The percentage Mongolian church membership I used in the cartoon was based on a LDS membership of 7,721 at the end of 2007. According to LDS Newsroom the membership is now 8,444. The site does not indicate what year these numbers were tallied. There is one mission, two family history centers, and 21 congregations including one recently formed stake.
Choibalsan is indeed close to Russia and China. The Russian border, to the north, is 200 miles away by road. China, to the east, is less than 50 miles distant as the crow flies. Preach My Gospel says this about culture:
Culture and language are closely related. Understanding the culture will help explain why language is used the way it is. Strive to understand the culture of the people so that you can communicate the unique aspects of the message of the Restoration in a way that will be clear to them.
One of the greatest things you can do to gain people’s trust and love is to embrace their culture in appropriate ways. Many great missionaries have done so (see 1 Corinthians 9:20–23). Seek to have the people feel comfortable with you and your language.
I know that in this case the culture that the missionaries would be concerned about would be the Mongolian culture. But then the comic wouldn’t work.
Email has become so common place that receiving a letter is becoming a rare event. Daniel has been on his mission for more than a year and although I have written to him every week, it has all been by email. The Church with the pouch system makes it a lot easier to send hand-written correspondence but still, the keyboard is mightier than the pen.
Mongolia is extremely cold in the winter, with January averages dropping as low as -30°C (-22°F). Ulaanbaatar has the lowest average temperature of any national capital in the world. Daniel has heard of missionary’s eyelashes freezing together and says he looks forward to have it happen to him.
For those who follow the blog you will know that both foods mentioned in the comic strip were recently eaten by Daniel. The horse pizza Daniel and his companion made and consumed themselves without incident. The goat stomach was in the Byyz that Daniel ate at a member’s house but didn’t hold down. At the time he thought the byyz tasted different.
This cartoon was made from a suggestion by Daniel. It is interesting that the names all look the same too. At least to one not acquainted with the language. I wonder what our English names look like to Mongolians. What with all those named Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, and Brown. And what about the multitudes called James, John, Robert, Michael, and William. And the girls are no better with Mary, Patricia, Linda, Barbara, and Elizabeth.
I was raised in socialist England and Santa Claus was mostly referred to as Father Christmas. Father Christmas is used in many other English speaking countries. A similar figure with the same name (in other languages) exists in several other countries, including France (Père Noël), Spain (Papá Noel), Portugal (Pai Natal), Italy (Babbo Natale), and Romania (Moş Crăciun). In past centuries, the English Father Christmas was also known as Old Father Christmas, Sir Christmas, and Lord Christmas.
Since emigrating to the United States all I hear is Santa and I find most people unfamiliar with Father Christmas.
Uuz is Mutton Back that is stewed in one piece. A well fed sheep will collect substantial fat in the lower back and in the tail as an energy reserve. This fat is the main component of Uuz.
Large filled pockets that are deep fried in mutton fat or Khuushuur.
Buuz are small filled pockets, cooked under steam, and usually have an opening at the top.
Daniel got quite sick eating Byyz, which sounds like it is Buuz, but who knows?
Daniel and the other missionaries destined for Mongolia stayed longer in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) while waiting for visas. Then Daniel and a few others were sent to the Georgia Atlanta Mission to tract and wait for visas. He actually went straight to Alabama. Three weeks later the coveted visas arrived and he was on his way to Mongolia.