Tuesday, October 30, 2012

7 months in Mongolia

O yana. We didn't write since July 20th. So if you're not on our email list, you haven't heard anything about what's going on!

We've been here 7 months now, well just over that, and that means 6 months of language (we had a month-long break in August). Summer was nice, not too hot (compared to Aus anyway), though unusually rainy. We went out and visited some fellow Aussies working here in Arhangai for a week.

What else? We decided to change churches, at least our Mongolian church. Our former church moved to a new location and a later time, and so we decided to try a couple of other churches at that time. Eventually our church decided to move back, but we settled on another church and are going there for 5 or 6 weeks. It has been hard to make connections, but that's okay. I (Seumas) can understand the general content of the sermons (usually), and find the preaching quite good (and biblical). That is a great encouragement.

The weather is turning now. We had our first snow a little while ago, but the ground is not blanketed yet. The coming week has a few days forecast not about zero (Celsius). We have sealed up our apartment windows as part of the process of getting ready for winter. We also had a second interior door put in just yesterday. Conveniently the workers turned up just before our teachers came to dinner for the first time.

The reason I started writing this post was mainly to talk about language. At least for myself this has gone very well so far. This was to be expected, but it's still something to be happy about! In the WAYK "Travels with Charlie" schema, I am kind of a low 3 - what happened at the party last night - level. I can make myself understood about a fairly wide range of things, even if my constructions at times are a bit strange-sounding or I have to resort to more basic words because I lack specific vocabulary. Talking in the abstract and about complicated matters is still beyond me. Understanding is usually the major stumbling block - it's not unusual for a whole stream of Mongolian to be totally unintelligible to me.

Reactions vary. Usually when I engage Mongolians in some conversation they are pretty impressed with my level of Mongolian, especially after 6 months. This is very complimentary, but there are plenty of unintelligible moments to keep me in line! Often Mongolians assume you know zero Mongolian, which ranges from awkward, to just funny when they speak English and I just reply in Mongolian. I prefer to discourse in Mongolian where possible.

I'm at a stage where I'm going to try tackling more reading. I have one book by Piper in Mongolian, and can input that into FLTR, which makes reading easier! I have a few other books I might try down the track too. I *should* watch Mongolian tv, but we don't have a stand alone tv unit, and I don't really know what to watch in terms of Mongolian television online.

There is still a long way to go language-wise. I don't want to settle or fall short, but really achieve a level of being able to speak and engage fully in Mongolian. That's on my side, I will try and get Rachel to write about her own experiences sometime.

Okay, hopefully more frequent updates coming to this space!

Oh, ps. I will be in Australia from 28th Nov to 11 Dec, for some university stuff. But I'm pretty flexible and would love to catch up with people. Get in touch.

Friday, July 20, 2012

What it means to stay in touch

It's easy to say, of course, that one will stay in touch. It's much harder to do.

On our end, the motivation is clear and relatively strong - having left a host of friendships and relationships behind, we are the far-flung ones, and in the relative absence of strong social networks and engagements in the here, our strong desire is both to communicate to people 'back home' (even though 'home' is kind of here), and to hear from home.

But on the other side, for those 'back home', that desire is not strong, nor is it in the front of the mind. For those we have left, life continues, and the everyday happenstances are shared and communicated with others, and our absence gets closed over, little by little, but very quickly. Perhaps only when a distinctive moment reminds you of the absence, "oh Seumas would have liked this", "oh Rachel would have said this", will the prompt come.

I want to disown the idea that I write this to guilt anybody, or in response to anything in particular. I'm just taking note of the phenomenon, and perhaps trying to raise your awareness. The internet is a tool that creates certain forms of communication, it bridges distance, and creates immediacy, but it also creates illusions of closeness and engagement. Particularly, the ability to 'post' can create the illusion of sufficiency. I have written, therefore I assume you have read. But that is not true, broadcasting is not conversation.

In our age, it's the intentionality of communication that is under a certain kind of threat. That one might communicate in order to communicate, rather than broadcast in order to share. That conversation might actually be for the other rather than for myself.

Of course, this whole post is ironically a form of broadcast, not conversation. But that is exactly why it is what it is, I want to broadcast this, because it's not for anything or anyone in particular. For that, you'll hear from me.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

English Teaching with Koreans

It's well summer here, and most things are on holidays, except us!

Last week was Naadam, a three day festival in which the three manly games of Mongolia are celebrated and contested. Those are archery, horse-racing, and wrestling. We didn't get along to see anything, partly because we don't like crowds, but mostly because we (somewhat reluctantly) agreed to teach English over this period. We did, perchance, watch the wrestling final on tv in a local Mongolian diner, wherein a new national champion emerged.

22 Korean students, mostly 17-18 year olds, came to Mongolia for a 10 day summer English-language camp. They arrived sometime around midnight on a Tuesday night, and had to front up for classes with us the next day at 9am. Poor things! It didn't particularly help that we're not trained English teachers, and the help we received in the lead up was not overwhelming.

But God is good, and takes care of all such things in his own good way, and things went much better than they might otherwise have. We had 4 days teaching 2 hours a day, trying to encourage these students to speak English. From the start it was hard to gauge exactly how much English they knew, and our instructions were to focus on speaking practice.

Seumas' class ended up doing a lot of work with sign language, thanks to a wonderful technique called Where are you keys? which he will happily teach you anytime. There's a short video below of what it looks like in action.

Rachel took the class of slightly more advanced (or maybe just more confident and outspoken?) students, which worked out well for everybody. They learnt idioms, played games, and even had some phonetics (thanks to Rachel's ongoing Master of Applied Linguistics).

Even with our rough pastiche of teaching techniques, the students seemed to have a good time, and they also got to see all sorts of Mongolian things in their non-class times. We turned up on their last day again for a certificate ceremony, a curious mix of Korean formalism and disorganisation, and enjoyed watching a slideshow of all their fun.

We're not crying out to be English language teachers, but it was nice to help out and we're glad for the ride.

2 more weeks of Mongolian class for us and then holidays in August...

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Oh, Mongolia!

Today I will teach you my two most useful phrases in Mongolian:
Khaamaagui, and zugeer zugeer. (Apologies for transliteration, Mongolian doesn't transliterate well).

khaamaagui means something like "It doesn't matter", while zugeer zugeer means something like "it's okay, no worries". These are two most useful phrases because things here just happen differently, slowly, inexplicably, and a good dose of ambiguity tolerance goes a long way.

