by Mark

 

Darhan is full of surprises.  Just when you think you have seen all there is to see something new pops up.   Last week Brent and I were asked to accompany some people from church to visit an orphan home in New Darhan.  I was asked to bring the camera to take some pictures.  We were not sure exactly what to expect (that’s a given- you stay flexible) or who would be going.   I was thinking three or four people — as it turns out you can fit 12 people in a Toyota Land Cruiser. 

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Note the circus poster in the background

It turned out that our destination was a circus school run for kids who are homeless, or don’t have a safe home environment.  The school has been open for about a year.  Many of the students will go home with the teachers because they have no other place to go at night. 

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The circus training school

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Putting on stilts

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Watch your balance (waiting for Wii to come out with this balance board)

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Naraa Igch sharing a devotional

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Praying for the children

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A New Year’s Celebration

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This sign says Darhan-Uul Aimag Scouting Counsel – the symbol looks like the Boy Scouts symbol.

by Mark

 

We ended up heading down to the capitol over the New Year.  It seems that fireworks are always going off in UB but on New Year’s Eve there wasn’t a place to look where you did not see them.  Staying in the guest house gave us a front row view. 

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by Mark

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We are sitting on the 15th floor of an apartment building in UlaanBaatar watching the fireworks go off around us.  There is no official show, just the big mortars bought on the street. Its strange because in Mongolia most of what we consider Christmas does not start being celebrated until the 26th.  Santa shows up on New Years (Grand Father Winter), the Christmas tree is the New Years’ Tree  Why?  Part of it is the Russian influence during the years of the CCCP or USSR as you know it in English, Christmas was stripped of any religious meaning and shifted towards New Years to even further remove it from any religious significance.  Mongolia still retains much of that tradition.  However it seems that Christmas is growing in popularity.  I think in part its because of western movies and the inter-net.  Many here talk about THE MOVIE, you know the one with the little boy at Christmas (HOME ALONE). On Christmas we watched out the window as parents dropped off their children at pre-school.  Its strange to be walking through Nomin in Darhan and realize they are singing Christmas carols- in English over the loud speakers. I was walking into the store heard a Mongolian singing the words in English.  Did they understand it?  Who knows.   But than again I’m reminded that that is why we are here.  There is a wonderful celebration that is to be embraced.  There is worship to be given.  There is a beauty that is to be seen.  There is hope beyond all else to be imagined.

No eye has seen and no ear has heard nor the heart of man imagined what God has prepared.

Happy New Year

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We have traveled in many different vehicles here in Mongolia (though not yet by camel).  Our goal in the next several years is to be able to purchase a vehicle to help with our work here in Mongolia.  As you may imagine, Mongolia is not the easiest country for cars (see above photo) which means there’s a need for a vehicle with 4-wheel drive as well as maintaining a fund for repairs and replacement parts. Our goal is to raise around $35,000 US.  Part of the expense includes purchasing a heated garage in which to store our vehicle, as well as the need for a durable and reliable 4-wheel drive vehicle.  Vehicles are not cheap and importing one from the States is difficult at best (a whole other story). 

First please give to the The Great Commission Fund– this helps keep us in Mongolia.

Second as you consider your year-end giving, would you prayerfully consider giving to our goal of purchasing a vehicle?  Every little bit helps.

There are two ways you can give. 

1) Electronically  Wood Vehicle Fund (click and follow the directions)

2) By check 

The Christian and Missionary Alliance
Office of Donor Accounting
P.O. Box 35000
Colorado Springs, CO 80935-3500

(866) 443-8262

*Checks should be made payable to The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Please indicate how you would like your monies designated in the memo line.

 

 

Questions about giving?

Telephone  toll-free at (866) 443-8262 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. (MST) or e-mail us at receipt@cmalliance.org.

by Mark

Yesterday I posted about Advent.  A helpful part of the Advent season is an Advent candle.  There are a few different explanations of the candles circulating.  I am not very clear as to the time of their exact origin, however they are helpful in focusing our attention during the Christmas season and drawing out its true meaning.  The Mongolian church is learning about the church calendar.  The following is the other part of an advent pamphlet that was written previously.

