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by Mark and Cinda

Yesterday our language school went on an end-of-year picnic.  It was a beautiful day for it (we changed the day to Friday after hearing that there may be snow in the forecast for Saturday)


Our language school (not everyone from the school is pictured)  From the left is Toya Bagsh, our family, Toya’s brother-in-law and Mondahai a teacher from Ulaan Baatar, Ali and Averi, Oyunga Bagsh’s husband and daughter, Aruna Bagsh, The Lains, Toya Bagsh’s husband, Inxhee Bagsh and husband and Oyunga Bagsh.  (Malo, a student from Brazil was also with us, but she took the photo.)  Never realized how tall we are!  And how white! 


We drove a few miles south of Darkhan along the river that flows through Darkhan


Annika and Averi wading


Having a picnic is not just a meal, it’s an all day event.  We got set up and started with the first round of Sharlock (shish-ka-bob or Shishkie or Charasco).  Beef, marinated in some vinegrette, with dried apricots and red onions.   

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The Khorkhog is a traditional Mongolian dish.  Originally it was done by de-boning an entire sheep through the neck (this is an incredible skill that doesn’t get done much anymore, except for with marmot).  Rocks are then heated in the fire to red hot and were placed in the sheep to cook.  The neck was sewn up.  Today there are a few different variations on this theme.  Mutton is still the favored meat by far (did I mention there are an estimated 40,000,000 sheep in Mongolia- yes 40 million you read that right).  Some people will use milk canisters (think the big metal ones) that are filled with layers of hot rocks, meat and vegetables.  The bad part about these is that its like a pressure cooker without a release valve, it can blow up, especially when rolled around to distribute the juices. 

Most Khorhog does not have much seasoning, ours had some tomato base and Korean seasoning which was outstanding. 

[Note: Mongolian BBQ as popularized in many restaurants in the US does not exist in Mongolia – except for BD’s BBQ – a US chain with a franchise in UB.]


Step #1: Build the fire.  The Khorkhog containers are the pans seen in the foreground and background.

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Step #2: Cut up vegetables and meat. 

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Step #3: Start adding hot rocks and meat together and cover


Step #4: Cover and cook for an hour or two.  This is a heavy pan that seems to seal and pressure cook but allows excess pressure to vent.


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It’s good that everywhere one goes in Mongolia, a stray dog or two is sure to follow.  That makes it easier for us foreigners to discreetly dispose of the excess fat and grissle we find it difficult to eat, but that the Mongolians deem as the best part of the meat.  Annika and Averi handled the secret disposal for their parents on this occasion by giving it to a mother dog who was sticking close.  Annika and Toby didn’t care for the main dish, but they found plenty of other things to eat.

The Darhan postal code changed a few months back and I want to remind everyone that it is now 45000- please make note of it.  We have not had any problem on packages but please make the change.  Thanks!

by Mark

It was a pretty exciting week here in Mongolia. 

June 1st is Children’s Day.  Children’s day is usually the last day of school.  It’s traditional to give gift baskets to kids with juice, some candy and  a small toy in it.  Annika and Toby got special gifts.  Cinda and I were off of language school so we went off to the park. 


A Squirt Bottle (for cooling down) and a Bow and Arrow- What fun!

We went over to the Children’s Park to go on some of the rides and check out what was going on.  There were to be many large festivities but they were canceled due to swine flu concerns (from what we could understand).  There were still many people out at the park.


Looking North in the Children’s Park- our apartment building is to the right of the photo where you can see one corner of a light blue building.  They really went all out painting and updating many things for a special day.  The sun was blazing down, so we had to don hats and sunblock.  These poor white people just fry in the hot Mongolian sun.


We rode on some rides!


There were some people flying some model airplanes and shooting off a model rocket too! 


Control line model airplanes- they even did loops, really cool!

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Mark spoke yesterday at church on Acts 2:1-13, the giving of the Holy Spirit to the Church.  From Easter through this month we have been covering the ministry of Jesus after the resurrection. 

In the afternoon we also took Smokey to the vet to get “tutored”


I am evil no more!  (so we hope) OR My, what big ears you have, Smokey!  The better to hear you with, my dear.  heh, heh, heh.

The whole vet encounter was quite an experience.  I won’t go into all the details here (although send me an email and I can tell you about it) but it was quick and for 5000 T or about $3.50 it was a very cheap fix (pun intended). 

by Mark

Its May 27th here- did I mention it snowed again this week? 


(this is the most scenic petrol station in Mongolia)

As I think about what was going on a year ago at this time I’m still savoring the memory of Barbara’s peanut butter pie.  (I would gladly sign a non-disclosure agreement and an understanding that it would not be made, except in Asia, for a copy of the recipe).  It was a year ago this week that Russellville blessed us as we ended our time together.  I think back on that week and remember eating more than I should have at the pot luck (but hey I wasn’t going to be eating that food for a long time – not that we are suffering for food by any means now!) We cleaned the house and still had too much stuff left over, closed on the house and headed to Wheaton via Kentucky.  We dodged tornadoes in Indiana and marveled at what God was doing. 

Its still amazing to look back and see God’s faithfulness in all that happened as well as in everything that we encounter today.  Without His love expressed in the many who lovingly support, pray and work with us we cannot do it.  It is a year that has gone quickly and we look forward to the next because he is faithful.