Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Country Girl in the Big City

Making uuz for the holidays
So, this week was transfers, and here's how it went... First of all, I kept praying and praying that I would stay in Erdenet for this transfer so I could spend the holiday with these people who are like my family, but I also wanted an American comp to try my language skills...

Wednesday night we were supposed to hear about the transfers, but instead got a text that said it's not ready yet and we would hear Thursday morning... ugh- torture!!! But, I guess you can't rush the Lord. Thursday morning we got ready did studies, visited one of our new members who made us food and gave us gifts in case we leave. She gave me a pearl beaded headband that they traditional wear that she made herself.. shes a talented 13 yr old. Then we went home to wait for the transfer because we would need to hear if I go or not and then leave for UB so my comp could finish her mini mission. So we waited, and waited, and waited... until 4:30pm on Thursday. I was then told that I would be transferred to Ulaanbaatar and be serving in the Enktaivan ward (yes I am in a ward now, which is really exciting). My companion would be Sister Tao who is Cambodian but has been living in the US since she was 12. She's from the group after me. I would also become the STL in the west stake in UB. AND I had 90 minutes to pack and get to the train to leave for UB... WHAT?! So I frantically packed everything up and did not get to say goodbye to anyone.  I was crying a lot....
My new comp

Then we left on the train and got to the city Friday morning, then drove to my new apt, and carried my luggage up 6 flights of stairs... morning workout, haha. Then I helped Sister Hartley from my group ,who I was basically switching places with, pack for Erdenet. We then went to the mission home so I could get mail, and switch phones, and random other things... and then the president called me in to speak with him, ANOTHER SURPRISE!!! I will be teaching at a kindergarten here in UB until they finish for the summer!!!! What?! I know, I was so surprised because with the church visa I never thought that would happen and that I would just teach at churches my whole mission. but nope!

Saturday, we started meeting with people, Sunday we went to church and choir and met with more people.... and well, I'm happy and sad to be here. I already feel like this is where I need to be and I love this ward already!!! But, I definitely miss Erdenet already :( Now I am back to wearing masks cuz of the thick pollution, freezing cuz it's super cold!, crowded bus rides and not knowing wear in the world I am... But I'm glad to be here and excited to build up the work where I am... we have almost no investigators so we are going to work with members and getting referrals from them.

Also, we already had something awesome happen!! Saturday. we were at the church, and an RM gave us a referral of a 17 yr old boy who had came to the church on his own... then I called him but it was not working, well he then came to church on Sunday!!! He sat through all 3 hours and understood a ton! He talked with me for a long time after saying that he understood what prophets and priesthood was, but what was a missionary? So I then explained a ton to him. He a such a cool kid! He goes to a sport school, competes in judo, and he likes to keep a journal of his own characteristics and then pick out some and improve those characteristics... and he's only 17, what?! The Lord is already moving forward his work here for us... so cool!

That's about all right now. I love you all and want you all to know that this gospel and this church are TRUE. If you aren't a member of the church, please take a chance and listen for yourself. Come to the church. Listen to the missionaries and then make the decision for yourself if it is true. But I can promise you with a strong knowledge and testimony that this is God's true church, and through this gospel you can be happy and receive all the eternal blessings God is waiting to give you. Please please please just listen to the missionaries!!!

Mongolian children are adorable!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Absolutely Fantastic Week!

This week has been absolutely fantastic! We have had so much excitement packed into one small week, it's been great! I'll just do it in bullets today:

-We met with my new member, Snowcandy (tsaschicher), this week and talked to her about her goals. She wants to go on a mission and after her mission attend BYU Hawaii or Provo, and get married in the temple (she's so great!). I helped her plan it all out and helped her understand what she needs to do to attend those universities! She is so excited and she really wants to serve a mission! So cool!

- Another new member, Zumpurellham, got a calling to the library.

- Another new member, Prince (Khanhyy), got the aaronic priesthood on Sunday.

- One of our investigators, Sumia, is progressing great! He is meeting us almost every day because he wants to get baptized as soon as possible! It's so cool to see because a few months ago when we first started meeting with his family he used to leave the house when we were coming to avoid us... or he would go to another room and ignore us... but with time he would participate in the family prayers... and in time sat in the corner and listened to lessons.. and when we taught about temples he participated... and then he came to his little sister's baptism... and now he is a rockin investigator!!! So amazing! 

- My comp got her mission call! She has been called to serve in the Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission and leaves for the MTC on February 26th!! Who knows, maybe I will be her mission mom, haha. It was fun to have my mission comp get her mission call with me :)

- We've been teaching one of our 20 yr old ALA's family and this week his mom and dad and little brother all committed to baptism!!!! They are all so excited to take this step together! It's amazing to see and the ALA son s trying really hard to get back on the path to receiving the priesthood and hopefully baptizing his family!