I know some people think that because we haven't put up a blog post we must be dead, or busy, or something, but really we are just a little boring. A high percentage of our time is spent first in going to language classes (which are going well), and then in day to day activities. Neither of which makes for particularly fascinating reading.

Our month of no hot water should soon be over. We are still trying to organise to get a hot water system into our apartment though, because the fact of having hot water in the building is no guarantee of actually having hot water at any particular time.

Today is Election day in Mongolia. Hopefully it will all go smoothly. There was a bit of trouble after the last election, so we are praying for calm and peace this time around. It has been interesting to observe Mongolian electioneering. They even send us text messages with political slogans.

Technically it's summer, but there was some very unseasonal snow in another part of the country the other day. We have had a bit of rain, which can make getting around difficult - there isn't really a drainage system in this city.

We are hoping to have a small english-language bible group meet in our home on Friday evenings for a while. Nobody came last week, but this week we should have some takers; this is a group that Rachel was going along to, run by someone else, but they are away for summer. Actually, a lot of Mongolians go away for summer, so one never really knows who is around.

That's us, getting on well enough.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainy Days and horse-riding adventure.

There's a newsletter that will be out in a day or two, with some nice pics. It's been raining for a couple of days, quite a bit today, on and off yesterday. This isn't that typical so the locals are happy. Being children of the sunkissed land, not so fun for us.

Last Sunday we went along to some Mongolian ballet. It was a performance of Swan Lake. Very impressive. They had an alternate happy ending, which apparently is more common in Russia/China/Mongolia? That particular day I was quite sick, which is a shame because I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't. Anyway, that Sunday was the worst of it, but I have had a long tail of a cold all week, which means I have not been doing a great deal of study. I did read three novels, and that was greatly enjoyable.

Yesterday was Children's Day, a public holiday here in Mongolia. We went outside the city with some friends, both from our team, and from some church friends of our team friends. We went to this holiday spot east of the city, along a river, and half of our group were going to stay the night in some gers there. We headed out about 10am, and it took a good two hours to get there. Quite a bit of traffic getting out of the city.

Gers can be pretty warm when you have a stove going on inside of them. Part of the day's plan involved horse-riding. So after lunch (I'm pretty sure I don't like Korean food much more than Mongolian. I don't know why anybody eats meat except out of necessity), most of us went up to this place to get some horses. When we got there the horses were not there, and so it was going to be a 30min wait while they went off and rounded up some horses for us. This is just how things are. So there were a few horses there and they gave the kids some rides while we waited. Then they brought a troupe of horses over the hill and we all mounted up and rode off.

Things about Mongolian horses: much smaller than 'western' horses; you hold the reins in one hand, not two; the ones they give to tourists tend not to listen to you, only to the Mongolian guides; saddles are also not western - ours were padded, but traditional Mongolian saddles are just wooden; nobody has heard of helmets.

So my horse was pretty obedient in terms of which way to go, not so obedient to me in terms of speed. That's okay, having not ridden except for maybe once in childhood, I was pretty content to take it easy. It would get up to a trot, and I was comfortable with that. For a brief spurt it galloped, and that was something I wasn't yet comfortable with, but I could learn to cope with more horse-riding in my life.

It was pretty nice to be out of the city, we crossed a river and rode through some light woods and across some fields, in the shadow of some mountains, and that was a lovely taste of real Mongolian countryside. After about an hour or hour and half we turned back a bit and stopped at one of the guides' gers. We enjoyed some milk-tea and snacks, and then rode back. They offered me a faster horse but I think for a first time out I was content with the one I had; it also had a mane to match my hair.

The afternoon saw some napping and some dinner and singing and praying, and an operatic performance (one of the Korean ladies is an Italian trained opera singer), and then we were back in a minibus heading back to UB; we got home around 10:30, 11pm. pretty tired, and of course our hot water is off for the next month.

Today has been a rainy day too. We had plans to go out and buy a couple of things, but the rain just damped our mood. Our Area Leader is in town though and we went out and had a tasty lunch with him, and that made a cheery diversion for the day.

Okay, I will add a few horse-riding pictures in a day or two when I get hold of them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Rachel gets her ger on

Despite being very dedicated to not going camping in Australia, I decided to take up an invitation to join a bunch of women from the international church on a countryside weekend break.

Here we are, setting out in the van. Note the pile of luggage squished in (we had to bring our own food and cooking utensils and gas stoves and water and and and...).
It took about 90 minutes in the van to get to a ger camp by the river. The family have a ger that they live in, plus a few for guests. Each ger sleeps five, so we had two. Here's one of them!

They let a lot of wind and dirt in around the bottom since they had set up summer gers for us, despite it getting down to freezing point the first night. Turns out that you can either get up every hour to put wood on the stove and be super hot all night, or you can let the fire go out and freeze. Actually it was mostly just me freezing the first night; turns out that a sleeping bag for the Australian summer is not recommended for Mongolia in the spring, even with a blanket on top. The second night I was lent a Canadian sleeping bag and that was so much warmer. Also we burnt dried dung that night, which lasts a lot longer than wood. Easy to collect when there are horses and cows meandering around leaving their flammable gifts behind!

There was a hill behind the camp that we climbed a few times to enjoy the view, plus a river around 200 metres away. On the Saturday we also went horse riding. Mostly my horse was led along by other riders, but I did do a little riding unsupervised, go me! Other activities included cooing over a litter of seven six-week-old puppies, playing with the cute granddaughter of the owners, card games, long walks, song-singing... and eating a huge amount of delicious food. Including the fluffiest pancakes of my life, accompanied by homemade apricot sauce.

There was also a massive silver statue of Chinggis Khaan near where we stayed. Just chilling on the side of a hill in the middle of nowhere. It was only erected fairly recently, but it's become a bit of a pilgrimage spot. One of the women said people bring offerings and such on special occasions. Definitely counts as another Genghis sighting!

I was surprised that being dirty for 48 hours didn't cause me more stress, as that's one of my least favourite things in general. I suppose when everything is covered in dust it feels natural. Still, it was quite hot on Sunday (yes, from freezing to hot, that's how it goes here) so I was most pleased that God responded in the positive to my prayer-pleas for the hot water to be running when we got home!

Have a few more photos.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Summer to Winter to Summer to Winter

That is a fair description of Mongolian spring. Case in point, yesterday it topped out at 28 or 29 degrees. I would generally call that hot. Today it has hovered around zero, and we had rain and now snow. Such variation is rapidly becoming unsurprising.

