Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Week 48 - Happy Thanksgiving!


This week was so fun! I never thought a mission could be so fun! :)  Don't worry though, we are working hard while we have our fun! :)  

So my companion and I were told that the buses to our area would be closed because of the cold, so we didn't go out on Tuesday.  Instead, we worked at home on our area book (updating and organizing our lists of people) and got lots of other stuff done.  

On Wednesday we ventured out again and had a blast!  There is a cute little grandma in our ward who lives really far away - deep in a ger district.  She and her husband have difficulty getting to church, but we love to visit her.  When they cannot attend church in person, they attend the phone branch - they can participate in Sunday meetings over the phone! She has some fun service projects for us! :)  This time we went with the American Denj sisters (they run the phone branch) to her house where we shoveled snow.  We laughed so hard when her walkway was all shoveled and she asked us to bury the trees she planted this summer, which are the sizes of small bushes.  It was hilarious!  But it makes sense that the snow will melt in the spring and water the trees.  It was just funny at the time to be there and bury trees.  But I made a snow angel and that made me happy!:)

THURSDAY WAS THANKSGIVING!  And it was something to celebrate!  Sister Rue and I made a really awesome thankful turkey for language study.  We tried to draw pictures so that they could be understood at home...so we'll see how good your Mongolian is!  And also how good our art skills are! :)  That was followed by a lovely lunch with the sisters in my zone.  We had chicken and gravy and mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes and stuffing.  I made rolls, too, which were a big hit! :)  I was in heaven with all the food and the great company! :)  

Friday we started the fun jaunt around UB to meet with Sister Rue's people from past areas.  I am going to be in heaven the next two weeks as we continue doing that.  I get to meet the best of the best at these trips!  The people are amazing! They are so humble and kind.  Like I walked into a ger behind Sister Rue and a 14 year old just gasped and ran to me and said hello!  She didn't know that the two of us were companions, and she was so surprised to see me.  Then I said hi and she gushed over my Mongolian.  Literally after saying Hi.  And then they treated us to a beautiful dinner the mom made, and then they insisted I come over during the holiday in February. 

Saturday our jaunt continued in my first area, UNUR!  I love that place!  We visited with the cutest people who all remembered my name!  One even knew my WHOLE name.  I miss those people.  They are so nice, and it was so fun to be able to talk more to them!  I can't wait to see them again in the coming months!  I missed the mountain hiking that we did there.  The views are just breathtaking from the tops of the ger district mountains.  Later in the day we went to visit Batchimeg, a new member that I taught a little in Unur.  And her family was so nice to help us find our next appointment.  They literally walked with us the whole way.  And it was cold outside.  The 16 year old daughter walked arm in arm with me so that I didn't slip. And she was so patient with my Mongolian, but we had a great conversation!  I love the people here! :) After the visits, we had dinner with the sister missionaries in Unur and ended up staying the night with them.  It was a blast!  Sister Brezenski made apple buuz and Sister Olsen and I jammed out to her Christmas music.  

On Sunday we had church and then came home to no power.  We ended up staying the night at the American Denj sister's apartment that night.  Luckily it was still light enough to get an overnight bag packed.  And I pulled out my trusty head lamp when it got too dark.

When we got back in the morning, the power was still out.  But only in our apartment.  So we made some phone calls and it magically got turned back on!  The only problem was that our ice box freezer melted in the meantime.  And so we did some of that fun project yesterday, along with finishing up other mission projects.  Then, we went to Shangri La to celebrate Sister Tao's birthday.  It's a buffet in the nicest hotel I've ever seen.  And the food was to die for.  Like I had a steak and creme brule.  I was in heaven!  

So while this week was crazy, I felt so grateful!  I have a warm house and good food to eat.  I have support and love coming from both ends of the world.  I have the Gospel in my life that helps me to be happy despite unhappy times.  I have a Savior who gave His life so that I can be happy and live with God again.  And I have the opportunity to share that with the people in the most beautiful place.  

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!  


Sister Bottorff

Kneading dough for knot rolls

Look at this!


Our thankful turkey

A beautiful sunset

The nights do get smoggy

A snowy day in a get district

A frozen city-scape

And a beautiful family

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Week 47 - Great times and wonderful people!

I can't believe it!!  The time is going faster and faster as my companion prepares to leave in only 2ish weeks!  There's lots to buy and do and people to visit!  Our to-do list is long and so fun!  This week will be packed again.  But it's such a blast!  

