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.

Missionary Jake – Part 3 of 10

This is part three of a ten part series chronicling Jake’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

January 2007

Things are good down here in Mexico. The weather is really nice—not too hot and not too cold. It rains sometimes, but never is cold enough to snow. The climate is similar to Utah but more mild. I imagine that the summers will be really hot. Usually the second thing people ask me when I say I’m from Utah is: “it snows in Utah, right?” I’m glad it doesn’t snow here though—I think there would be a wreck every 5 seconds if it snowed. The driving here is crazy. Stop signs are non-existent, or if there is a stop sign nobody pays any attention. The government puts in speed bumps every intersection to force people to slow down.
Photo of Elder Hernandez and Elder Willoughby ready to baptize
You don’t have to worry about speeding either. You can just give the police 10 or 20 dollars and they will let you off the hook. At least that is what my companion says. I’m glad I took his [Brother Peterson’s] class of Christian History because I understand a lot better who I am teaching. It helps to know exactly what is the apostasy and why we needed a restoration. In the mission all we have to do is make sure our investigators understand those two words—apostasy and restoration. Although all the churches may have some little part of the truth, none of them have the fullness of the gospel.

[Read more…]

Missionary Jake – Part 2 of 10

This is part two of a ten part series chronicling Jake’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

October 2006

Mexico is a blast. There is a ton of people to teach and they are a very faithful people. The mission president has told us to always invite people to be baptized in the first lesson, and most of them accept! If they don’t during the first lesson then usually the second. Two elders pointing to mission destinations on MTC mapWe don’t have to hold back on any commitments because the people are clear-cut—they either accept all of our message or none of it. My first baptism here was going to be a woman who has a terrible fear of water (when she was baptized before she got infections in her ears), and the bishop managed to do it, but her whole body might not have been under water. We’ll figure it out. Not much else is going on. My companion is a Native Mexican from another part of the country and is an excellent missionary.

November 2006

Things are great in Mexico. The weather is perfect. Everyone thinks I am absolutely crazy walking around in short sleeves. When it is 70 degrees they bring out their heavy coats and grumble about the cold. We had a baptism that my companion said se cayò de los cielos or fell from the sky. After teaching someone two lessons, he said that he didn’t want to be baptized. A week later he came to church and said I want to be baptized right now. We were happy to oblige and had the service right after church.Photo of Mission President and his wife with Jake

December 2006

The Sunday school lessons are about the same here. The only difference is I can’t understand what they are always saying. The stories are the same and the application is the same. It just takes a bit of getting used to. I still have to get a manual, so I can follow along for the new year, but our study time is limited so we try and make it the most effective that we can (because of this it makes sense that we can only study the mission library and the Ensign). The chapels here are quite a bit different in construction, but they are all similar in and of themselves. It seems like they have a set for the United States, a set for Mexico, and possibly more. Being a missionary is really neat. Whenever I get the chance to tell your conversion story. I always think of the blessing that it is to be able to serve a mission. I guess you could really say that having four sons that have served/will serve counts as your mission.

Missionary Jake – Part 1 of 10

This is part one of a ten part series chronicling Jake’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

Jacob

Preach My Gospel
Jake is an Eagle Scout and an active member of his church since birth. He stands up for what he believes in and is also compassionate to those that are in need. He is a peacemaker and is someone you want to be around because he never looks for a fight and is helpful. He played in the school band and dabbled a little at the piano. He won three state championship events in track for Davis High School. He had a stress fracture on the day of the races and took off his support boot to run. In his 300 meter hurdles he seems to get a slow start and catches the third hurdle badly.

One of Jake’s qualifying heats is a great video, as he makes up ground in this 4 x 400 meter relay. Davis are in dark brown vests and yellow shorts, the first three runners are all Jakes, my Jake running the third leg. Davis had to place first, second, or third to qualify, and Carl makes it happen even though he is not a Jake.

