Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 52 - Happy Christmas!

I love the Christmas season, and this Christmas has been so wonderful! :)  Thank you to everyone who made it so special! :)

Tuesday was really fun because we went down to see my new member friend in Unur who is going to make us traditional Mongolian clothing.  We met up with Sister Brezenski and Sister Gantsetseg and went to the fabric place.  It's basically a huge store with little booths where there are fabric vendors.  I was so stressed.  Picking out fabric and making it coordinate and fitting it in my budget was stressful.  More stressful than missionary training!  But I bought some fabric that I really like.  I can't remember now what it looks like, but I'm trying not to let it stress me out!  haha  We then got some well earned KFC. Our appointment for the night couldn't make it.  Luckily, the fabric has been purchased and I can calm myself down. ha!

On Wednesday we visited a few people and it was great!  We met with a sister who will get baptized in a few weeks.  She taught US about faith, repentance, baptism, the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  She is so prepared and excited for her baptism! :)  

Thursday we taught English at the university all day - well, kinda.  We taught from 10-12, then left for a Christmas party for the foreign staff at our school! :)  It was a real party!!!  Sister Hansen was there!  We ate at a FANCY Chinese hot pot restaurant and I had 2 milkshakes.  Is that overboard?  It was just so good!  After the lunch we went back to school. About 2 people came, but that was ok!  We had a great time!  Afterward we rushed home and ate a really quick dinner and then called the people we were supposed to meet, but they said that they couldn't meet.  By then it was too late to schedule a different appointment so we just got some other stuff done - like studies!  That's important! :)

Friday was such a happy day because we were supposed to teach English all day but two people came for the first 30 minutes, and NOBODY came the rest of the day.  I caught up on some journaling and we played UNO and other fun games to pass the time.  There's always plenty to do!  That night, we had a baptism!  A sweet little 8 year old got baptized!  We had the opportunity to teach her, and the baptism was wonderful.  She said the opening prayer at her own baptism!  And her mom gave a beautiful talk and she cried as she bore her testimony after she was baptized.  I loved every second. And I felt so blessed to be a part.  She came up afterward and gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.  I love this little girl! :)

Christmas Eve was Saturday!  We did our weekly plan and baked while we planned - it was so fun!  It got me in the Christmas spirit.  Then we attended our ward Christmas party where they had a movie playing and I tried not to watch it. It was a youtube thing like Kid History or something like that.  It was interesting.  I heard that they had a Christmas program later, but we couldn't stay because we had to head to Unur for a baptism.  The only problem was that we found out that the baptism was cancelled.  We were already on our way so we just went down anyway.  We acted out the nativity with the sisters from Unur and Songino! :)  And ate pizza!  And it was so happy!  When we got home, we read Luke 2 and went to bed early. :)

Christmas day was absolutely magical.  The Spirit of Christmas was definitely present! :) We woke up and had cinnamon rolls and scrambled eggs for breakfast and then headed to the church where we had a district meeting followed by church services.  My new favorite 8 year old received the the Holy Ghost.  And that was a great gift! :)  In the Gospel Principles class, we ate cupcakes and watched Christmas Mormon Messages!  I felt so happy!!  I love the one about a Russian shoemaker who sees Christ as he serves those around him.  I have seen that in my life.  As I serve and take the small opportunities to help others, I find myself closer to the Savior.  The day got even better when we went home and carolers came and sang Silent Night.  It truly sounded like angels.  And I felt so loved.  It was all topped off when we had a dinner party with my MTC group sisters!  It was perfect!  I made rolls and others made jello and turkey and potatoes and salad!  It was JUST like home! :)  I loved Christmas!!!!

But Christmas didn't end there!  Because I got to Skype with my family!  I was in heaven!  I am so blessed!!!  It was the fastest, but best, 40 minutes of my entire Season!  And 8 months since we Skyped last! :) I love the Christmas season!  I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  Mongolia is a beautiful place to be!!  I love you all!

Merry Christmas!

Sister Bottorff

Cinnamon rolls and eggs - wonderful!

Can it be? Too much Christmas?

These beautiful young women sang Silent Night for us.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Week 51 - It's Christmas time!

Holy Cow!  Life is crazy busy and I can't believe Christmas is coming so soon - less than a week away!! I'm not too far from my year mark! Whoah!

