Friday, June 01, 2012

Arrived Home

Thinking back through the last week, I was thankful for the opportunity to visit our friend and seeing first hand her living environment. When I was picked up from the airport, she starting speaking in one language to the taxi driver. This is different than asking someone to say a few phrases in a language - this was taxi driver language! And then watching in the market as we went from booth to booth, carpet lady to embroidery lady to computer guy to everything lady, not only speaking a different language but interacting in meaningful relationships. One of the remarkable moments was to watch others as this Canadian spoke their language - a key to being in their culture.

The plane landed early this morning after (yes) another flight delay. I do thank the Lord for safety and meeting up with my family early this morning. I also look forward to being with GBC this Sunday and sometime soon sharing in greater detail my experiences and pictures - I have a video of Karen speaking with the "english professor" at the corner market (not to be missed!)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

On the Road….

The 600 kilometre trip (at least that is what I was told) began at 5:30 in the morning. The first hour we were on a paved road, but the road is not yet complete, so for about 100 kilometres we did some off-roading. The key is to try to find the least bumpy path among the many that have been created. After a few hours we stopped by the house of one of the church leaders who was in the vehicle. When we dropped him off, we were invited to have a meal at his place. After an hour the meal was ready, and after eating we went into their "church ger". I was asked to say a few words and then offer a prayer for the new church.

We soon got back on the road again, and after travelling for another hour or so, we stopped again. Two other vehicles were travelling to UB and one of the vehicles developed tire problems. That meant we had to divide those who needed a ride between the two working vehicles. We included two more passengers in our vehicle, so we now had four in the back seat. I actually tried to get in the back seat but they would not let me (teacher must go in the front). I gained some extra luggage up front but those men sat like that for the remaining seven hours of the trip!

The countryside is majestic, a vastness that is remarkable. As one looks out it is almost velvety, the rough grass coming together in a blanket covering the rolling plains. In the background are the hills which range from rugged to gently rolling. We passed herds of sheep, goats and horses while the birds flew overhead (eagles, falcons). Dotted along the way were either single gers or a community of them. I wondered what it would be like to be riding a horse or herding sheep or goats, all alone in the vastness. I thought that in the solitude, it would be a reminder of the smallness of my existence and the wonder of such a glorious God, displaying His glory without shame. Psalm 8 asks that foundational question, in fact the question that is the beginning of the search for life and purpose: "What is man that you are mindful of him?" I prayed that this question would lead those on horses or in gers to Christ,

After arriving in UB, we dropped a few people off at their destinations and I finally arrived at my hotel (Flower Hotel - yes, it is true, what can I say?) at around 7:30. After a good night sleep, I caught a taxi to the airport, flew into Beijing at 2:00 in the afternoon and am presently on a four-hour flight once again. I look forward to this next part of the journey and am praying that GBC may be an encouragement to those serving diligently and faithfully.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Mongolian Grill

Today was the final day of teaching. I taught for a while this morning and then the students wrote the two tests. Following the tests, the Mongolian Grill was lit! Actually , it is an authentic Mongolian BBQ with potatoes (yes, excited!), some vegetables (excitement waning) and the guest of honour - a goat. While we were waiting the students very graciously gave me a very kind gift. I was very grateful for their kindness.

Then after another small wait, we all sat down to eat. What takes place is you get a bowl of meat and then go for it! You hold it with both hands and start gnawing, ripping and biting - fat and all. It is essentially free for all when the bowl of meat is handed to you. There were also other luxuries such as pickles, watermelon, oranges and ketchup (apparently, goat and smushed tomatoes go well together - although I just stuck with plain goat). I ate my share of fat but I handed over a thick slab to the gentleman in front of me - he eagerly accepted with a smile. There was a communal jack knife which helped carve some of the areas close to the bone.

God has been very gracious this trip. Jeff asked one of the pastors in front of him what he thought of the opportunity to study and he was enthusiastic: "I needed this, not so much for the people but to help lay a foundation in my own life." I was very thankful to hear this from the elderly man who spent most of the time at the front desk with one hand firmly planted on the side of his head. I had wondered how he was receiving the teaching - I guess one never knows.

Tomorrow morning, we will be leaving in a jeep or land rover for the 12 hour trip to UB. Along the way, we will be stopping at someone's house so the church leaders can pray for a man and his house.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Day of Teaching

This is a picture of the provincial government building outside off my hotel room.

Tsegmed leading a time of worship.

Today was a very cold and windy day. As I was teaching, I would look out the window and see the sand and dirt blowing quickly by. One can imagine being out in the wide open space herding their animals and the wind whipping around.

