Sunday, December 28, 2008

Hugs and Flying Dragon Kicks

I don’t know how to do that thinking nonsense anymores...


Well, the Christmas party was.



My whole district gets a last minute cut from the mission party, and then I went back to Choibalsan. I love this place.

Oh, and yadaj I got a wicked huge head cold that blew me on my face for a whole day. And then church attendance numbers fell from the 120 we had been working back up toward down to 83. Bah. Dumb city.

Now we do have pass-a-long cards in Mongolia. One of my English students from almost a year ago joined the church. Reason for first listening to missionaries on street ni: Me and Monukia were cool and didn't act like perverts (and in general just seemed different) so that meant that elders were different from normal people. Cool.

There is nothing more annoying that people who just go to church and sit. We get more referrals and in the end more active members from the less active members than from any of the "active" ones. Think about the word, would you call a kid sitting on the bleachers watching stuff happen around him an "active" participant. No. I think a lot of us are spiritually flabby.

My sisters are dead. That’s weird. Editorial note from mom: sisters serve for 18 months, not 24 and dead equals released.


Hugs and flying dragon kicks to those who deserve them.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hungry for Work (and food)

You have no idea how much I needed to hear of pie and football.

I haven't eaten today. I am hungry.

I am in the city for 5 days. I am not happy.


I will not be sad if I die in Choibalsan and do not see this place for a long time.

SO yeah in the city, kind bummed and out of it, going to miss the branch Christmas stuff. Not being able to work for a week is slowly driving nails under my nails. There are lots of ridiculous things in the city that I will not miss.

So anyways, we worked on building a building at the orphanage. We did a lot but then the other elders went behind us to try but they got cold after an hour and quit. The director got a kick out of it. The two Americans (and the sisters) plug it out in -20C weather hauling bricks around and then the other guys came, played around in what we did, and then went home. little lol


We also worked on helping the 2nd councilor on his skating rink, but in the end ( and as I found, for the better) it fell through.

Translated the movie Testaments again and this time it came out a lot clearer.

Mostly, I’m in the city and going nuts for lack of anything useful to do.

Monday, December 15, 2008

3/4 Milestone Ignored

I'll probably call the 26th, 6:00 a.m. or so Mongolian time.

I don't know anything about dad, but everyone keeps asking me if I know.

So we're trying to cross the road today and then a car comes. My branch missionary and I decide to run across the road, but then Ganbold gets scared and run/jumps back . . . right into my nose. It was sweet, had a nice little go of blood. Ganbold thought I had hit him with my elbow because the force of us crashing knocked him almost on his butt. It was sweet.


I baptized a person, first in Choibalsan that I've got to teach from beginning to end. She's way good, understands stuff better than most of the older members her age. So that’s cool. It's funny, her member friends are more of an annoyance and a problem than the other people she hangs out with, but that’s another story.

Everything else cool happened in interviews so I can't talk about it.

We went to one of our new member’s concert performances. It is the only one like it outside of the city. They were pretty good.

That’s cool about the growth in Tuscaloosa, kinda reminds me of Choibalsan, lots of potential that’s just farting around not doing much sometimes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yeah It Wasn't a Date

That’s the primary teacher. She has a cute little fart of an 8 year old son named Munkherdene. Actually, he's the one in love with me. He was running around one day so I grabbed him and torqued my whole body weight into a 360, chucked him about 4-5 feet above my head. I've heard a kicked laugh that hard about 3 times my whole life.

I can khuumii now, now just make the noise, but actually control the pitch. It is sweet. I've also been learning a ton of old Mongolian songs as of late, also sweet.

My new member family got a pet hedgehog. Gekh sweetchlen.

We showed the aforementioned family legacy in Mongolian. It is weird, I'm starting to understand things faster when I read or hear them in Mongolian, but on the down side I'm actually losing the ability to speak understandable English. My brain is bagtamj muutai so it memory full khiisen my English class gene.

Helped the second councilor prep the area he’s going to use to make a skating rink. He was originally just digging all the grass out but then I showed them the art of control burn and things got done a lot faster.

Money is around 140 right now. I take my district and the second councilor, branch mission leader, etc out to dinner sometimes. Usually the elders are poorer than the members but out here it is usually the other way around.