View Jake’s 110 meter hurdles and an exciting 4 x 400 meter race. Jake runs the first leg but watch for a runner to fall and also the close finish. The cute commentary, “O man they are all on your tail”, is Jake’s mother, who also filmed Jake’s races.

Mission

Jake is serving in the Mexico Mexico City North Mission. He has a presidential scholarship at the University of Utah and completed a year in Computer Engineering before leaving for the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in August 2006. He worked to save the entire $9,600 needed for his mission, and also purchased with his own money the necessary attire. Here are a few excerpts from correspondence to our family, in his own words.

[Read more…]

Missionary Paul – Part 10 of 10

This is part ten of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

April 2006

I think they upped the mail box capacity I have 15 Megs free now. Before you were sending the pictures with Picasa I think but they were too small. If you go into the menu under tools options email you can change what size it sends them. Try 800 or 1024 pixels. I sent you a package in the mail. It has a bike in it. Transfers are in two weeks and it looks like they are going to move me somewhere. I’m in Oakland right now. I got an Easter Medical form was that the package?

[I’d like] that Australian licorice and some beef jerky. Feel free to open up the bike and put it together if you’ld like. It cost $13 to ship it home. We have some special account that makes everything really cheap to ship. There is one more week after this one in the transfer. We don’t have anyone scheduled as of now. Jovanic, a 20 year old from Mexico, is doing really well except he smokes so it looks like it might take a little more time. He lives with his member uncle who went to church for the first time in 13 years the other day. I don’t know where I’ll go. There are only two areas left that I haven’t been to, Hayward and Livermore. So it will be back to an old area or one of those two. It should be good.

I called them and they said we would have 100% coverage for the visit. The doctor just gave me some samples that supposedly aren’t very effective to see if it would work. There is a prescription that works well but it costs $150 and the insurance coverage is spotty so he thought we would try the samples first.

[Read more…]

Missionary Paul – Part 9 of 10

This is part nine of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

The Prophet Joseph Smith
Photo credit Travis S.

January 2006

I spoke in church yesterday about agency. [Dad], you looked thin in the wedding pictures. The CD pictures were nice. Elder Checketts from Texas is my new companion, we stayed in the office but moved to the Oakland 6th Spanish ward. They must have messed up the paper work for the doctor visit. Sister Bauman sent me to the doctor to have them look at the ring worm on my arm. Don’t pay the bill yet, I’ll talk to her today and get it figured out and maybe have her give you a call.

They paid the doctor bill. The powerball is working well. Four other missionaries have them now but no one has beat my record yet. The pictures came through fine and download really fast at the office. We are on a cable modem. We go to a Spanish ward now. There is probably about 200 members that come. I’ll write you an essay on office work but maybe not until I get transfered out of the office. We stay really busy. This week we are going to see the new Joseph Smith movie during zone conference. It should be fun.

I sent a big shipment back to the salt lake distribution center of surplus supplies that we had. We got a pallet from Safeway and stacked 25 boxes on it and wrapped it up. We have a baptism set up for Ivan Quintanilla for the 29th. It should be good. Beranice Martinez got baptized last Saturday so we drove out to Concord to see it.

[Read more…]

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.

[Read more…]

Missionary Paul – Part 8 of 10

This is part eight of a ten part series chronicling Paul’s Mission. It is told mostly in his own words using excerpts from his letters and photographs sent home.

October 2005

Elder Bodily and I didn’t get transfered so we are both here in Concord for another transfer. Yesterday we went and played soccer in Oakland with all of the Spanish missionaries. It was fun. We are going to have the mission president come do a fireside in our branch on the 16th which should be good. We watched all the sessions of conference. This next Tuesday is transfer day so I’ll see if we move anywhere. Working on Hondas is no fun. They are over engineered. The photos came through fine. Tell Steven he has to get married before I get back as well. I don’t like weddings.