On Friday I went to the AGM of the Bible College. It was conducted 99% in Mongolian, so that was mostly over my head, but it was a good chance to just touch base briefly with the Principal, and also run into a student to whom I taught English two years ago. Most of such students are just about to graduate.

On Sunday at church we heard about many mission trips planned from our local church, both to other parts of the country over summer, and into nearby countries as well. The sense of gospel necessity and passion is strong here, in part because the gospel has so recently returned to this nation, and if people had not come and preached, there would be no church here at all.

Language continues to go relatively well. I tried to explain cricket to one of my teachers today. My Mongolian was not really up to that challenge, but I did help clarify some of the basic concepts of the game!

Monday, May 14, 2012

State of the Blog, 14th May 2012

Sorry for the decline in photos, we have just been taking less.

The weather turned cold again, down below zero and snow over the weekend. This is the Mongolian Spring, up and down and windy.

On Saturday we went out with some Koreans for Korean lunch. I've never eaten Korean before. Most of the conversation was in Korean as well, but since we were discussing a ministry project, one of our friends translated for us. It was a good lunch, and Rachel enjoys going out and eating new foods.

Rachel has to fly-out, fly-in to change visas, and so is off to get another visa this morning to leave the country. Hopefully it all runs smoothly.

Not too much else to report. I'm over-tired because of the early-waking and late nights. Language classes continue to go well. Things seem to be moving forward.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The day our local statue was important

Today it is Victory Day. Didn't know that? Neither did we, until we came across a crowd gathered around the statue of Georgy Zhukov (Russian who led the Soviet Mongolian army against the Japanese in Manchukuo) that's near our house (which is why our area is known as Jukov). There were memorial flower wreaths, food stands, and people singing live to recorded backing (outdoor karaoke!). Also there was very loud music and lots of army trucks around the wrestling palace (a location which can be explained another day). We figured it was something to do with Russia, and yes! Victory Day commemorates the official capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union (and Georgy Zhukov was the official on the Soviet side). They just this minute let off a whole bunch of fireworks, which we watched from our kitchen window.

Also today I bought my plane tickets for my trip to Beijing in June, where I shall God-willing pick up my Mongolian student visa at the Mongolian embassy. I've allowed a week, so hopefully that won't need to be extended... though I have been keen to visit Beijing, so I suspect if a delay does occur I'll manage to find a silver lining.

Bought some extra cutlery, some oven trays (hard to find here), some plastic containers and other kitchen items from the Canadians. Plus a food processor! I almost bought their mix master too, but then it seemed from the food processor instruction manual that it would whip egg whites, so I figured one appliance would do, it's already a little bit of a luxury!

Correction on the name of my vegetable seller; Mega, not Megi. After some confusion about my change, I tried to tell her that I found Mongolian money 'interesting', but I must have the consonants in that word around the wrong way, because she had no idea what I was trying to say. Oh well! Perhaps I will start preparing conversational sentences in advance of visiting... Also I keep saying goodbye instead of thank you. They both start with 'b'...

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More random observations about Mongolian life

Someone set up a large-ish inflatable pool in a nearby square, for the kids. Also some kind of train-ride. A sign of summer to be sure.

Crossing the road in Ulaanbaatar could fairly be described as a game of Frogger crossed with Chicken. Essentially you will need to move between notional 'lanes' of traffic to avoid cars, as will as inch forward into the path of oncoming cars with enough confidence and an occasional glance or stare to convince them not to run you over. It helps to have the mass of a herd, so waiting until you have a few other people to interrupt traffic works. I recommend standing on the lee-ward side of fellow pedestrians for an extra feeling of security.

Mongolian language classes continue to go well. I don't get out enough and utilise it. I'm sure that more hours spent in the language would speed up comprehension and acquisition, but that is the price of the choice to do other things (doctoral studies, to be exact). Still, I am learning new structures and words everyday, and seem to be going at a reasonable pace.

Grass appears

A couple of days ago I noted that there were little tufts of green grass poking around in places. I just walked to the local indoor market, and on the way realised that the dusty squares of dirt around our building all have patchy bits of 4cm long green grass! They pretty much appeared over night. I would say the dirt to grass ratio is till 25:1, but I'm amazed that it got so long so quick! Go little grass, go!

I do a little grocery shop most mornings. Sadly, lots of stores don't open til the afternoon, which doesn't suit me because of our class schedule, so I think I'm going to have to go back again later to see if either of the stores that sell muesli feel like selling. I decided to ask my regular vegetable lady what her name was; it's Megi. She asked me what my name was, guessed that I was Australian, and then asked me a question that I couldn't figure out. It may have been when we came to Mongolia, or why we're here, or how long we're staying... the key word in the sentence was one I didn't know. Oh well. Also had a little chat with the grain seller who knows English; her name is Sara, and she knows French too. In fact, next week she will be a tour guide for 17 French tourists! That explains why her shop isn't open often either.

Tonight we are hoping to go to visit some Canadians who are returning home. She wants to start getting rid of some of her kitchenware, and I want to acquire more, so it should be mutually beneficial! Actually, when we left we donated a lot of our kitchen items to some Canadians who had just moved to Australia, so there you go!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Mongolian Spring

Last week we were wearing coats to class and lamenting that we hadn't had hot water for a few days, whle over the weekend it has been high 20s and consistently warmer than home. Much as I love our mission-partners in Australia, it has been amusing to read their emails and comments about how cold it is here since lately it is so warm!

This is the Mongolian Spring, where it oscillates from summery to snow, when it gets particularly windy (and a little bit of snow is the best way to keep dust down!), and when feeling inexplicably tired also gets blamed on "it's Spring."

The length of day here just surpassed what would be the longest day of the year in Sydney, which is quite a bit of sunlight. This, plus a Mongolian propensity to carry construction work late into the night hasn't done wonders for sleeping.

Rachel has been a little sick with a sore throat, but it seems to be on the mend.

Our main business at the moment continues to be language learning. I think sometimes I feel like we are not-so-much missionaries because at the moment the focus is on language and culture, but I know and believe this is vital for longevity and long term efficacy here. As well, language is going quite well! I jotted down a few layman's thoughts on the Mongolian language on another of my many blogs.

Here's something found in a supermarket that gave me a chuckle:

We took our Mongolian language Bible along to church this morning. The sermon was on Acts 8:26ff, about Philip and the Ethiopian. It's encouraging to recognise words in the passage, words in the sermon, and more and more words in the songs. We also heard the testimony of some people with real problems and the Lord's goodness to them.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The day we acquired a Mongolian Bible

Another week here and life trundles along. Language classes seem to be going well. On Wednesday night we had some drama, as the people above us had left taps on while the water was off, resulting in water running into our apartment once the water came back on. With some help we had building staff turn the water off for our stairwell of units, so that was a blessing.