So on Tuesday, we went to the huge Chinggis Khan statue just out of the city limits.  It was a total blast!  I'll send pictures!  We dressed up in Mongolian clothes, checked out the museum downstairs, and walked around the property.  We brought snacks with us and ate cookies all day.  (Sorry mom! I'll be healthier this week.)  And while it was slightly colder than a normal winter Colorado day, it was so beautiful and fun to get out to the countryside again!  I love the rolling hills of Mongolia!  And they were all snow covered, so I was basically in a painting.  

Wednesday was super fun because we taught an 8 year old girl.  Her mom is a member and wants us to teach her the missionary lessons before she gets baptized.  She is so sharp and fun and adorable.  It's going to be so much fun to teach her.  Then we met with our investigator and worked on preparing her for baptism.  I'm so excited!  We have some great things happening in the Bayanzurkh ward! :)

On Thursday we planned and had a super fun evening because we visited a family that I love!  The mom was my investigator in Hovd and I about died of joy when I found out she moved into my ward!  And her cute daughter recently returned from her mission, so we had a super awesome time together talking and getting to know each other.  We shared a scripture about how Christ leads our lives.  I have seen that every day.  When I look for it, God is there with me and helping me make decisions.  I can't go wrong following, even though it may seem to make no sense.  Instead of doubting, I can just have faith that God is in charge and through His infinite wisdom He will lead me, no matter how unconventional the path may seem to me, to the best outcome.  I love the Gospel! 

Friday was my English day.  Funny story time!  I asked if anyone had any allergies and someone said, "YES!"  I asked what she was allergic to and she said, "The sun."  I asked some questions and it turns out that when she is in the heat of the day for 2-3 hours her skin has an allergic reaction that causes her skin to bubble and turn red.  I tried not to laugh and tell her that she was just getting sun burned.  Instead I told her I had the same allergy!  What are the chances??   After English, we went to the top of the Blue Sky Hotel to check out the view!  We weren't there long, but we made friends with a worker and the view was incredible.  We just spent a minute or two just in awe of the traffic and snow and the vastness of the city.  I feel that when I fly, too.  I just love taking a second to slow down and watch everything from above.  It makes me feel so happy!  And then we had dinner at a cute little restaurant with really super delicious milk shakes.  I have asked everyone and their mom about where to go, and it turns out Millies is the place to go!  I love their shakes!  I'll be back. 

Friday night started a string of craziness.  We didn't realize it until later, but we forgot to text that we had gotten home (oops) and found out when we remembered to text, that our phone got locked.  Like we couldn't use it.  So we borrowed the phone from our super nice neighbor and worked everything out.  We left first thing Saturday morning and hung out with the Sister Training Leaders (STLs).  They made sure we were safe and not phone-less.  But the phone place was closed Saturday and Sunday.  So we were with them all day Saturday and Sunday. It was really super fun, though! :)  We had Pizza Hut and they took such good care of us! :)  

Sunday was awesome!  We spoke in the long distance branch!  And I wasn't even cold on my way to church, despite the temperature dropping to -35!  Yay!  The cold is settling in early this winter.  But my clothes are awesome and warm!  The branch is so cute!  And I can't express how good it was to hear the sacrament prayers in English again.  And I spoke about studying scriptures.  I suggested choosing a specific time and keeping a study journal and applying what they read.  I do that and it works! :)  Then we had regular church and then dinner with the Sutphins!  I love them!  They made a SUPER delicious horse meat meatloaf.  And cookies for dessert!  They spoiled us big-time! :)  

On Monday, Sister Rue and I got to teach at her Kindergarten together.  And I basically died because the kids were so cute.  They spoke such good English and I can't even describe how precious they are.  Then we got the phone fixed and everything went so smoothly!  Life is good!  We are trying to stay warm!  I feel so warm when I'm outside but then when I take my gloves off to make a phone call, I realize that it's actually super cold.  And my cheeks get red.  When we walk inside, I feel like I have to defrost my face.  But it's all good.  I love my mission, and these are just the fun little details of my everyday life! :)  

This week is going to be crazy again, but I love it!  And Thanksgiving is upon us and I am feeling incredibly grateful! What is better than a life of family and friends and love and joy?  Even through the trials, because of Jesus Christ, I feel the love and joy and support from loved ones as I work.  I love my mission!


