Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Week 35 - Back to Ulaanbaatar!

Well this week has been a wild and crazy ride!  I'll start from the beginning.

Monday was crazy to say the least.  We wanted to meet everyone one last time before leaving Tuesday morning, so we made the rounds.  10 houses.  And I felt so exhausted at the end of the day.  And so stuffed silly.  Everyone made us dinner.  So we had more food than we could eat.  And we still ate it. It tasted so good but I don't think I've been that full at any Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm feeling a little sick just thinking about how full I was that night. Ha  But it was so good to see everyone.  And talk and take pictures.  We had a blast.  

Tuesday we went to UB.  I kid you not, the flight took forreevverrrr.  Well it took the 3 hours, but it felt like forever because I was so excited.  I felt like I was in a movie when I got off the plane and into the taxi.  I rolled down my window and couldn't stop smiling.  I felt like I was home.  I met up with other missionaries.  We went to the main church building and took care of some stuff, had an interview with the new mission president, who is amazing, and then went to KFC with Sister Kofed and Sister Nelson.  It was the best day!  I seriously love being back!

On Wednesday we got the transfer call.  At 2 pm.  We were holding our breath for the call all morning and during lunch, but it didn't come until 2.  My companion and I ate at the Cinnabon for lunch!  Hello, heaven!  Then at 2 I found out my new area and companion!  Sister Guild, from my MTC group, and we are both brand new missionaries in the biggest ward, area-wise, in all of UB.  I can't believe it.  We don't know Mongolian!  Ahhh!! But we have a third companion for the next week!  Sister Namyyn is a visa waiter who is going to Idaho on her mission.  She leaves next week probably and without her I'd probably die.  I don't know what we will do when she leaves, but I'll cross that bridge when I get there.  We didn't really do the transfer on Wednesday because things were so crazy.  Sister Guild was coming back from the countryside all day.  So I helped other sister missionaries move, and it was super fun!  

Thursday was also crazy.  We helped Sister Nelson move and went to a visa meeting for my Mongolian companion and then went through the records of everyone in the ward.  Oh. My. Gosh.  This is going to be a big task.  So many people to learn and the ward boundaries are huge.  We will be on buses for at least an hour each way every day.  My head hurt a little at the end of the day.

I loved Friday because the Sister who was serving in this ward took us out and showed us some of the houses.  The boundaries basically go out into the countryside.  It was so green and beautiful.  It's crazy to be in the countryside and the city at the same time.  I love it!  Then, we went back to the city center and I picked up a PACKAGE!  Thanks, family!  And the Hendershots!  I got to talk to them for about 2 minutes and then we all had to go.  But it was so stinking fun!  And I LOVE my package!  It came at a great time, too!  This is a liiiitttlllleee stressful...haha

On Saturday we started the real work.  We called some members and met with them.  They were the very first church members in Mongolia!  And they are so awesome!  They made some great food and we talked and got to know each other.  They showed us to their neighbor who is also a church member, so we got to know them, too.  As we made our way back to the city, we met with an investigator, who is awesome!  I look forward to going back and getting to know her better!  I just loved getting out and meeting the people.  

Yesterday was good!  We went to church and met everyone.  I understood almost nothing.  This is going to be crazy.  I'm trying not to think about what it will be like when our Mongolian companion leaves.  My language is not up to par!  But it will work out.  We had a really great meeting yesterday night, though!  We met with a ward member, which was so cool!  We taught a lesson about choice and then she brought her neighbor over.  The neighbor is really interested, and she wants us to teach her family of 7 about the Gospel!  This week we will meet her!  I'm so excited!  

So basically this week has been a whirlwind.  Being with someone in my MTC group is gonna be crazy.  I love her, though! So that's a plus!  If nothing else we will at least have fun together! :)  I read in Matthew 15 yesterday, and it helped me a lot.  Jesus was about to teach the 5000 and he asked if they had food to feed everyone.  I just pictured the disciples pulling Him aside and saying, "well, see, there's not enough. Like not even close.  We only have 7 loaves and 3 fishes......."  And then I can just see Christ saying, "Stop worrying!  You can't feed them on your own, but with MY help, you can feed everyone!"  And in verse 37 it said they fed everyone until they were FULL and THEN had 7 extra BASKETS of bread.  And that's how I'm feeling right now.  I'm trying to go from the, "well, see, my Mongolian isn't good.  And the area is huge.  And my companion and I are SO inexperienced" phase to hearing Him say, "with MY help, you will be able to accomplish all of this and MORE."  I know that with Christ I can do all things.  Even this.  And I don't have to be perfect because if I do my best, Christ will make up the difference and leave a surplus of blessings that can't be received. 