Also on the water front, we haven't had hot water for several days (related??), which means no hot showers, only lukewarm to cold ones. This hasn't been fun.

Lastly, today we bought a Mongolian language Bible, which hopefully we will start using to learn even more Mongolia!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A month in Mongolia

Yes, we've been here a month now. That's a bit crazy. This post is not an attempt to recap the month though, just to talk about our weekend.

On Saturday we went out to try and buy some glasses. We walked through a ger district to get to the back entrance to the Black market. It was quite a warm day. Anyway there were no stalls at the market at all. Just lots of people cleaning. So that was odd. We then went to a nearby building that has lots of small stall-shops, and it too was similarly shut and lots of people cleaning. This was all very weird. We happened to be nearby a mission run cafe, so we went there and there was just the one guy working, Eric, who has been quite friendly. So then we enjoyed a lovely coffee and some chocolate-banana cake. Also Seumas was introduced to coffee cupping. Thanks to some texting with a Mongolian, we discovered that the Mayor of Ulaanbaatar had declared the day a cleaning day, so everybody was meant to be cleaning up and if not you could get fined for not beautifying your property or something. So everyone does it!

Today (Sunday) we went to our two churches. At the first service we had a visiting preacher from San Diego preach in Korean, which was translated into Mongolian (from the front), and then was translated into English for us as well. That was an interesting experience. Also we heard some encouraging reports from the mission teams that had travelled into one of Mongolia's neighbours.

At the international church we have volunteered to get involved in serving with music and service-type stuff. So Seumas played bass today, and Rachel joined in the singing practice as well.

A huge amount of dust came up in the afternoon. Spring is renowned for being very windy and quite dusty.

So those are some things that have been happening.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The day we got chairs

Oh man! I can't even begin to tell you how exciting it is to have chairs. Chairs are a great invention. Rachel went out with Naraa to the black market and brought home four chairs. Now we can sit at our new table and type blog posts and watch youtube videos. The pinnacle of civilisation.

wow, check out those chairs!

In other news it snowed a bit overnight and for the day. Also sometimes our power goes out. When the power goes out a lot of extra people just head outside to hang out. Here's some snow back on the mountains:

The view from our lounge room window (room does not include lounge)
Mongolian continues apace. We are nearly caught up on the current season of Survivor. And did I mention we got chairs?

Monday, April 16, 2012

The day we got a bank account

So today Seumas went to visit the diplomatic branch of the Khaan bank (lovingly named after the great man of this nation). It was in the center of town, so about a 30min walk. Really they are a branch of the bank set up for foreigners, so the staff speak several languages. I've never been treated so well by a bank. We said I was there to open an account, and I was taken into a lovely board room and this woman came and gave me papers to fill in and I was served some hot water in a tea cup and it was all very good. I even came home to find that my online banking details had already been sent to me. Great service, I definitely recommend it if you are opening a bank account here.

Here is a video of some soldiers marching past our apartment singing.

In other news, today we started separate language classes. This is a good thing because it allows us to go at our own paces. Yet it is also more taxing, as there is no downtime in the middle of our lessons. Also, we now switch between three teachers, and the new teacher has very minimal English, and so her class is a lot of Mongolian speech coming at you, which takes a lot of brain power to process. Anyways, Mongolian language acquisition is going forward.

Tonight we went to UBean cafe for a birthday party for an Australian girl here. Lots of people we know from our school, our building, and our international church were there, so that was nice. It was a dress up party, which Seumas does not really like, but it was okay. The great thing from his perspective is that UBean sells beans, which means that all is now in place for home espressos. Also the barista made him a double shot.

Iron Horse coffee. What a good name.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The day we got a kitchen!

As you've read over several blog posts, we've had construction going on. Namely, tiling of our kitchen and building of cabinets. Well the great news is that it is done. More on that in a moment.

This morning we had Naraa come over, laid out carpet in our bedroom, and moved our wardrobe and
dresser in. That was job no. 1.

Then we had him replace some electrical sockets. Apparently 220 isn't enough of a shock to worry about, so there is no turning the power off, just rip those suckers out of the wall and put the new one in. Job no. 2.

 Thirdly we went to BSB and bought a stove and vacuum cleaner, and they threw in a free kettle (finally, a give away item that someone wants).

We came home and our workers arrived to continue on the kitchen. We had lunch and then went out to language class. When we came home they were almost done. Our stove had arrived and Naraa was here fixing up the wiring for it, and after an hour or so, they finished the kitchen! It's great, as you can see from this picture.

Still no table, chairs, or couch, but we have made great leaps in apartment-setting-up today.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The day we bought a water filter

Not the most exciting day so far. We swept and mopped the floor twice to try and get the dust under control. It seems to have had some effect. I also did some work binding some sheets of some material to our balcony to stop them rattling in the wind.

We did end up at a nice cafe, quite western-ish, looks like it's run by a christian organisation. This did solve an emerging lunch conundrum, which was great. Would definitely return.

After lunch we walked into the city and went to a camping store which sells these great water filters made by Katadyn. We had been looking for one, and they had them. After some 'discussion' (I use the word in the very loosest sense), we managed a purchase (it's always exciting when I can use a card instead of bundles of cash), and caught the trolley bus home.

So some small progress: a water filter and cleaner floors.

Here's a video of some driving in Mongolia.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday in Mongolia

Whew, things are moving along here. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow.

It's the end of our second week of language classes. This week we've only had one class a day, which has been a nice little breather. Our teacher this week doesn't have much English, so that requires extra concentration. Anyway, we keep learning.

For lunch today we stepped into a small Mongolian eatery. There are tons of these, and Mongols grab quick, cheap lunches. We always over-order (in my opinion), which is easy to do since we can't read menus. This place had pictures of food on the walls, so basically we just point.

In the afternoon we walked into town. It's about 30mins walking into the 'cbd'. We were going to catch a trolley bus, but given the traffic it seemed possible to walk faster. Also it was very warm today - the forecast was for a 16 max, but we passed a sign saying it was 20! We had to buy a wireless router as the one we brought from Aus was an adsl router and wouldn't take the input cable we had (just a straight network cable). So we walked and went to this little computer district and found a router (with help). About A$25, chinese-made (when we got home we had to set it up in Chinese, but the pictures in the manual told us which buttons to press thankfully).

