Return Mission to Mongolia

I am happy to announce that I will be returning to Mongolia with Christian Veterinary Missions to train and mentor veterinarians in their small animal clinic in Ulaanbaatar, the capital city. I purchased my airline tickets this morning and will now start the journey of preparing my mind and soul, and raising the funds to travel.

Golden Eagle in Flight

Golden Eagle in Flight

My last mission to Mongolia in 2014 was a life changing experience. I left a portion of my heart in Mongolia with the loving people and the vast, amazing landscape of the countryside.

When I returned from Mongolia in 2014, I unexpectantly was removed from my job, but that provided me with the amazing push to start my own business, Renewed Strength Veterinary Services.  A lot has changed for me in the last 2 years, but thankfully, I am a stronger, and hopefully better person than I was before.

Please keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I move forward on this journey.

If you are interested in supporting this mission or would like more information, please let me know. You may also go to the “Mission to…” page on this blog to learn how to donate. Please, take a moment to leave a message of missions you have been on or how someone has been a blessing in your life.

Thank you and God bless you!

One Year Anniversary

One year ago, October 17, 2015, I officially became a business owner. After a sudden change in employment status, investigating what lay ahead, and a lot of prayer, I filed the documents that made this my new reality.

During this past year, I have worked in practices throughout eastern Wisconsin and the US Virgin Islands. I have also traveled to the desert southwest for the first time, working through Christian Veterinary Missions to perform spays and neuters for the Navajo Nation in Arizona. I have completed continuing education courses in Wisconsin, Florida, and Virginia.

Due to all of the farm animals that began showing up in the Virgin Islands and my goal for doing more mission work, I decided to do the Farm Animal Training for Missions (FARM) course in Catawba, VA in September. The Scottish Highland cows wanted to join the lessons!

Due to all of the farm animals that began showing up in the Virgin Islands and my goal for doing more mission work, I decided to do the Farm Animal Training for Missions (FARM) course in Catawba, VA in September. The Scottish Highland cows wanted to join the lessons!

Mabel was my first goat patient in the Virgin Islands.

Mabel was my first goat patient in the Virgin Islands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have made time to visit friends in Puerto Rico, Arizona, New Mexico, and Wisconsin. I have found some balance for myself. My goal for the business was to provide renewed strength for other veterinarians, and even when I am crazy busy and not getting a lot of sleep, I have found that I am renewed myself. I would like to share just a few of my adventures, patients, and travels!

Dulce saying goodbye and going to America

Dulce was a patient in the USVI heading to the mainland to her new family!

WP_20150422_17_20_40_Pro

Sometimes, fawns need doctors, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kristy, Thurman, and I in front of the Navajo mobile veterinary unit. June 2015

Kristy, Thurman, and I in front of the Navajo mobile veterinary unit. June 2015

Churchill was injured in a dog attack. After repairing his wounds, including fixing his broken ribs and a hole through his chest wall, he was able to go to his furever home.

Churchill was injured in a dog attack. After repairing his wounds, including fixing his broken ribs and a hole through his chest wall, he was able to go to his furever home.

This is the face of a dog that enjoys eating Cane Toads (they are toxic). Thankfully, his family was quick thinking and they flushed his mouth out. After some fluids, oxygen, and more fluids, he did great!!

This is the face of a dog that enjoys eating Cane Toads (they are toxic). Thankfully, his family was quick thinking and they flushed his mouth out. After some fluids, oxygen, and more fluids, he did great!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have continued to build my skills and providing care for animals and their people. Lots of my normal dogs, cats, and rabbits, but also some goats and even a donkey! From vaccines and health certificates to skin and ear infections to major surgeries and behavioral consultations, my skills have been tested and improved. I have had cases that have pushed me passed my limits and brought me to my knees, but I not only survived, I thrived.

Juan Carlos, my first donkey patient, at about 1 month of age was found 20 feet out in the ocean after being attacked by an adult donkey. He found a new home on St. Thomas, USVI.

Juan Carlos, my first donkey patient, at about 1 month of age was found 20 feet out in the ocean after being attacked by an adult donkey. He found a new home on St. Thomas, USVI.

An arm full of puppies makes so many things better. This was a litter at I saw in St. Anna, Wisconsin.