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The Advent Candles

Our greatest desire is to glorify God. Many of the symbols that surround the Christmas season are rich in meaning and draw our affections to glorify God. However symbolism without understanding at best is empty and at worst is idolatry. We desire to avoid such emptiness and instead be drawn to the awe and wonder of this season.

The candles symbolize the light of the world, Jesus Christ. They are to draw our attention to Him. The colors of each candle are meaningful. Purple is the sign of royalty to remind us of Christ’s deity and might. Liturgically, purple is also the color of penance and longing in anticipation of Christ’s coming. Rose is a sign of joy and hope at the coming of Christ. White represents purity and brilliance proclaiming the light of the world.

The wreath symbolizes the eternity of God who is from everlasting to everlasting. The holly represents the crown of thorns to remind us that the one who came as an infant was to hang on the cross for the sins of the world. At the center of all stands the white Christ candle, a symbol of light for the hope of the world.

1st Sunday Purple Hope

2nd Sunday Purple Love

3rd Sunday Rose Joy

4th Sunday Purple Peace

Christmas White Salvation

By Mark

Today is December 1st (well it is in Mongolia).  Many people think that the Christmas season begins in December, except for Wal-Mart who thinks it begins in October.  The Advent season is an opportunity for the Church to observe and reflect on the coming of Christ.  Advent is marked by the four Sundays prior to Christmas and began this past Sunday.  I did not grow up in a tradition that observed Advent but have found it a meaningful season to draw my heart and affections past cheesy decorations and back to the expectancy of Christ.  Below is an article that I wrote during my time in Russellville about what Advent is.  Several Advent devotionals are available on the web as well. 

 

The Meaning of Advent

The Advent season is a time to pause and reflect upon God who became man in Jesus Christ. The four Sundays prior to Christmas day, which make up the advent season are filled with Joy, hope, and excitement as well as contemplation and confession in seeking to understand the meaning of the birth of Christ. The word advent comes from the Latin word that means to come to. It is a time to stop and think about what it means to celebrate Christmas; Christ the Messiah, come in the flesh.

We cannot celebrate the birth of Christ without also confronting our absolute dependence upon Him for salvation. The presence of sin in our lives inhibits our fellowship with God. It is only through Christ that we can be reconciled to God, therefore the celebration of His birth calls for a time of contemplation and rejoicing. As we anticipate the celebration of the birth of Christ and long for His return, may we make this a season of confession, prayer, meditation, and hope. As we seek God we must engage His truth and prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christ. We need to remind ourselves that our joy and celebration is not found in what the world offers. Our joy is through the means of grace found in our Lord Jesus Christ. Our hope, which is joy and light, is found nowhere else in the world around us. In this season may we prepare ourselves and hold nothing back. Let us shout for joy for the one who has come: Emmanuel, God with us.

by Mark

As you are eating your turkey today we will, hopefully, be eating chicken at the Grain of Wheat Student Center in UB.  You may not be aware that today marks Mongolian Independence Day.  Brent Liberda and myself had the opportunity to help out with a coal distribution on behalf of Compassion and Mercy Associates to people in the Tusgon area of Darhan.  Brent did an excellent job sharing (in Mongolian of course) that the coal was being given out to share God’s love, to help with swine flu and to help celebrate the Mongolian Holiday. 

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4 bags per family

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Brent and Dawaa helping out (coal is heavy! – note the swine flu masks)

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Dawaa, Brent and Precinct Captains (the captain is in red)

by Mark

We found out early this morning via email that our teacher Karen will be able to come to Mongolia!  Its a great praise and answer that Karen will be able to join us some time in December. 

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Sunset (surprisingly the Northern Lights do not appear in Mongolia)

The following is an update from Haniki about how Pieter and she are doing in Bangkok.  Many of you have asked how Pieter and Richard are doing.  Richard is stating to sit up (apparently he suffered a fractured pelvis as well as hip) and will slowly be back on his feet. 

