Friday, April 28, 2017

Week 69 - Kung Fu Panda and a head named Clyde...

This week was pretty eventful!  I'll just tell you the stories…

Tuesday afternoon we went to the Museum of Mongola.  It was really cool to see the displays of the history of Mongolia.  It wasn't long ago that they became a free nation, and their history is rich.  When we came out of the museum, the sky was orange.  It looked polluted, but it was all orange.  And after about a minute outside, I touched my face, and a layer of dirt came off.  Gross.  But the sky was ORANGE!  It was so cool!  We tried not to stay out in it long, so we got pizza and stopped by a market and picked up a dragon fruit.  (My companion sang a new Drake song, and we renamed it a Drake-n-fruit.)  We skipped out on the pig head that was staring at us on the meat counter.  We just thought it might be a pain to get him home.  But don't worry!  Because we got another head.  My companion wanted to try a sheep head (in the privacy of our apartment).  So, since I'm the best companion any missionary could ask for, we went yesterday to the meat market and I got her a sheep head.  And we named him Clyde. It was probably one of the funniest moments watching my vegetarian companion (who is eating meat here at member's houses) watch me cut the skin off of Clyde's face. And she ate a little of every part.  The tongue was her favorite! :)  The head was cooked before we bought him, so it just required a quick 2 minutes in the microwave!  Easiest lunch I've ever made! :) Clyde lived a good life and was good to us.  

Another great time this week was going to the Stake President's house for dinner.  His family is the best!  And his little 2 year old son is a genius.  He counts, in English, to 100, and then he counts from 100 to 1.  He can also recognize and write his numbers.  I thought my little heart would melt.  And it did.  But luckily I've recovered a little and have the strength to go on.  

On Thursday we decided to do companionship study in the little coffee shop by our house.  The best part was the berry bingsu stuff we bought.  It's a huge cup of layers of shaved ice, cream stuff, and berries.  It's all topped with ice cream.  And berry syrup.  It's basically heaven in a cup.  And I'm guilty of going back yesterday and getting one with Oreos.  Oops.  Sorrynotsorry. We looked out the window of the coffee shop after eating the berry goodness only to find a parade happening!  So we quickly packed up our stuff and headed out to see everyone!  I'm still not sure why the parade happened.  But I do know that I met Kung Fu Panda and watched lots and lots of traffic all backed up waiting for the parade to end!  It was a great time!

I also taught English.  That was a good time.  We stocked up on chips and cookies.  And the students are adorable as ever.  The most exciting thing that happened was that we walked into the lab only to find our 15 or so tables missing.  So we just accepted the fact that they must have rearranged.  And then half-way through one of our lessons, people started randomly bringing back tables.  5 or so every 10 minutes - haha.  The school closed early, so we headed out early! :)  

I met up with Sister Hansen and had a great split with her!  It was like being back in the MTC minus the being stuck in one building part! :)  She had to help out with a music thing, so we got to stay at the church for a while and play music.  I was in heaven!  In the end, I was asked me to play the piano in stake conference coming up.  Should be a blast!  I'll play the hymns and accompany the choir in 2 musical numbers.  

My time with Sister Hansen was a blast!  Basically, we spent our 24 hours talking non-stop - minus the 8 hours of sleep and the 1 hour of personal study.  It still wasn't quite enough, but we made do with what we had.  Together we went to district meeting and did the exercise where we went out for 40 minutes just to talk with people.  Turns out I'm really awkward and can't talk to random strangers very well.  Oops.  Gotta work on that.  But we rewarded ourselves with KFC and then attended a baptism that night for a girl I taught when I was in Han Uul.  During the baptism, I thought about the changes she's made and the changes her membership in the Church will make over the course of her life.  These changes are all for the best.  And as I thought about it, I wondered what causes all of this change.  Change is hard.  And she did it.  But while thinking about it, I kept coming back to the idea that we change when we feel God's love.  Other sources, can, of course, change us.  But the driving force behind good changes is love.  She felt it that day.  And so did I.  I feel it every day.  And I'm so very grateful.

In other news, my companion and I are teaching the sweetest family, and they accepted the invitation to be baptized.  I'm so excited for them.  As I teach them, I can't help but feel God's love for them.  They are such a good family, and I know that through living the Gospel, they will be so much happier.  I love the Gospel!  

