Thanksgiving In September

The family enjoying Thanksgiving in September.

Peeling the Potatoes

Daniel is leaving for the MTC in October and from there to Mongolia for two years. Jill decided to have a Thanksgiving meal for Daniel today because he won’t be with us in November. He’ll probably end up eating some unappetizing rickety meal on Thanksgiving Day.
Daniel carving the turkey.
My assignment in getting the meal ready was to peel the potatoes. Because I was in the Army my children naturally think that I should be good at peeling potatoes. It turns out that I am but I didn’t learn the skill from my time in the Army. My family in England ate a lot of potatoes and that is where I acquired my spud abilities. Anyway I got away light because I went to help with some church membership duties.

Thanksgiving Meal

Daniel’s married siblings and their spouses joined in the feast. In the photograph above we have (left to right) Sarah, who is due in a week, Derek, Steven, Adelaide, Paul, Jake, Daniel, Rick, and Jill. All four of Daniel’s siblings were present. The meal was really good and the turkey was just right. Later in the evening we had a choice of pumpkin pie or cheesecake for dessert. I mentioned to Sarah that now that we have had Thanksgiving we don’t need to celebrate in November. She said, “O no, this is just for practice.” I want to point out here that I always ask that the potatoes be left whole but every time someone brutally mashes them. What do my readers think. Mashed or unmashed?

We Will Miss Daniel

We will miss Daniel. He is always cheerful and runs like the wind. He carried a few trophies home from his track events to the delight of his parents. He was elected Student Body Officer and made this great video for his election campaign. He diligently attends to his priesthood duties. He went out and got himself a leadership scholarship at the University of Utah. This type of behavior is a favorite with me because it potentially saves me a lot of money. But most of all he will be missed because for the last five years he has done the dishes and mowed the lawn!
Daniel enjoying his turkey
Rickety signature.

Dan at the Bountiful Temple

The Bountiful Temple showing the entrance at the north

The Bountiful Temple showing the entrance at the north

Yesterday Daniel, my youngest son, went to the Bountiful temple to receive his endowments. For my readers that are not familiar with temple endowments I will give a short overview.

The Gift of the Endowment

Daniel at the Bountiful Temple

Daniel at the Bountiful Temple

An endowment is a sacred ordinance. Endowments take place in a dedicated House of the Lord, or temple. Temples were centers of religious worship anciently and Mormons build temples today to administer the ancient ordinances of salvation that have been restored to the earth.

The dictionary defines an endowment as a gift given by a higher power. The temple endowment is a gift of knowledge that helps Mormons understand who they are, where they came from, and where they are going. It helps members understand what they should do to prepare to meet God, and how Jesus Christ offers salvation to each of us.

The temple endowment conveys information in a highly symbolic manner. Symbols used in the temple endowment and the meanings of those symbols are sacred to Mormons. Mormons don’t talk about the details of what goes on in the temple—it is too sacred to be discussed, except in the most holy of places.

Temple Covenants

When presenting the endowment, Church members are required to make very specific covenants with God. A covenant is a two-way promise. In religious terms, a covenant is a sacred promise made between an individual and the Lord:

The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King, the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions. (James E. Talmage, The House of the Lord, p. 84)

A Family Gathering

All endowed extended family members met at the Bountiful temple to be with Daniel when he received his endowments. Not present were Jake who is serving a mission in Mexico and Derek who is building a school in Guatemala.

All available endowed extended family were at the temple

All available endowed extended family were at the temple

We gathered after the ceremony in the Bountiful temple grounds and took some photographs. In parenthesis is the relationship to Daniel. Left to right: Rick (father), Jill (mother), Daniel (himself), Miguel (Melissa’s fiancé), Susan (aunt), Melissa (cousin), Kent (uncle), Connie (cousin), Mark (Connie’s husband), Sarah (sister), Paul (brother), Steven (brother), and Adelaide (Steven’s wife). By now it was 8 pm and we were very hungry so we headed out to Chuck-a-Rama to eat all their food and ruin their profits for the day. For Jill and I it was a great feeling to have all five of our children endowed and active in the faith.

