by Mark

CNN has been running a news focus on Mongolia for the past week or two.  You can find the videos through the link below:

http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/eye.on/?hpt=hp_bn6

I have not been able to watch all the video stories.  Most of them give a very good window to the current situation on Mongolia.  I would be interesting if they would come back in January (probably not).  Why the focus?  Vice-President Biden visited for an afternoon a few weeks ago and brought many reporters with him.  The one thing I notice in most stories about Mongolia tend to “romanticize” the rural life style, which is incredibly difficult.  There also tends to be an overlooking of the swift urbanization of Mongolia.  For instance many Mongolians have never ridden a horse or lived in a ger (although many have). It’s just another example of the contrasts and complexities in this shifting culture.

By Mark

Below is a photo taken last Friday April 28th.

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Thankfully it all melted by Monday, paving the way for this morning, May 4 – pictured below.  Its still coming down 12 hours later, and reports say the snow will continue into tomorrow.  (The good news is it’s going to be very GREEN sometime in the future as a result of the moisture.) 

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We would appreciate your prayers for us through May as we are missing friends, some of whom have left already,and others going tomorrow.

by Mark

 

Our (the church in Darhan) first sunrise service

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Celebrate the Risen Lord!

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Pray for Mongolia

by Mark

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This past Thursday the Darhan MK school went on a field trip to visit a Mongolian Felt Artist.  Jargal Saihan and his wife are committed Christians who make their living by portraying Biblical and Mongolian scenes in felt.  Felt-making is an art that developed in Mongolia.  It is used for footwear, clothing, and most importantly for gers – the traditional Mongolian home.  The felt is light but strong.  The artist told the kids that a felt picture was found in a burial mound from almost 1500 years earlier.

 

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Step 1: Clean the wool.  The wool is washed five times to separate out the dirt and other things that get into it.  The clean wool is on top and the dirty, raw wool is on the bottom.  (All I could think of while seeing this was the verse  “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” (Is. 1:18 ESV) 

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Step 2: Card the Wool. Jargal Saihan built this machine himself.  He runs the wool through it four or five times to break up the knots and comb it out.  He also dyes the wool for the colors he needs.  I think he said he has over 60 different colors that he can create. 

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Step 3: Wet the Wool Jargal Saihan wets the wool in preparation to add other colors of felt and pieces to create the desired picture.  He had all the kids work together to create a house.

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Step 4: Layer the Colors and Shapes. Everyone gets to lend a hand and pitch in

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Step 5: Soap Together.  A mesh is then put over the picture and it is rubbed vertically and horizontally with soap to help bring the fibers of the felt together.

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Step 6: Rinse and Let Dry. Its amazing that the picture is so strong that it can be wrung out!  it is then left to dry.

By Mark

     Since selling what we own and moving to Mongolia I am still trying to learn a very important lesson.  The lesson is this: my joy, happiness and contentment are not grounded in my material things.  If you asked me before, I certainly would have said that happiness doesn’t come from what we own. I knew then and know now that it is a lie.  However, the fly fishing catalogs, Internet searches for the perfect “gear”  and lust after tools (particularly hand tools, i.e.  the perfect smoothing plane) would have told you another story.  Standing in the midst of Bloom’s taxonomy I knew but I still am working on ascending to understanding and application.  I am learning from Mongolians that happiness is not connected to material things.  However, I am also seeing the influx of Louis Vuitton and Burberry stores and watching a society starting to question whether that is true, right before my eyes. 

      This lesson hit me again today as I looked at two different articles.  The first is from the Motley Fool about people who are multi-millionaires who got into trouble by trying to make even more.  When John D. Rockefeller was asked “How much money is enough?” the reply was, “Just a little bit more.”  It’s a good article and rare for financial reporting to actually think about motives, although ethical investing will become a major part of business plans in the coming decade. 

The Question: HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

    So if those with more money than you could comprehend are not satisfied, where is satisfaction and true contentment to be found?  Enter Jeremiah Burroughs.   The second article comes from a book by him.  This summer I purchased the book The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  It is still on the shelf but it will be read – quite worthy of reading. (I am guilty here, too, of mistaking owning a book with actually profiting from its contents.  To paraphrase John Piper- Books do not change us.  It is the sentences and phrases within the book that change us.  It is not a book that is referenced much.  Most old books by dead guys are not. 

