It's been 3 weeks now that we've been in Mongolia. It seems like a much longer time than just 3 weeks. So much has happened. When you change a country, try to get established in an apartment, and start a new job, all in just 3 weeks, it is bound to feel like months and months. It certainly does feel very far away from the rest of the world. Life is so different. I don't really know how to take it all in and feel "normal". What is normal now? I think I'm passing through culture shock in a milder way than first anticipated. The initial preoccupation with finding housing and starting work is over but now the more realistic phase of living here and blending in with the community or should I say fitting into the community is beginning. Sounds, smells, sights, the ordeal of going shopping (there is no such thing as one stop shopping), the ordeal of washing clothes and ironing (no dryers), the race to the bus and being stuffed in like sardines with the other 1000 people trying to get to work, is all a bit much sometimes. There isn't much to look at and relax in. It is hard living here, not much beauty, and yet the people are lovely, warm, generous, kind, and giving. If it were not for that one might just faint! Yesterday, as we took the bus home from work a man and his grandson were sitting together on the same seat. The bus was full and we were carrying our heavy load - backpack and computer. The grandfather could not speak English nor his grandson. Richard took their picture (he often does this!) and the grandfather beckoned for him to rest his backpack on his lap. So Richard did. Little hints of kindness we find often as we go through our day.
I find work to be not very stimulating but very challenging in an agonizing kind of way. I am used to my employers giving me concrete direction with detailed information. This employer is the exact opposite. Very little direction, and when he does direct it is not very clear at all. So I need to find the Lord in it and take His leading. All of this is very challenging, confusing, discouraging, but I suppose the very right atmosphere for growth if I submit it to the Lord.
We had the most amazing experience on Sunday. We went to a church of our friend on the outskirts of town, near the airport. The music was very good at this church, our friends being on the worship team. They have lovely voices and the music was nice. They had a visiting preacher from the US but is Chinese and spends alot of his time in the Philippines. He reminded me of our dear friend, Otoniel in LA. Well, he preached (shouted) for about 2 hours and then we all had lunch together with the Pastor and his wife and our dear friends. Actually, the man preaching is very intelligent and informative about world events and has had an incredible testimony himself. I am leading up to what was so fascinating. One of the men in the church, newly converted, is one of the 5 top businessman in the country. He at one time owned 15 very prosperous businesses but lost them all and went bankrupt about 3 years ago. Recently, he has started up a business again of exporting sheep skins and fur to China and Korea. After the meeting he took us with this guest preacher to his factory. As we bumped along the road through a maze of crumpled buildings and uneven roadways we finally came to his office in an old Russian building. It looked like a concentration camp. We walked into this nice office had coffee and he showed his coin collection dating back to 1100 AD. Impressive. Afterwards he took us to the factory which was in another building close by. It was like walking back in time about 100 years. There in a big building were thousands of animal skin,s big vats of green looking chemicals, and tumblers about 24 feet high and about 3 feet wide. Ladies were pulling off the fur from the hide without any sharp instrument just with their gloves. The chemical loosens the fur from the hide. It was all very dirty and muddy and wet but so very fascinating. I don't know why but it was!
Today we began language study. We learned the alphabet, the vowels, and the consonants and have to memorize them by tomorrow! haha. This is a very intensive course and will be a real boost if we can actually pull it off. It's all greek to me!
Until another day.....Baryatai (which means goodbye!)