Other good moments this week were plentiful.  One was when we were walking back from an appointment and we were laughing really hard.  I realized I had to go to the bathroom and then I told my companion not to make me laugh anymore.  But then she proceeded to tell me all these stories about people wetting themselves and then we were standing on the side of the road coming pretty close, ourselves.  We made it safely, though.  I also ate spicy food, and I didn't cry or want my mouth to fall off.  Still don't love it, but the gift of eating is real.  

So many good things happened this week!  I hope you had a great week, too!  Love you!

Sister Bottorff

I love dragon fruit

Shaved ice, cream, berries, ice cream, and berry juice - wonderful!

Looking for people to talk with...

Yes, it's really Po!

Joyful reunion!

The study area in our apartment

This is Clyde

Clyde was so good to us!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Week 68 - Tender mercies abound

Well this week was a total blast.  I keep thinking my mission is supposed to be harder, but it turns out more and more fun.  We sister missionaries went to the local photo studio and hd a bunch of pictures made.  Some were with members of my MTC group, some were taken with my two trainees, and some were with my companion.  What fun!  The photo studio people fixed us up and made us look great. I love them.  The people who work at the studio are our new best friends. After the photo session, we left the studio and headed to lunch at Broadway.  The company and the food were so great.  There's never enough time to catch up with everyone, but we sure take what we can get!  After lunch Sister Olsen, Sister Shreeve, my companion, and I did a statue tour of UB.  The statues here are pretty great, and it was the perfect end to the perfect P-Day.  That night we had a good lesson with our new member.  

Wednesday we visited our sweet grandma.  She gave me my hand massage as she talked for an hour, nonstop, about things I couldn't understand.  Literally I understood about one word, but I can't help but love her. 

My companion had an English training on Thursday at the church.  When we got there, we found that the pictures from Tuesday were in our mailbox.  We took so many pictures that we couldn't pick them up that day, so you can imagine our joy when we finally saw the finished product! :)

Friday we taught English and people came during all the sessions.  They are seriously adorable 16-18 year olds who are obsessed with anything we do and say.  I just think they're cute! :)  We went to the mission doctor's house for dinner, and it was the best!  We ate Asian chicken and rolls and pineapple upside down cake for dessert.  And then we retired to the sitting room where he gave us a presentation about health practices that are and are not approved for when we get sick on our mission.  He leaves in a couple of weeks, so he was just taking necessary precautions to help us live during the month or so while we wait for the new doctor to arrive.  He's so nice! :)  

On Saturday we got to go to a baptism for one of our elder's investigators.  I love baptisms.  The investigator was so ready, and it was so happy to see him progress and gain a testimony and then get baptized.  He looked so happy.  

Sunday was Easter!  My companion made me a beautiful Easter Egg and filled it with rhinestones.  I was the happiest girl in the world!  She is so nice! :)  I made cinnamon rolls for breakfast and we tried our best to make it feel like Easter.  Easter isn’t really celebrated in Mongolia. At church, my heart melted when I saw a 12 year old passing the sacrament and, his little brother came up to him and partake of the sacrament right off his tray.  And then the little boy held his brother's hand as he administered the sacrament to the rest of the congregation.  It made me think about how personal the sacrament is and how we can hold our Big Brother's hand as He helps us overcome trial and sin and hardships.  Christ is always walking hand in hand with us, if we let Him.  And it makes life so much sweeter. We didn't sing Easter songs, despite the fact that the Mongolian hymnbook has 2, but we came home and sang Easter hymns from my English hymnbook while we cooked eggplant lasagna for dinner! :)  I read about the resurrection of Christ during personal study.  I feel so blessed every day to know that my Savior lives today.  And it struck me that He appeared first to someone who originally had 7 devils.  Then the Savior cast them out from her, and they became close friends.  Then He appeared to her.  It comforted me to know that I can become closer friends with my Savior.  He loves me, despite my imperfections, and through His love and grace, He can continue to be my closest friend.  I love my Savior.

