Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Leaving Home

Late night packing here for a Wednesday morning departure - the first step in a long journey back to America for a year.  We will leave Mongolia on May 3rd, spend some time in California on vacation.  They on May 17th we'll arrive in Akron, which we'll call home for a year.  

The good news is, when we leave our home in Akron in summer 2010, we'll be coming back to this home in Bulgan, for a longer 3 year stint, which is twice as long as we've lived here so far.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009


Clara joined in the singing and body motions of the kid favorite 'hallelujah' on Sunday.  She seemed to be singing it the whole day thereafter.  Seeing her squatting down and saying the same title word over and over again is pretty entertaining.  She doesn't quite have the "praise ye the Lord" part down yet, but she sure stands up and stretches her hands up over her burred head.  

I don't know why it tickled us so much.  I guess it's her excitement that resonates.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Straight Talk

We were reflecting the other day with some fellow team mates how Mongolians don't mince words, and aren't afraid to tell you if you do something well, or badly.  They are not overly polite.

Last night was a volleyball context, the second this year I was asked to participate.  Both have been for the parents of the girls schoolmates.  It's a pretty good idea actually.  You get to have a chance to mix it up with all the other parents you've been passing in school hallways all year.

So this morning, in the hallway, a lady whose kid is in another class met me on the stairs.  She greets me with..."You're tall, but how terrible you play?"  From my stunned silence, she guessed that I didn't recognize her with her sunglasses on and without her spectacular serves, bumps and sets from the previous evening.

I told her I do recognize her.  She says, "well how about basketball?  You wanna place a bet on one-on-one?"  Out of another stun I was narrowly able to muster, "now?" She said "no", thankfully and something else, but I was already inching away, easing down the stairs.

I often think of Mongolians as indirect when it comes to confrontation or conflict, like other asians perhaps.  But when it comes to calling it like they see it, they can be pretty straight up.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter

Being a little sick, I think all our expectations were lowered a little for this year's festivities.  And that lessened anxiety made for a peaceful and thoroughly enjoyable day of celebrating resurrection.  

Breakfast was a little delayed by searching the girls for ticks.  We had a 50 percent carrier rate, and flushed both offenders down the toilet - the ticks not the carriers.  Then also involving a toilet, one of the girls didn't quite make it there before spilling her cookies.

Nevertheless, we were all ready for church at 11 am.  Our two neighbor boys recited my favorite verse, which is especially poignant at Easter:  "Then Jesus told him, because you have seen me you have believed: Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed." - John 20:29

Baycaa and Tamiraa and I then hid 47 hard boiled and candy filled eggs all over our yard.

Then those two left on horseback for the countryside, a three hour ride, to return our horses to the man who will watch them for us while we're in America.  Our only other visitor being Peter the local Peace Corps volunteer, the Easter scripture reading and singing proceeded in English.
The last half of John 19 and all of 20 cover the death and resurrection.  Lord I Lift Your Name on High was a fitting concluding song, led by Maggie and Lydia, complete with hand motions.

These same two older girls then dashed over to the neighbors to get them for the egg hunt. Their one year old son was carried around carrying a basket by his 13 year old sister.  They may have found the most in their first egg hunt ever.  Then out of the windblown sunny yard, and into the house for a easter basket pow wow.  No face was more chocolate covered than Clara's. 

Johanna, still in her Pajamas, which she wore all the way through the egg hunt, stood up from eating cookies and sidled up to the table wanting help peeling one of her three boiled eggs.  She was the one who had thrown up earlier.  An hour later she was devouring chicken and mashed potatoes.

The one year old neighbor boy Boyna also packed away his share of mashed potatoes.  So much so that by the time his family were seated with their food, he was full and inconsolable, so they had to eat in shifts, which they didn't seem to mind.

Renee made great rolls, which our neighbor surprised us by asking for the mustard, and slathered all over the several that he ate.  The rolls were also useful in demonstrating the broken body of Jesus as it was shown in his Last Supper.  Grape juice also allowed for borrowing Jesus' imagery.  It was good to share a good meal among friends and remember Jesus and his friends doing the same thing.  Peter and Otgonbayar read the Mark 14 Last Supper scene in English and Mongolian after everyone was full.  Otgoo's wife Enxee said she loved Renee's rolls, but could not take the chicken, or the vegetables.  But she loved the fruit salad.

Our neighbors stayed to chat and play before saying thank you and "happy Easter" in English several times.  Then they walked to their house, two yards away.  

Peter stayed for coffee and conversation about some of the movies of ours he was returning, and brought a book to share with me.  Then I dropped him off at his apartment on my way our to the countryside.  

Baycaa and Tamiraa were sitting in the Ger of my friend Naranpurev watching TV when I got there.  I sat down long enough to get the obligatory cup of milk tea, and find our my friend was not at home.  So off we went to find him.  My two worn out horses were tied to the corral as we walked past them to the car.

We walk in another Ger and say hello to everyone.  Then I recognize one of the ones who answers is Naranpurev, shading up after a hard day cutting all the manes off his horses.  They serve us tea, horse milk, and hoe sure (meat pancake - My stomach just growled writing that)

So we go out and help clip the last couple horses, turn them all loose, throw the saddle on top of my car, and drive back up to his house.  There we discuss our leaving for America, what he is to do with my horses while we're gone, and many other things.  What I really enjoy is that he is talking to Tamiraa and Baycaa as if they are grown up, not ignoring them because they're 15 and 11 years old like usual.  We talk out by the corall, and the wind carries our voices down the dry gully until Naranpuruv waves us inside saying, "why are we talking out here?"  

We sit down on the floor next to the table, and dinner's on.  First boiled beef ribs and goat back bones in one central huge bowl with two butcher knives as our only shared utensils among 4 people.  The women stay away from the table, except to serve something to it.  Goat's a little tuff, but not that bad a flavor.  Then comes the dried goat jerky soup with nuggets of fat that dwarf the pasta shells.  The first bowl was so good, I had to have another.  It came up that today was Easter, and I asked Tamiraa to recite John 20:29 to them in Mongolian.  He did, and they talked about that for a while until the conversation returned to the more solid ground of horses and racing for some time.  I was still impressed how much the boys were being allowed to talk. 

Then I said we better go.  They said drink tea first.  We won't let you go until you take something white.  So one cup of white milk tea, and we stand up and walk out of the home stead tent.  My herdsman friend follows us to the car making me promise to visit again before we leave Mongolia.  

Not long after getting home, a family of four came walking up our path and came in.  The girls had just started watching a DVD episode of Little House on the Prairie.  So Renee sat the lady, and her three kids down at the kitchen table and entertained them all for over an hour.  It came time for bed for the girls.  They all said their prayers like angels and fell asleep with no talking.  
Did I mention it was a Happy Easter?  Here's hoping a day in the life can look like this more than once a year.  Imagine consecutive days better than this in that Eternal Country, as they sometimes call heaven in Mongolian.  Happy Easter from here until we see you there.