- So, my ZL's family lives here in Erdenet, and they are almost all members and just fantastic. The one person in his family who is not a member is his stepdad. His stepdad has been against the church for a while and gets drunk all the time, and its hard on the family, but the family prays really hard that he will change and hear the message and get baptized. They are waiting for him to become a member to all go to the temple together to be sealed as a family. Well, yesterday we had a lesson with him and his wife and one son... we were very blunt and explained their desires and god's desires, and the blessings available after this life for him and his family... He listened and when I asked him to start meeting with us, he said he wants to!!!! He is now our newest investigator!!! I am so excited to see the gospel change his life and unite this family!!!

-We had another BAPTISM!!! Amardalai (peaceful river) got baptized on Friday! ( as well as 3 of my old investigators who the other sisters finished teaching). It was a beautiful baptism as an RM got to baptize his wife and her lil sis, and our new member baptized his 2 friends. So cool! Amardalai's mom came to the service and was so supportive! He shared a wonderful testimony of how he has changed and his knowledge of the Book of Mormon. He even wore a suit that he got so he could start wearing it to church!!! He will be in the countryside for the next couple weeks on break, and he asked, "Can you guys give me my baptism pictures before I leave Monday? I want to tell everyone back home about the church and show them the pictures!" How cool is that?! He already is doing missionary work! He rocks!!!

Well, that's everything that happened this week --- such a fantastic week! This week is transfers, so we will see who my new comp is and where I will be!! I love you all! I love Mongolia and these people and this work sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much! 

My comp gets her mission call.
No one came to English. :(
Amardalai next to me got baptized!
Erdenet at the end of the day as we head home.

Monday, January 18, 2016

For Example, Sister Harker

So another week came, but my comps call did not. It's like I'm getting my call all over again! I am so nervous and excited for her and my district talks about where she will go all the time!!! We are going tot the post office today to see if it came!

This week was great!! First off, last Monday we did FHE with a family here that I just LOVE! I used to do FHE with their family all the time during the summer, but haven't in a long time. It was so much fun, they fed us food, and we talked and joked around a ton and then did a fun activity about God-given attributes and talents (everyone had to write nice things about each other...they especially loved to mess with my comp as she is new). It was so great, and felt like I was with my actual family - exact same humor!

I've been really sick this week but I decided there is no point in waiting around home, so we decided to go to work. It's been rough, but the members and investigators have been really nice and keep giving me hot berry water and this week we've been able to do some amazing work! We found at least 20 less actives, which is awesome! And they are almost all up for meeting with us too! 

First of all, one of our investigators named Amardalai who is 21 yrs old passed his baptismal interview and will be getting baptized this week!!! We are so excited about it and he has progressed amazingly and is so ready for this covenant!! He will receive the priesthood in a month or so and he wants to leave on a mission in one year!! We had a funny moment this week with him, as I was on a a split with my STL and we visited him. We taught him about missionary work and he kept saying, "for example, Sister Harker..." to understand everything we were teaching him. It was hilarious as he did it at least 10 times. Hear that, y'all  I am the example, haha. My STL has promised to start using me as an example to those she teaches and in letters to the president, and in meetings with other missionaries, haha.

We also met a member family this week who has a 2 yr old boy who always runs around naked and cant really talk. When we visited them this week he came over to me with a tiny beaded ring, and he tried putting it on me. I gave him my pinky but he refused to and grabbed my ring finger and put it on that one... yep, I was proposed to by a 2 yr old Mongolian boy... it was adorable! He even let me keep the ring, haha.

Also, while I was with my STL we were talking a little bit about my first area- Bayanzurkh. She is from that area, and I used to visit her family because her mom is an investigator and her older sister was inactive. Well, I was telling her about how I felt like I didn't make much of a difference there because I couldn't talk to anyone or understand anyone. She was shocked and then shared this with me; 

"You used to visit my family right? You taught my older sister right? My older sister is now very active in the church.. and how did she become that way? She sent me an email and told me that Sister Harker helped her. You said or taught something that changed her attitude and made her change. To her, you are the reason she is active again. You changed her life." 

Wow, right?! I had no idea at all! When she told me that, I was amazed! I had no idea that I helped her sister, but I did. At that time, I could barely speak the language and I felt like I was doing nothing, but I was. I helped someone and who knows who else I may have helped while I was there without knowing it. I thought a lot about this and realized that God truly does place missionaries where they are needed, places words in our mouth, touches others hearts, and helps people through us. It's exactly like Ether 12:25,27. We personally feel like we have a weakness (like speaking the language), but God gives us those weaknesses and through them helps others, and strengthens us as well.

