It is Saturday today and I had the opportunity to spend the day seeing some more of Mongolia. After marking some of the tests from yesterday, I set out at around 9:00 this morning to walk around the city. It is a very “Russian” city with large imposing buildings and it is also a very dry place so there is very little grass or for that matter, anything green. I walked around the city for about three and a half hours, actually hoping I would find a Starbucks or a Tim Hortons but to no avail. I now know a place on earth where there is not a Tims or Starbucks on every corner.
After I came back, I went with Andrew, Liz and their family for a drive into the country. Mongolian tourism promotes itself as the “Land without Fences” and when you leave the busy city, you understand their slogan. There are massive rolling yet rugged “mountains” jutting in and out or just gentling sloping into one another. We saw cattle, sheep, goats and horses with “gers” dotting the hillside. After about an hour (I think), we found a place to stop and have a campfire so we could boil some water for coffee and tea. We hopped out of the van and settled between two mountains, seeing first hand what a jagged and harsh existence it is to live out on the hills.
On our way back to the main road Andrew and Liz wanted to buy some hay from one of the “gers” and so we stopped at one as an older lady came out. She invited us in and I was able to take some pictures of what the inside of a “ger” looks like. This particular “ger” was a smaller version and it was explained to me that one side is for the man and the other for the woman (I don’t think they were fighting, I think that is just the way it is in this area). The older man was in his bed sleeping and did not wake up as 7 of us entered his small dwelling. There were single beds on either side with cooking and storage spaces surrounding the stove in the middle. The only place for light to enter is through the roof and Liz mentioned that during the winter there can be a lot of depression as they would see very little light in their “gers”. All in all, it was a very interesting experience.
(I wish I could include pictures on my blog but I forgot the cord that connects my camera to my computer. Also, Andrew and Liz have dial-up and it would take forever to download.)
Tomorrow I am going to preach at a church in the city. A pastor who attended this past week invited me to speak and I am thankful for the opportunity. The service is at 12:00 noon on the other side of the city so he will come and pick me up at 11:35-40. The Mongolian time context is a little different from ours as I imagine we will arrive at the church precisely at 12:00 or maybe even a little later. I am also thankful to be speaking at his church as this particular pastor speaks English. One of the very frustrating parts of being here is not being able to communicate to the other pastors who speak Mongul without an interpreter present.
One quick story before I pack it in for the evening. We went out to a typical Mongolian restaurant tonight for supper. A plate of eggs, noodles, mutton (sheep meat – fat included) and salt (with a bit more salt added to the salt) is about $1.50 Cndn. While I am eating, I look up at the TV in the corner and I see a lady giving a pedicure with close up detail of nails being filed and the sole of the foot being scraped (or whatever you call it). You could even see the skin falling off the bottom of the foot onto the ladies sweater. Learning how to give a pedicure with such detail and precision just seemed to make the meal go down that much easier.