This week was so fun!  On Monday we had a family home evening with a cute family in the ward.  We played UNO and shared our testimonies.  That is one of my favorite family home evenings because I love hearing the testimonies people have to share.  They are so powerful - I am strengthened every time I hear a testimony.  And this family had amazing testimonies full of faith and strength.  

Tuesday we taught a wonderful little girl who will get baptized on Friday!  She is 8, and we are teaching her some of the lessons - she is so ready!  She is the cutest!  I will send pictures next week! :)  Then we had a family home evening with another family in our ward.  The mom is an investigator and her daughter is a returned missionary!  I love this family so so much!  We taught about Christ's birth.  It was hilarious because the mom kept asking really in-depth questions like "How did Mary get pregnant?"  And "why did they have to pay taxes?"  Luckily her daughter could handle those questions.  Phew.  I don't know how to say all that in Mongolian!  They also made a delicious soup for us and we ate banana bread and talked.  This family is amazing, I'm telling you!  

On Wednesday we taught the 8 year girl old again and then my companion had trainings to do.  After we did training we went to visit another family in the ward.  We taught about Christmas again, which is really fun!  So many people don't know anything about Christmas, and it's so fun to feel the Christmas Spirit and teach people about Christ's birth for the first time.  

Thursday we taught English.  And let me tell you, it was so fun!  We brought a fun new game to play and people were begging to stay and play.  Well, they also wanted to stay in the lab to get more hours before their [progress] cards were due the next day.  One boy came in and said he lost his card, which is stamped for every hour they spend in the lab.  They needed 10 hours in the lab by the end of the semester, which was Friday.  And lots of them say they lost their card.  So I was feeling a little annoyed that everyone was coming in last minute to replace their lost card, but then he said he lost his WHOLE wallet.  Then I felt REALLY bad.  He was begging so much, and I was about to cave when suddenly this guy looked up at me and said, "Is Miss Sarah gonna show grace?"  I laughed so hard and then I showed grace by giving him a new card with stamps on it because I knew he had come before.  But then in thinking about it, I have just wanted more and more to be someone who shows love and grace.  That's what Christ and Christmas is all about.  

Zone Conference was on Friday.  It was awesome.  The talks were amazing and just what I needed to hear.  The lunch of chicken marinara and cake were also just what I needed.  And the white elephant gift exchange proved to be fruitful.  I got remote control cars that we are waiting until Christmas morning to use.  But it's a great gift.  Other gifts included Elder Fillmore's framed family picture and a dog paw that someone found in a ger district this summer and has stashed away.  Anyway....the day was so much fun and I love seeing everyone!

On Saturday NOBODY could meet.  Like I literally called everyone in our phone, but everyone is working long hours before the new year.  So that was a bummer.  But we met with the cute family again from Tuesday night, and it was amazing.  The daughter wasn't there, but we taught the Plan of Salvation and answered all of their questions.  It was a really big day for me.  I have noticed so much more than normal that the gift of tongues is real.  Before my trainee came, I worried because I felt like my Mongolian was so inadequate.  But since she came, I have realized how much God wants these people to know the Gospel.  He is giving me strength so that I can understand more than I ever could before and answer questions more than ever before.  His gifts are real and His promises are real.  This investigator is coming closer to Christ every day.  And I feel so blessed to watch her progress.  She is helping me to see what change and faith look like, and I hope to be more like her.  

Sunday we had church and I didn't have to translate! :)  Then we had a musical fireside with a local church choir, and it was awesome!  They are on youtube.  Look them up.  I think they are called BeOne Mongolia or something like that - so cool.  You'll love it!  They are on Mongolia's Got Talent.  And I loved the music and the spirit I felt.  I also loved it because I got to see my missionary friends!  Sister Hansen and Sister Olsen and then one of my Mongolian companion's best friends found me and said, “hi!”  I was so happy!  

Yesterday we had a family home evening with a ward member who made us soup and we taught her about tithing.  The lesson went really well. 

It's getting colder.  This week will bring the "9" which is the 9 coldest weeks of the year.  But it's not stopping us from spreading the Gospel!  I love my life! I love missionary work!  I'm so excited to have Christmas!  I love you all!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Sister Bottorff

Cinnabon! Life is wonderful!

N-n-n-nine degrees! It's never too cold for ice cream!