 

Family and friends,
We’re back at the hospital this morning.  For the follow-up visits
with three doctors.
On Monday we moved from the Bumrungrad Residence to the Alliance Guest
Home.  It is good for Pieter to be able to sit and walk outside in the
garden.  We’re so blessed to have Steve and Carol (and Carol’s mom)
looking after us.  They are organizing everything  for us, which makes
it really easy with our stay in Bangkok.  We had an early Thanksgiving
lunch yesterday, no expert on turkey, but yesterday’s was the best.
Pieter continues making progress.  He had his last physiotherapy at
the hospital on Monday, but we have to continue with home physio for
another 6 weeks.  He still has much pain in both his shoulders and his
arms, especially when sitting or sleeping in the same position.  The
doctor told him to do less exercises with his left arm, because the
healing process has slowed down  due to the exercises.  No headaches,
which really helps, but when chewing, he can definitely feel some
loose bones in his head!!
On Tuesday, I went to the Mongolian Embassy for entry visas.  They
asked me to wait twenty minutes so I don’t have to come back again for
the passports.  I was so happy, and impressed.  Well, have to say, I
was the only one there, no one else wants to go to freezing Mongolia
this time of the year.
We visited Richard in hospital yesterday afternoon.  It was good for
them(Pieter and Richard) to see each other, they got separated after
the accident at the first hospital.  Richard might be able to come out
next week, but because of a broken hip and pelvis, he will have to
stay in bed for another few weeks.
It all depends on what the doctors will say this morning.  We are
thinking of leaving next week, on Wednesday or so.  Flying will be
tough, but maybe I can use Pieter’s “condition” to get bumped up this
time.  Would be great if we can get business class.
For now, this is all the news we have.  Thank you for your prayers.
We appreciate it very much.
Haniki

by Mark

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The days are getting shorter (sunrise Nov. 11 8:00 AM) but as we enter this last month before days get longer we are finding some tasty things to brighten up our days (and nights)

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Check this out- home delivery pizza!  It took about 40 minutes but the guy brought it straight to our door- that’s a first! Nothing comes to the door except bills (hey, Mark, it’s your editor here: you forgot about the vegetable man who delivers fresh vegetables to the door in the summer).   He even had a pizza delivery bag to keep it warm.  The Lains joined us and we ordered a cheese, salami and cheese and super (which includes corn and hotdogs).  I agree with Annika who said that it’s the best pizza we have had in Mongolia – great crust, kind of like Dominoes.  It’s called Pizza Romano.  We had fun trying to translate the box (everything is a language lesson).  The box says “the most tasty” under the fast free delivery.  The pizza costs about $9 US apiece, not cheap but it’s a great treat.  We like to tease each other by saying- wow, you want to order out for pizza tonight? Now we can.  I was also pleased they understood me enough on the phone to get it to the right place. 

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We also had another great treat of apples and caramel.  We boiled sweetened condensed milk in the can for 4 hours (make sure that the can is under the water.  Let it cool and out comes this beautiful caramel colored sauce.  (Thanks Aunt Haniki for the recipe)

 

Update on Pieter: Pieter is doing well, I got to skype with them last Wednesday.  Pieter is continuing to under-go therapy after surgery but is looking good and making great strides each day.  He is walking and pushing himself.  Haniki showed us around the hospital room.  WOW- all I can say is it’s nicer than a lot of US hospital rooms that I have been in.  It has a kitchenette including an oven in it.  Haniki is faithful to send out regular updates- please continue to remember them with us. 

*  The hospital where Pieter was transferred did their own MRI using
newer equipment.  This MRI showed that he also has fractures in his neck
which did not show up initially.  They are waiting to find out if there
will need to be surgery or not.  They will decide when they are certain
about the pressure of the blood on the head.  There is no paralysis.
*  There is still a small amount of bleeding. to the brain.  They are
not concerned about the skull. 

*  There are several fractures in each shoulder and his left wrist is
also broken.  Dennis stated that if his shoulder and hand had not taken
part of the blow, the head injury could have been much worse, so we can
be thankful for that.
*  Haniki says that she is doing well.  She has great support from the
C&MA and also a friend Stephanie from the Philippines is with her and
going everywhere with her.
*  Pieter will have to remain in the hospital at least 2 weeks.  After
they determine what to do about surgery, they will know more about how
much longer after that.
*  Richard is waiting to hear from the orthopedic doctor to know what
kind of treatment he is looking at.  It will depend on where the
fracture is.
*  Both Pieter and Richard are giving orders and telling people what
needs to be done work-wise from their hospital beds, so this is a very
good sign.
*  Others who were there have been able to meet with grief counselors to
help to process the trauma of this experience.