Ϲайн байна уу! This is a regular greeting in Mongolia, essentially saying, “Hello. How are you?”
So much has happened since my last update that I have a lot to cover! After taking some time to heal after my hospital incident, I headed back into the clinic on Friday afternoon (August 8th). On the way to the clinic, I met one of my neighbors from across the alley. She was a lovely woman that had adopted a dog in Hong Kong and has since moved to Mongolia. We discussed behavior and the ways to improve the experience of clients and patients at the clinic. Once I arrived, I assisted Bayaraa and taught her some surgical techniques that I have found to be helpful in building my confidence and skill in the operating room. Dinner was with a great guy, Dorjoo, We had a great conversation about how we got to where we are in our lives and how he is excited to raise his children in a Christian home. He and his wife are expecting their first child in February! The greatest part about the day is that a very important prayer had been answered for many people.
That Saturday was very busy as I infused the Mongolian economy with fresh cash. I went shopping with Saikhnaa, one of the cleaners at the clinic, and her daughter Erikhaa. Despite the language barrier we had a wonderful time. Dinner was with Suugi (we had pizza) and then stimulated the economy some more. We went to Mary and Martha’s, but I realized I had forgotten my credit card and I didn’t have enough on me, so they held most of my items for me to pick up later. It was a busy day, but I lazed around in the evening finishing the presentation for my lecture that was supposed to be one when I got sick! I also finished the first of the Genghis Khan books “Birth of an Empire” by Conn Iggulden and started the second “Lords of the Bow.”
Sunday, August 10th brought me to Hope Church in Ulaanbaatar (UB). It was helpful that they have little headsets that you can use to have the message and prayers translated into English. Even though I couldn’t understand the praise songs, the power and energy of the music was inspiring. The message was very inspiring as well. I couldn’t believe the amount of scripture that was covered during the service. What stood out to me though were two stories shared by the pastor. The first was about a young man in Mongolia that heard the Gospel and became a Christian, he was rejected by his family and friends, and he had to leave home. He found a church that welcomed him and his life had a new beginning. The message was about how the Lord provided for him and it was amazing. The part that really got me was that this was when Christianity was first reintroduced to Mongolia, 20 years ago. I have been struck time and time again how young this nation of believers is, yet their faith and reliance on God is greater than I have seen by most in the USA. I believe we have become too complacent in our faith in America. I am not saying that this is true of everyone, but there is a large portion of believers that think believing is enough. That believing doesn’t change who you are inside and out. That we can do whatever we want and all is good. Yes, accepting Christ is enough, but it is a daily accepting that changes the way we behave. What kind of example do we give if we say we believe, but then ignore our neighbor in need? Luckily the truth of Christ is not changed by the behavior of Christians. The second story was about a young boy with Down Syndrome. He was the oldest in his Sunday school class and was often not included by the other children. One day, the teacher gave each of the children a plastic egg and told them to fill it with something that was a sign of life. Most of the children filled their eggs with flowers, butterflies, and rocks, but this little boy had nothing in his egg. The other children laughed at him, but he explained that the empty egg was like the empty tomb that gave us all new life. He died not long after. At his funeral, the teacher and children lined up and placed empty eggs in his casket to remind all that we have new life in that empty tomb. After a lunch of bacon cheeseburgers in a friend’s home. I went bicycle riding with Kristal (another American), Suugi, and Selenge. Chinese food and great conversation topped off the evening.
August 11th was busy working on handouts and lessons for the Mongolian veterinarians. There was little animal work for me to do, other than a consult for 2 feather picking lovebirds, until 5 minutes after work was supposed to be over for me, but such is the life of veterinary medicine – it doesn’t matter what country you are in! I also learned that one of the surgery patients from the week before had passed away over the weekend. I am still struggling with not having access to all of the things that I am used to having on hand. I don’t know if those things would have made a difference, but it is still very depressing. Dinner was with a large animal vet and we spent most of the time going over English and Mongolian phrases. She is much better at English than I am!
August 12th, I was busy with cases, one was an ex-pat from Canada with a dog that has skin issues. Pheobe, the dog, did great. Yvonne was a joy to work with and we talked about a lot of things. One great part of the conversation actually helped me come to terms with some of my struggles with the basic nature of medicine here. The result is that I get back to the basics of medicine. By doing this and focusing on my physical exam, histories, and understanding of health and disease, I know I will be a better vet in the long run. That being said, I do really appreciate the supplies at home! I went to dinner with Pagma, one of the teachers that goes into the countryside, and her niece, who is a champion archer here in Mongolia. They are amazing people. Pagma also shared her story with me. She was raised Buddhist and married a Buddhist, but while at university, she learned about Christ and converted after a time. A year later, her husband also accepted Christ as his savior. Pagma was going through a very difficult time in her life and her parents died within a year of each other. Her mother, while being consumed by cancer, asked Pagma for some Scripture verses. Pagma had never seen her so at peace.
August 13th Not a lot went on in our clinic today, but we did have a visiting veterinarian from another clinic in town that asked me to look over a pup for her. I had diagnosed the puppy with hip dysplasia the week before, but the symptoms were progressing. I think this may be my first case of distemper, but with only caudal neurologic symptoms. If this is the case, the pup will likely die within 3-5 weeks. Given the supplies and limitations for testing, all we can do is offer pain relief and keep symptoms in check. I was also able to help one of the youngest veterinarians find some masses in a large dog via ultrasound today. Not very good for the dog, but pretty exciting for the vet to see what can be done with ultrasound. Meals were wonderful and we said goodbye to Kristal from Oregon, USA today. I did have my first taste of airag today (fermented mare’s milk) – not ideal for my palate.
Thursday, August 14th. I finally taught my behavior lesson today! We started the lesson with a devotion based on Genesis 1:27-28 – God instructed man and woman to rule over creation. We discussed how ruling does not mean abusing, that it means loving and caring for those that you are held responsible for their health and safety. I believe this is when God actually gave the first jobs out – veterinarians, farmers, ecologists, etc. Some say prostitution is the oldest profession, I beg to differ. From this scripture, we then discussed how it is our responsibility to not cause any additional stress to our patients than is already inherent in the job. Understanding body language was the start, and then we finished with low stress handling techniques. It was a lot of fun seeing the veterinarians and technicians practicing on each other! We then went back to the clinic where I ate lung and blood filled intestines – also not for my palate! To clean said palate, I then went to lunch and had a hot dog 🙂 An afternoon full of recheck appointments kept me busy. Dinner was with Saikhnaa (the accountant, not the cleaner) and I had a Korean meal that was actually pretty tasty and not too spicy for me. I must say the day was great, but I was exhausted. My hat is off to teachers everywhere. Three hours did me in!
I have a lot more to share to get you caught up, but I think today’s post has gone on long enough! Until next time, stay blessed, and try something new. You might like it, you might not, but either way, you can say you tried!