About the Bountiful Temple

In 1897 John Haven Barlow Sr. purchased forty acres of land from the United States government. There was little that could be done with the land until in 1947 some of the land was cleared and four hundred apricot trees were planted. Bountiful City requested the use of the soil from the site to build a dam and over two hundred thousand cubic yards of soil was removed, leaving the area an ideal spot on which the temple would later be built. The temple is the 47th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember well helping to direct traffic at the open house and being one of 200,000 members attending the temple dedication. Sarah and Derek were married in the Bountiful temple. Some temple details:

Announced: 28 May 1988.
Site: 11 acres.
Exterior finish: Bethel white granite.
Architect: Allen Ereckson.
Rooms: Baptistry, celestial room, four endowment rooms, eight sealing rooms.
Total floor area: 104,000 square feet.
Dimensions: 145 feet by 198 feet. 176 feet spire.
District: 30 stakes in central and south Davis county.
Groundbreaking: 2 May 1992 by President Ezra Taft Benson.
Dedication: 8-14 January 1995 by President Howard W. Hunter; 28 sessions.

Source: 2008 Church Almanac, p 518

The Bountiful Temple showing the entrance at the north

The Bountiful Temple showing the entrance at the north

Mongolia Specifics

Last week our family received an email from Sister Jill Andersen, the wife of the Mongolia Mission President. She sent some information to help Daniel prepare for his mission, as well as a map of Mongolia. The information that Sister Andersen sends to the missionary families isn’t in her own words. It started out as something that was used by the previous mission president and has had a lot of editing and updating done by her. She has no idea who first wrote it or how long ago it was written. It may have predated their predecessors. Regardless, family and friends will probably be interested in the contents.

Ulaanbaatar

Ulaanbaatar is an interesting city with varied and unusual architecture. The countryside is some of the most beautiful in the world. This land is very special. You will love it all, especially the people. They are sincere, kind and are so ready to receive the blessings of the Gospel in their lives.

Map of Mongolia

Missionary Work

Mongolia is relatively new to organized missionary work. The first missionaries actually began their service in September of 1992, prior to Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s dedication of the land to missionary work in 1993. There are now nearly 8,000 members in Mongolia with two districts and 20 branches. This is likely one of the more challenging missions in the world. That is why we believe that some of the very best and most qualified missionaries come to serve here. Missionaries are only allowed in Mongolia under the direction of Deseret International Charities, a foundation directed towards teaching English in schools, businesses and government offices. All missionaries are required to teach English 12 hours per week. One cannot mention the Church while teaching English, but if people ask about it outside the classroom, the missionaries may teach them. We are confident that you will love this mission experience. We anxiously await your arrival and the blessings you will bring to this work.

Dramatic Changes

Mongolia, commonly known as the Land of Blue Skies, is located between Russia on the north and China on the south. It is a developing country, after having been under Soviet domination for a rickety seventy years. Since 1990, Mongolian has seen dramatic changes with new businesses, new products, new ideas and new government. Ulaanbaatar is the capital city with approximately one million people living either in ger districts (long strips of fenced-in housing plots that surround the city) or in apartments. The rest of the 2.9 million people live in the countryside — in small cities or out in open spaces.

Religion

Temple, Darkhan, Northern Mongolia

The dominant religion in Mongolia is Buddhism, but Christian religions are taking hold. The membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is growing steadily. Two new chapels were dedicated in January 2007, bringing the total number of LDS-owned chapels in Mongolia to ten. We have two districts and twenty branches in the cities of Ulaanbaatar, Baganuur, Nalaikh, Sukhbaatar, Darkhan, Erdenet, Moron, Zuun-Kharaa, Khovd and Choibalsan. Our mission’s compliment is 130 young missionaries and 14 senior couples.

