Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meditations from Mongolia

"San-ban-o" (Hello),

Technically this is wrong as this is what you would say to an individual, not a group. Today has been a good day. We started out by going to church here in the city. Christians are a very small minority group in Mongolia. The main religion is Buddhism--or a major influence from it. Mongolia is a land and people wedged between Russia and China. The influence of these two countries is very obvious, yet the Mongolians are a people of their own.

As a Christian it was a very special experience to worship with the believers here even though it is a different language. They sang, shared with each other and were taught from the Bible. There were about 30 people present in the hotel conference room where the church meets. There aren't words that express my feelings when I heard them sing. They have beautiful voices and it was really cool when I recognized a song or two that was transliterated from English to Mongolian. At the end of the service (about 2 hours total), Richard and I were invited to share. I shared with them that it was special to me to worship with them as we are united through Christ. When you travel overseas one's citizenship is very apparent as you stand in line in various customs lines with your passport. This trip I have seen USA, Russia, Spain, Chinese, Mongolian, Chech, New Zealand, and a few other passports in line. In church this morning there were about three nationalities represented--USA, Mongolia, and South Korea, yet as Christians we share citizenship in heaven. It was this thought that compelled me to share from Philippians 3:21-4:1 when I was invited to speak to the church body. Words do not adequately express the fellowship that believers share in Christ even when there is no cultural or language connections. This morning was sweet and I can't wait to experience next week in Ho-tic next Sunday. Ho-tic is about a 12 hour drive to the north west and is about 60 miles from the Russian border. I would love to go to the border to look over, but I don't think this will happen. Maybe on my next trip. Here is a little bonus trivia: All of Mongolia is "outer-Mongolia." "Inner-Mongolia" is south of Mongolia and is in China.

After church we had a great lunch thanks to Heidi. Spaghetti was on the menu and they were very thankful for the Parmesan Cheese that we brought as a gift. Funny, because the Parmesan Cheese almost didn't make the cut because of its size and I don't understand why people like it. But it was a hit because they can't get it here.

Okay, so after lunch we had a great treat watching Mongolian wrestling. I will do my best to describe what I saw, but you really need to search "Mongolian wrestling" on Youtube. So these guys are stout and strong. Some tall, some short, some fat, some skinny, but all HARD. Before I saw it, I thought I would like to give it a try if I could get a waiver on the uniform (more to come on that), but when I saw these guys they were bad to the bone. I wanted nothing to do with them when I saw them in person--the only other time I felt this was when I had tickets on the glass at a NHL match and I decided pounding on the glass was a bad idea due to the size of the hockey players. Okay to the uniforms. Picture sweet colorful leather boots that come up to your knees, then take your pick of a very tight/skimpy blue or red speedo, and a shawl that covers your arms. Just google this to see pictures. There are multiple battles before you for a few hours. The goal is to get the other guys knees to touch the ground first. The winner pretends to fly around like an eagle, the looser unstraps the string that holds the "shawl" over their shoulders. Then, no matter if you win or loose, the older fighter reaches over the looser to pat him on the bottom. I think this shows that the older man ultimately is respected over the younger.

Okay, next thought. This is short. I learned that Mongolians value family and children. Every mother who has 8 children is awarded an official medal from the government. You can't buy these, but I am going to search for two old ones from the "Zar" (market) to give two moms I know with over 8 kids--they deserve it in my book. Hopefully I can find these two medals in the antique section of the "Zar."

Next thought. No credit cards are used in Mongolia. Cash is king. Super awesome. I can't help but to imagine how this affects the culture socially and emotionally. I imagine Americans would be happier and more content if we didn't live and operated in cash and free from debt.

Tonight we are heading over to the headquarters to have a party in sending off a family who has been serving here for about 15 years. The word is out that we brought coffee and have been asked to supply the coffee for tonight's gathering. Serving the Lord has always been rewarding, but it seems extra special when I can utilize good coffee in blessing others! :)

The need is so great here, yet the workers are few. I think by next winter there will only be 3 families serving together to reach this country with the good news. This is a hard work and I am overwhelmed with how rewarding it is to be here to support an encourage this family who is serving. I am thankful for those who shared with the financial burden of this trip and supplies and for Valley Baptist Church who supported my going. I believe this is just the first trip of more to come.

Okay, I gotta run. Have a blessed day at church today. I am praying for the believers at VBC!

Blessings,
Gunnar

1 comment:

Jan Jan said...

Thanks for the great summary of your experiences so far. I am truly respectful of Mongolian wrestling now. I hope you find the medals as I think that is really cool!
I also loved your analogy about citizenship and passports. That's a blessing to think about no matter where you are in the world today.
Keep on, you are loved here in NC.