It is tithing settlement time. I live at church. In some ways it sucks but in other ways its sweet because I interview everyone in the branch.

Two branch missionaries got their calls. It is interesting watching the differences the way families take things. One has been a member of the church 1 year and her father 1 month and the fathers so overjoyed that he got dumbfounded when we filmed the opening. The other was the first member family in Choibalsan and because of many things he won't let his daughter go (if it were his choice). I've noticed a lot of interesting things this week but I guess as part of the calling I can't talk about most of it.

One of my investigators that bounced around between all the companionships finally got baptized. She is someone’s niece that I never figured out whose, but she’s always moves around so it was impossible to keep track of her. But the most important thing is that while everyone tried to figure out how to make my camera work, I still managed to keep a one legged wall sit going for a 1 minute and 15 seconds even after 5 hours of heavy service. Score one for the stupid mission rubber band work out thingy.

Think I taught the most lessons of my whole mission at 29 for the week. Yeah, that sucks for a lot of places but that’s pretty dang good for me.

We're going to make a kung fu movie and it will be sweet.

Mom, three elders have broken their legs playing Frisbee here. More from other sports. None for football or rugby.

Oh yeah, at the baptism I had to pick the lock to the baptismal font. Thanks for teaching me how to do that.

And then someone turned the water back on and we flooded half the primary room. The sisters were teaching a lesson in there. They said it looked like a horror movie. They hear this burbling noise and then all this water starts shooting out the door. The part that made me laugh the hardest was the first time they told the story, they said right after they saw the water that the first thing anyone could think of was to run around the building shouting "burduu" until some could find me. I had been sitting up on the benches behind the pulpit fidgeting with my backpack when I see 4 people go running like nuts shouting my name. I giggled.

Cheese is making awesome taco style breakfast sandwiches right now, but I'm going to make chips and dip and burritos with the second councilor sometime soon.

Turkey meat came out sweet. Other than the morbid nature of the kill, no damage was done to the body. And we were inspecting pictures of the ax and after looking at the side that hit it first and seeing exploded brain all over, we're pretty sure it died on the first whack; but seriously, it was really REALLY good.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Where is my football?

Burkhan is as close as to China as you can get without getting shot, really.

So, on the idiot side of things, I took a dull ax and killed a turkey Wednesday. And by kill I mean I clubbed it until it's body stopped moving, which was about 7 minutes later.

[Editorial note from Mom: Hopefully a traditional Thanksgiving dinner made his week a little easier.]

It's all on Shiozawa's camera. Was also Shiozawa's first time pulling an animal’s insides out through its butt, and then finding the heart and liver and sticking them back, all this after carrying it a mile and a half across the city while it was pooping all over the place. There have been a lot of firsts for Shiozawa this week.

Had a massive 25 man brawl start up outside of the church front gate (also Wednesday). So, someone in a moment of brilliance decided to approve letting a skating rink be built next to the church, which usually isn't too bad, but since it's a bright place that makes noise it draws drunks like flies, and then someone called a girl a name in Mongolian and smacked her, so all the youth and RMs get all riled up and protect her, and then "a whole lot of stuff happened" (gene) and then our freshest RM has a bloody lip, the young men’s president has a big old beaner from a metal rod, and there's something resembling a zombie movie right at the church sidewalk gate. Then is when I round the corner. I'm on a split with Shio (who has been having a little bit of a culture shock punch in the face anyways). He said he was going to say we need to turn around but his mouth wouldn't work. The next part was my favorite. to quote " We got right up on the edge of it and then out of nowhere a perfect way appears for us as we walk through, people dividing and closing around us like we had a bubble around us or something. I think I know now what it was like to be a Jew following Moses into the Red Sea." we got the last of the youth in the gate and shut it. The crowed slowly dispersed, a few tried to bust in but after looking at me and Shiozawa quickly gave up and started calling us names. Then we gave first aid to a few people. The beamed in the head youth president didn't get a concussion, but he wanted to do some pretty stupid stuff for a few hours. A few people jumped on me for not helping, but after realizing that I hadn't been there anyways, everyone reached a general consensus that it was better that I was gone (seeing that " it's good everyone’s alive"). One of our more hot headed priests wanted to go run after them, but I pointed out to him that love was key and the fact that one of the teachers had thrashed him in wrestling last week. He calmed down after that.