What to Bring

You are probably most concerned about what to bring (and what not to bring) with you to Mongolia. You will experience four seasons, but primarily short summers and long winters. The clothing list sent by the Missionary Department covers basic needs, but we will add a few insights. There is an old Russian saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, there is only bad clothing.” Winter can begin quickly, usually in September and it can still be quite cold into April and May. Our missionaries use public transportation and taxis, along with much walking to get around. Sturdy walking shoes and durable, simple clothes are most practical here.

Climate

Gobi Desert

The countryside cities are exceptionally cold in winter, and there is more walking and more exposure to the elements there. If you already have warm winter clothing, bring it, but the cold air here is probably colder than you’ve ever experienced before. Having said that, our missionaries all seem to adapt and find ways to cope with the climate. Faces get the coldest because they are exposed. Everyone wraps scarves around their necks and mouths. They pull hats down over their ears, leaving only their eyes and noses out in the open. Once inside, it can be quite warm. Your apartment heat is regulated by the government for the majority of the cold months and you can not adjust the temperature. Summers are generally delightful.

Clothing

It is important to layer your winter clothing so as to block out the cold and wind. You will need a warm layer under your suits, such as thermal garments or an extra pair of long underwear. However, we do have a supply of thermal garments that missionaries have left behind in Mongolia having only been worn once or twice during their mission. You may not need as many sets of these as you think. Two or three pairs would probably be sufficient. Two coats are needed for different times of the year – one being a three-quarter or full-length down-filled coat, and the other a raincoat with or without a zip-out liner, both big enough for a sweater or suit coat under them. Both coats may be bought here, keeping in mind that winter coats aren’t sold until October or November and they are gone by February or March. Considering weight restrictions on your luggage, if you will let us know, we can usually lend you a warm coat upon your arrival until you can purchase something. If you arrive in the early winter, plenty of warm clothing is available. Winter coats cost $35-50. If you arrive during spring/summer, you can wait until fall to purchase winter clothing. Spring/fall coats cost $25-35.

Footwear

Winter boots should be insulated, waterproof, and roomy enough for heavy wool (not cotton) socks to be worn inside allowing the toes to wiggle. They should have good tread for walking on ice! Mongolia does not get much snow. What snow does fall is compacted into ice on the roads and sidewalks. Fur-lined boots are available here for $25-90. Many who brought minus 50 degree boots from America have only worn them once. In talking with the missionaries we have learned that many get by without boots altogether as they find it difficult to remove and put on boots at the homes they visit. Doc Martin shoes will crack in the cold weather. Shoes are available here, but sizes 12 or larger may be difficult to find. Good insoles are important for walking comfort.

Cold Weather Clothing

Altai Mountains, where four countries meet

A warm winter cap is necessary. Frostbite is a concern with the cold wind, so you will need warm coverings for your ears as well as your neck and chin. Ear bands, neck gators and 180’s are good. Scarves, hats, gloves, and wool socks are all available here in winter. Leather gloves should be fur-lined. Thermal and regular garments can be bought here. Shoe shine kits, laundry bags, duct tape, and umbrellas are available here. We suggest bringing one or two two-pant suits. You can have suits tailor-made here. The cost for making a suit in Mongolia is $40-50. The legs of your slacks will get dusty and muddy quickly.

Food

Missionaries live in furnished apartments with blankets and pillows provided. You should bring towels and personal items as listed in the Missionary booklet. The electricity here is 220 volts—adapters and transformers are available. Barbers are inexpensive. Bring needed medications for the full duration of your mission (see the list below). Most items needed for basic cooking, including fresh vegetables, fruits, meats, breads, pasta, rice, and dairy products are abundant in Ulaanbaatar. In outlying areas, fresh produce is usually available, but with limited selections.

Miscellaneous

National University of Mongolia

You do not need to bring hangers. Bring a small key chain flashlight for dark stairwells and apartment entrances. Bring contact lens solution, and sunscreen. Sundry items such as razor blades, shampoo, soap, lotions, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. are readily available. Bring a few photographs of you and your family to share with the Mongolians – they love pictures. The Mongolia Mission rules limit the missionaries’ music selection to church music only.