So in all of this, I just think that this will stretch me.  But everyone keeps saying there's no growth in a comfort zone and no comfort in a growth zone.  So here's to some great growth!  Bayanzurkh ward, here I come! :)


Sister Bottorff

There was a young sister who leapt near a shoe...

Getting on the plane to Ulaanbaatar

A Mongolian mountainside - I'll miss Hovd

Wow! Cinnabon! What else can I say?

Fall sunflowers - beautiful :)

It was so great to see the Hendershots! Thank you!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Week 34 - New experiences and new families in the branch!

It's been a crazy busy jam packed week! And I can't believe all that's happened! And I leave Hovd TOMORROW morning, and I feel like I'm in a whirlwind! haha

I'll start from Monday.  We hopped in the Branch President's car and headed to the lake.  We brought famous Hovd watermelons (which we eat nonstop...1 kilo is about 20 cents!) and ate and sat on the shore.  It was really quiet and there was no other sign of life except birds and bugs.  It was so awesome!  I wish I could have gone to the true countryside more often.  It's just so peaceful and beautiful.  After the lake, we did an FHE (family home evening) with one of our grandmas and her grandkids.  We colored pictures and sang and had a cute little lesson about obedience.  Then we did another FHE with a wonderful member family and we watched the Restoration movie and ate sheep ribs.  It was funny to watch the movie and then look over and see everyone mowing their sheep ribs. Haha

Tuesday was really busy!  We started by serving a member who owns a little preschool.  We washed all the windows and ceilings and walls and floors.  It was hard work, but I loved it!  Then we taught investigators.  We had four great lessons and our investigators are progressing so well!  I love them!

I got some cultural experiences on Wednesday because we went to our investigators house to find that they were killing sheep for the next little while.  I watched them do it all.  And I was really impressed that they use literally everything from the sheep.  They cleaned everything and will eat it over the course of the next couple of months.  We helped.  I carried water around to everyone to help them clean out the intestines and stuff.  I felt like a doctor. ha

On Thursday we served a member who owns a Seabuckthorn (does anyone know what that is?? I hadn't heard of it...) farm.  We picked the berries off the tree for about 2 hours and I had less than 2 kilos to show for it.  Oh well.  We had fun helping!  We had a district meeting later that night and had a great discussion about the amazing opportunity it is to be a missionary!  I need to always have a good attitude about ALL I do because it's truly a miracle that I can be here and doing this work.  I should never take a single second for granted, not even the super hard ones! :)

Friday we planned for the week and the possibility of 2 new missionaries coming to Hovd.  We wrote about the different things new missionaries might need to know.  Then we had 3 great investigator lessons.  Our last investigator lessons with them! Because…

… on Saturday all FIVE of our lovely investigators GOT BAPTIZED!! I felt such an overwhelming feeling of love for them.  I mean, I loved them so much before, but as I watched them enter the waters of baptism, I felt happiness I've never really felt before.  I felt so excited and happy!  They have come such a long way since I arrived in Hovd, and I know they have done the right thing.  They are all so special to me.  I will truly miss them.  The baptismal service was beautiful.  The little details that kinda went wrong that day didn't even matter when the service began.  It was just perfect.  And I felt so much love.  

On Sunday all five of our NEW MEMBERS got confirmed.  They are officially members of the Church!  And they are all so happy! :)  Also, the primary sang, and it was the cutest thing ever.  They all screamed the words to Follow the Prophet and the congregation laughed a little.  Some of the people even clapped! :) haha  After church, we got a phone call saying we were leaving Tuesday morning, so ever since then, we have been running around getting everything ready.  Packing.  Visiting.  Cleaning a little! We visited and taught our new members and they were so kind to give us parting gifts.  Some watermelons, some chocolate, some snacks, etc.  People are so kind and generous!  I will truly miss them.  

Hovd is such a special place. I learned and grew so much here.  About myself, the Gospel, about how my will is not God's will all the time.  About how if I just give up my will, God will give me much more than I ever thought possible.  And that is the beauty of the Gospel message I get to share every day.  I love being a missionary!


