by Mark

In early June we got to take a long plane ride.  Although the ride was pleasant and it was cool to watch videos …



Jet lag soon catches up with you.  (Toby and Annika both did a much better job of adjusting to the time than their mom and dad did!)


Seeing Grandpa and Granna


and  Grandma and Grandpa

We are back in the United States for a few weeks.  Many people have asked “What are you doing here?”   We are currently back in the United States because our visas are being changed over from “student” status to “worker” status.  The Mongolian government enacted a new law which requires individuals to leave the country while this change is being made.  When we added up the costs of being outside of Mongolia for at least 6 weeks, coming back to the United States was the logical place (not to mention the desires of grandparents to see the kids!).  It was encouraging to have everyone greet us (maybe we can leave the flags an banners behind next time?), especially my Mom who is undergoing chemotherapy.



It’s been a bit strange being back in the States- the culture shock comes and goes.  For instance, Toby didn’t know what ketchup packets were at McDonalds.  Annika remembered them, but Toby didn’t!  During the first several weeks we worked on getting all our check-ups and visits to the dentist done.  It’s been great to see how quickly Annika took to learning how to ride a bike!


Way to go Annika! 

We have recently learned that our visas are going to take a while longer than what we expected.  When living overseas you learn to expect that things don’t always go as planned.  Our tickets with Korean Air are changeable for this very reason.  Unfortunately, we learned that we cannot be guaranteed to get back to Mongolia until early September.  (We don’t want to get caught on standby in Seoul for 2 weeks).  July – August is tourist season in Mongolia and there is only one flight a day to Ulaanbaatar, all of which are full.  But we’re looking forward to going back and are fully intending to go back.

Thank you to all the churches who have generously allowed us to share about Mongolia.  We greatly appreciate your support and openness.  It also has been wonderful to re-connect with many friends and the many who follow this blog! (we will be trying to post more). 

Because we will be in the States longer than we expected, we are currently working on connecting with other churches.  If you are interested in hearing about the work in Mongolia, please email us or leave us a comment about how we might be able to connect with your church in August. 

by Mark

After arriving this past Wednesday to things that are greener than I ever could have imagined its hard to think about the devastating toll that this past winter has taken in Mongolia.  Many of the number of animals killed are just now coming to light.  There were two interesting articles that came across the news wires about the current situation.  I pass them on to you below.  The difficulty is the amount of people that will seek to go to the capital, Ulaanbataar, seeking jobs but not finding any or services.  Please pray for Mongolia.

Seattle Times Story

Boston Story


The Lucky Ones- not all of Mongolia has been impacted by the past harsh winter

by Mark


Cinda and I are starting to teach some outdoor skills at Annika’s school.  Today we learned how to put up a tent.  Great job, everyone!


Putting up the tent


Job Complete-Great work!


Something green besides the tent.


Shaking out the tent to put it away.


Toby and Annika dyed Easter Eggs today! 


by Mark

BBC Coverage of Mongolia

Click on the above link to see BBC news coverage of the problems in Western Mongolia.  A special report will be broadcast Monday April 5.  This has been an especially harsh winter in Mongolia- especially the West which has been hit hard.  However the problem is not the winter alone.  The economic crisis led many to take out loans gambling on their herds as collateral.  Now many of those herds are gone. 

If you are interested in giving to the relief effort in the west you may do so through the C&MA website. 

Brent Liberda just returned from out West and Jeremy is still there. 

by Cinda, Annika and Toby

Snapshot_20100314 Snapshot_20100313_21 Snapshot_20100313_46

Snapshot_20100313_36 Snapshot_20100313_29 Snapshot_20100313_31

by Mark

We’re starting Spring Break week for the kids from school (wondering what happened to the Spring part).  I wanted to clear a few blog posts I have been meaning to write. 


Buuhz are a staple food in Mongolia (think meat dumpling)  every guanz (small restaurant) will usually have buuhz on the menu.  They are made  with finely chopped meat (usually mutton)  some seasoning and depending on what is chosen green onion, garlic and even dill.  This is then wrapped in thin dough made from flour, water and salt and then steamed for a short time. 

Although the method for making buuhz is pretty much the same,  everyone has their own twist on the theme.  Some Mongolians use beef, others add onions or some less garlic.  Cinda and I experienced some with a lot of black pepper which were excellent (relatively, in Cinda’s opinion)! 