Medications

Because medications are not readily available in Mongolia, this is a list of suggested items you might want to bring with you in addition to the basic list in the Missionary Booklet you receive. Be sure to bring any personal medications, such as for allergies or acne etc. Bring enough personal medications to last the full duration of your mission. The medical problems we encounter the most here are: intestinal upsets, head colds and coughs. You will need the following:

  • Lotrimin (antifungal cream for athlete’s foot) – one tube
  • Pepto-Bismol (upset stomach) – one box
  • Imodium AD 9 (diarrhea) – one box
  • Ibuprofen or Tylenol – one bottle
  • Keflex 500 – 80 pills
  • A cold/cough medicine – one bottle or box
  • Claritan (loratadine) for summer allergies
  • Wart remover solution
  • One-a-day vitamins
  • Insect repellent – 1 spray bottle or can
  • Neosporin or antibiotic cream/ointment – one tube
  • Vaseline

Finance

Mongolia 1000 Tugrik Note

Missionaries are provided with debit cards which access only their allotment account set up by the mission here in Mongolia. No other funds are put into that account except the monthly allotment allocated by the mission office. The allotment is generous enough to fund all expenses except souvenir purchases. If a missionary needs more personal money occasionally for film, gifts, clothing, etc., it would be best to use a Visa debit card from a home bank. We suggest that a parent’s name also be put on the debit card account to ease replacement if the card is lost or stolen. Please do not make deposits into a personal account for a missionary to use on a regular basis. Not all missionary companions have substantial financial means, and it is important for companions to work together financially. A mission is a good time to learn about budgeting and use of sacred funds.

Mail / Email

Trans-Siberian railway

Proverbs 25:25, “As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.” Missionaries look forward to sending and receiving mail. Mail comes by Missionary Pouch from Salt Lake City each week and is delivered to all missionaries as soon as possible. Those serving in the countryside will not receive mail as promptly as those in the city. Beginning November 1, 2007 only the following items may be sent through the pouch.

  • Postcards
  • Letters that are single sheet, folded into three panels, and taped at the top only.

No envelopes are allowed. Letters sent in any other manner will be returned to the sender. All letters should be sent to the mission office. Delivery to a personal address is not possible because there are no mail boxes at private abodes. This method for mailing to our mission would probably be most useful for letters coming from North America. Correspondents from other countries would mostly likely want to use the direct mailing address. The mission office does not have US stamps for missionaries using the US pouch, so bring some with you. Pouch mail to the States leaves here on Tuesdays. Missionaries have access to email through public internet cafés. This is to be used for one hour only on missionary preparation day (Friday) and is restricted to family use only. All missionaries are to email from a secure site, using only “name@myldsmail.net”.

Packages

It is expensive and sometimes unreliable to send packages to and from Mongolia. Parents sometimes send items which can be purchased here or which the missionaries really cannot use. Parents should be practical when considering items to send to you. Do not have them send expensive items. Missionaries quickly learn to be flexible and adapt to the conditions here. We have one special request for parents: When you send a package, it would be nice if you could include a card or even a small gift for the companion — it’s always fun to open boxes together and share the surprises.

Two Years Hence

When the time comes, if parents are interested in coming to Mongolia to pick up their missionary, they should contact the mission office for specific information.

Update

12 Feb 2009 The source of this material has been clarified.

Mongolia

Now that Daniel will be serving his mission in Mongolia, friends have asked questions about that country. This Wikipedia article is a good source of information and here is the official government tourist website.

The Church came recently to Mongolia. In 1984, Monte J. Brough traveled to Mongolia on a hunting trip. In May 1992 Elders Merlin Lybbert and Monte Brough, members of the Asia Area Presidency, traveled to Mongolia to explore the possibility of the Church providing humanitarian aid. Prior to this trip, the Mongolian ambassador to the United States had traveled to Brigham Young University, which had paved the way for Elders Lybbert and Brough by providing positive contact with the Mongolian government.