An arm full of puppies makes so many things better. This was a litter at I saw in St. Anna, Wisconsin.

I would like to thank all of the clinics, doctors, staff, clients, and patients that let me into their lives. I would like to thank all of the family and friends that supported me with good thoughts, prayers, and places to stay.

My sister's dog, Macy, needed emergency surgery to remove a tumor on her spleen (note giant mass under my hand). Thankfully, she did well and the tumor was benign. Yeah for not having cancer!

My sister’s dog, Macy, needed emergency surgery to remove a tumor on her spleen (note giant mass under my hand). Thankfully, she did well and the tumor was benign. Yeah for not having cancer!

Southwest Travels

Since starting Renewed Strength Veterinary Services, I have met some amazing people and gone to wonderful places. Wisconsin and the Virgin Islands hold so many beautiful views and the landscapes never ceases to amaze me. Without even trying, I see God in the wonders that He has created. I have also worked a lot!

My business and its name is multifaceted. The name itself comes from Isaiah 40:31, “For they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall rise up with wings as eagles, run and not grow weary, walk and not faint.” The idea of providing relief services was out of necessity within my own life as well as the need within the veterinary profession for veterinarians to take time for themselves – to heal, to grow, to relax, to do so many things for being healthy that we tend not to do. There is also the dirty, not so little secret these days, about suicide in the veterinary profession. When people don’t have the time to take care of themselves, and they feel there is no other choice, some make this final choice. I hope and pray that I will be able to help at least one person see a bit of light, to renew their strength, and choose life.

I have also learned that there is such a need for relief veterinarians that I have not been taking time for myself. I need to take that time so that I can be there to help others. One of the ways that I take time for myself is actually to travel, specifically for missions. To spread the light and love of God to those around me when I am not in my comfort zone.

A year ago, I had the most amazing experience of traveling to Mongolia (review posts from last year!) and have wanted to return to Mongolia and continue doing mission work. It is still a goal to return, but in the mean time, I was blessed to be able to travel to the Navajo Nation in June to work in a spay/neuter clinic. WOW! I do not know what I expected, but it was amazing. Two Navajo certified veterinary technician, Thurman and Kristy, and I spayed or neutered 45 animals in two days. Although I am familiar with doing quite a few surgeries in a day along with seeing appointments, this was so much more. The first day there were 25 animals, the second day 20 animals. Starting surgery at about 9 am each day, we worked until 5 or 6 pm doing surgeries with a short break for lunch around midday. Thurman and Kristy were amazing starting earlier to check everyone in and staying later to send everyone home. They do this each week for 6 months out of the year to help with the issues of pet overpopulation within the Navajo Nation.

Kristy, Thurman, and I in front of the Navajo mobile veterinary unit. June 2015

Kristy, Thurman, and I in front of the Navajo mobile veterinary unit. June 2015

Thurman and I had a chance to discuss much about life and history. One of our discussions was about the Navajo (and other indigenous cultures) and the relationship to Mongolians. This conversation was similar to one that I had with individuals in Mongolia. Even their houses are similar. Unlike native people that live on the plains of the United States that travel and live in teepees, the Navajo, live in hogans that are very similar in design to the gers of Mongolia.

Mongolian Ger (traditional home)

Mongolian Ger (traditional home)

Navajo Hogan (traditional home)

Navajo Hogan (traditional home)

 

 

 

 

When you step into a traditional ger or hogan, you find a wood burning stove in the center, on one side of the room there is the sleeping area, on another is the cooking supplies, in another is an area set up for worship or honoring of ancestors. The difference is that the hogan is meant to stay in one location and a ger is used for a nomadic family, able to be disassembled and reassembled quickly. Even the landscapes of northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico were similar to Mongolia. Alternating between massive rock formations, deserts, mountains, and seemingly endless plains, the landscapes offered beautiful vistas and panoramas that take your breath away.

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Park, USA

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly National Park, USA

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

Gorkhi-Terelj National Park, Mongolia

 

 

 

 

 

I was blessed to raise the funds to pay for my trip to Mongolia, but still haven’t raised the funds for the trip to the Navajo Nation. If you would like to help with those fees or for a future trip (perhaps to Mongolia again?), please consider a donation and/or a pledge of prayers that I always follow the path that God has placed ahead of me. Directions for donations can be found here.

