Monday, May 11, 2009

May Snowstorms bring Summer ????

Well, it wouldn't be May in Mongolia without temps well below freezing and snow. Yes, you heard me right we had our annual May snowstorm this past Friday morning. It began to rain on Thursday evening with temps around 40F, then during the wee hours of the morning it turned to snow when the temp dropped to the teens. Then it warmed up to freezing again around noon; therefore, turning to rain again. It stayed like this well into Saturday. Finally, Sunday the sun emerged to begin the vast process of drying out the land. Since Mongolia is so dry and rocky that the water often won't penetrate the ground thus creating vast pools and mud slicks all over. Not good when trying to keep a clean apartment.! C'est la vie!

Truck Driver and Want-to-be Wrestling Coach

A funny story from my adventures out into the countryside. While there, Ron received a huge load of goods from Ulaanbaatar including many items for construction projects within and around their hashaa. Included in this shipment were 5 beams each being 8 meters (around 27 feet) and 10 beams each being 6 meters (around 20 feet). At first only some Mongols were unloading these off the truck because I did not understand their procedural discussions. After 2 of the 8 meter beams, the truck driver thought that I should be in the mix of this, so I jumped in. These particular beams were on the top of the truck bed area, so we were dragging one end onto the ground and then dragging it far enough out to get the other end of the beam off the truck. Well, lets just say that I thoroughly impressed the truck driver. He instantly started calling me his "really, really, really, really good friend." Furthermore, he wanted to be my coach and have me wrestle for him during Naadam come July. Fortunately, I didn't plan any trips out to Khovd again and also I won't be in Mongolia during July.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

New Photos on Flickr

Hey, I have just added some photos on my Flickr account of my past week's adventures.

First, these are some pics of my friends at my house having fun: FRIENDS

Second, these are pictures of my travels to Khovd, Mongolia: KHOVD


Monday, April 27, 2009

Journeying out into the wild, wild west...

This past week was my program's mid-semester break. I split up my one week break spending about 4 days in UB, then the remainder in west Mongolia.

My time in UB was a blessing to be with close friends and new acquaintances. To be able to freely laugh, tell stories and to just further understand and know each other. I treasure these things in life. I was able to visit the Dormitory, my Russian friends' house, visited Bas-Orgil's house, and had guys to my house on several occasions. Also, I got a much, much needed hair cut.

Then on Wednesday, I headed out into the wild, wild west of Mongolia.

Way out west as in about 1200 kilometers from UB (or around 700 miles for you Americans out there). A family on my team, the Mackey Family, lives and works out there among Mongols and Kazakh People. We had been dialoguing about this journey for some time, and finally it came to fruition. I was excited to head out to a new part of Mongolia to live and experience their life and the life of Mongolians for many years. They live in the Khovd Aimag (Mongolian states) about 40 kms NE of the aimag center, Khovd. They live on the opposite side of the river from the little farming community of Boyant. The population of this area fluctuates greatly depending on the season being that a majority of Mongols are still nomadic; therefore, the population can vary from around 10 families to 100s of families in a matter of weeks as they bring their livestock to the unfrozen rivers to water and feed on the fertile grass.

The Mackeys live in a traditional mongolian house, a ger, currently year round, but they are building a permanent home for them to live in during the winters. Basically, they live in a felt-lined tent 365 days a year while the temps remain below freezing for around 225 days of the 365.

During my time out there, we mainly worked on projects within their hashaa, mongolian personal yard. They are currently working on the the following projects: permanent well pump for water, green houses for gardening purposes, planting trees and flowers, multi-purpose facility, garage for their uni-mog, and a permanent home. The last two projects are for their own purpose primarily, but the rest are to enrich the lives of those around them.

are very self-sacrificing people who give constantly to their neighbors in many, many ways. Within their hashaa lives a Mongolian family. The wife is their language teacher and the husband is Ron's work partner. They have 3 children who are playmates for the Mackey's daughter and helpmates with chores around the


The well pump is to provide a source of water throughout the year since their main sources, rivers and creeks, are frozen a good part of the year. When frozen their water source is about half a mile down the road.

They are selling the water for very cheap to cover the pumps cost and to provide additional income to their Mongolian family friends.

The green houses are an experiment to enrich and expand harvesting out here. Most of Mongolia is rock, dirt, and sand. Thus, farming is limited in crop variety and also in planting season since it hits freezing usually from around Sept. until March / April. Very few things grow well in rocky sand for only 3 months. Well, they are hoping that the green houses allow for a wider variety of crops to grow such as strawberries and to widen the harvesting season. If this succeeds, then they will allow those around them a greater chance at sustainable income year-round. This is something that would benefit all nomadic peoples here.

They are planting the trees and flowers to help make their home more appealing but also to prove that they can be grown with hard work and lots of watering. Yes, that much watering means

lots of water back and forth from the river, but that is where the pump will be a huge blessing.

The rest of their projects are to make their lives more bearable since they live through some very extreme conditions.

For Ron and I this past few days, our main project was to encase their garden beds in chicken wire so that he can later mud over them making more permanent structures. The problem is that our foundation for working was very shoddy at that. He used very cheap rice sacks from China to fill with dirt and , but they rotted under the intense sun and weather. Therefore, some of the walls of the garden beds required some extensive work. Well, being we are in the middle of nowhere, the only way to get things done is the 'redneck' way. So, much of their second garden bed is held together by 'redneck' ingenuity and back-breaking labor. What blessed joy!