This week we had cool experience after cool experience, and I don't have time to write them all, but I want to say I love this work and love all of you! 

1. What do Mongolians think of your ability to handle the winter cold? They are all super impressed actually!!! And all worried about me too, haha

2. How does Mongolian school work? Do they go year round? 9-3pm? It's really confusing, the school year is the same, but the time of the day 
I do not understand. Every day seems to be different and different grade levels have morning classes and some evening  and some all days... I don't really understand and I continually ask the youth when their classes are, but they are patient and keep answering me.

3. Do many people have tv or computers? Lots of people have tv's, but they are the old box tvs, and usually pretty small. Most people don't have computers, but some do.

4. When is the next big holiday and what will it be? The next holiday is Zurgaansar (6th moon) and it starts February 8th here this year and will go for 1-2 or more weeks. Basically, no one does anything except visit families and friends and eat A TON of food and bring each other gifts and whatnot.

5. Do you dream in English or Mongolian? What do you dream about? I don't dream much, but when 
I do it's always about the mission, sometimes English, sometimes Mongolian.

One of my favorite youth.
My zone sistas - I'm the lone American but I feel like a Mongolian so it's ok. :)

My branch president's family.
Messing around because there were no taxis anywhere!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Gospel Changes Lives

This week was just amazing!!! First of all, I had a moment this week, where I truly felt God's love and the love of these people. We sat in on institute this week for 30 minutes. I basically wasn't understanding anything and they kept asking me questions that I couldn't answer. I was kinda frustrated on the inside and just exhausted by this language. That definitely happens all the time! It's hard being in the countryside with only Mongolians, and spending every blinking moment speaking in Mongolian - it's great and helps a lot, but it's exhausting. Well, as we were sitting in institute  the guy next to me (who is trying really hard to learn English  but doesn't speak very well) asked me in very broken English if i understood. I told him no, and he then began, once again in VERY broken English, to translate the lesson for me. I almost began to cry as I was now on the other side of the language barrier and someone was trying so incredibly hard to help me understand this time. It was so kind, and i felt God's love so strongly through this kind member.

We are teaching so many amazing investigators now, and they are all progressing REALLY WELL!!! One of our investigators, Amardolai, is doing great! We finished teaching him all the commandments and also taught him about temples this week. He thinks everything sounds awesome and he wants to follow all of the commandments exactly! In one of our lessons, he seemed a little said, and we asked why. He then told us he thinks he shouldn't get baptized.... we were shocked!!! What?! We asked why he felt that way, and he told us, "well God gave us the commandment to keep the Sabbath day holy and go to church every week. I want to follow it, but i'm from the real countryside, and when my college breaks for 3 months during the summer, I will go back to the countryside, and there's no church there. If I can't follow the commandment, I shouldn't get baptized." We were touched by his sincere desire to follow the commandments and then explained to him that Mongolia has a long-distance phone call branch that he can be a part of for that time, and when he comes back, he can come to church again, haha. He was so incredibly happy! He and his mom also loved everything about temples and being able to be together as a family for eternity. They really want to go and I think his mom might start coming to church now too! 

We also had 3 investigators get baptized this week!!!! Zumpurel and Serchmaa, and Battumur all got baptized!!!! It was such a  beautiful baptism, especially as 2 of our investigators' families are investigators too and got to watch. These three teenagers were so incredibly happy, and had light radiating from them as they participated in this amazing ordinance. They all told us that while the water was very cold, they felt strangely warm. They all shared amazing testimonies of how the gospel has and is changing their and their families' lives for the better. And it is so true, the gospel has brightened their lives and they have  a new found identity that is precious to them each! Missionary work is so amazing as we get a front row seat to Christ's atonement working in people's lives. Wow!

AND, we are now teaching friends and families of these new members! One of their dads is amazing and wants to baptized right away and take his family to the temple as soon as possible! Her older brother also listened to a full lesson yesterday and said the closing prayer (his first prayer ever!). He thanked God for sending missionaries to his family and helping them be happy!!! I love these people. I love this gospel. I love being a missionary!

Also, I'm pretty sure my companion is not Mongolian and I am for the following reasons:
1) I make Mongolian food and she doesn't
2) She is always cold and I'm not
3) She falls on a daily basis and I don't.
4) Yesterday, people gave us meat that I ate and she couldn't
5) and lots more, haha

Anyways, I love you all! 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Happy New Year!

