Friday, June 01, 2012
Saturday, May 26, 2012
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
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.
Monday, May 21, 2012
This is a picture of the provincial government building outside off my hotel room.
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.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
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
Thursday, May 17, 2012
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."
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
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.