After buying the router we stopped into the big department store. It's called "the big store" (kind of). Anyway, it's almost like a Western department store and it's where we bought our fridge and washing machine. Today we bought a microwave and a toaster - exciting appliances that make more food possible to eat.

Over 2000000T for this coffee machine. No thanks.
We took a taxi back to our apartment, and they were still tiling our kitchen. Our hallway has been littered with amazing amounts of debris. So after an hour we were going out again, this time to a Good Friday service. It's amazing how many public holidays we get in Aus for Easter. The service was held by the international church, at a place called UBean, which is a missio-run cafe, again about 30min walk from us. It was a simple service, with 3 songs, bible reading, short sermon (translated into Mongol), and prayer. Rachel had a nice chat with a Mongolian girl who has been living in the USA and is about to move there and  get married.

When we got home, good news - they cleaned up the debris in our hallway. It's still full of dirt, but it's at least a little more manageable. And the floor tiles are done. Progress.

We're looking forward to life being more settled. Unpacking boxes into drawers and wardrobe, getting a table, not having a construction zone for a kitchen. Buying a stove. Hopefully this week will see most of these things sorted and a more regular life emerge.

Good Friday at UBean

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Life in a construction zone

The more interesting the happenings, the less time there is to chronicle them. Also we’ve been lacking the means, since we moved out into our own little apartment.
That was on Tuesday. We bought a fridge and washing machine after our morning class, and then Seumas went to the airport with Naraa to have another go at picking up our boxes. They were released into his care for the bargain price of about AUD$0.80

Meanwhile, I went and had some soup at a European-owned cafĂ© and then went to the mobile phone place to try and work out how to get internet access on my mobile. After much repeating of the same few English words over and over, they managed to get me to comprehend that I could turn some of my units that I’d already bought into data whenever I wanted by SMSing a number. How about that! Too bad it didn’t work.

Anyway, when Seumas and Naraa and Chinbat came back with the boxes, they deposited them in our lounge room and then moved the bed over from the Hall’s. Then we ate dinner with the Halls, stole some final internet time, and moved our suitcases across. We were in! Our fridge and washing machine came at about 10pm, carried up three flights of stairs by a single guy on his back!

I didn’t really sleep the first night. It takes until about 11.30pm or so for things to be quiet; night time is prime time for Mongolians. Also cigarette smells are frequently getting in from other units; possibly through the wiring. I can smell it right now. It kind of sucks.

Anyway, yesterday we went to class in the morning and then Naraa helped us with some chores in the afternoon, like getting the internet connected and picking up some new power points. He also figured out why my phone wasn’t getting internet! Pretty much Naraa can do anything. We were going to go to the open air market to get some carpet and furniture items, but the traffic was really bad and the wind was whipping a lot of dust into the air, so we didn’t. We ate instant noodles for dinner (all we have to cook with is an electric kettle) and then had our weekly team meeting. One of our team members is doing a presentation on Mongolian shamanism at his work, which I’m looking forward to benefitting from.

This morning we did our Mongolian homework, and I discovered that we had good water pressure at a decent temperature in the mornings, so I washed my hair. While I was washing my hair, the guys came to start tiling our kitchen. That was a bit awkward, but Seumas sneaked me some clothes. So they started tearing up the floor, and we left for class. When we came home, the guy was there setting up the internet, and there were piles of dirt and dust everywhere! Mud blocking the bathroom even. Naraa came, and we went to the market. We looked at lots of wardrobes and chests of drawers, but the sellers very quickly worked out that I was the one with deciding power, and they kept tugging me this way and that. At one point I got wedged between two wardrobes while the seller hemmed me in. It was a bit full-on! We eventually picked some out. The quality isn’t great, but they’re half the price that Ikea would have been, so that’s a bonus. Chinbat arrived with his truck, and oh was there much huffing and hard work by the guys to get the items up the stairs and inside! The tilers had left for the day as the concrete had to dry, and I felt pretty disheartened by the huge mess everywhere. I did some sweeping, and picked up some dirt, but I feel like I just moved the dust into the air. I can feel the fine coating of it on me just sitting here on the bed. I hope it’s not in between the sheets too much. I think they will finish the job tomorrow afternoon, so Saturday will be clean clean clean! Yuck.

Anyway, this afternoon I popped into a neighbour’s to get some clean drinking water, and then we went to a restaurant/bar to get some dinner. They had many pages of offerings, and we tried to order chicken and Greek salad, but they indicated that our options really consisted of pizza or Mongolian food. So we got a pizza. Pretty ordinary, but we did managed to indicate that we wanted to take the left overs home. So we’ll have to buy a microwave so we can eat them! They had a long list of ‘juices’ with very strange sounding flavours (like tiramisu, and marshmellow), so I tried a vanilla juice. It was quite nice! I think it’s just water with some kind of artificial flavouring, but whatever, it’s nice to try something new and have it turn out nice.

Seumas is trying to set the wireless router up so we can be on the Internet separately and in our room, but perhaps our router won’t work with a non-phone line connection. Maybe we’ll buy another modem tomorrow or something.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The day we didn't get our boxes

I never intended to blog everyday, but the first week or so went quite well.

Saturday: We went out with Naraa, "the Mongolian Concierge" as I call him. He can get pretty much anything done/organised. So we went and bought tiles and tiling cement and a sink and so on for our apartment. That part was easy. Then we tried to go and look at appliances and furniture. Mistake #1 Not carrying oodles more cash, mistake #2 forgetting to carry a credit card, Problem #3 deciding what to buy. After a trip to three major centres (State Department Store, a furniture superstore(s), and the Black Market), we ended up getting nothing. But at least we knew what we might want to get. In the evening we went back to Hazaras for dinner with David and Wendy (since Wendy missed out last time). I feel a little spoiled eating this delicious Indian food, but that's okay.

Sunday: Mongolian church where the sermon was translated for us again (yay!). Rachel made a contact with a girl who wants to practise English (I think this is true). In the afternoon we went to International church and heard a sermon that had some problems. I talked to some Mongolians who wanted to meet up (this apparently is common, but whether they get in touch is another question. We will see). There is going to be a 6:00 outside service on Easter Sunday. Won't that be warm!