During our time together we looked at Biblical Counselling. We began by looking at the importance of convictions - God's power, the depth of sin, amazing grace, the authority of Scripture. Then we looked at the big picture of what one seeks to accomplish during counselling. We are presently working our way through some practical steps of what to do when someone seeks counsel.

Hopefully today we will finish the counselling in the morning and then I want to spend the final afternoon looking at a few passages that will Lord willing encourage their hearts. Many come from difficult backgrounds and face a number of discouragements and challenges personally and in ministry. So I am praying the Spirit would bring encouragement to their hearts.

Tomorrow we will finish pre-marital counselling followed by a test. In the afternoon, we will be having a "picnic" with either a roasted goat or sheep - we will see. Then on Thursday I will head back to UB, leaving for the 12 hour journey at 5:00 a.m. Please pray that I will be able to leave Friday morning out of UB to Beijing as my connection later in the day is fairly tight.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sunday in Mongolia

What is a church service like in Mongolia? While I’m sure they vary, I was able to worship in the large church in BYG. The church was packed with young and old, sitting on either benches or plastic stools. We began at 10 with opening comments followed by a time of singing - it was good to hear their enthusiastic and vibrant singing. This took us to a time of sharing. People would walk up to the front and tell their stories. At about 11:00, the pastor shared more requests for another 10 minutes and then I was invited to come and speak. I spoke from Psalm 51 looking at how to talk to God about our sin. I finished in about 20 minutes (I know, I know ...), not knowing how long they preach in the church. When I finished, some people came up front and shared some prayer requests, followed by people coming up and praying for them while the rest of the church sang. After a few more words, the people gave their gifts by coming up to the front of the church and placing their money in a large wooden box. After a few closing songs, the service ended at 12:15.

One of the great joys of being in Mongolia is to hear God's people worship in a different language. It is amazing to consider that the Word and grace of God has spread from Jerusalem to Canada and Mongolia - different sides of the world. It is good to be reminded of the greatness of God, His grace, and the spread of His kingdom.

In the afternoon, I had lunch with Idree, my translator, and 2 of the main church leaders in BYG. Afterwards, I went back to my hotel room and worked on the tests the students will take this coming Wednesday. It was an encouraging day remembering the vast expanse of God's work and all the people He has saved and is changing- all for His glory.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Few Pictures

The first picture is how the students sit all day under the teaching! Just kidding - this man has a booming voice, can play the guitar and sing like a Mongolian. He gave me a ride to the hotel tonight - "have a seat" in his polite English. One of the drawbacks is the language barrier. I told them earlier in the week when we all get to heaven and speak Mongolian, I will be able to get to know them better.

The second is two men during a break, probably solving all the world's issues. Actually, they seem very social and enjoy one another's company.

The third picture is the day they were all dressed up and I said I would like a picture of them since they all looked so good - and they do look good!

The final picture is a view from my hotel at 5:30 a.m. A cup of coffee as I study to prepare for the day, a trip to YWAM to talk to my family and then to the church to teach. God is gracious.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

When We are Weak…..

Today in our sessions we will be concluding our study of 2 Corinthians: Biblical Leadership in the Church. We are at the point in the letter when Paul addresses the false teachers and finds he must boast. However, Paul, like his Saviour, turns boasting upside down. After expressing the character of Godly ministry (10.1-11) and setting the parameters for boasting (10.12-18), Paul presents his reason for boasting. Interestingly, the reason he gives is his love for them and the gospel (11.1-15). Now Paul is reluctantly ready to boast. However, unlike false teachers, he will not boast in his strength. Rather, boasting takes a surprising turn as he boasts of his weaknesses, struggles, and even failures (11.16-30). But Paul, ever the pastor, prepares the people to boast the same way as he reminds them of the glory (12.1-6) and the power of God (12.7-10). If Paul is going to boast, it will only be to show the glory of God: "for when I am weak, then I am strong."

The class will begin at 9 but end at 11 for a few hours. Apparently with an upcoming election, a local politician would like to meet with all the pastors. Classes will continue later in the afternoon. That is all I know as I am on a "need-to-know" basis, and on top of that, my grasp of the Mongolian language is rather weak.