Where is my football?

We had a huge activity at church for all of the old people. Had really good attendance and it brought back a lot of people that had been gone for a long time. Erkhembaatar and I set up a photo thing for everyone to take pictures with their husband/wife/date. The pictures came out cool but the photo guy was drunk (yum shig) and all the pictures came out way crooked. Other than that everyone was really happy. Church attendance went from 100 to 130, and in general everything was a lot better since people remembered that they were actually friends and could just talk to each other.

[Another editorial note from Mom: The only thing I know for sure is that missionaries do not date.]

Works been getting good, have an investigator about to go into interview, and I did two interviews this week. My investigator is one of those people that comes out of the blue and is just ready. She reads her scriptures all the time, already does volunteer stuff at the church. I found out she had been coming to church 3 years ago, but then her parents made her stop, so she waited for 3 years until she was 18 to start coming back. She's already making plans to go on her mission. We had a ton (10) of less active members come to church (up from the usual 4). Two families came, and a kid I've been working with to help go on his mission, and my RM who is almost back and is working with her husband to go to the temple with him (after he gets baptized). They are some of my favorite people. My whole district made a huge plan for how we're going to start putting more focus on helping all the members, so we're all pretty happy right now. (Well the other elders have been happier, their week has been a progression of hard and harder, the power going out for three days, and then to top it all off the keys breaks off in the lock and they couldn't go home Sunday night.)

That’s sweet that granny watched The Best Two Years.

I wrote up the whole trip to Burkhan story, I'll take a picture and send it next time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Went to God

So this week.... managed to keep everyone alive.

I had one of those "whoa" experiences, well not one a lot this week.

I was sitting up on the stand this week, but for once I actually got to go sit down in the seats and watch the primary kids do their presentation. Feels odd now, haven't got to go sit with members or investigators in 4 months. But it was the thing before this that made it feel even more different. I was looking at all 133 people and I knew every single one of them. And it wasn't just in general. I looked out and knew almost everyone’s story, what they had been through, how the family was who didn’t come today and all that. Of course, there are some I know much better than others, but I have a general bead on everyone. It’s funny, when I first got here I had to always ask people who they were, but now a lot of times I know more than a lot of the members. Every single one of them is "my peep" now, to speak.

One of the 15 year old teachers came up and asked how long would I stay (I've actually been getting asked that a lot lately).

All I could really say was “Dunno, as long as they'll let me stay. A long time I hope.”

To which he just put his arm around me and said “me too”.

I translated the entire movie The Testaments one morning.

I’ve been working a lot with the branch setting up all of the end of the year stuff and reports (and to Cody, I'm clerk biz dee. and the past people have messed up the account so bad that our standing bank balance is so messed up that the professional district clerk is totally confused) one of the members was joking around and said that "we'd all be screwed if you left". I’ve spending a lot of time sharpening the saw so to speak. There are lots of dormant people waiting around here.

Then I went "To God". So, one of the return missionaries wanted to go see one of the largest stone Buddha statues in the world. And originally we had a great plan and stuff and it was going to be perfect, we even got approval to go out there. But at 3:30 in the morning on the day after p-day (after being harassed twice by border patrol and a lot of stuff) when I called the ZLs and said I was home, the story was now a lot different. I am now again mission wide famous for being stu… uh "me", and the brand new father of the rule that no elder is ever allowed 100 km out of their work area. I will tell that story next week after I stop giggling.

Huur ni ungursuuuuuuuuuun.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rekh Metchlen

Saturday I baptized a guy named Shijirbaatar. My MTC companion baptized his daughter at the start of his mission and I ended up teaching the dad a year later. It's kind of amusing the way everything ended up. So I started meeting with him 4 months ago at the request of his daughter, Oktyabri. We met with him and everything was good and then out of nowhere his daughter tells us that he's offended and will only meet with Mongolian elders. So I say whatever and send the other 2 over there to meet with him. I keep track on him for the next few months but never really talked to him until after I had his interview with the Zone Leaders. We're talking and out of nowhere he just says "I'm sorry". After staring at him blankly for a few minutes, I finally stumbled out a confused "’bout what?" He explained that the reason he got offended was every time he asked me a question about proof, I responded with the fact that anyone could tell him a billion things and talk and talk and talk (rekh metchlen) but none of that would matter if he never prayed and asked himself. After about a month and a half of that he got sick of it and thought I just wouldn't tell him. Then he asked the other elders all the same questions and after all they had to say all they could really say was "ask on your own". And then he did. And the rest is history.