Yesterday we visited a sweet lady in the ward who just returned from Hawaii where her daughter is studying.  We had a nice visit and shared a scripture and talked about her trip.  But listen to this:  Before Sister Bollwinkel went home, I told her that she should go to Costco and get those mini peanut butter cups.  They were so good and I was craving them bigtime!  And then what did this sweet woman give me to eat at her house AND to take home?  You guessed it!  The very peanut butter cups I have been craving the last few weeks!  God is watching over me.  You might think that God, who has a TON of other, MUCH BIGGER, problems to deal with, might just let me live my life without those peanut butter cups.  It was kinda what I was expecting, and it was totally fine with me.  But then, in His infinite love, He sent them to me anyway, just because He knew it would make me happy.  That's how much God loves us.  He's in the slightest details of my life.  And yours.  Just look this week.  You'll find Him there.

Love you!

Sister Bottorff

My Easter egg!

In a dome with my companion

I feel somehow closer to home

Great friends!

This sweet sister warms my heart

Jumping for joy!

It takes a lot of people to keep KFC clean!

The city within the city

Some fun places we saw around town...

Monday, April 10, 2017

Week 67 - What a wonderful week!

I am loving and cherishing every day of my mission! This week is no exception.  I can't believe how fast time is flying, and I have less than 4 months until my return home.  I'm trying not to think about it because I love Monoglia so much.  I'm going to miss it!  But I'm making the most of every day.  And they have been so full and rewarding!  

On Monday we took a trip to the Gandan, the Buddhist temple!  My companion braved the huushuur stand and ate her first huushuur and buuz.  I was so proud!  We loved the Gandan.  The weather was perfect and I just love walking around.  My companion and I are equally obsessed with walking, so it's been perfect!  Then I showed her the Narantuul Zah, the black market, which is always fun.  The vendors are all outside, and they sell literally everything, from clothes to office supplies to furniture to groceries.  It's loud and dirty and fun and adventurous.  I love the zah!  

Tuesday we had an amazing zone conference.  We were fed spiritually (talking about helping people in the best ways possible) and physically (the chicken salad sandwiches on croissants hit the spot and the cream filled cupcakes just about did me in).  

On Wednesday we went to visit my favorite grandma.  Words were spoken on both ends and not understood.  But love was felt nonetheless.  She always holds both of my hands and massages them.  And it makes me never want to leave.  I love her!  That night we went to the bishop's house, and we started to teach his relatives.  A whole family - mom, dad, and their triplets! :)  It's basically the best thing ever.  And I feel so blessed!!  We taught them about prayer and how Heavenly Father answers.  I felt such love for them.  I think that's the biggest thing I've learned about on my mission.  My capacity to love has been increased.  I think I know now, more than before, what love really is.  And I feel it every day.  I feel it from God and those who love and support me.  And I feel it for others.  This is at the core of how God works.  And I love it so much.

Thursday afternoon we shared a message with a sweet member of the ward who struggles with health challenges.  It was our first visit to her house.  After an unexpected challenge with the first message we planned to share, I quickly chose a different message to share.  I picked a Mormon Message on her phone that was translated into Mongolian.  I couldn't see it while she watched it, but I watched the tears roll down her face. I felt an overwhelming sense of love for her.  More tangible than normal.  I can't quite explain it.  But it was a moment that I'll cherish.  

General conference exceeded my expectations.  It was absolutely amazing.  Every single talk was so perfect in every way.  Here are a few of my favorite things: 

Elder Weath Clayton said "We will never be alone if we CHOOSE to walk with Him."  Christ is always trying to walk with us, but we have to let Him.  

Elder Holland said that we need to come as we are but shouldn't plan to say as we are. I loved it because God loves us always, but He wants us to be better every day.  
Sister Burton's talk about the women who were certain in their testimonies really hit home.  
President Uchtdorf was spot on with his talk about love vs. fear.  God will never use fear to get us to follow Him.  He loves us and that motivates us to change.  I have seen that truth work miracles in my life and in the lives of those I love.  

Anyway, I love my mission.  It's fast, but time just flies when I have fun.  Missions are fun! I love my companion and my people and my ward.  And every day I find miracles that God rains down from Heaven just for me.  And I'm so grateful for every one of them.  

I love you!

Sister Bottorff

My companion's first huushuur and buuz - the first, but not the last!

In front of the Gandan...

At the Zah...

With an awesome family!