Archive for September, 2007

Lots of Marching

September 28, 2007

One note to start about mail. Mail only goes to the city, and we only go into the city ever 3 sometimes 6 weeks. Sorry if it seems like I’m ignoring stuff. Oh yeah, and I got Lorraine’s letter Tuesday.

Mostly marching around this week. Lots of marching. We have some pretty good families we’re teaching. Unfortunately for our feet most of them live out in the ends of the ger district. There’s one house we have to schedule about 1 hour and 15 minutes for walking to, on top of our usual contacting. But it’s good though. Other than being in Mongolia, not much out of the ordinary happened. There’s a branch outing tomorrow, so that’ll be interesting.

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Gone Fishing

September 20, 2007

Yeah, I tried to email. The kholbool razar (literaly “connection place”) has some 1.2 gig computers and a few ghetto Russian dishes that get wireless internet from somewhere. After I wrote dad and President Anderson, I was writing to you and something pooped out and I lost my connection. Sorreh D:

This week’s been good. Found 3 whole families that are interested. One of the fathers read all the way through second Nephi in one night, including all the Isaiah parts. And in one of the other families, their little 5 year old daughter decided I was one of the coolest things ever and started crying when I stood up to leave. A good thing in a way, made the parents decide I was okay even though I can’t speak that well.

We went 15 miles out into the country side for p-day today with one of the less active guys in the branch. We poked around the river, fished and climbed over some of the hills. If the connection stays up today, I’ll try to email a few pictures.

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We were looking over one of the mountains over Baganoor, we realized the reason we’re always tired is that the city is about 3 times longer than we thought it was. To get from the edge of the city to the edge of the ger district is about 4-5 miles, and we make the hike every day and go from one end to the other a few times. Makes sense why I’ve already gone two notches down on my belt.

I’m going to try and send a few pictures, so I’ll wrap up.

Love you,

Elder Byrd

PS. To everyone who said they would write, I plan on holding you to your word all the way to the judgement bar.

Where are the cookies?

September 16, 2007

Having sent Elder Byrd a parcel of cookies through DearElder.com, this week’s communication is a bit sparse; upon the query about the cookies, I received this:

I have recieved no torty goodness, but it would take things forever and a half to get out here, and we have to go to the city to get our mail.

And tell the red headed step children I said “yu ‘ain daa?!”

Automatic Celebrity

September 7, 2007

Yeah, I kinda thought my trainer was kidding about the whole CS thing. But it is WAY popular here. I go into the Baganoor government building to teach English, and 50 year old tax guys are playing CS. The bank workers are playing CS. This little old guy in the internet cafe wearing old school Mongolian clothing (the del) is playing CS. It’s crazy 😀.

I’m glad I’m out in the khodoo (country side). The city is way crazy. I figure half a nation’s population living in one place would do that.

Baganuur is way Russian in the way it’s built. It’s this splat of apartments in the middle of no where. There’s another half of the city about 3 miles away on another side of a hill that’s completely abandoned. The main city is made up of 57 apartment complexes (I think), 2 ger districts, 3 schools, 1 bank, 1 open market, and 1 government building. There’s also a mine about 2 miles away where we teach English. To about every 2 apartment complexes, there’s a gadzar (restaurant, literally means ‘a place’) and a khonsnii delgoor (grocery store) on the first floor of a building. They’re usually around 15-20 feet square rooms where you can buy some ‘ish or grab some food for cheap. It’s the same out in the ger districts. They have squat little cinder buildings every other 2 rows or so. I’ll send pictures, but the USB reader on this computer just seems to be a face port with no actual innards.

It’s been pretty smooth sailing. Got stranded out in the mountains for about 3 hours at night, but it was cool. There’s no light pollution in Mongolia, the sky is amazing. The branch is good out here. There’s one thing here that’s way reverse from America though. The youth are way more active here than the adults, especially the men. Out of like 20 people that were there, most were kids (like these two little brothers that are like 10 or something that trundle off to church even if their parents don’t come), their mothers, and 2 priesthood holders over 30. The branch president is Elder Bat Munkh from the other companionship. It’s cool though, two of the YSA age members go with us a lot. Galthaa (his name means ‘my fire’) and Ugii (she has a longer name, but nicknames in Mongolia are the first syllable of your name then ‘gii’, so my nickname is Mongolian would be said “boogie,” figures, that’s what you called me as a kid.) are the ones that go with us for the most part. We teach a lot of lessons, so it’s good. People are usually way more relaxed when they see us walking around and laughing with someone from the city.