The mission is going well. We are teaching a lot of people. The other elders in our branch had a baptism yesterday and we have one coming up on the 6th of November that looks like it might fall through. The couple is having some serious marital problems. I am the junior companion. I haven’t heard from Jake C. I currently weigh 175 pounds. We ran two miles Saturday morning. You don’t need to send anything. A CD with the wedding photos would be fine, the branch mission leader has a computer.

I am currently serving in the cities of Concord, Clayton, Martinez, and Pleasant Hill California. Many of the Latino people here are receptive to the gospel message and the work is moving forward slowly but surely. Many of the people we meet are from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Peru. The food here is excellent. I think I like Mexican food the best. It is wonderful to be able to learn about many different countries without having to do any traveling and invite everyone to come unto Christ.

I am fine. I lost weight don’t worry. Make Daniel get a hair cut.

November 2005

A day usually goes like this:

6:30 Wake up, exercise
7:00 Breakfast, shower, get ready
7:30 Book of Mormon study
8:00 Personal study
8:30 Companionship study
9:00
9:30 Personal study
10:00 Language study
10:30 Leave apartment
11:00 Something: appointments, meetings. Usually we go tracting
11:30
12:00
12:30
1:00 Lunch: sometimes it moves or is dropped according to the schedule
1:30
2:00 Something: sometimes appointments. Sometimes we go tracting.
Check contacts, media referrals, you name it
2:30
3:00
3:30
4:00
4:30
5:00 Dinner: sometimes it moves or is dropped according to the schedule
5:30
6:00 Usually appointments or drop-in visits, member visits
6:30
7:00
7:30
8:00
8:30
9:00 Return home, plan for the next day
9:30 Get ready for bed
10:30 Sleep

We usually have a lot of people we need to get a hold of. The Spanish culture is kind of lax so appointments fall through alot but drop-in visits work well too. We have two baptism dates set right now, we expect to set three more soon. Transfers are next week on the 22nd, I could move or stay. I’ll probably eat with the mission president for Thanksgiving. They put out a newsletter every month, I’m saving them up and you can look at them when I get back.

I was transferred to the Oakland-Berkeley University (Student Single) Ward and I’m over referrals and supplies in the mission office. Use the mission home address if you want to send anything. Elder Vernon my MTC companion is
the new assistant to the president and we’ll live in the same apartment. The apartment is on top of a convenience store across the street from the temple. It should be fun.

Office is fun, we use computers. My main job is handling referrals and supplies for the mission but we get pulled into a little of everything and stay really busy. We ate Thanksgiving at our bishops house. It was fun. I’ll try and think of something for you to send me. I liked the last Christmas picture, that one can last can’t it?

December 2005

In the singles ward almost all of the members go home for the holidays as they are students away from home. We do have the new Kruger’s Christmas DVD that seems to be pulling in a lot of referrals. Our ward doesn’t have church on Christmas so we have to pick one to go to. I don’t know which one we will choose. Church will probably be at 9:30. We have two lines and two cell phone numbers at our apartment so you can call any time you feel like if I’m there, they shouldn’t be busy.

[Aunt] Susan’s package came right before the 1st. My companion and I are really enjoying opening them every night and we always read the accompanying scripture story. Send some of that Cukaburro licorice, it’s really tasty and some beef jerky and a bacon cheddar cheese whiz with ritz crackers. We have a huge stockpile of candy so don’t send any more and there isn’t room in the suitcases to bring anything more home so don’t send any trinkets.

I order supplies for the mission ie. Books of Mormon, manage church media generated and visitor center referrals, baptism records, and keep the office running. You’d better get reading [the Book of Mormon]. If you can manage a little more than 8 pages a day you should finish.

We are going to the Berkeley families ward for Christmas. We’ll leave for church around 9 PST and won’t be back until 1:30 PST or so. We might have somewhere to go after church so I’ll try and email you again to say when would be the best time if it’s not after church. The call is 30 minutes, the last two times you went over so have everything planned out this time. Write down some things to talk about so we don’t have to talk about the weather again.

We watched the Christmas devotional and we’ll watch the Commemoration broadcast as well.