There is one man who sits in the classes who I talked to on the first day. He speaks no English and when I tried to pronounce his name, I failed miserably. And I really tried – a number of times. So I told him my name was David, hoping he would also have trouble, but he got it the first time. In fairness to me (I really feel the need to defend myself), Mongolian names are extremely difficult to pronounce because they are long and the ones I have met demand the exact pronunciation with no room for err. They usually shorten them but this particular man did not give me a break.
Anyway, I think he is a more simple man. He just sits and does not participate and I do not see him talking much with the other men. But after the class today, he was the last to leave and he came and give me a big hug (he is a bigger man). And then I met him again in the parking lot and he said one word: Go. And I said “Go” and we walked part way home, not saying a word. As I walked, I just wished I knew the language and could hear his story but his story remains silent to me. At the same time I was thankful just to walk part way home with this man. He would take the time to walk with me and in that short time of silence, there was an unspeakable “enjoyment” of just walking.
I had to wait at the church a little later on and I met a boy whose name is “Tuksa”. He walks with one straight leg and is a little slow mentally. I pointed at myself and said “David” and then pointed at him. “Tuksa”, he said. Tuksa. David. David. Tuksa. And then he would play games with me, standing straight in my face until I looked at him and then he would step back as if nothing happened. It was good just to see him laugh and I was extremely proud that someone accepted my pronunciation of their name. It was a win - win all around.
Today we covered Genesis 3-9 and in so doing, we covered all sorts of topics. Someone asked about 2 Timothy 2.15 (women being saved in childbirth) and someone else asked about whom Cain married. Many questions posed where questions that went beyond the Bible and so at one point I simply said: if the Bible is silent, then we should be silent on the matter. So it will be interesting to hear what questions are asked tomorrow and if I’ll have the opportunity to say that again.
After teaching, Andrew invited me to go along with the team from Canada to a cultural play put on in the city. So we fought traffic and arrived at around 6:30 to pay an equivalent to $6.00 Cndn to see Mongolian culture on the stage. After starting off with a Buddhist ritual with masks filled with skulls, there were various dances, singers and musicians. Probably the two most interesting features were the throat singer and the contortionists. The throat singer sings, yes, from the throat and makes various noises that sound, this is hard to describe, like a noise coming from the throat. He played an instrument and at times it sounded exactly like the note he was playing on his Mongolian “guitar”. The contortionists were younger girls who bend their bodies in unnatural (and even unreasonable) positions. The three girls would bend and fold and twist and fold into many different postures.
Afterwards we went to a … Chinese restaurant. Part of the reason for the choices of restaurants is the cleanliness and knowing that one will probably not get food poisoning or something else.
I continue to be thankful for the opportunity to teach these men. They are starting to call me their “teacher” when I walk past them and some are coming up and asking more detailed questions during the break and at lunch. Here’s one: a man asked what to do when he gave someone money (quite a large sum) to fix his churches’ “ger” and the man never finished the work. This man who did not finish the work is in another church and when he spoke to the pastor about it, nothing happened. What should he do? And part of the difficulty is not only knowing how to properly respond as a Christian but as a Mongolian Christian.
During the afternoon I answered questions during our ten minute break so I taught for three hours straight. If you would remember to pray that God would give physical, mental and spiritual strength during this time. These men (and some women) are eager to hear God’s Word so I am eager to speak. I just pray that God would strengthen me so I can teach with enthusiasm and the energy required.
One final “brain picture” I have from the day. I had to wait for the Canadian team to finish their meeting, so I walked into the church and I saw a young girl sitting near the front. I walked to the back to spend some time praying and as I was sitting, the young girl began to hum. It was beautiful. She was in a “church” building, alone, just spending time with God. The Lord placed that young girl to teach me again of the importance of being with God and being silent in his presence. It is a picture that will linger for a while on my brain … and my conscience.