Greetings from Mongolia!
It’s been over a week of many touristy activities. I’ve seen my share of barely clothed Mongolian men wrestling during the largest national celebration called Nadaam Festival. My digestive system has successfully handled much meat and salty milk tea; however, we’ll see how it all goes when I go to the countryside for 2 weeks on Thursday. I’ve mainly been surrounded by English-speaking foreigners from all over the world which has proved to ease my transition here, but also has left me a bit frustrated with the amount of touristy stuff we have done. However, I enjoy learning about the culture and appeasing the adventurous part of me. I could just rant, but let’s see if I can be a bit more organized.
The team I am working with has roots from Malaysia, America, Taiwan, Slovakia, Ireland, Korea, and Bangladesh. The organization I am working with represents 20 countries that work together in one office for one purpose. I just think it’s amazing how God transcends culture like this. Hearing stories and being able to understand each other’s perspectives on a variety of topics just excites me. Being shown off for being a Korean-Bangladeshi is a level of refreshing I cannot explain. It is in such extreme contrast to how I grew up having to tell people in Alabama that I was half Indian because they did not know where or what Bangladesh was. I just love being around people who have an awareness of how huge but simultaneously small the world is. Like who would have thought I would meet a Tufts graduate here?! Having such a diverse team could have its challenges with different perspectives and understandings of situations, but all the prayers for our team to have unity have been powerfully answered. We had an unexpected addition to our expected three-member team. Even so, we have all unified so quickly, and I am having the best time laughing with them and sharing about how God has worked in our lives. I will return to America with a slew of new expressions to use. hehe
I just love it. I wish I could speak more languages so that I could ask people about their stories, but something about traveling just excites me. Trying new food, walking around the city, observing the families, paying with different currency, looking at how the clouds seem different, listening to their language, and more. I love learning about how people greet each other, how to cross the street properly, how not to offend a native. Just something about it all makes me want to just travel for the rest of my life. And to return to the countries I went to when I was too young to appreciate them.
Somewhat related to the last two topics, but I have discovered things that annoy me about America. I absolutely hate that we don’t use the metric system. WHY AMERICA. It’s so stupid. I hate it. Secondly, we went to the International Intellectual Museum which is full of puzzles and things that made me feel like my brain was inadequate. There were many cultural chess boards, and the American chess boards represented baseball, dinosaurs, and the Civil War while all the other countries represented centuries of history and art. I dunno… it just didn’t make me particularly proud of the American culture. Thirdly, I just feel so extremely blessed to have grown up with a Korean mom and a Bangladeshi dad. Growing up in the south, not everyone but many choose not to engage with the diversity of the world. Fine, but I am just so thankful to not be an American who doesn’t think only Americans have the best to offer. There’s so much to learn about people if we would only ask and listen. Ultimately, I am thankful to have been raised in a country with a diversity of stories to hear from a beautiful representation of the world’s people.
There’s something really special about being surrounded by people who want to understand you. I’ve already talked about the foreigners here a bit, but the interactions I’ve had with local Mongolian believers have been unique experiences. I said in prior posts how I think God is going to do something incredible, and I imagine that as something big like healing a person who is blind. I’m not going to stop believing for that, but God is teaching me to find joy and praise in the small things too. Which aren’t even small… they’re big in God’s eyes. Simply sharing a few words of encouragement to Mongolian believers who visited our apartment just gave them and ourselves such motivation to keep on in the faith. By simply showing up for ministry to some alcoholic men, I have shown them that even if their wives and kids want nothing to do with them, God’s servant loves them already. If I left tomorrow, I think I have served a purpose in Mongolia already. By simply showing up from another country, I have shown the power of God’s love.
At the same time, I feel like I have been served more than I have given. The long-term workers we have come to serve have served us more I think. The Mongolian Christians I have interacted with have encouraged me tremendously. The leader of the alcoholism ministry has done so for eight years while facing extreme discouragement and lack of partnership in a country where 52% of the population struggle with alcoholism. In a country that in 1991 there were less than 10 Christians but now have 50,000 Christians. What faith. Plus, I could just see him shine. He was shining with a joy that could only come from the Lord with such limited resources and a difficult ministry. I was just so touched by my brother’s faith. Being told by Mongolian Christians “God bless you” is special.
Also, I haven’t been spending as much time talking to God alone as I would like to. The team today did a first-week evaluation today, and we all felt the same way. However, we realized that we have felt the presence of God together. Every time we sat down to listen to each other’s testimonies. Every time we prayed together. Even though we all felt we were lacking in our own personal times, God showed us the power of fellowship and unity. He has shown up in all the ways we have served. All of which are fruit of hundreds of prayers from ourselves praying for the trip before and from our supporters. It encourages me that even though I might not pray as much as I’d like to, I KNOW that there are so many others covering us in prayer. It encourages me actually to pray more. So thanks to all of you.
4) One Way
I visited the church I will be working with yesterday for the first time. My goodness, it was an extremely special moment to listen to “One Way” by Hillsong in Mongolian. One of the highlights of my life was to sing about how Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and how we must live by faith and not by sight in Mongolia.
I am very excited to be working with this church to help nurture their youth ministry leaders in training and sharing testimonies with the congregation. That is what I will be doing in the countryside for about 2 weeks starting this Thursday. Be praying for those leaders and for them to full-heartedly serve and honor our God.
Holy Spirit, you are so welcome here.