Sister Bottorff

Us on a bus!

The bus (where is everyone else?)

This is an enormous statue!

The view from the top

What's a blog post without some wildlife?

With wonderful little children...

With wonderful big kids!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Week 46 - Frozen cheeks and warm hearts

I'm wondering where all my time is going!  It's been another week but it feels like a few days.  It's been a great week!  Last Tuesday my companion got sick, so I got some stuff done around the house.  I hate to admit that my journal is not where I want it to be, so I caught up on entries.  It was fun to sit down and remember the good times and the miracles and record them.  I'm still working on catching up.  But it was awesome!  I also got a package!  And I couldn't contain myself. All the taco seasoning and the shirts and cake mixes were too much! Thanks mom and dad!!

Wednesday and Friday were English days.  So we stayed busy and I continued being a mime while talking in a language nobody understands.  It's always an adventure.  I try to mix things up, and I talked about how the immune system is like Chinggis Khan defending Mongolia.  The students thought it was so funny!  And it was fun for me, too.  

Thursday was weekly plan and a zone training.  It was really good.  We talked about the importance of working with the members.  They have talents and abilities and backgrounds that can help us teach and to bring others to Christ.  I love the members in Mongolia!  They are amazing!  They are so strong and humble and willing to help!

On Saturday I about died of happiness.  Well, after getting my flu shot I about died of happiness.  We made up our p-day hours and got fabric for my companion.  We went down to Unur, my first area, and our new member helped us.  I loved every second!  I loved being with her!!!  She is doing so well, and she's basically the best!  Then, we went to another investigator's house in Unur to drop off some material.  Well, the daughter got baptized right after I went to Hovd, and now others in her family are interested in the Gospel.  I loved seeing them again!  It's been since June, and I'm so excited I got to see them!  I felt like I was at home again.  

Sunday was a great day of church.  And there was a blizzard.  And it was awesome!  It's definitely getting colder now.  My cheeks hurt a little when I'm out, but I heard it was only -11 yesterday morning, so it's hardly cold enough to be called "cold."  

Yesterday we had a super fun lunch with some of the sisters.  Sister Anriunzaya got her visa, so we had lunch yesterday and she left this morning.  She's so ready!  She'll be so great!  I'm so excited for her!  Watch out, San Francisco!!  We also got to go to a ward member's house.  It was so fun!  We shared a scripture about how the Lord leads us.  And it's so true.  God is in charge.  He leads us through all things if we just turn to Him. I have seen that daily on my mission.  And just because I'm a missionary doesn't mean the blessings of guidance are only for missionaries.  I love the Gospel!  God loves us all equally and just wants to bless us.  He pours out blessings, too.  Then last night Sister Jensen and Sister Brezenski came over and we had a birthday dinner and cake for Sister Brezenski!  It was a blast! 

Today we are headed off to see the big statue of Chinggis Khan!  Should be fun!  being a missionary is the best thing I've ever done.  It's been so easy to love people.  I never thought I could love this way.  I want only the best for these people, and I am learning more and more about how God loves us.  I love the Mongolian people.  And I love Mongolia!  Even with a frozen face.  But the things that matter most to us require sacrifice.  I'm sacrificing a defrosted face.  And it's only a small price to pay for this amazing work.  I love my life!  And I love you all! Thank you for your support and love!

Sister Bottorff

Chillin' with my companion over a pizza

Just chillin' with my companion

No defrosters for the bus windows

It really is beautiful after a snow

A beautiful family in there ger

Happy Birthday, Sister Brezenski!

Yay for cake mixes and other goodies!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Week 45 - It's November, cold, and wonderful!

It's November!  And I can't believe it!  Halloween was a weird blur because I saw like 2 Mongolians on buses with face paint and I got confused before I realized it was Halloween.  Haha  Some Mongolians celebrate it, I guess, but most don't.  

Mongolia is beautiful and the weather is cold now.  But still not as cold as it will end up being in December and January.  But I'm trying to wear as few layers as possible.  My companion says you can do that your first winter because you don't know what it will really be like yet.  haha  It's gonna get cold.  But now it just feels like the cold part of a Colorado winter.  