Monday: Another day of class, just one this week as it is Spring Break. It didn't go so well for Rachel. Question particles are tricky. Anyway, after class we came home, and managed to establish that our boxes had arrived. Great. So Naraa came around and I went out with him to the airport. First we found someone to give us the right set of papers, that went fine. Then we went down to the cargo/customs area, but they decided they wanted some paperwork we didn't have - a letter from our school. So Naraa and I got back into the car and drove back into the city. This is an hour each way (more to do with the bad traffic in UB than raw distance). So we went to our school, and Naraa chatted in Mongolian to one of our teachers. Alas, our director is on holidays in Beijing, and the other teacher wasn't sure she knew where the official stamp was, which is the key ingredient in getting this mysterious letter. So, no boxes today.

Oh well. We have Naraa and his brother-in-law coming by this evening to measure up the apartment kitchen for cupboards and the like, so that is progress.

Ikea, Ulaanbaatar

Friday, March 30, 2012

The day an alien took possession of an apartment

I went out early this morning to go to the bank. It's worth going to ATMs early here, as there can be queues. So a brisk 15min walk to a bank over near our language school, and then a 400,000T withdrawal (that's the max), and a brisk walk back. You have to layer up because of the cold, but then you can get really warm from the walking. Plus the 5 flights of stairs to the apartment, and so once you're inside the immediate tendency is to take of as many layers as you can.

Just one language class today (they are 90min classes), with Olonbayar. She is not as fantastic a teacher as Bayarmaa, but she pushes us a bit harder. Anyway, then we walked home again.

In the afternoon Rachel popped out to get some groceries for dinner, and I heard a knocking at the door. I answered it and an unfamiliar mongolian woman was talking to me unintelligibly and gave me some keys. Ah, the apartment keys! So I took them.

Here's a video tour of our empty apartment with ridiculous background music (the preview picture is sideways but not the video):

In the evening I made a brisk walk back to school to pick up my passport, returned from immigration, along with my 'certificate of alien registration' card. Someone needs to buy them a better laminating machine though. So that keeps me in the country for the next 12 months. One less obstacle.

Tomorrow: shopping and fitting our apartment. Also, maybe, boxes!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The day it snowed

I'm sure a lot of other days will snow, but this has been our first real snow day. I got up early for my Gaelic class online, currently 6-9am local time; sadly the internet didn't start working until 6:30. Oh well, I can get by missing things in class.

Temperatures today stayed below zero, but nothing really below -10, except after windchill. The snow was going sideways and upways past our 5th floor window. Here's Rachel rugged up in the snow on our way to class:

Anyway, it was snowing quite a bit. I put a very short video up on youtube. Class was good today, we learnt how to make simple noun-adjective predicate sentences, which is a nice new step. I wish there was duolingo.com for Mongolian. Oh well.

In response to questions about the money:

There are only notes, no coins; it's all paper stuff, though a bit sturdier than that dodgy US currency. Notes come in denominations of 20000, 10000, 5000, 1000, 500, 100, 50, 20, 10. The current exchange rate is 1 AUD = 1365.96 T (Togrog). Nobody likes changing 20K notes at any time. Prices for imported items are often comparable to Australia or elsewhere, so it's not unusual to be paying hundreds of thousands or millions of Togrogs for a larger item.

Here's a picture of the 20K and the 5000 note; most of the notes have either Chinggis Khaan on them, or Sukhbaatar (Axe-Hero, one of the key leaders of the 1921 revolution.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The day we signed for an apartment

Some of these posts could have quite a few alternate titles, it's hard to decide which one gets the cake.

Wednesday we have morning classes instead of afternoon ones. Yet today we only had one instead of two, so that gave us a little chance to do some homework in the morning before going out to class. It's a bit cooler today, but our language school is always warm inside, so it pays not to wear too much clothing. We are starting to get a hang of numbers, and we learnt some other words today; also we reviewed sounds and alphabet. Our teacher says that we will have to learn cursive, which is a shame since it is quite confusing.

After class we went to have lunch in Jukov cafe; originally we were meant to be going to the coffee house, but we ended up downstairs in this cafe. Really it's not a cafe since there is no coffee for sale. The menu was entirely unintelligible to us, so we ordered mostly at random. Many Mongolians came in for lunch, eating mostly small things - soup and soft bread and buuz. Our meal came and it was fairly large mince-steaks with egg on top and rice and salad. Oops. Edible (some would call it tasty I suppose), and a large filling meal. Paying involved the usual rigmarole of trying to find change. It's a problem in a country where the largest bill represents about $20, and everyone is keen to avoid using them (except banks and ATMs).

In the afternoon Seumas went to sign the contract for our new apartment. It's in the same building as the one we are currently staying in. It costs 320000T a month, about A$233. That makes it like 17% of our Sydney rental. So if the market is getting tight over there, consider moving here. We get a key on Friday, start our agreement on Sunday, but it will take a while before we move in - we need to get the kitchen done, and buy some key items: stove, refrigerator, washing machine, flooring.

Wednesday night is team meeting night. There are 6 adults (3 couples) currently in our team, and we meet weekly for fellowship, prayer, and to listen to teaching. We all currently live in the same block, and the apartment we meet in is in the next stairwell over. So it's down 5 flights and up 5 flights and there we are. At least that saves us rugging up against the cold. The temperature has dropped today quite a bit. We had a good time at team meeting, hearing from the Word and praying together.

On our way back home (short trip that it is), it has started snowing, which is a nice touch.
The menu from the cafe at which we ate.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The day we unexpectedly had to go back to immigration

It was a quiet morning in Mongolia for us, doing some homework and revision as well as some doctoral studies. Rachel popped out to pick up some groceries. Alas, our plans went awry after lunch with a phone call - there was some irregularity or technicality with our visas. So we trundled down to our language school again (such a warm day), and started catching some buses with our teacher. We catch the no. 6 trolley bus into Sukhbaatar square, and then the no. 11 bus out towards the airport; it takes about an hour. This was a good chance for Rachel to thoroughly practice counting in Mongolian with our teacher.

At immigration our teacher conversed with someone behind the counter - they were expecting us in. The problem was relayed to us. About a year ago they changed the laws so that only a student doing a Masters or higher could bring a spouse in on a family visa for more than 3 months. That is not us. No one had bothered to tell our teacher when she had applied for our visas and processed all our paperwork. The upshot is this, they extended Rachel's visa to 90 days (from 30 days), and she will need to leave the country in order to re-enter under a different visa, in this case her own student visa; this also means she will need to study full time. So they extended her current visa, and sometime in the next 3 months she'll pop over to a nearby asian country for a few days and come back.

It might sound all distressing, but it could have been much worse really - they might have just kicked us out for unknown reasons; so we're upbeat about it. You could certainly pray about it though, it is a rather non-insignificant hassle.