Warm or cold - it is so beautiful here :)

This is a New Year's decoration

We made our own Christmas tree for our apartment - yeah!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Week 50 - Transitions...

I'm not sure what happened this past week.  Maybe President felt a little sick one day...but I'm a TRAINER!  What? I still need to be trained myself!!! But anyway...I'll get back to that in a minute.  

On Tuesday we went out and had suuuper good food.  American food!  I had a burger with bacon and fries and a milkshake.  And I was in heaven! :)  Don't ever worry about me.  I have these little gems I've found all over UB.  UB takes good care of me! :)  Then we went home and packed Sister de Ruyter.  I got the transfer call that night.  Sister de Ruyter got transferred to America and I got a new trainee!!  Woah.  

Wednesday I went around with Sister D and got stuff ready for her.  We took pictures and went to lunch with her sponsor (who fed us this magical meal of Chinese food) and we talked.  Her sponsor and his wife are so smart and I pretended to understand all they were saying.  It was all in English but I haven't spoken English or heard English like that in a long time.  My typical conversations in English are either telling other missionaries funny stories or talking to my students loudly and clearly and suuuuper simply with huge hand motions.  Like this (while waving my arms around) "Hello!  Howww...arrrrre....youuuu??"  And then I go home and talk like that too.  So this lunch was pretty over my head.  But it was so fun and the food was lovely.  After lunch, Sister D had to move on to her leaving Mongolia stuff and I got to spend the night with Sister Guild, who is also training.  

On Thursday I did some trainer's trainings and then met my trainee!  She is super happy and fun and awesome!  Her name is Sister Shreeve and she's from Gilbert, Arizona.  She had to wait for her visa for 6 weeks, so she served in California!  And now she's here!  She's tall and has red hair!  And we get along great!  Which is really great because I have no idea what I'm doing.  It's weird to think about having to do the understanding and the bulk of the talking for the two of us.  But so far I haven't died.  And nobody has gotten offended or anything.  

Friday we taught some English and then we taught our first lesson together.  The cute little investigator taught us to make food and then she proceeded to teach us the entire first lesson.  Yes.  Normally we do the teaching, but she taught US!  She was awesome!  She wants to get baptized.  And I love her.  I'm so excited for her progress.  She's the one I taught in Hovd.  And I love her more and more every day.  She is progressing so well!  It was the perfect house to go to for my first lesson with my new companion! :)  

On Saturday we planned for the week and got my poor companion a coat.  The poor thing didn't have one and she borrowed one that turned out to not be warm.  So we got her a coat because I couldn't let her freeze in this cold.  And she was such a good sport for never saying anything about being freezing.  But then I finally got it out of her and took her and got a warm coat.  She's SO much warmer and happier!  Phew!  Training is crazy.  I bargained with the people to get her a good coat.  And we had a blast.  And we made new friends at the store.  And I learned that perhaps I can be a little more self sufficient than I thought I could be.  So thank goodness for prayer and amazing previous companions who helped me so much! 

Yesterday was church.  And I translated for the senior couple and it went well.  We made more friends and lots of people are offering to go with us to lessons!  I feel so incredibly blessed!  That kind of thing doesn't happen every day, so I'm just so grateful it's happening now, when I have a cute new trainee!  She loves Mongolia and the people!  

I've been learning a lot about love.  While I sometimes have moments where I freak out and wonder how the heck I'm supposed to get myself and a new trainee around UB, I take a second and stop to think about how much I love these people.  When I forget about my worries and just focus on love, everything works out and my problems seem to be taken care of.  Love is the reason for happiness.  It's through love that we have a Savior.  If Christ had said, "I think the task of redeeming everyone is too hard.  I don't think I can do this big thing.  Can I do hard things?  Why do I have to do hard things?" then we would never be able to repent and be truly happy.  Instead, Christ loved us so much that He turned outward and thought first of each one of us, knowing that through doing this hard thing, we could all be happy.  And that's what I'm trying to do.  Turn outward.  Like Christ.  And as I do that, I find myself so blessed.  And happy!  And I realize that God has given me everything I need to do all the things I've  been asked to do.  

As far as Lighting the World, I haven't been doing everything in order, but I've noticed that I've been so happy as I consciously make an effort to Light the World.  I lifted burdens as I moved my companions in and out of my apartment.  I have done other little things every day to try to be more like Christ, and as I do so, my life is happier! 