Sister Bottorff

I love the river and the lake...

...and watermelon by the lake

This says it all!

Picking Sea Buckthorn berries

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Week 33 - Making progress!

Hey everyone!  

I'm beginning my final full week in Hovd!  And I can't believe it! 

Last week was really good!  We had a nice and relaxed P-Day (preparation day for grocery shopping, laundry, and relaxing) after emailing last week.  And then we had FHE with our investigator and her family.  We shared a scripture and brought cinnamon rolls to share.  It was so good.  They love cinnamon rolls here, not that I blame them!  

On Tuesday we checked people on our ward list.  It was great fun, as always!  Then we had a crazy busy day meeting with 5 investigators.  It's amazing I can remember words to say at every lesson.  The Spirit is real!  And it's amazing to see that I can actually contribute.  It may not be perfectly said or something beautiful, but I can add something to every lesson! :)  

Wednesday was awesome!  We had a zone training, and I got to see Sister Wilkins AND Sister Hansen over Skype.  Sister Wilkins did a really good training on obedience, and Sister Hansen and I were put in the same group.  I'm pretty sure that wasn't an accident. Thank you, Sister Wilkins! :) The training was really good.  We talked a lot about obedience.  It's a choice that's just as easy as disobedience.  I love that concept!  Then we visited a grandma who turned out to be sick - we told her we loved her!  Then we had institute and visited our investigator family again.  It's always a party there!  There's so much activity and life there.  I love their house!

Thursday we taught another investigator and then had a district meeting.  There's a new senior couple (married couple missionaries) here!  We LOVE senior couples!!!  They were at the district meeting, and it was so good!  We talked about the things we learned at the zone training and also about how to make our lessons better.  We had mutual after that with the youth.  My companion talked about missionary work and the schedule and what we do every day.  The youth seemed to really like it! :)  Then we taught our two cute little grandmas their last lessons before their baptismal interviews!  They are so ready, and I'm amazed with the changes I've seen in both of them.  They are amazing.  And I count my blessings every day that I get to be even a small part of their lives.  

On Friday we planned and then did service for a member family in our ward.  They live on the grounds of a kindergarten and the husband is the security guard.  They are starting school on the 1st and there were a lots of weeds on the playground.  So we helped them pull weeds.  It was so much fun!  I love doing any kind of service!  The member felt badly that we were out there pulling her weeds, but we were so happy!! haha  We taught our investigator family again about families after service.  

Saturday we went over to our investigator's house because she had her baptismal interview and she felt nervous and wanted to go over the questions again. She's so cute!!  Then we took her to the interview and picked up our other grandma on the way over.  Both of them PASSED!! I love them both so much!!  And I'm so excited for them to be baptized!!  They have such great faith!  We met with another investigator after the interviews and then met with a member grandma.  We talked about Jesus Christ.  And we set up a time to come back next week and help her around her yard.  After that we checked more addresses.  There is a street we just couldn't find no matter what we did.  Ger districts can be like that..

Yesterday we had church, and I played piano for the primary.  Next Sunday they'll sing for the whole congregation! I'm so excited!!  After church we met with a less active person and 2 investigator families before checking addresses.  At one of the investigator's houses they fed us the best watermelon I've had in my whole life.  And I talked to them!  Like small talk!! And I made them laugh!  I haven't been brave enough to try joking because just getting out simple phrases is hard enough.  But I said something and they thought it was funny!  I don't even know what I said because I was just so amazed that I could actually be funny (besides having them literally laugh at me..haha)!!! It was a great moment!  Then we checked addresses after that, and we found the street we needed!  It was a miracle!  

Today we are headed to the lake!  We are so excited!  I can't believe I have less than 2 weeks in Hovd.  I have come to truly love the people here.  I will miss them.  But this week is going to be amazing!  We have some baptisms on Saturday and lots to do before then.  

Thank you for your love and support!  I couldn't be a missionary without it!! 


Sister Bottorff

Goats, goats, and more goats!

How can they sleep when so crowded?

Hood's walk of fame :)

Dinner with my companion - yum!

Still enjoying birthday treats!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Week 32 - Another great week of service!

Another great week is over! Whoah!  I have 2 and a half weeks in Hovd!  I can't believe it!  And I've been a missionary for 7 months! Dang!