Buuhz also come in different sizes and types.  For Tsagaan Sar (White month or moon) buuhz are the traditional food which is served.   Families prepare buuhz by hand-making anywhere from 500-2500 of them.    When you come to visit you are given potato salad and a plate of buuhz and urged to eat.  Most of these are easy to pop into your mouth and chew in a few bites.  The joy of buuhz (for me at least)  is the flavor explosion (sometimes really, really hot) in your mouth.  I lost track of how many I ate this year while we visited nine families over the holidays.  The important thing is to eat them while they are hot.  The Mongolians say you must drink hot liquids along with the buuhz.  The thought is that if you drink something cold you can get a stomach ache. 

During the year buuhz are usually much larger, a bit smaller than your fist.  I have found that my favorite type of buuhz are vegetable buuhz however I need to be careful around Mongolians when I say this.  Our head teacher asked what type of food we should have for our Tsagaan Sar party and when I suggested vegetable buuhz, another teacher made a coughing sound that made me think she might need the Heimlich.  Vegetable buuhz are not buuhz!  It’s like suggesting a tofu turkey. 

The other variation of buuhz are “manto” buuhz.  Manto is like a steamed bread dumpling.  It’s filling but not really my favorite.  


By Mark

Blogs seem to go in spurts- nothing for a while and then several in one week… this is going to be one of those weeks.  Last week Cinda’s Mongolian language teacher told us there was going to be a wrestling competition for local pre-school children.  For the opening ceremony her daughter would be dressed in a special Mongolian outfit that she and her mother had made.  So we all went on a field trip.  The outfits worn by the students represented many of the different people groups and regions of Mongolia. 


above: Our language teacher’s daughter (this was my favorite shot- not done by skill but pure luck, we will see if I can ever reproduce it)


Basketball is popular here- a sign from inside the gym


This little guy loved twirling around the long sleeves on his dell.



When wrestlers win a match the loser must pass under the arm of the victor and the rope of his “shirt” is untied.  Then the judge places the “general” hat on the victor and he lifts his arms like an eagle in flight- that eagle dance is what these boys are doing.


This is our teacher’s daughter.  Our teacher was crouching down beside us so that her daughter wouldn’t see her and get upset (Nomin is only two, one of the youngest children in the show).


Marching with their teacher


These two are dressed in the traditional dells of the reindeer people who live near lake Khovsgol. Note the fur and hoods- they strike me as looking very similar to the Inuit. (sorry for the blurry photo)


These outfits are made in the Kazakh tradition.  There is a Kazakh minority in Mongolia, primarily in the western part of Mongolia, along the border with Kazakhstan.  However, there are also small communities of Kazakh throughout Mongolia. 


Two boys wrestling while wearing the traditional outfit.  The rules are similar to Greco-Roman.  The loser is whoever touches the ground first with a knee or, in some cases, a hand.  There are no weight classes- and don’t assume that the big guys always win.  The smaller boy above won several times against bigger boys before he became too tired and lost a match.  As soon as someone wins a match they turn right around and wrestle again.  The judge is standing ready to place the hat on the winner.  You can clearly see the rope around the torso that is untied when one loses.


above: One of the judges, my guess is a regional champion.  Note that around his waist he is not wearing a traditional “buse” or belt, but rather his wrestling outfit, which is often done by wrestlers (or so I was told by our teacher).


This kid was hilarious.  His mom was next to us and wanted a picture taken of her son. She gave our teacher her number so she could get a picture.  He would run out on the wrestling area, do the eagle dance and run back, laughing the whole way. 


Don’t forget- it’s cold here. 

The gym reminded Cinda and I of something out of the movie “Hoosiers” and was not very warm inside.  In fact, the wrestlers were wearing layers over their outfits until their names were called, when mom and dad would suddenly grab them and remove all the top layers, put the boots back on and send them onto the mat.

By Mark

In class Friday Cinda told my teacher and I to look out the window.  She had just received a text from our friend Tuya that there were three suns in the sky. Curious, we looked out our windows and saw this:





Walking home from school we saw many Mongolians outside looking at the sun and taking pictures- it was as much a surprise to them as to us.  As far as I can figure it is caused by the same phenomena that causes a rainbow, the refraction of light through the water particles.  However in this case there was a ground fog and ice particles which caused the refraction and full halo or “sun dog” effect.  You can see more of the rainbow effect on the shot below.



“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.”  Psalm 19:1

By Mark


The inside windows. Estimated actual temp outside is around -40 F.


Some silicone and cardboard stops the drafts pretty well.  Don’t worry it’s warm (relatively) inside.  Made some good salsa yesterday.  We’re off to class.