Other than that it was a pretty nutty week. One of the church members lost her baby at the 4 month mark. We had been expecting something might happen but in the best part of a bad situation it happened while she was at church during my weekly meeting with the other missionaries. Sister Anderson and I helped with as much of the initial response as we could and got her on a couch after we cleaned everything up and then I ran down to the hospital, which is fortunately spitting distance from the church building. But in a rather sad light of country emergency response, I had time to get out of the sub basement, down the road and back in the church and be peeved before the ambulance finally got down the road. We got her into the hospital and into the best wing before leaving. This was all at about 11 in the morning. We kept working on things at the church to get everything sorted out when we got the feeling to go check her out even though she said everything was going to be taken care of a few hours ago. We walk in and found out that the people who had promised to get her food had flaked out and the doctors hadn't even looked at her yet. We got her some food and found one of the nurses who is a church member to make sure she was looked after. Then to make a long story short we got from the hospital to home, paid to have her go see a private doctor because the local doctors had said she was perfectly fine when it was obvious to anyone with better than blind vision that she was still sick. But now she's doing pretty well. She's a sweet heart. Even after all this, she found out I had a cold and showed up to choir practice with the Mongolian equivalent of chicken soup in a big canister. I was talking with the branch president who had been talking with her a little earlier, and we had all commented on the fact that even as sad as this all was, since everyone knew she would get to raise her baby in the next part of things that it softened the blow on everyone. Plus her daughter is just as awesome as she is. I worry about them, but in a lot of ways I feel like I'm worrying about them for me than them needing me to worry.

Then a lot of other things happened too but they all pale in comparison: (1) I translated the stake president’s talk on the pre-mortal life into sign language for 3 hours and learned a lot in a lot of ways. (2) Wrestling is now BANNED in the Mongolian mission; it's the end of an era. (3) The new American elder got here, his name is Shiozawa and I speak more Japanese than him. (4) My companion tried to run a sustaining vote without branch president permission for a calling that doesn't exist. (5) We built a ger. (6) I learned a Mongolian rap song. (7) You can slam spike in badminton. (8) The handy-tool is sweet. (9) I’m out of time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Can't Pick Your Companion but What About His Nose

So, this week was a lot of cool stuff marred by a lot of dumb stuff.

Being a trainer is interesting as usual. I'm trying to let him learn the virtue of being quiet on his own, but I think if he tries to take over one more sacrament meeting or priesthood quorum (or branch missionary meeting or district meeting or branch presidency meeting or choir practice or discussion in the hall or...) I might have to protect him from some people. Oh to be that young and full of energy again. He’s learning though and that more than I can say for myself sometimes.

The other American should be here by Wednesday, it'll be cool to have the whole district here.

Had some cool teaching experiences with some of the branch members this week. Spontaneously started a conversation that turned into a 2 hour meeting on all the things everyone wants to start working on. It was sweet.

I was reading from Jesus the Christ this week and thinking about some of the things that were written about the apostles and the concept of the unprofitable servant. God never expected them to be good at anything at the start. If that were the case the apostles never would have been apostles. God only expects us to DO, not to do well; the well part comes in after we try in faith because that’s where he picks it up for us. I worry too much about trying to do things better than I probably can. Heavenly Father rewards us and the work when we do, and when I think about it in Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 it never said anything about being good at it, just doing it with a dedication to the Father.

I learned this from our 2 youngest branch missionaries this week during a teaching. They went out there and every 3 word out of their mouths was a mistake. Then almost everyone teased them until they were so ashamed they couldn't speak. In contrast I couldn't have been more proud of my senior companions at that moment straightened up and didn’t mutter a word against them. Despite of their total lack of experience I could feel the Spirit as they taught and a very tangible feeling of love for them being the ones that went out there. The parable of the servants with 1, 2, and 5 coins seemed somewhat applicable with a switch. Our two branch missionaries had both turned their 2 coins into 4, but in this case the more experienced missionaries had let their 5 sit and do nothing. To defy human logic as usual, their few coins in action were worth so much more than our many sitting idle. I need to remember that God just wants me to try, not to be perfect at first.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Snowing Hard and I LOVE It

So my kid did come,

Bundle of joy?

and then we did some stuff.