We stayed really busy this week.  And we were healthy - that is a plus! :)  Monday was pretty relaxed.  We cleaned and lounged.  And I loved it.  Then, we had a Family Home Evening with our investigator and her grandkids.  It was a success!  We taught that Jesus loves the little children, and then we had them color a picture of Jesus with children.  And we sang songs in Mongolian, English, and Russian! :)

On Tuesday, we taught a cute lady about the importance of choices and shared Thomas S. Monson's most recent conference talk.  Then we taught another investigator about testimony.  She will be baptized on Saturday, and I'm so excited!!  We taught our grandma after that, and we asked her the baptismal interview questions.  She answered them so well, and she's adorable!  After that, we met with some members and they fed us well.  People are so good to us! :)

Wednesday was busy because we met with people, visited a baby in the hospital (who is fine now), had institute (youth class), and visited people.  Our list of church members here is kind of crazy and everyone moves all the time, so we began our quest to find out where everyone is and organize the list.  It's quite a feat, but we are up to the challenge.  
Thursday we called everyone on the list that we don't know.  We marked down the phone numbers that don't work or that belong to other people now or that have been changed.  Then we met with two wonderful grandmas and a less active girl.  We had district meeting after that, and I taught the lesson.  I taught about how we need to remember the Savior all the time.  It's sometimes hard to do since we get caught up in the little details of life, but if we take the time to remember our Savior and all He has done for us, we will be able to relax and not worry because He is in charge.  I'm so grateful for that.  It's the only thing that gets me through the hard times, and it makes the easy times so much more fun! :)

On Friday we planned for the week and then taught a lesson before we went out and got to work serving.  We went back to the goat farm, and I fell in love with the view again.  I'm getting SO much better at milking the goats!  I'm much faster than before.  And as I sat there milking goats, I thought about how I was waiting for my call letter to come this time last year.  And I could have NEVER imagined that I would be sitting in the middle of nowhere in Mongolia milking goats.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Saturday was so cool because our investigator passed her baptismal interview and will be baptized this coming Saturday!  She's ready!  And I'm amazed to see how the Gospel has changed her life.  Then we went to our cute grandma's house and taught her about families.  It was so fun to talk about how she can go to the temple to be eternally married to her husband..  She can be with him again!  Afterwards we taught another lady about repentance, and then sat down and really organized our branch list so that we can check addresses more effectively.  We have organized every person by address.  And it's awesome.  After checking addresses for almost 2 hours, we took our weary little bodies over to a member's house.  They so graciously fed us and we watched Finding Faith in Christ together and talked about all that Christ has done for us.  It was a great day! :)

Yesterday 11 investigators came to church! 11!!!!  That's amazing!!  Then we had lunch with a member.  Stomach buuz.  And then we checked addresses again for 2 hours.  By the end we were dragging our feet.  It was hot and tiring to walk up and down streets looking for houses.  We didn't actually meet any of the people, but we got some of their new addresses and phone numbers, so it was a success.  We met with a member for dinner, and they didn't disappoint, thank goodness! I was starving!!  And then we met with our cute grandma's granddaughter and mom.  We taught them about God and prayer.  They are such an awesome family, and I look forward to getting to know them better!  When we got home, we planned and went to bed.  All that finding is exhausting!!

This morning we went to see the natural spring water just outside the city.  We walked for about 30 minutes with a member.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  My pictures don't do it justice, but I just kept looking around and thinking, "Whoah.  This is Mongolia!  I'm in Mongolia!!!"

I'm amazed every day to be here.  And I'm so grateful for this opportunity.  Thank goodness God is in charge.  I couldn't have gotten here and had these amazing experiences if it was all up to me.  

I love you all!

Sister Bottorff

Sack races by the river

Christ truly loves us all!

It's watermelon season! Yum!

Just practicing for the next stunt ride

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Week 31 - It's like Christmas in July!!!

I can't believe it's August! My 7 month mark is this week!  The time is going and I can't even believe it!  This week was amazing.  Probably one of the best of my mission.

On Monday we just cleaned and lounged and met with some ward members for Family Home Evening.  It was nice and relaxed.  Sometimes you just need those kinds of days.