Thank you. May you find renewed strength in your life.

Chinle, Arizona and the Navajo Nation

CHINLE, ARIZONA

I will be traveling to Chinle, Arizona with Christian Veterinary Missions to spay and neuter dogs and cats for 2 two days in June to support the Navajo Nation. The goal is to alter 25 animals per day. There are 2-3 technicians and 1 veterinarian in the mobile veterinary clinic in each three-day event.

Day 1: Exams, vaccinations, check in.

Day 2: Surgery all day.

Day 3: Surgery all day

The Navajo Nation sponsors much of this trip, but the costs of flying out, staying, and renting a car are more than the trip costs. Therefore, I am attempting to raise $600 to off set the rest of the costs. This is the first mission that I will be going on while not employed by a veterinary clinic in the usual sense. There will be no vacation pay check waiting when I come home, so there will be no paycheck for my family at all that week. Although this changes my financial dynamics a bit, I am blessed to be able to do this. I am so thankful that God has given me a heart for service and missions.

So here is the part that I ask you for help in any way that you can:

1. Pray for me – for safety, for knowledge, for a clear head, and a servant’s heart

2. Pray for the mission projects in the Navajo Nation and around the world – for openness, for love, for impact, for peace

3. Financial support – all donations (check or credit card) are tax-deductible in the United States of America, you just need to follow the directions below:

How to Donate to a Short Term Missions Account Online:

  • Go to http://www.cvmusa.org/ and then to Support > Short Term Missions.  Click on the “Individual” button. Fill in the Designation box with a drop-down menu to “other” (at the bottom of the list). A white box will appear, and please enter in my account number (UCVSTM1655) and write in my name, Melanie Goble – ST Missions in that box. CVM will make sure it gets designated to my trip. Please let me know if you have questions.
  • Checks can be made out to Christian Veterinary Missions with “UCVSTM1655/Melanie Goble” on the memo line and mailed to Christian Veterinary Missions 19303 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, WA 98133

2015 April Update

2015 has been an interesting year so far. I have been so busy that I have sadly neglected my blog. Time for a little update, and attempt at getting back on track!

Renewed Strength Veterinary Services has been busy in Wisconsin and the Virgin Islands. Providing relief services, consultations improving clinic flow and services, and behavior consultations has kept me busy!

View overlooking Magen's Bay in the US Virgin Islands. All work and no play results in missing some beauty in life.

View overlooking Magen’s Bay in the US Virgin Islands. All work and no play results in missing some beauty in life.

I signed up for another mission trip with Christian Veterinary Missions to spay and neuter animals in the Navajo Nation of Arizona in June 2015. I am so thankful to be able to help with overpopulation in a proactive manner in a region that needs the help so much.

I spent time with friends that I have not had an opportunity to see in awhile. It was wonderful to sit and chat over a pot of tea!

I have also been working through the pain and heartache that comes with a friend and veterinary colleague’s fight for his life against metastatic colon cancer. We have not seen each other since graduation from veterinary school 10 years ago, and sadly will likely never see each other again. He is currently in his final moments of life and it is tearing me up inside. JC has a wonderful wife and two small children. Please keep them all in your prayers.

JC’s struggle, the events in Baltimore, the earthquake and avalanches in Nepal and so many more events have reinforced my desire to let those in my life know how much I love them. To let the world and all of the people in it know that I am not giving up. Despite the pain and the struggle, I know things can be better. I pray that we all unite and help the displaced, the hungry, the oppressed, the sick, and all that need a hand and a prayer.

Have a blessed day and take a step forward each day to help your world be a better place!

 

Merry Christmas 2014!

This past year has been an adventure. Seeing the joy of Christmas around the world has brightened my day and brings me great happiness.

For the past month, I have been working on St. John in the US Virgin Islands doing relief work. I have had many crazy experiences and have been blessed to meet many wonderful people. Although it is hard to be away from home for the holidays, I am thankful to be here. I would like to share a couple of stories from the St. John Animal Care Center, the only shelter here on the island. Since I am working at Canines, Cats, & Critters, the only veterinary clinic on the island, we see all of the animals.

