a little more with our new home. Bones: Everyday we see bones; not just bones in general. The Mongolian people do not eat the lower leg of any animal. At first when I would walk past a leg, some still with hair intact, I thought that dogs must have gotten into someone's supper! --or garbage. This is sometimes true too. I also had that cool Old West feel of dust and prairie and an animal that met its end due to the cruelty of nature, or perhaps tribal warfare . . . ok, my imagination kind of ran away with that last one. I would see heads a lot too--this might explain the cowboy fantasies. The difference is, we learned in our first week here, the heads are valueable meat and would always be cleaned to the bone. It was only later I heard that they do not eat the chin/ankle meat. In conjunction with this, we just learned a proper use for these bones. A traditional mongolian game called Shagaag. It is similiar to dice or a funny american game called "Pass the Pigs." Depending on the way the bone lands it is one of four animals, the camel, goat, horse or sheep. They also have another game that involves just horses in a race. We were given a bag of these bones for a gift about a week before Christmas. The goal is to play and collect more and more bones.
Sunshine: Before coming here I imagined Mongolia to be somewhat like Montana--Big Sky Country--and that idea has not proved wrong. No matter how cold it gets here, the skies are most always blue with sun shining--what a gift!!!!!
Dust: Before coming here I never would have believed it if you told me. With temperatures well below zero and perpetual frozenness abounding still there is dust. It brushes your boots and the bottom of your long winter coat everyday. In my mind it is such a strange juxtaposition--the sand from beach and the ice from Siberia in cohabitation!
Knocking: Ok, I am including sounds too. Because everyone here lives in apartment block buildings and these also host most of the businesses including our school, most small convienient stores, salons, clinics etc. I am finding it very different from entering a public establishment in the States. You do not simply drive, park and enter the main door. You walk, try to determine the right entrance and you knock. The reason I mention the knock, is because I am noticing that Mongolian's like to have signature knocks. Let's face it, we as North Americans are out of practice at knocking, we rarely do it. We ring a door bell, enter a automatic sliding door etc. Mongolian knocks are somewhat like drum taps, very rythmic, steady and penetrating. Despite our apartment being concrete to the core, the one thing I can hear as I lay in bed at night is the knocks. They go on and on, sometimes, someone answers after awhile, sometimes after a long while people give up, sometimes it is someone cold and drunk knocking on our door wanting to get warm. As I enter school each morning I am practicing my signature knock. Right now it is a little mixed up and inconsistent. I will keep you posted as to the progress. P.S. I do not think Mongolians knock to see if the WC is in use, the times I have attempted it, the occupant has knocked back!:)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

School Christmas Party

Our language school threw a party for Christmas. Although the holiday is known here, and Christmas trees are part of the New Year Fesitivies, Christmas is not widely celebrated.

Our teachers know about Christ from an all-Missionary studentry. Some teachers are Christians and share in the wonder of Christ coming to earth to save sinners from every corner of the world. At the party were people from Mongolia, Korea, India, North America, Norway, Germany, Brazil, Tonga and Figi! Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Mongolian Churches Give Thanks, Celebrate Seven Years

Seven. That’s the number of years since God inspired a new work in Mongolia. Seven. That’s how many churches now grow here like trees beside streams of water. In this arid, windy country, trees are precious few. Seven fertile ones can make a difference. Over America’s Thanksgiving weekend, Seven Mongolian churches gathered in thanks to God – For Seven years of abundant life and blessings to come in eternal worship.

They gathered at the first church planted by the Alliance in Mongolia’s second city, Darhan – about a three hour drive from the Capital. People from churches in Ulaanbaatar and other towns came by train, which doubles travel time. Many began arriving Friday night. Some spent all Saturday preparing food for the big feast Sunday November 27th.

The building pumped with energy well before its scheduled 10 am start. Kids dressed for a creative drama darted up and down halls, in and out of rooms full of people. A few young people were putting shoe polish on their faces to complete their costumes. Later, they depicted spirits of darkness in a drama of conflicting kingdoms. It resonated through the crowd with cheers for the victorious outcome of the spiritual struggle.

Energetic singing and dancing filled the room and fogged the windows – which had to be opened. Even the icy outside air could not cool the lively room. Every chair filled to capacity, people crammed in the aisles and sat on the floor. Each church was introduced and stood to cheers from the crowd. Then someone said “KAMA”. The Missionaries took their turn, stood and were also heartily applauded.

Field Director for the Alliance (known here as KAMA) Dennis Maves delivered the central message. He preached the gospel and emphasized making disciples. Afterward, visitors were introduced. More than 400 hundred people stretched out their hands and serenaded the chorus, “We love you, we’re so glad you’re here, God loves you.”

The party is just getting started. Another church group has taken the platform. Bouncy dance music turns heads from the foyer. Up front about 10 people perform their choreographed routine. The mood of the room gets even lighter. Now up the stairs and into the packed room come platters of food. The servers squeeze up and down the aisles giving each person a meal of celebration food: roasted sheep, goat or beef, and salad.

In a celebration of food and pilgrimage in Mongolia on a Sunday in late November –
God’s people gathered to give thanks and worship. These churches will worship the Lamb Who Was Slain at the greatest Thanksgiving of all – around His throne for eternity. In Mongolia, Christ is gathering for his glory worshippers to fulfill that final celebration.

Seven years ago, God inspired the planting of a church in Mongolia. In seven more years how many Mongolian churches will give thanks in happy worship, on earth or in heaven?

Popsicle Weather and Home Made Fur Mittens

The other day, Renee and I with Johanna wrapped like a pappoose in sheepskin and blankets, got on the taxi on the way to school. The cold is getting real here. But it evidently hadn't phased the guy who got on after us. He was carrying in bare hands a popsicle, and as the taxi started again he casually took a bite.

Today, an old man took off his gloves to pay for something at the store. They looked warm. I asked if I could look at them. He said yes proudly. They looked really warm and well made. Then I asked where he bought them. He pointed to his wife and said she made them. Then he asked where I came from. I told him America perhaps also proudly. Then he started speaking Russian to me. It struck me as funny.

Local Newspaper Reports American President Visit

There were various articles and pictures in the printed version. Mongolian people were pretty excited about having Bush here, giving thumbs up signs etc. Kind of fun to feel valued, even if we are not here for our country, but because of our other citizenship in heaven.