It's now 2016!! So weird to think that I will be finishing my mission this year.... what?! Here in Mongolia, they love New Years!!! They all rest from work and school and eat cake (EVERYONE EATS CAKE!!!! Everyone has been walking around with cake boxes all week!). They also have lots of parties and eat lots of buuz as well! So, I too had to eat a lot of buuz this week... ugh. On New Year's Eve there was also a huge party in the town square with a giant tree and music and Mongolian Santa and Russian Santa and donkeys and what not. We stopped to check it out for a few minutes on our way home that night, so that was interesting. Then we got home and exchanged stockings of candy we got for each other, then the elders stopped by with a cake and gift for us as well!!! They are so nice. Then, we watched fireworks for a while! It was quite enjoyable! 

Eating the roof of a goat's mouth
New Year's Day, we visited a few families who made us eat and drink and eat and rink so much! So many buuz and meat and goat head and mantuu and milk and seabuckthorn (okay, I actually love that drink though, haha). It was fun and the families were so excited to share this holiday with us :) 

 In regards to our work; it is going fantastic here!!!! We are teaching tons of lessons and our investigators are progressing very well! We have 3 investigators set for baptism this week (Serchmaa and Zumperel who are 13 yrs old and Batumur who is 16 yrs old) and 1 for next week (Erdene Chimeg who is 20) and 1 the following week as well (Amardolai who is 21)! It's so exciting to see them all making this wonderful choice that will truly change their lives!  

One of our investigators, Erdenechimeg is amazing! She is my age, and we are basically best friends, haha. She has a cute little boy, and is currently a single mom. She has a huge desire to change her life and repent of all that has happened in the past. Everything we teach her she immediately accepts to follow! She says that everything we teach her sounds amazing and is exactly what she needs! She just like every Mongolian really loves tea, but this week we taught her the word of wisdom, and she immediately resolved to follow it. She said that God loves and knows her, and he gave her this body, so she will do as He asked to treasure this gift- okay, how amazing is she really!!! I am so excited to see her become a wonderful member here. She always has plans to entire the temple in a year!

We also have another amazing investigator Amardolai. He is 21 yrs old and from the real countryside (like where you live in the middle of nowhere and milk cows and herd goats and make aruul- oh and he makes really good aruul!), but he is living here for a year with his mom and he studies. He is so incredibly humble and has a huge desire to learn and follow what we teach him. His mom also believes and prays to God and she definitely raised him right (but she worships the 7 star gods and earth and whatnot). She basically taught him to live God's commandments without her knowing that she was. We taught him this week the word of wisdom and the ten commandments and the law of chastity. And everything we taught him something new, he was like, "um, of course we don't do that... of course we need to respect women and be true to them.... of course we don't lie... etc" It was awesome! And his mom completely supports him and might want to start meeting with us as well! Oh, and we had a funny moment the other day with him. We visited him and his mom at their ger, and we were talking about where they are from and what not... and then he asked me (just me, haha) to go with him for two weeks to visit his whole family in the countryside.... hahaha, I then kindly explained again about missionaries... he was kinda embarrassed but then we had some good laughs about it later :) But he really is such a fantastic investigator!!! He will be a great missionary!

We had a really cool experience this week as we met with a new investigator for the first time. We taught about god and prayer and asked her to pray, and she said sure. So this adorable 50 yr old lady then whispered "dear Heavenly Father" and then was silent for 10 minutes. But, she looked like she was praying on the inside so we waited patiently, until we all made contact and she asked if we were going to pray... haha. But, a cool thing happened. She told us that during that quiet time, she saw a vision of a white man with a beard in white robes... we showed her the pic of Christ at the second coming and she said it was exactly like that! She was then amazed that she saw Christ! It was an amazing experience and she is so excited about prayer now.
No taxis anywhere! Brrr!

This week we also went to a tiny little community an hour away called Bulgan. There is a group of church members there. They are part of the long distance phone call sacrament available here, and since there are no missionaries there, we went this week to help them with sacrament and then we visited with some members and less actives there. It was so nice even though 4 people came. We found an old gramma later to meet with who my comp actually went to the temple with years earlier! She was so cute and excited to meet with us! Her son was there yelling at me, "American go get me beer!!!" But that's okay, we shared a message with her and made plans to visit her next month! The members there are so faithful as there are so few of them, and it was incredible to recognize their faith! 

Well, I'm gonna finish up now, but I want to say Happy New year! I love you all! Please keep writing me emails and letters!

Bought myself some Mongolian slippers.

New Year's celebrations

Acting cool with the graffiti