Overall, I was blessed to be with such humble, stewards of Father. Thank you for such a memorable experience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

How beautiful the weather is...

Today for the first time in a long time (212 days at least) I have proclaimed that the weather is beautiful. According to the weather channel, it is currently a balmy 55F outside. For that, I say Praise Father! Granted, tonight's low is still a chilly 17F. But hey, I will take this warm weather any day.

Things are moving along here in the land of Chingis Khaan. Father continues to bless me and teach me many things. It is a joy to be here with my friends, teammates, and students!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Inhumanely Cold

Well, today has set some new records for me. The low today here in Ulaanbaatar was -32F with wind chill factors to -50F. Oh the life here that is the reason that I am so excited to be in T-land soon where it is currently a very nice, balmy 81F. A mere 100 degree difference!

How nice the beach will be in 3 weeks. PTL!!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Well, it is that time of year when time and attention is focused on giving thanks, and I too have been focused on it lately (more than usual). Below is a list highlighting my thanks for this past year (and life for others)...

  • mom - she is wonderful and so amazing at everything, she truly keeps me running here in so many ways
  • family
  • former team and supervisor
  • current team and supervisor
  • chat friends - KS, MP, CC, NP, CH, DS, AC, CF, NL
  • true Mongol Brothers - C, B-O, W,
  • Mongolia International University
  • LEI Program - students and colleagues
  • many friends in Inner Mongolia, Hong Kong, and Ulaanbaatar
  • Dr Pepper
  • care packages, cards, & letters
  • Beach Reach 2009
  • memories and life itself

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Five Weeks into it....

Five weeks into school for the LEI Program, I have had many wonderful and stressing experiences. I truly am blessed to be teaching again with so many unique, intriguing students.

Most of the stressful moments have come more from the logistical / administrative aspect of teaching (as any teacher would know). Some examples of these moments:
  • sudden schedule changes
  • more and more students added while space is a valuable, scarce commodity
  • students changing their schedules creating havoc in grade books / records
  • English Education Majors observing your class several times a day for days on end
  • dealing with students who speak up to 4 different languages
  • a classroom full of teen-age males (enough said)

Now, these moments only account for a very small amount of my time. The rest of it is filled with moments of sheer joy & blessings. It is these times that impact me so greatly with rich memories and experiences that I will remember until the last days of my life. My time here has been greatly enriched by working so closely with students from several different countries, lives, cultures, and experiences. Some of these moments so far:
  • a rich heritage of Believers in my classes who live life fully in Father and share of it in class
  • 2 students who walk me home because they fear I may be hurt
  • World Friends - my small group
  • an invitation to join some students for a day in the countryside
  • a classroom full of teen-age males (they add such a uniqueness to their class - B3)
  • A1, B2, & B3 Conversation Classes
  • C1 & C2 Helps Classes - had for a week, but developed some great budding relationships
  • wonderful colleagues from 7 different countries
  • a wonderful Vocabulary Staff - Bayarmaa, John, Anna, Natasha, and Yanna
  • great friends who are actual MIU students
  • too many new friends to name here - they are all blessings in their own respective ways
Father has provided for me in so many ways here at LEI after being out of the classroom for 6 months! Thank You!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Foundations Commences

September 8th marked a blessed day in my life. Classes for the Foundation's Program (also listed as LEI) at Mongolian International University (MIU) began that put me in direct contact with many students. Oh, how my heart was filled with tremendous joy and praises for Father's greatness and loving-kindness.

Since that first day, it has been hectic and chaotic, but it has been such a welcomed part of my life. I coordinate the Vocabulary Section of our curriculum and teach 3 Conversation courses. Granted, this will change soon because our schedules seem to have a shelf-life of about 2-3 weeks.

We have nearly doubled the number of students in our program from just 3 weeks ago. Then we had about 85 students, and now we are looking at a little over 160. What a blessing, but stretches the 9 teachers that we have. We are all greatly tired by the end of the day, but Father renews and refreshes for the next day.

Additionally, each of the teachers leads a small group of about 15 students. This is a group of students of all English lang. abilities. The purpose is to foster more relationships, immerse them in English more, and also to share the Good News!

Yesterday, Friday Sept. 19th, we had our first Student Activity Night. It was a night of games by which each small group earned points. Overall for the night, my small group was 4th by points. Despite their placing, I was so proud of them to see them working together as a team. They are wonderful new friends. And our group's name is "World Friends." They together created this name and chose it. I am very proud of them.

Sometime soon, more news, stories, and pictures!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gold, Boxing & Judo

Mongols are a very proud people group of their culture, traditions, and relationships. Mongolia is a humble nation that is usually peaceful and very friendly. Lately, one could add hyper-stoked regarding their Olympic results!

Now, heading into the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, Mongolia had won 17 medals in past Summer Games but never a "Gold Medal."

But, at the completion of the Games yesterday, Mongolia had earned its second Gold Medal and 4th overall medal of this Olympiad. The official medal winners from Mongolia are:

Gold Boxing - Men's Bantam Weight (54kg) Badar-Uugan Enkhbat
Gold Judo - Men's -100kg Tuvshinbayar Naidan
Silver Boxing - Men's Light Fly Weight (48kg) Serdamba Purevdorj
Silver Shooting - Women's 25m Pistol Gundegmaa Otryad

I along with all Mongols am very proud of my 'adopted' country's Olympic perforamance this year. Their have been many celebrations all around Ulaanbaatar. It is a wonderful thing for the Mongols to have something in which to find national pride after the national issues almost 2 months ago.