Then another hour on the buses back in; our teacher graciously gave us a lesson afterwards too, as we will miss one tomorrow morning.

Fun Mongolian fact of the day: Some people have names that translate as "not this one", "not that one" and "No-one", attempts to ward off the evil spirits by downplaying the child's importance.

Monday, March 26, 2012

The day of our first Mongolian class

In the morning we went to look at an apartment for rent in our building. It's small, and the kitchen needs work, but we later decided to take it. Mongolian apartments don't come with things Australians think apartments should come with. E.g. there are no kitchen units - no cupboards, no bench, sometimes no sink installed; ours has a sink but it's no good and will need to be ripped out anyway. But this is all okay, because this is just how things operate here - you just get someone to come and build your kitchen exactly how you say to fit your kitchen.

After visiting this apartment we went to the office for another building just nearby, having heard a rumour about a place that was fully furnished; they didn't know anything about it. Later it turned out that the apartment we had heard about was a sub-let. This wasn't a great option so we went with option 1.

In the afternoon we went to our first Mongolian classes. We have two teachers, Bayarmaa and Olonbayar. Bayarmaa is quite well known and really good. We went over the alphabet and sounds of Mongolian, and some basic greetings. There are four o/u sounds that all sound quite similar to Australian ears and are hard to pick up. Also, if you mispronounce 'Hi, how are you?' you might be telling someone to go to the bathroom. In the second lesson had the other teacher, who presumed we had mastered everything from lesson 1, and proceeded to teach us cursive Mongolian/Cyrillic, as well as the numbers. Her pronunciation was less crisp, and distinguishing vowel sounds was quite tough. Pray for us as we get going with this tricky language.

Rachel pointing to our language school
A special treat for dinner was home-made pizza. Pizza is a bit of a craze in Mongolia at the moment. You can even buy individually wrapped slices at the supermarket. But ours was tasty.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The day of going to two churches

Seumas' alarm was set for 8am, but it did some timezone tricks and went off at local time 7am. This left us a little more tired than we should have been.

First port of call today was a Mongolian-language church. We had visited this one once before the last time we were in country. We caught a taxi out there and were very blessed to have the pastor's wife doing translation for us and some other outsiders. There was a good deal of charismatic-style singing to start off with, and then the Nicene Creed. I've never had the Creed recited with a musical backdrop and clapping at the end. Good to see the true Nicene faith being celebrated! We also had Romans 13-16 read to us - no small bible readings here! The sermon was on Rev 3:14-22 and encouraged us to be living out our faith and not to be 'lukewarm'.  The translator helped greatly! A number of the people were going on a short term m-trip to a nearby country, so we prayed for them. Very exciting! We met a few other outsiders after the service and then walked home, with a stop at a local korean supermarket.

In the afternoon we went to the international church. This week was part of a focus on mission month, and many outsiders got up to share what they were doing. The talk urged us to consider Jesus' own ministry as a model for ours. I reconnected with an outsider we had met last time we were here, who is involved in a cafe/roasting business. So I now have a coffee bean supplier! Looking forward to my espresso machine arriving, but the flamecannon is doing fine. Rachel met two local girls who had come to church for the first time and she chatted with them and hopefully will have some more contact in the future - a point for petition.

Tomorrow is our first day of language class, we're looking forward to picking up some of the language.

The day we got Mongolian sim cards

Mongolian shops don't open early. In fact, most Mongolians run on a timetable about 3 hours behind western expectations. So we went down to a nearby shopping centre (that phrase has already given you the wrong idea), just after 11. And they opened the roller doors as we were arriving. That by no means meant that the phone-stall person was opening though. Instead we wandered around looking at other things, bought some groceries (including the renowned Genghis Khaan energy drink), and as we were thinking of leaving, the phone person turned up. So we both now have Mongolian sim cards. You can email us for the numbers if you want.

5kgs of Nutella, about A$70
We then trundled off to another shop to grab some more groceries before home for lunch.

In the afternoon Rachel went out on a hat-buying expedition by herself. It was quite successful and has led to a possible hat-craze taking off.

The new hat

Friday, March 23, 2012

The day we ate with a NASA engineer

Well it's easy to sleep in in Mongolia, on account of the sun, a north facing window, and not many places open until 10am anyway. So we slept in until 8 this morning. Porridge is rapidly becoming our staple breakfast, edging out the fading memory of Weetbix.

As you may have guessed, this week seems to involve a bit of schlepping around the house. That's how the morning panned out, though with some delightful Skype calls from Australia.

After lunch we walked to our language school. One of the latest trends in Mongolia is to wear fake ugg boots around. Anyway, we meet our teacher and headed off to Mongolian immigration. This involved two buses, first a trolley bus (7c per person), then a longer ride on a more regular bus (14c per person), virtually out to the airport. It was a nice trip overall, since you get out of the city a little bit.

Mongolian Immigration has a nice new office, and with the help of our teacher we were applying for residency permits. This mainly involves (a) bringing 5 items of paperwork, (b) your Mongolian friend traipsing between officials, (c) you handing over money, (d) fingerprinting and photography, (e) come back next week - btw we're keeping your passports.

It was all quite smooth, though giving up one's passport for the week is counter-intuitive to us. We also "met" some French travelers, young scruffy looking guys who appeared to be scamping all across the continent.

The trip back was the same, and then it was home. Oh, apparently our boxes might arrive in another week. No hurry, we don't have an apartment for them. Also, in Mongolia apartments don't come with all sorts of things - they might not have flooring, they probably have a sink, but no oven or kitchen. So even when we get one there will be some construction to be done.

On to the title of today's post. We have a lovely Korean/American couple on the team here, and they live 'next door', which actually means the next stairwell, so we went to visit them for dinner, down our 5 flights of stairs, up their five flights of stairs. We had a lovely time with them, and their four exuberant children, and were fascinated to learn that the husband was an engineer with NASA, and had planned to stay there working on the Constellation program, but had prayed that if God wanted him in Mongolia, God would shut down the Constellation program, which happened within the week thanks to Obama's slashing of the space program. So now he is here, teaching and sharing about Jesus.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The day we went to a local administration office

We have surprisingly little to do right now. You might think the first week would be all a whirlwind, but it's not. We have just a few key things that need to get done, and that's about it.

So this morning I (Seumas) woke up early for my online Gaelic class, which I had recalculated to start at 7. Unfortunately it started at 6, and so when I booted up at 6:45 they immediately called me and I was into the class! I think maybe they changed time zones as well as us. Anyway, all is well.