The first is Churchill. Churchill is a spunky little guy that unfortunately had a run in with another dog the other day. After some immediate treatment to keep him alive and supportive care, Dr. Laura, the owner of CCC, came over from one of the offices on another island and performed surgery to close the hole in Churchill’s chest wall and repair his broken ribs. He is a fighter and is doing well now. Hoping to find a forever home!

Churchill the day after surgery.

Churchill the day after surgery.King on

The second is Dulce. Dulce is a sweet little girl that was brought into the shelter with the rest of her litter. She has been nice and healthy. Due to the generosity and love of others, she was able to leave for her forever home on Christmas Eve. Dr. Laura was delivering her to her new family in Maine. Many of the dogs from the island get adopted by people, most often living in the USA. Many of them will have a human escort to get to their new family. Others fly solo. Thankfully, Dr. Laura was able to go home to visit her family in the northeast USA for Christmas this year and take Dulce at the same time.

Dulce says goodbye and thank you!

Dulce says goodbye and thank you!

My final Christmas star, is King. King has had a rough life so far. Thankfully, his former owner brought King to the shelter when he finally realized that he could not care for him. King had stopped eating and his previous owner could not afford veterinary care. The ACC took King in and brought him to us at CCC. King weighed in at 38 pounds upon arrival and it has been a tough road getting him to eat anything. King is heartworm positive and extremely malnourished, although he has started to gain a little weight. We are doing all we can to get him strong enough for heartworm treatment. He is a very sweet boy, although not really a fan of other animals, he LOVES people! Today, King celebrated Christmas at CCC with a big squishy bed that was donated by a wonderful family for his comfort.

King on Christmas morning.

King on Christmas morning.

Please remember everyone, human and animal, that is in pain and alone this Christmas. Consider a donation of food or clothing, or even better, friendship, to someone that needs it. Consider a donation to a local shelter (human or animal) that provides for those in times of crisis.

If you want to help support the Animal Care Center and help provide for the cost of Churchill’s or King’s care, or any of the other animals, please contact the ACC here.

With the help of The Pet Apothecary, we are able to get some much needed medications for the cats with unresolved upper respiratory infections at a great discount. That being said, we still need to raise some money for the medications (about $100) and shipping to get it here.

Have a very merry Christmas (or whatever celebration you may wish to celebrate) and take time to make a difference in someone’s life today!

Mongolian Presentation!

Today is the day!

I will be giving my presentation on my trip to Mongolia at 4:00 pm today (Saturday, October 11, 2014) at First Presbyterian Church, 502 N. 8th St Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

There is lots to talk about, there will be refreshments, and a time for questions and answers as well.

I hope you can make it!

Mongolia Update (August 18-23)

August 18, 2014

Today dawned with a little sadness as I recognized this was my last week in Mongolia and there was still so much to do before leaving. I have been writing teaching handouts and clarification pieces for the veterinarians so that when someone isn’t there, they have documents to refer to. I love the looks in their eyes when a new piece of information locks in and they are able to use it with their patients. It took me awhile, but I finally am comfortable enough to hold impromptu teaching sessions, well, that and there is finally a couple minutes of “free time.” The clinic has been so busy, that a time when there was a free veterinarian was difficult. Today, things finally slowed down enough that we could gather 1-5 people and have a session. As these young veterinarians move forward, I pray that they have many people to come in and mentor them. Although their knowledge is good, the implementation of the knowledge and the overall application of techniques need to be honed. It is easy to treat the immediate problem for which a person brings their pet into the clinic, but to address the entire animal by obtaining a complete history and performing a comprehensive exam is so important to the welfare of the animal and it is easy to overlook. It was a good reminder for me as well with my return to the USA.

Today was also interesting as the power was a little less trusty. It went out in the morning, but thankfully did come back on. The fallout from this is that when we went to lunch, my food (meat of course) was not completely cooked. I ended up grabbing something else at the mini market, because I didn’t want to risk getting sick again! Dinner was a lot better with my food being cooked, and then I was given the adventure of going to a hair salon in the basement of a building where my hair was greatly shortened. A bit shorter than I am used to and what was requested, but the woman did a lovely job. Another first, getting my hair cut outside of the USA.

