Thursday, September 28, 2006

Renee On Mongolian Saddle

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Harvest Colors Us Glad

When the sight of foods make you reach for your camera, you may be a little desparate. We're really not. We can find canned corn almost always. But there's nothing like eating corn fresh from the cob. This stuff was grown by local people who are learning about corn from friends of ours who are Peace Corps Volunteers. This picture was taken just before we sat down to dinner and found out that about half of these ears of corn were actually Feild Corn...not Sweet Corn! I guess the quality of seeds at this distance is a little hard to verify. It is still good to see and eat beautiful produce from the One who gives sunlight, water and everything else. Posted by Picasa

A Car Story - "POOF!" Goes the Tire

Thank God we got a car! It's a Toyota Prado, which is a scaled down version of a Landcruiser that they sell in Japan. Ours was directly imported from there. It's a 1996 4-wheel drive, has a medium-strong engine with decent gas-mileage, and seats 8 people. It's a good fit for us.

It’s great to be mobile again. It’s nice to know that life without a car is possible, but it’s even nicer to be free to drive anywhere we need! Sincere thanks to God, and all His people who gave so we could have experiences like this one:

A few weeks ago the car was filled with people on a 90 km trip. We arrived at a town that has no church and really wants one. The people received us and took us for a tour around the valley. Standing on a nearby hill, we could see its great beauty. On one side was the meandering river, with good sized fish visible from the bridge. On the other side yesteryear’s combines were harvesting golden grain on a mid-September afternoon.

We drove through those fields and over 10 kilometers of dirt roads and back to the home of the man acting as tour guide. We went in and ate a meal his wife had prepared. We said goodbyes and thank you, walked out the gate of the yard, grabbed the keys, and glanced down to see a flat left front tire. Thank God we had a spare! But then to change a tire, you need tools. And we didn’t have the right ones. Some theft-resistant lug nut wouldn't let us get the wheel off!

That was 6pm exactly. Out came the Mongolian men carrying axes, and other metal implements in various shapes and sizes; all instruments of assistance, I hoped.

At 9pm the car hasn’t moved, but the sun has. The sky that was bright red a few minutes before is now lit only by a massive display of stars. Bright as they were, they couldn't light the work going on in the dark next to our car. The blown tire is finally off the car now. The new problem is that the spare won’t go on the hub, wrong bolt pattern.

Out come the men with the ax and metal instruments, this time adding a tiny keychain flashlight to their set of tools. By this tiny light, they break the good tire off the spare rim, break the bad tire off its rim, and put the good tire on the original rim. I’ve never seen car tires put on or off rims by hand before. But this quiet dark night, in the countryside, I saw it three times!

Now air is needed to fill the good tire on right rim. Where do you get air when the one gas station in town is closed? You go to a truck driver’s house of course. Tripping over hidden obstacles on unlit dirt roads, we walked around the sounds of strange barking dogs, and wandered our way to the other side of town to the truck driver’s house.

He’s out of gas, and can’t bring his truck (which has a compressor) to fill up our tire with air. But curiously he gives us the last of his gasoline, about one cup of it. Why? The truck driver's friend drives up to show us how to use the gasoline to solve our dilemma. This guy lays the rim and tire on its side and pours the cup of gas on the sidewall so that it drips in between to rim and tire. Someone lights a match and POOF, the tire has air inside.

Though the tire is sealed with air in it, it’s turns out to be too little pressure. The guy who almost pulled off this pyrotechnic feat said there wasn’t enough gas. He came through in the end though, be giving us his spare rim and tire, which amazingly fit well enough. Because of the Mongolian method of taking the theft-proof lug nuts off, we only had 4 working bolts to secure this oversized tire. We couldn’t turn real sharp or go too fast, but we finally got moving just before midnight, and made it home just before 2am.

Was I ever glad Renee and the kids weren’t in on this trip! The whole experience seemed amusing pretty much all along to my traveling party. They came to see this town that is known among our church people as wanting a church but doesn’t have one. All of us got to see more of the town than any of us expected. They kept assuring me that this is how things are done in the countryside: Mongolian style. Now I see another reason why Mongolian people have such a “can-do” attitude. It’s a necessary attitude for survival.

My efforts to locate the right tools and or parts by phone were fruitless. And so the education about life in Mongolia continues…And I think in what seemed to be a comedy of mishaps, along with a memorable story, some key friendships were made for God’s purposes.

It was a screw in the sidewall that caused the blowout and made it all possible.

How we were able to purchase this car without completely raising its full purchase price of $13,300 is another story. Suffice to say, we still welcome contributions to this important tool.

And Thanks again to all who already gave!

Bergevin Vehicle Fund
Christian and Missionary Alliance
PO Box 35000
Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3500

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

River Baptism

Our chruch had service at the river on this Sunday in August. The congregation sang hymns while people waded into the water to be baptized. The river runs right along the village area of town. A bridge crosses the river just upstream. This really was a public testimony of comitting to follow Christ. I heard 16 people were baptized this sunny, but none too hot of day. All were fully immersed, and the water WAS cold! Try that for comittment! Just like natural birth is not easy, the symbol for spiritual birth in this case was not overly easy either. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mutton Bustin'

For those who haven't heard of this Rodeo event, Johanna is here demonstrating the general idea.
Mutton is the meat of choice for Mongolians. Our taste may yet prefer the junior rodeo event over the mealtime thrill. Posted by Picasa

Last Joy Ride of Summer

This Children's Park in Ulanbaatar is stocked with rides. We had the run of the place this overcast day in September. Tourists are clearing out, and people of going back to school. A fun time was had by these five kids, and the two big ones who were along with them. Posted by Picasa

First Day of School - That's Their's Behind Them

Maggie and Lydia join their parents' first day back to school. All over Mongolia September first is the official opening of the school year. This was Lydia's first time ever to go to "kindergarten". We would consider it pre-school. Kids are in the same class for as many as three years before they're ready for first grade at age 7. Lydia was excited to go as the photo shows. But reality set in a while later, when she found herself in a class full of people who spoke only Mongolian. Thankfully she speaks and understands, but looked ready to go when we came to pick her up.
Renee and Jer are thankful to have the same teacher as last year (never a guarantee) and a morning study schedule. That frees us up to do afternoon language practical experience. Thank God!
Johanna is starting this new year with a new Home Teacher, basically a babysitter who speaks Mongolian. The lady is a friend of the family and we hope Johanna is happy with her while we're away at school. In the long run, she may gain as much as us in language proficiency from this arrangement. Posted by Picasa