Monday, July 17, 2017

Week 81 - Naadam, a visit to my birthplace, and home-made huushuur

I know that nothing in this world is completely perfect in every single way, but this week was about as close as it could get.  Looking back on it, I can't think of a single sour point.  Here's why:
Monday after email, we had a lovely pizza lunch with Sister Brezenski and Sister Peterson. Then the four of us went to get the traditional dresses Sister Peterson and Sister Austin ordered from my new member in Unur.  I got to see her!  She is the cutest!  I had to say goodbye to her, but I know I'll see her again soon!  After all, I'll be visiting in the next few years.  That's what I've decided.  We finished that activity a little sooner than expected, so we had extra time before our evening appointment.  It turned out perfectly because the city square was filled with people having a party before Naadam.  Everyone was dressed in their traditional clothing.  There was a concert!  And a fashion show!  The evening finished off beautifully with a slight breeze and making Naadam huushuur with a member.  She's determined to help us learn to cook Mongolian food, and I am so grateful for that!  I hope everyone is ready to eat well when I get home!  
Tuesday was Naadam - my new favorite holiday!  It's basically 4th of July mixed with the Superbowl (without football) mixed with a street fair.  And it's heavenly.  The celebration started out at the city square where the military band played, which led a parade down to the stadium.  We got tickets to go inside and we had great seats!  The performance was much more than I was hoping for.  There were yaks, camels, fire, horses, singing, dancing, ger building, and a full-blown parade at the end!  I was in heaven.  My cheeks hurt from smiling so much!  Everyone gave us so much attention because we were foreigners in traditional clothes.  Now I know more about what it's like to be a celebrity.  Now everyone can scour the internet for random pictures with me and a bunch of Mongolian people.  We had a little get-together at our house for lunch with the sisters after the ceremony and then headed out and checked out the street fair!  More heaven.  
We had a meeting with a new investigator that night.  She is so awesome, and she already knows the Church is true.  I can't believe that my ability to love someone is so instantaneous these days.  I looked at her and instantly loved her and wanted everything good to happen to her. She's lovely, and we met 3 times this week.  We read the Book of Mormon with her, and she wants to read it every day.  She already knows it's true.  And I want to be just like her when I grow up.  She's younger than me, but that's ok! :) 
Another perfect day was Wednesday.  We got permission from President Harper to go see our stake president and his family at their summer cabin 25 km from the city.  If we are talking about perfection, it was that day.  Nothing went wrong.  The weather was warm but not too hot.  They fed us the best food.  Pork and chicken and huushuur and salad and fruit.  We explored their backyard together and enjoyed conversations about their inspiring conversion stories and good times on missions.  I will miss this family so much.  But I won't think about it.  That's how I'll cope with that one.  
I went on my last split this week.  I went back to my birthplace in Unur with Sister Mason.  The two of us made miraculous time visiting literally everyone on my list.  Remember how I totally burned my mouth on soup at my VERY FIRST dinner appointment?  Well, we visited that family and she made soup!  And she let it cool for a good 20 minutes so I wouldn't burn myself again.  We laughed and reminisced and sang together, and she gave me a beautiful scripture cover as a parting gift.  I'll miss her so much!  Dang it!  Leaving this place is not going to be easy.  We also visited my first new member and I tried not to cry as I said goodbye.  Thank goodness for Facebook and emailing and modern technology.  I keep telling myself it's not really goodbye.  I'll see them again!  

I love these people more than I thought I had the capacity to love anyone.  And loving so many of them was not something I ever thought was possible.  But Heavenly Father keeps making room in my heart.  It's one of His many miracles.  He loves us, so He lets us love others.  I'm not sure how He does it, but I'm sure grateful He does!  
I love you all!
Sister Bottorff

What a privilege to hold such a magnificent bird!

A sweet family, sweet memories, and bittersweet good-byes

I will miss the birthplace of my mission

And home-made huushuur

A military band plays...

... and Chinggis Khan listens 

We are ready for the Naadam festivities!

The opening procession was amazing...

... with lots of music,

and other performances,

that describe Mongolia's history.

Mongolian archers are phenomenal

Apparently the Romans tried to conquer Mongolia...

but things didn't go so well for them.

I'm so grateful to have experienced the Naadam opening ceremony!


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