Tuesday was so awesome!  I got a package from UB that contained other packages and letters that have been sitting in the mission office.  The cards and packages were so amazing. I felt so blessed and loved.  We are eating so well!  My companion tried Mac-and-cheese for the first time, and she liked it!  I told her she didn't have to because it's actually not that good, but I was craving it, so I thought it was like heaven.  I never thought I'd say that.  haha  The cards were also so nice!  Thank you to everyone who sent me a card!  You are the best!!  It was just what I needed!  We taught a lot of lessons on Tuesday.  We taught tithing, and our little grandma calculated her tithing that she'll start to pay after baptism.  We also visited a little family with the cutest kids.  Their daughter is 5, and she just talks up a storm.  She was doing the splits for us and showing us all her cool gymnastics moves.  I love her!  

On Wednesday we taught a 14 year old boy about prayer.  And it was really good.  And we visited our investigator in the hospital.  She's not too sick, but it was good to visit and bring her some juice and cookies.  She called her sister that night and told her that it just made her so happy that we came! :)  We also had institute.  After institute we met with a family and talked about families.  We challenged them to strengthen their marriage and write letters to each other.  We asked them how they show love to each other and how they can be better.  It was a really cute lesson!  I love being a missionary!

We only taught 3 lessons on Thursday because we also had mutual and had district meeting.  I'll be teaching the lesson in district meeting next week.  It should be fun!  And I have to do it in Mongolian this time.  Ahhh!!

Friday was good.  We did our weekly plan and then taught and visited people.  At the end of the day, we went to a ward member's house, and they were celebrating a birthday!  We ate watermelon and apples and meat and cake!  No Mongolian meal can be considered a meal without meat.  And the fruit is such a treat! :)  I loved Friday!

Saturday was so awesome!  Two sisters came from UB to check on the work and just to help us out.  They left this morning.  THeir visit was short, but it was jam packed with exactly what I needed to help me.  We picked them up and had pancakes for breakfast and just talked.  It was so good!  Then, we had a branch activity at the river.  We had a Mini Olympics, and it was a great success.  Lots of people came.  The weather was beautiful, and people really got to know each other.  The games were 3 legged races, sack races, and other team games.  After the games we went home and studied.  During companionship study, we all sat down and talked about how we could better help the people and make a bigger difference.  It helped me really think about all of the little things and making sure my purpose is clear.  And we are on the right track!  So that's a relief! :)

Yesterday was maybe the best day of my mission so far.  We had church, and it was really good.  I was Sister Wilkins' companion for the day, and it felt just like old times! :)  She had me plan our lessons and she added some really good insights during the study time.  For one of the lesson plans, I couldn't really decide the direction I wanted to take.  During personal study, I found 3 stories in the Book of Mormon that could work, but I just couldn't decide.  Then she said, "Well, let's pray about it and you can choose one story and that's what we'll go with unless the Spirit directs otherwise."  I prayed and picked a story.  Then we went out and taught.  And we talked about everything, and she gave me some great advice.  She told me to get over my fear of looking dumb and just talk!  She had me do most of the talking.  Like when we walked into the gers, I had to start all the conversations and everything.  And I did it!  I spoke in Mongolian!  And people understood me, and I felt so connected to the people.  I felt my love grow for them in a matter of minutes.  And then I directed the lessons.  I asked for opening and closing prayers.  I asked questions.  And when I didn't understand, I said, "I don't understand" instead of just waiting for the lesson to be over and asking later what happened.  I felt connected!  And it felt so good!  I also felt the Spirit working through me.  I felt like God was telling me what to say instead of me just reading a script I wrote.  And the Spirit was strong.  And I was bold and told people things I would have never asked or said if I was coming up with the sentences.  I felt directed by the Spirit.  I felt like a missionary.  At the end of the day, Sister Wilkins told me how much I've grown.  And then we talked a lot about my stresses.  And she gave me such good advice.  I feel like my burdens have been lifted as I have relied more on the Savior.  And I feel so much relief as I remember that this is not my work.  This is God's work.  And I'm just so blessed to be a part of it.

This morning, we woke up and hiked a little mountain (it took about 10 minutes to hike) and then the Sisters had to leave for the airport.  I already miss them, but I just feel so good!  I feel like I'm ready to work harder and help more people.  I feel better about getting out of my comfort zone because I'm here doing what I'm doing because I love the Lord.  And that's what matters most.  

I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and love!

Sister Bottorff

Birthday presents from home!

I love goodies!

I love birthday hugs

My missionary trainer came to visit

Mischa and the Bear