Tomorrow I will be beginning a session on Marriage Counseling. Since this is a topic of interest to many, we are expecting more students to come. Sunday I will have an opportunity to preach in a local church and have lunch with a family who serves in BYG. I am thankful for your prayers, especially as I seek to communicate the teaching through an interpreter. Please pray for my stomach as well. The food here is very heavy and sometimes doesn't agree with me. It is good for me to be reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:10: "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

A Postcard from Bayankhangor

I thought I would try to describe what I see as I look outside my hotel room and as I walk the streets of Banyankhangor. My hotel room is Spartan - two single beds, hard (Sealy would not be happy!), with a TV that carries one channel (mainly repeat NBA playoffs), a stool as a chair, and a dresser desk. The selling feature of this hotel is that it has hot water year round - apparently they turn off the hot water this time of year. It is clean and the real selling feature for me is that as I look out the window, I look out onto the government building with the backdrop of the desert hills (mountains?). This morning the misty sun rose leaving a hazy appearance. There is a rugged beauty to this small city set in the middle of nowhere. As I stood in front of the window, I thought to myself - why here? The desert is massive and they plant a city right here.

After some early morning preparation, I leave the hotel for a ten minute walk to the YWAM building where I have internet access. I turn right, walk 100 metres over gravel and incomplete sidewalks, and then turn right again onto the main street. Here there is a small green iron fence that separates the road from a yellow and red brick sidewalk. Gravel and sand is all around, surrounding this beautiful, incomplete sidewalk. The buildings I walk past hold the banks and supermarkets, the bars and karaoke superstars, apartments and run down buildings. As I walk, I have to be careful as cars have the right of way. I don’t worry too much, though, because the cars cannot move too fast as they navigate the abundance of potholes. I was driving with Jeff the other day and as we went over one particular poor section, he mentioned they built the road right over a spring.

Once I arrive at the YWAM building I have the opportunity to speak with my family and see how they are doing. Tsegmed then comes and picks up Idree (my translator) and myself and drives us to the church. This is the big church in town, and they have new land and a new building. The big ger is still present but we meet in a building donated by churches in Korea. The church is a bright building surrounded by a fence and more dirt. The last few days have been comfortably warm - during the day I step outside of the church and there is a warm, fresh clean breeze sweeping in from the desert. It smells clean, feels clean.

After I am done teaching, I walk home. My route brings me past a gas station, a school, a super market, and many other buildings. My shoes are dusty from the sandy gravel. As I walk past the school a man and woman are having a violent argument in their car - lots of shouting and slapping. Sad, but also a reminder of the great need of the gospel. The children venture a "hi" or a "hello" and with a giggle that they spoke English. I met one little boy in the supermarket who could not stop staring and laughing at me. I would raise my eyebrows and he would do the same as he laughed.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Arrived in Bayonhangor

Arrived in Bayonhangor

After a few days delay, the final plane landed in BYG Monday around 2 in the afternoon. One of the remarkable and beautiful aspects of Mongolia is the endless desert - a rugged beauty from the heights of the plane. God's beauty is astounding as you observe hills and plains declarring His glory!

I was able to start teaching about an hour after I landed, missing only about 6 hours of teaching time after such a long delay. We are working our way through 2 Corinthians - Biblical Leadership In The Church. Today (my Tuesday), we will be watching as Paul lays out the foundation of the gospel message he first brought to the Corinthians. One of the challenges in teaching is to be able to communicate through the language barrier - to express the great truths of God's glorious grace through a translator. As I dialogue with the church leaders, I am learningn that there seems to be a large misunderstanding in the church that being a believer is going to church and consequently experiencing God's blessing. But the Lord has begun to work in the hearts of the leaders, giving them greater understanding of the gospel - the heart of sin and the marvel of forgiveness. I am praying today that the Lord uses 2 Corinthians to further strengthen the message of the gospel.

I am thankful to the Lord that since I have arrived he has given me some good rest (the first night here, I went to bed at 6:00, sleeping through until 6:00 the next morning - ready to run a marathon!!) and good health. The food in Mongolia can be heavy food for the stomach - they love their meat and the large pieces of juicy fat. I also continue to be thankful for GBC which has the opportunity to have a small voice in the early church here in BYG. Many of the church leaders come out of alcoholism and other deep seated spiritual battles over many generations. They sit for hours listening to God's Word desiring to be faithful leaders. I am also thankful for your prayers - God is gracious to hear.

Saturday, May 12, 2012


After a safe arrival in Beijing on Friday night, I was able to stay at a hotel. When I arrived at the airport Saturday morning (Beijing is exactly 12 hours ahead) I checked in… only to discover my flight was cancelled until 20:00 Saturday evening. The plans were quickly arranged that I would fly into UB Saturday night, and then leave on a bus early Sunday afternoon to arrive early Monday morning in BYG. However, things aren't going as planned. The latest plans now are that I will fly out Sunday at 18:00 to UB. Air China has put us in a hotel for the night, and so the waiting continues….