Parenting is HARD work!

My communication skills have really gone down the hole lately, but as with most things, they come back.

Khuyagaa is a sweet kid. He'll be really great when he calms down again. Remember when we'd take Teddy and put him in a new place and he would run around freaking out for about five minutes and calm down. He's kinda like that right now, but then again so is everyone their first week. It's been kind of interesting to review my own mission sometimes. You think things are going to be one way and you go for it full tilt, but sometimes you head smack into the cold hall wall of reality. We kind of remind me of the missionaries from Best 2 Years.

If I ever make a missionary movie I'm going to add something from this week. We were talking about how to do ITLs (talking to people on the street) and then he got so worked up that he ran up behind the first person he saw to talk to them. The lady responded by running the other direction until he stopped following her. He's going to be a great missionary when he gets a little experience to go with all the enthusiasm.

Being a part of the branch presidency is interesting sometimes. I’ve heard a lot of "Why hasn't this happened yet?" But it's usually phrased in "Byrd, why haven't you fixed it yet?!" It's an interesting balance to find weaving around trying to get stuff done and stepping on everyone’s toes. Sometimes it feels like even if someone wants you to do something they don't want to admit or say that it needs done. But whatever, it always gets worked out. It’s good practice.

Anyways, it's cold, snowing, hard and I love it.

Nothing Like a Cooling Breeze

I totally forgot DiRegolo's name. Since you sent that picture of him with his kid, everyone thinks he's my missionary.

L2R DiRegolo,Byrd,Brimley 2007


Monday, October 27, 2008

Head Butt: Just Do It

Yes I have the coat, but nothing else yet.

So transfers happened. Naisbitt is off in city land and my new boy is named Khuyagaa. I’ve been teaming with one of the branch missionaries until my companion flies in. His name is Martbold, he's a stud.

All of my good investigators are going to the city or the country.

Other than that not a lot has happened. It snowed, that was pretty cool. It was only like 6 inches but it came down pretty fast with some crazy punch-you-in-the-face wind so I had a chance to test my goggles out. I got a truck load of coal for a family and I spent most of Friday at the airport with all the delays and junk. Everyone cried when Naisbitt left.

Sat down with someone and taught the 2nd lesson for 2 hours until it clicked in their head and then they were really happy about that.

Going to the black market today to try and save the church Halloween party. Everyone is waiting for everyone else to get it set up so we just decided to do it without asking anyone.

One of the inactive youth got really mad and challenged me to a head butting contest. He lost. He came to church Sunday and has been much calmer ever since.

It's been pretty sweet rolling with all the branch dudes the last couple days. They're all a bunch of funny guys that want to work.

Someone had been stealing junk from the church, so Naisbitt and I spent the last week of the transfer pulling late night guard duty. That was a cool way to go out.

This computer is running on windows 1998. I can't send pictures.

The secret to letting IT in is JUST DO IT. I realized that a few weeks ago. Everything we need to do is sitting right on our noses but sometimes we're kinda Jewish and shoot beyond the mark and think too much.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Beware Elders with Hand Tools

So the reason my letter is late is because my companion drilled me in the kidneys with a shovel. By that I mean we had service yesterday so P-day is today. But yeah, he got me pretty good. We're playing baseball with a shovel and an old potato and right when he went for a low inside hit the head came right off. It was pretty cool.

The Mission President called me Tuesday; I want to do better work.

Transfers are happening this week. Haven't got transfer calls yet but it seems like I'm staying.

Oh yeah, we destroyed a house last week. That was freaking sweet. They told us it would take about 6 hours to take the whole house down, and it was going to but Naisbitt and I got hold of a hammer and crow bar and did it in 2. As a note though, taking out a roof while you are under it takes a lot of dexterity, or the willingness to elbow falling 2x4s. Then we did a flying jump kick to take out one of the walls. There was a lot of aggression to take out this week.

I called Elder Romney; he's shining the light without Naisbitt.

And I'll never tell how I'm doing it.

That's freaking awesome about meeting the America’s Army design team.