Ϲайн байна уу!
Friday, August 15th began a three day weekend for the Women’s Retreat in Terelj National Park. When we arrived, a golden eagle was flying overhead.
After everyone settled in, we had an introduction of dance and song, followed by a lesson on finding true joy in God. When we find that joy, then we want to spread His love to those around us. After lunch, we then started the volleyball tournament. My family and friends can attest to the fact that I am not athletic. I fall while laying down. I have amazing skills of injury, but not skill in the athletic arena. Amazingly, I played really well and helped lead my team to victory! I will share that I am not very good when it comes to the volley, but I did pretty well with scoring points on my serves not being returned. After some hiking, more food (cooked in the gers to small groups), and dancing into the night, I finally slept for the first time in a ger (traditional Mongolian home). The beauty of this place amazes me every time I turn my head.
Saturday, August 15, 2014 was another awe-inspiring day of God’s creation, lessons, and fellowship. I can’t believe it, but I walked up a good portion of a mountain today! The large stone formations around the ger camp almost looked small from the side of the mountain. I don’t have the words to describe it, so I will share some pictures instead!
The weekend was not all fun and games, although it certainly seemed that way! We also had some more lesson time. The main lesson for the weekend was on the Proverbs Woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). I know that I have heard this passage in the past, but it has been in the last 6 months or so that I keep hearing it over and over. In some ways I struggle with it as a large portion of it is caring for the home and family. I have never felt that my calling has been to be a mother, at least not biologically. This weekend, I finally realized that the Proverbs woman does not need to be the mother to her own biological children, but rather a mother to all around her. Keeping them safe, healthy, comforted. One can be a Proverbs woman without bearing children or raising children in your own home. There were some other concepts that were new to me, that I really enjoyed and I will share those at a later date. I am impressed with the depth of Biblical knowledge and time spent with the Word that I have found here. I pray that I can have the same excitement and drive to delve into the Word as my new friends do. This is something that I have always struggled with in my life. I enjoy reading the Bible now and then, but I don’t often take the time to really study it. To take the time to learn what God wants me to know and learn on any given day. This is a goal for me, to spend more time in the Word.
Saturday’s main meal consisted of horkhog (pronounced horhock) – essentially a sheep butchered and placed into a giant pot with hot rocks and cooked all day with carrots and potatoes. This is true Mongolian barbecue! I refrained from eating most of the organ meat, but I must say, over all, it was pretty yummy!
I am not sure what I expected for my diet while in Mongolia. I knew there would be a lot of meat. I had even heard about horkhog before. I was hoping to try it. I was pleasantly surprised at the deliciousness. I did have to get over my issues with eating food that I can still identify where it came from, but I think I did alright.
More food, dancing, karaoke, and conversation rounded out Saturday. I must say, it was a wonderful day no matter how I looked at it!
Sunday came with a surprise. A few men that were also visiting the ger camp were overly drunk and thought that they lived in our ger, so they attempted to get in multiple times. By the grace of God, the small latch on our ger door held, so they just sat outside the ger talking for about 2 hours. Finally, about 7:00 am, Chris and I decided to visit the toilets (really just a boarded up latrine with a missing slat to eliminate into a pit), the men looked at us as we exited the ger and one said in English, “Oh! It’s too early. Too much talking.” Then they walked away to find their own gers. The other morning surprise was spiders. I have severe arachnophobia – fear of spiders. The first night a small spider was crawling up the side of the ger next to my bed. I buried myself in my sleeping bag and prayed with my eyes tightly shut until I fell asleep. The second night, I did not see any spiders and was much more comfortable. I was still wrapped in my mummy sleeping bag, but did pull up the blankets a few times further up my legs (over my sleeping bag) when I had gotten a little chilled. When I went to make my bed as I was packing, I shook out the blankets and two large spiders came racing out! I began shaking and luckily did not start crying. The others in my tent came over and one commented about how she had never seen spiders that big in Mongolia! That did not help! Thankfully, I survived and was not eaten alive by the spiders overnight. The rest of the morning flew by with breakfast, closing prayers, and packing up the camp. The majority of the retreat goers went back to UB by bus, a few of us were returning in the van, the way we came in. We did decide to do a quick sight-seeing though, which made my day!
We headed a little ways north to see Turtle Rock, a landmark. I will show you two pictures, please tell me which you think should be Turtle Rock!
I also had the joy of taking a camel ride, walking on a swinging bridge, and interacting with a Golden Eagle and a Cinereous Vulture. After that we drove back to UB, stopping for some pictures of Yaks. This van ride was where I got my one and only sunburn of the entire month in Mongolia. Due some mechanical issues, windows had to remain open so we wouldn’t die of heat exhaustion. I didn’t even think about my arm out the window and what that would do to my skin. Oh well. Life goes on and an amazing weekend was almost over.
For dinner, Buynaa came to pick me up at the apartment, then we walked, took my first Mongolian bus ride, and then a taxi into the ger district where she took me to her home for dinner. Her mother and sister were wonderful, and I got to meet her new kitten. The food was very good. After visiting for a time, we then made our way back with walking, taxi, bus, and more walking to the apartment. A wonderful weekend all around!