If you aren't doing the Light the World activities, I'd encourage you to just do a little act of service every day.  And if you are doing Light the World, you should keep doing it!  It makes me so happy!  

I love you all! I hope everything is great back home!  Keep up the service and the turning outward.  It's the best way to get into the Christmas Spirit!


Sister Bottorff

I had no idea that Indian food was so good!

It's the little things that make a difference...

The three musketeers - one for all and all for one!

Sister Shreeve, Sister Me, and Sister's Leaving

Friday, December 9, 2016

Week 49 - Light the World!!

It's December, and I'm so happy because Christmas is coming! :)  

This time of year has been so interesting for me.  I wondered if I would be able to get into the spirit of Christmas in a country where some people have never heard Christ's name.  But I have been amazed as I have been able to reflect on Christ and try to emulate Him that the spirit of Christmas is in my heart more than it has been previously.  I don't have time to go shopping for everyone but I've been able to work on the awesome daily challenges given by this year.  They encourage us to "Light the World" with Christ's light by doing something every day to be like Him.  I'm going to do it every day.  You should, too!  It's a great way to really feel the spirit of Christ this season.   I've been working on it, and I'll report back on what I did, but you should email me with ways you lit the world too! :)  I'll get a new companion this week, so I'm going to start over with her! I'm so excited!!!

On Tuesday I got to go to the historical museum of Mongolia.  It was amazing!  I loved learning about the history of Mongolia.  It's fascinating to see connections between Mongolians and Native Americans.  Later I was able to have dinner with Sister Harper!  It was a blast to talk with her!  I love my mission president's wife - she’s amazing!!  She's such a good example of being a strong woman who is dedicated to serving others.  Then we participated in family home evening at a member's house.  The sister we visited just got home from her mission and all of her family was so nice.  One of the men there is a professional announcer for the Naadaam festival, and it was so cool to hear him.  It was a mix between an auctioneer and a professional singer.  It was so cool! :)  

Wednesday and Friday were English days.  We just taught and taught and taught.  But it was fun, and on Friday we went to Burger King for lunch.  The ice cream made it all worth it.  

On Thursday we went to Unur and saw a member there that my companion and I love dearly!  She fed us buuz and we had a great visit.  Later we realized we forgot our phone at home, so we went to the Unur sisters and they took care of us until we could get our phone the next day.  So we had a really fun sleepover that night and then on Friday morning, we got the phone situation all worked out without being away from a phone.  Sooner or later we will stop having phone issues!  ha

Saturday was amazing because we went to Unur again for a baptism!  My very first new member's grandma and cousin got baptized, along with the son of the woman who got baptized a couple of weeks ago.  It was awesome!  Sister Wilkins got to skype in, and it was so good to see her!  The only hiccup of the evening was that the treats never came, so after the actual baptism, Sister Rue and I ran as fast as we could over to the little corner store and bought treats for everyone.  We made it back in record time and arrived back at the church before they were all re-dressed in dry clothes! :)  We stayed again in Unur that night after having KFC! :)  

Sunday we had stake conference.  The first stake conference of the stake!  I got to be here for the creation of the stake in May and now the first conference of the stake! :)  It was so fun, and I played with the 4 year old girl who sat next to me.  Like the whole time.  And I loved it.  She was so cute!  And I scrounged around my bag and found some fun stuff for her to play with!  I miss being with kids!  That night, we taught a lesson to our investigator!  SHE taught US the 10 commandments in order and other principles of the Gospel. We invited her to be baptized at the end of February, but she said that would be too far away!  So we will be teaching her all the lessons as soon as we can! :)  I'm so excited!  

So many good things are happening!  Our apartment is ready for Christmas!  It's also ready for transfers.  My companion leaves so soon!  She's all packed.  And she's helped me get ready for transfers by prepping the apartment for anther missionary to move in.  Whoever my new companion is will love the apartment!  It's so clean and pretty.  And there are Christmas lights.  

Anyway, life is good!  I love my mission!  The transfer call comes out tonight.  I'll have a new companion next week!!! AHHH!!! It's gonna be fun! :)  

So I hope you all have a great week! And Light the World with me.  I'll light Mongolia and you should light wherever you are! :)  Love you!

Sister Bottorff

Snow on gers..

Us in a ger!