August 19

Apparently, yesterdays teaching sessions went over well, because now the veterinarians are asking for more impromptu sessions. Of course, the first one they asked me to do, I didn’t have anything planned, but that is quite alright. “The Coughing Dog” was a great topic and not one that I would have thought to make a handout for previously. Most non-medical people do not realize how “coughing” can mean so many things – bacterial or viral infection, parasites, heart disease, asthma, bronchitis, cancer, and the list goes on. This also took us into evaluating various lung patterns on radiographs (x-rays). Hopefully, they will start using the books more frequently – especially those with pictures – to be able to recognize different patterns in the future. I know there are times, I still need a refresher and reminder of the various pattern and what they mean for the patient. We also worked on parvovirus. A disease that is preventable with vaccination, but unfortunately many people don’t realize it. I can’t tell you how many puppies would be lined up in cages, set up to their IV fluids, receiving medications, and being cared for, but just don’t make it. They are so tiny and usually at the beginning of their lives, but they aren’t able to pull through. It breaks my heart here as it does at home that lack of education of the people causes so much suffering in the animals.

I went out to Ultziit again to visit with the Spence family and two other Americans that are over for the Fast Horse Training. Tom and Johnny have been coming to Mongolia for the last 15 years or so to teach veterinarians – specifically to care for horses. I am so impressed by the work and dedication that they provide to the Mongolian people. I cannot say how many lives (both animal and human) their training has saved over the years. They spoke of veterinarians that are using a stethoscope for the first time and hearing hearts beating after 20 years in practice. It is amazing! Johnny also shared about a wonderful program that he has been involved with recently called Victory Junction, a camp for children with chronic illness and disease that allows them to have a week where their disease does not stop them, does not control them. This camp is amazing and such  a blessing to have available to children.

Despite having another wonderful time, I just wasn’t feeling good overnight, but finally got some rest. I think I had a fever and it finally broke overnight. Not sure if it was the undercooked food from the day before, but am I glad that it didn’t progress to have me end up in the hospital again!

August 20

I had a day off today to get some more shopping done, to start packing, and to go to the Ensemble – a Mongolian cultural show. It was an amazing event! The throat singing and music were interesting and I have no idea how the throat singing works (you should not only hear it, but watch it!) The craziest part of the show was the contortionist. My joints still feel sore just from watching her. Absolutely amazing!

It is really hitting me that I will be leaving soon. I miss my husband, cat, family, and church, but I really want to stay here!

August 21

I have been reminded again about the difficulties in practice here. Here, I am “the specialist.” The one with experience. The one that is supposed to have the answers. Today, I was faced with a pup that I knew what needed to be done, but I didn’t have the equipment, medications, or specialists needed to treat the pup. At home, it normally comes down to money – people can afford to treat or not, they want to treat or not. There is a specialist somewhere that can take care of the situation in many cases.

This is the story of Coco. Coco is a tiny Chihuahua (1.6 kg, about 3.5 pounds) that was given large amounts of vodka and had fallen off of a bed two days previous. Now, she has torticollis (her head and neck are tilted around making the head almost look like it is upside down), nausea, and anisocoria (her pupils were of different sizes). She also has bulging of her skull between the eyes. Normally, one would place her on oxygen, monitor her blood pressure, and a wide variety of other things (MRI, CT scan, etc), but I can’t do any of those things here. Thankfully, I have access to the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), which includes veterinarians, including specialists, from around the world that I could request help from. We were able to find some Mannitol – a medication that helps decrease brain swelling – at the corner pharmacy, so we could start that treatment. Sadly, there is no overnight care or monitoring here, so she was sent home with her owners with instructions to come back first thing in the morning. We all prayed that she would survive the night.

We also had a young kitten (maybe 3 months old) come in that had fallen off of a balcony. The family had never had a cat before and were watching her for a couple days. The family knew nothing about cats, so they left her on the balcony while they went away for a short time. They couldn’t find her upon their return on the balcony and finally found her on the ground 4 floors below. She had a broken leg (fractured femoral neck) and a pneumothorax. Thoracocentesis was performed to remove the air, and we will have to see about the leg. It is a type of fracture that can be repaired, but could also potentially be left to have the femoral head dissolve on its own. We will wait and see what happens over time.

That evening as a thank you, I purchased pizza for the entire clinic. Something that is so simple and easy that it is one of the most common things to do in America, but for them is often cost prohibitive. For about $45, I was able to blessed with their joy and fellowship.