There is a lot to see when we are out on the streets.  Lots of little shops in trailer type buildings that sell cookies and sodas and stuff.  I'm a sucker for the cookies.  The ones with maroon and yellow wrapping.  There is always a lot of traffic and honking and breaks squealing.  It snowed a couple of days ago, and the snow turns to ice and they have street sweeper people who break up the ice and clear off the sidewalks.  It's the reason I haven't fallen yet.  Now, the ger districts smell like coal, and the pollution is getting progressively worse.  But we wear our masks, and that is a good thing.  I've almost gone through my first one.  Sometime next week I'll have to replace it.  People stare at me.  They usually have open mouths and wide eyes.  There are certainly foreigners that walk around, but some people just stare like I'm the first person they've ever seen who has blonde hair.  And now that my companion has red curly hair it's just magnified! :)  It's always fun to go outside.  :)  

My conversational Mongolian is coming along!  I can ask simple questions like "what did you do today" or about families or work.  Sometimes I time my conversations with taxi drivers to start when I feel like there's enough time to fill before they drop me off without running out of questions.  It's an art.  And usually I can keep up with their answers.  Usually the key to my language success is kind of being in control of the conversation.  But it usually works.  I ask the questions and can predict what they'll say to an extent and then keep up that way.  If I'm not in control of the conversation there's no telling what I'll get or not get.  It's kinda 50/50 at this point.  But people don't talk slower for the most part.  They just hear me say "Hello" in Mongolian and start going.  So it's kinda fun.  It's like a game to me! :) 

Life is good!  I love being here!  Serving the Mongolian people makes me truly happy!  I love you all!

Sister Bottorff

A beautiful friend!

Our new coats and fashion accessories :)

Me and my companion with a wonderful couple

I'll be warm for Christmas!!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Week 44 - The winds of change...

Well some changes happened, but life is still so good!  

On Monday I bought my big winter coat and boots.  That was fun.  And I think I got what I needed - thank goodness!  Then we ate pizza and had a super cute family home evening with a member and her kids.  So basically Monday was great!  It ended with beautiful snow and no wind, so as I was walking home, I counted that as one of my blessings!  

Tuesday was teaching English all day.  And then Sister Guild's investigator from her old ward got baptized, so we got to go!  We finished English just in time to eat at Burger King and go to the baptism.  It was so funny because they asked me to lead the music.  After the sister got baptized and was changing into dry clothes, I conducted hymns until she changed.  Let's just say my arm got a really good workout that night.  Haha  But it was so fun to see everyone and witness such a miracle!  Baptisms are amazing!  That night, we found out about transfers!  I found out I'd be with Sister de Ruyter, who came to visit me in Hovd!  So that was great news!  I was sad not to be with Sister Guild anymore, but Sister Guild and I went home and had ice cream to drown our sorrows! :)

On Wednesday we visited people that Sister Guild wanted to say goodbye to.  It was really fun to go around and teach lessons and spend my last day with her in service.  We love our people!  

On Thursday I was with my old companion, Sister Munkhgerel, who, because of a long string of events, ended up needing a companion and so did I!  So we visited a girl that she taught when she served in my ward a few months ago!  I loved it!  That afternoon I was with a different Mongolian sister who served in my ward.  We visited a sister in the ward together and then were companions for the night.  It was a crazy day with 3 companions, but I had a blast!  

Friday we moved Sister de Ruyter into my apartment!  And helped others move, too!  It was a crazy busy day!  But there isn't really more to say about it - haha.  Sorry!  

Saturday was amazing because we had a Sisters’ Conference with all the sisters in the mission.  We all got together and shared our testimonies.  President Harper spoke about how our minds are like gardens.  We need to prune them and get the weeds out.  Otherwise bad thoughts will come in and take over, leaving us so sad.  So that was really good!  We got to socialize and eat French Dip sandwiches for lunch.  I was in heaven.  Then, we went home and had a huge weekly planning session where I told Sister R about all the people in our ward.  

Yesterday was so good because church was really good.  I actually understood a fair amount, and Sister R translated and I was in heaven! :)  We taught our investigator last night, and the Spirit was so strong.  We actually talked about feeling the Spirit.  And it was so good!  She is progressing, and I hope she can get baptized soon.  I love her, and she knows it's true.  

I love the Gospel!  It eases burdens and makes people happy.  I have seen it work in my life and in the lives of countless others, even in the past 9 months alone.  I love you all and hope you are well!

Sister Bottorff

Walking and working with Sister Guild

I even found time to do my civic duty :)

I love Mongolia...

And lunch with Sister Monkhgerel!