Next random thought: Being a big fat white guy in Mongolia makes you an automatic celebrity. After walking the whole city for a week, I think I might be the biggest human being here. The biggest guy I’ve met here was still about 6 inches shorter than me, way skinnier, and he was still bigger than everyone else. It has its problems though. There are usually 2 or 3 people who want to wrestle me on a daily basis, a few more drunks who want to fight, and my companion is always laughing at me because a) girls are talking about me in Mongolian or b) our language students try to flirt in broken English. The funniest part is that they always ask me how much I weigh. Apparently that’s a good thing here.

I giggle.

Anyways, we’ve been working a lot with one family this week. They we’re the first members of the church in Baganuur … but now only the daughters go to church, and the son and the mom just stay home. We’re out there a lot, just getting to know them. It’s a good thing you sent the photo album. They love the pictures of us at the temple, our family when I was a little tot, the Birmingham temple, the staff break, and some of the art shots I took at the MTC. It’s been going way good. They’ve started reading and praying together again, and when we went a few days ago, their son warmed up to us & wanted to take us in two on two basketball, and the dad was attentive. The Dad is a funny guy, he likes to mess with new elders, but most odd Mongolian food isn’t any weirder than the stuff rednecks eat. The second day we came by, he brought out this bowl full of horse meat and boiled innards, handed me a knife and said “id id” (kinda like saying eat up in English). So I shaved of some leg meat, diced some fat of the intestines, and downed it. He stared at me, said something in Mongolian, and then just started laughing. My trainer said that it was ” He’s gonna have no problems here”. They’re going way out into the country side for a month, so we’ll see how they are when they get back.

From the Mission President

September 3, 2007

What a great way to start the week:

3 September 2007

Sister Andersen and I were excited to greet your son at the airport on August 31. He looked tired after the long flight but was grateful to finally be here in Mongolia to begin his Mongolia missionary service.

I know he has had excellent preparation in the MTC for his assignment here. We also had the chance to meet him at the MTC in June with the other missionaries in his group, and we were so impressed to be receiving such fine missionaries.

Your son will grow during his missionary service, both spiritually and emotionally. The Mongolian people are extremely kind and love to associate with our foreign missionaries. They have a deep desire to learn English. He will develop a taste for the local food and with reasonable care, it is safe to eat. He will develop a love for the Mongolian people and will develop a sincere desire to have them come unto Christ and be baptized into His Church. He will have many wonderful experiences to relate to you when he returns home at the end of his mission.

I had the opportunity of interviewing your son on August 31. He was full of enthusiasm for the work. I feel assured that he will be an excellent representative of the Lord.

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Made for This Country

September 1, 2007

So yeah, I’m writing this epic email when all the computers in the internet cafe suddenly restart. So here’s the reader’s digest. Didn’t sleep the whole 40 hours in transit to Mongolia, placed a Korean Book of Mormon in the airport, which they were still reading later, went to Zaicen where the land was dedicated, went out for 2 1/2 hours in the gert districts my first day out, sat down and talked with a lot of people, and got 15 invitations to come back and teach. Had an interview with President Anderson, who is awesome, ate some of Bat Bolthd’s wife’s excellent cooking for dinner, finally got 6 hours of straight sleep after 3 days, got my trainer and assignment- Elder Rodriguez and the city of Bogendor (it’s a little east of UB). And then I came here. So yeah, I’m happy, well fed, and ready to go to work.

Random facts: A lot of Mongolian’s are fascinated by how big Americans can get, they also like people who can wrestle and fight, and have talent in any kind of art or music. And Counter Strike is apparently stupid popular in some of the cities (I didn’t even start the conversation, some of the native Mongolian Elders were talking about it). It’s like I’m made for this country 😎