The Answer:  What you are truly longing for

Read both, they are worthy to be read.  But perhaps pause and consider what it is that you truly crave. 

by Mark

The newsletter for February is on its way.  Please email me or contact us via facebook if it did not arrive.  Thank you all for your prayer and support.

By Mark

I’ve been listening to some music by Mumford and Sons after a friend mentioned it on Facebook. (Thanks, George, and yes we live in the digital age here in Mongolia.) They have a unique style and some interesting – really interesting lyrics. There is one line in particular that piqued my interest from their song Awake My Soul. What caught my ear is this, “Where you invest your love, you invest your life.”

Enter Jonathan Edwards. The word love, especially when considered in light of Valentine’s Day today (and my 40th Birthday) has been much abused in the English language. It is used so ubiquitously and broadly that it has almost lost meaning. For example: “I love it!” “I love roasted garlic salsa with a hint of lime” and “I love God!” All colloquial usage of love; however, they rather diminish our expression of love towards God. Do I really love “it” as much as I love God? Or is salsa something I love more than God and it has become my idol?

In Mongolian language a challenge that is encountered in translating is figuring out what word fits what is trying to be communicated. You can go about this in two ways. If there is not an exact translation you can use a group of words which describe or express the thought (dynamic) or you can make a new word, usually pulled from another language, and then teach the definition of that word. Each approach has its strengths and weaknesses. When it came to expressing the truth of what a Christian is, Edwards used the term “affections.” A word familiar to us but Edwards took the definition much deeper. To paraphrase my understanding here (or abuse, I am open to correction) Edwards described the “Affections” as the deepest longings of a person. Your affections go beyond mere feelings or short lived euphoria or dread but instead are the deepest convictions that direct who you are. Further it is these affections which can only be satisfied in God himself. It is by the change in these Affections that true evidence of conversion is found. Do I find myself drawn more to the things of God and less to the things of the world? For example, by your feelings you might go for one flavor of ice cream or another, but by your affections you determine by whom and for whom you live your life. That’s why something clicked when I heard the lyrics “Where you invest your love, you invest your life” – what I hear them singing about is the “affections” of a person.

Cinda and I were reflecting that, wow- we’re forty years old and we live in Mongolia. How did that come about? I shake my head and I can only say that it is by the grace of God that we are drawn by our affections to serve Him with all our lives; to never look back and say, “I wonder what if…?” That, in part, is another story for another time.

The second haunting line in the song is “You were made to meet your maker.” Some day we will and we will give an account of what we have done. As I reflect on standing at forty years I am resolved that my affections would grow for Christ in these coming years and that those affections would direct my life, what I do and what informs what I do. That my life will follow where I have invested love, and that my love be fixed on Christ. He is the one who stands for me and the one before whom I will someday stand.

It was the title “Awake my Soul” that caught my attention. It is an interesting one that sounded familiar but I couldn’t place it. In searching I found the beautiful lyrics of John Wesley’s song Arise My Soul Arise. (Check out Indelible Grace’s version.) The beautiful lyrics of that song come from Romans 8:

33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died–more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? (Rom 8:33-35 ESV)

It is also Romans 8 which inspires my favorite song, Before the Throne of God.

Arise My Soul, Arise by John Wesley

Arise, my soul, arise; shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears:
Before the throne my surety stands,
Before the throne my surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above, for me to intercede;
His all redeeming love, His precious blood, to plead:
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears; received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray, His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away, the presence of His Son;
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled; His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child; I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

by Mark

Our January 2011 Family Newsletter just went out.  If you did not receive it and would like to please email me.  Thanks again for your prayer and support.

In Him,

Mark, Cinda, Annika and Toby

by Mark

 

This is a good article, with a great photo essay, on the urban landscape of Mongolia.  Check it out today – it shows the reality of life for over half of all Mongolians.

Urban Planning in Mongolia

by Mark

Our October Newsletter has just been sent out.  If you did not receive it please email Cinda or Mark (mark@mongoliawoods.com) and will will get it to you!! Thanks for your prayer and support.  Keep praying!

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