August 22

I gave my farewell devotion this morning and was brought to tears multiple times. I, of course, stood out as emotions are not often shown in Mongolia. I on the other hand tear up at Hallmark commercials, so it wasn’t a far stretch for me to cry now. There were hugs all around and such amazing love, support, and acceptance. Thank you for allowing me to be here and to hopefully have made a difference!

The clinic itself had a slow day, but we continued to work with Coco. She even began to show her Chihuahua nature again and started to growl at me. She had some nystagmus (rotation of her eyes) today, but wasn’t rolling quite as much. She still has significant swelling of her head, but I think she may have a chance. Perhaps will never be 100%, but she has a chance to live. Enkbeyer is doing a great job. Although he is quiet and hasn’t needed a lot of help, I am happy to have become his friend.

Coco on her way to recovery

Coco on her way to recovery

I tried not to cry when the time came to say good-bye, but that didn’t happen. I was able to keep most of the tears in until I started to walk away. A part of me will remain here forever.

Dinner and then the trip to the airport went well, until I realized I had neglected to hand over my apartment keys!  Oops! The airport allowed me to call Mary, but due to the way security is set up, no one is able to come and get the keys. They will need to be mailed to the next shuttle (person traveling over to work at the clinic) when I get home. I did get to have a lovely conversation with a Pilipino woman that had just finished a trip around Mongolia. Despite living in California for the last 56 years, she still travels all over the world. I will keep her in my prayers as she was so sad that all of her traveling companions are passing away. She was very sad.

Final devotion, Final picture

Final devotion, Final picture

August 23

Despite a lot of turbulence, the flight home was good. I was able to get more sleep than on the way to Mongolia. The man next to me was a lovely gentleman from Thailand, that now lives in the USA. He travels frequently for work, and was excited to get home to his wife and high school aged twins. He recommends a trip to Thailand, I think that is a good idea!

I was then double blessed upon arrival to see my husband and Laura and Steve – friends from church that offered to pick me up. After a short chat, we walked out to the parking lot where we were also met by more church members – Gary, Ann, and Addi – I didn’t expect to see them 3 hours from home, but they were in Chicago and saw my plane landing, so they hopped into the van and found us in a parking lot at O’Hare without a telephone call or anything. If God wasn’t in that, I don’t know what else to say!

Thank you to everyone that has followed my journey. I hope that it will happen again. I will share more in the future as tidbits of my time in Mongolia come back, but the great story of this trip is over. Perhaps it is just the beginning of many more though!

May you be blessed and find a way to make life a little bit better for someone around you today.

Mongolia Update #4 (Aug 15-17)

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.

Golden Eagle flying over head

Golden Eagle flying over head

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.

Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

Terelj National Park

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!

Flat Jesus and I at the bridge before beginning the climb up the mountain

Flat Jesus and I at the bridge before beginning the climb up the mountain

Mountainside wild flowers

Mountainside wild flowers

 

 

 

The view from the mountain down to the ger camp.

The view from the mountain down to the ger camp.

Flat Jesus hanging out with friends on the side of the mountain.

Flat Jesus hanging out with friends on the side of the mountain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading back down the mountain.

Heading back down the mountain.

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!

Preparing the table

Preparing the table

Horkhog being dished up

Horkhog being dished up

I'm not quite brave enough to eat the kidneys and other organ meat today

I’m not quite brave enough to eat the kidneys and other organ meat today

 

I'm not quite brave enough to eat the kidneys and other organ meat today

I’m not quite brave enough to eat the kidneys and other organ meat today

My plate and the plate of my neighbor

My plate and the plate of my neighbor

Here's my dinner - yes that is the C1 and C2 vertebrae

Here’s my dinner – yes that is the C1 and C2 vertebrae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

The real Turtle Rock

The real Turtle Rock

A random rock formation. Silly me, I thought this was Turtle Rock, but alas alack, twas not the case

A random rock formation. Silly me, I thought this was Turtle Rock, but alas alack, twas not the case

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Camel Ride

Camel Ride

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

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!

 

Mongolia Update #3 (Aug 8-14)

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!

What is left on the plate of lung and intestines filled with blood (I did not eat the majority of this)

What is left on the plate of lung and intestines filled with blood (I did not eat the majority of this)

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!