We didn't do a great deal for the rest of the morning. In the afternoon we went out to a local sub-district administration office, taking with us our host and a local Mongolian student. We needed to get a certain piece of paper that certifies that we do indeed live somewhere. This is so we can go tomorrow and get a residency permit that actually allows us to stay in the country. Anyway, since we haven't signed a rental agreement somewhere yet, there was some hesitation about how it might work out, but it actually went very quickly and smoothly, and the bargain basement processing fee was A$0.14.

The wind was quite strong today, and there was a little bit of snow. On the way back we did a little bit of shopping. Shopping without any local language is always a little difficult and embarrassing. Also, not having small enough denominations of notes doesn't help either. Anyway, we secured capsicums, carrots, tomatoes, and sultanas.

Not much else to say. You carnivores will be pleased to hear we ate meat last night - chicken and beef. So boring, I don't know why you think meat is so exciting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The next stage of our Mongolian adventure

Well, we are here! After several years of consideration, prayer, planning, a survey visit, uncertainties, training, partnership development, mail-awaiting, sad farewells, and a full day of flying, we have arrived in Ulaanbaatar.

The flights were relatively good, for those wondering. Sydney to Seoul was pretty nice, and we both enjoyed some reading and some movie-watching. Only a 2hr layover in Incheon airport, time enough for a coffee, some wifi, snacks, and some additional layers, and then a 3hr flying from South Korea to Mongolia. We had one aborted landing at UB, due to high winds, and then a very lengthy wait to get through immigration. Another plane came in just after us, and being at the end of our plane put us at the end of our queue, and just when we got to the front of our line, the service staff finished up and we had to join another queue. We did have a chance to chat to another Aussie in the line though, a 4WD instructor over here doing some training for the mining boom.

Our lovely team leaders met us at the airport, this was about 11:30pm local time, about 17.5hrs from when we took off in Sydney, and we drove back to their apartment. It was good to get some rest.

This morning we have not done a great deal. David headed out to teach some classes, and Wendy is feeling a little unwell. So we have enjoyed a quiet morning at home. Rachel has just gone out for a stroll in the balmy -5, and I am blogging. On the cards for the rest of the day is a trip to our language school to sort out some papers, and tonight there may be a bit of a gathering - some other friends are transiting through UB on their way home for medical stuff, and it also happens to be my birthday!

p.s. looks like there are some good bars out front for possible rings workouts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

actual Feb 2012 update

Hello brothers and sisters!

We wanted to write again soon, not to overload you but to keep you up-to-the-minute updated!


For a fantastic commissioning service! It was a great occasion, and the presence of so many of you, and the apologies of others, really meant a lot to us. A special thanks to all who helped out, prayed, brought afternoon tea, and so on; also to Simon for coming up to preach the Word of God to us all.

Praise God, we have 100% of our budget pledged now. This is fantastic, and as we speak to other missionaries preparing to go, we are aware of how great it is! So thanks to God for his generosity, and thanks to you for being the instruments of his grace.

This doesn't mean it's too late (or pointless), if you still wanted to support us financially. 100% promised does not necessarily mean that everyone will be able to give as they have said - life changes, things happen, and so if you're committed to giving to us, we don't want to dissuade you from that. We can give you other good reasons too if you need more convincing.


As we announced after our commissioning, we have set a fairly firm departure date of the 20th March. This is a little later than perhaps we'd originally planned or been talking about (don't hold it against us!), but gives us plenty of time to wait for visas, deal with minor mishaps, and allows Seumas to attend his overdue MTh graduation on the 19th (kilt and robe guaranteed). So if you're planning to see us and have some final hugs and tears, please make time early.

Thanks to all the people who offered accommodation - so nice to think that you would put up with us for a week or so. We're planning to stay in Wahroonga for about 2 weeks before our departure.


There's plenty more of our stuff to be carted away. Here's a little reminder of the great bargains (cheap as free in many cases) that could be yours! We're hoping to finish and move out of our place around the 8th.

  • washing machine (four years old, front loader)
  • bookcases (wooden, on extended loan)
  • dining table
  • wardrobe
  • drawers with mirror and overhead compartment
  • wardrobe with shelving unit (Ikea)
  • couch
  • coffee table
  • TV unit

Staying in touch

In addition to our previous vast list of ways to stay in touch, we have added the Macdonalds in Mongolia twitter account: @MacsinMongolia.

Keep praying for:
- good goodbyes
- smooth handling of practicalities of packing up and moving across the world
- continual and growing trust in God and his faithfulness
- God's gracious favour in using us for his redemptive purposes

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Feb 2012

It's almost February and given that it's a time of action and excitement maybe you'd like an update a few days early!


Our commissioning service is on Sat 4th Feb, 2:30pm at Lane Cove Anglican, 4 Rosenthal Ave, 2066. We'd really love to see you there, and it will be an excellent time as we hear God's word and commit our relocation and ministry in Mongolia to God and his good providence. Simon Longden, the national director of Pioneers will be up visiting and our guest speaker. There will be some afternoon tea afterwards (and if you'd like to help with that let us know!)

Transition Training

A large bulk of January was taken up with TT, and we're not really supposed to talk about specifics. Nonetheless, we had a valuable time away down in Melbourne being prepared for some of the challenges of moving to a new culture. We particularly enjoyed getting to know many other missionaries, in all stages of life, going to all sorts of places. It was a real gift to spend time with people in the same headspace and stage as ourselves, with a shared longing for God's glory in global mission.


Still everyone's favourite question. At this stage we are looking at leaving sometime in early March. The main obstacles are: (a) getting aids tests done as a visa requirement, (b) sending off documentation and arranging the visas. This should put in motion a chain of events and give us a more definite departure date. We'll be spending some time in Feb visiting some friends and family and saying farewells and hanging out with all our fun friends.

Giving us a roof for a week

If you have a spare room and could put us up for a few days immediately prior to our departure, that would really be wonderful. That would let us ship our stuff to Mongolia, clean our apartment, get rid of our car, etc. before we actually left. Let us know if this is you!

Please take our stuffSome people have been around to our place to take our stuff away. But there are many good things here looking for a home and some loving owners. It pretty much all must go, so don't be shy. We would love to give you books and cds and furniture and anything else we can.

Prayer- pray for us as we say goodbye to family members, especially for Rachel as we travel to Port Macquarie and to Leeton.
- pray for visas to get issued smoothly and quickly, so we can get over there and start learning Mongolian pronto!
- pray for faithfulness and joy in our lives and service for Jesus