After several months of negotiation, permission was granted to send six missionary couples to assist the country’s higher education program and to teach others about the Church.

Timeline

16 September 1992
First missionary couple, Kenneth and Donna Beesley, arrive.
20 September 1992
First sacrament meeting held in the Beesley’s apartment.
6 February 1993
First converts, Lamjav Purevsuren and Tsendkhuu Bat-Ulzii, are baptized.
15 April 1993
Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder Kwok Yuen Tai of the Seventy visit Mongolia.
August 1993
First six young elders arrive.
September 1993
The Ulaanbaatar Branch is organized.
24 October 1994
The Church is registered with the Mongolian government.
11 April 1995
The first Mongolians receive mission calls.
1 July 1995
The Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission officially established.
1996
Church-sponsored humanitarian projects include the support of the Mongolian Scout Association, training of professional accountants, cold weather housing, teaching English, and relief for victims of grass fires. Seminary and Institute classes begin.
March 1996
First four sisters arrive.
15 September 1996
The Ulaanbaatar Mongolia District is organized with Togtokh Enkhtuvshin as president
12 June 1997
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve visits with Dr. R. Gonchigdorj, chairman of parliament.
1999
Membership reaches 1,850 in nine branches.
6 June 1999
The first LDS meetinghouse, a converted cinema, is dedicated by Elder Richard E. Cook.
2000
The Church responds to an appeal by the Mongolian government for help after a severe winter followed by the worst drought in 60 years. Three shipping containers of clothing and quilts are sent, in addition to 8,000 food boxes.
Fall 2000
Construction began on the five-story Bayanzurkh Church Center that will house the mission home and office, service center, meetinghouse, and Church Education System offices.
2001
Translation of the Book of Mormon into Mongolian completed.
June 2001
The Darkhan meetinghouse is dedicated by Elder Richard E. Cook, the first Church-built meetinghouse in Mongolia.
2002
Membership reaches 4,358 in two districts and 21 branches.
2003
Membership reaches 5,455.
2005
Membership reaches 6,735.
1 Jan 2007
Members 7,306; Missions 1; Districts 2; Branches 26; Percent LDS .2 or one in 468.
1 Jan 2008
Members 7,721; Missions 1; Districts 2; Branches 21.
1 Jan 2009
Members 8,444; Stakes 1; Missions 1; Districts 2; Branches 21; Percent LDS .28 or one in 360.
1 Jan 2010
Members 9,239; Stakes 1; Wards 6; Missions 1; Districts 2; Branches 16; Percent LDS .28 or one in 360. The name of the stake is Ulaanbaatar Mongolia West, organized 7 June 2009, first president being Odgerel Ochirjav.

Source

“Mongolia” 536-537, Deseret Morning News 2011 Church Almanac.

External Articles

Mary Nielsen Cook, “A Mighty Change in Mongolia,” Ensign, June 1996, 75–76. Scroll down to second article.
Don L. Searle, “Mongolia: Steppes of Faith,” Ensign, Dec 2007, 54–59.
Blog post, Mongolia Specifics.

Updates

2010: Added membership details for 2007 and 2008.
2011: Added membership details for 2009. Adjusted some dates.

Mail Call


The family was expecting a special envelope in the mail yesterday but it did not arrive. Today I got home before Jill so I checked the mailbox. An envelope about the right size was there. Well see for yourself, the big white one. Yes it is Daniel’s mission call (yippee!). It is customary in our family for me to call Jill and tell her we have already opened the envelope and to announce that our son is going to some totally bogus mission. For example, when Jake’s envelope arrived Paul and I were home. Jill and Jake were at a track meet. So I called her and said, “Paul and me couldn’t wait so we opened the envelope. Jake is going to the Idaho Pocatello Mission, Vietnamese speaking.” Paul confirmed this. We had Jill believing that we had opened the envelope but she wasn’t quite sure if we had told her the right mission.

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