My Experiences as an English Teacher and Missionary in Mongolia Ulaanbaatar (Jan 2016 – Jul 2017)

Email me at:
Mailing address:
Sister Jennifer Hansen
Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission
Post office box - 242
Ulaanbaatar post office - 49
Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, 13381

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Church News - New Presidents

[From the Church News 2016 Apr 30 - New Mission Presidents]

Jeffrey Clyde Harper, 59, and Kim Elizabeth Vandever Harper, five children, Rupert 1st Ward, Rupert Idaho Stake: Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission, succeeding President Joseph P. Benson and Sister Heidi Benson. Brother and Sister Harper recently served as a senior missionary couple [in Mongolia Ulaanbaatar]. He is a former mission presidency counselor, stake mission president, bishop, elders quorum president and missionary in the Canada Toronto Mission. Retired manager, Mart Produce. Born in Burley, Idaho, to Clyde G. Harper and Vonda Merrill Harper.

Sister Harper is a former stake Young Women presidency counselor, ward Young Women president, ward Relief Society presidency counselor, Sunday School teacher and Primary music leader. Born in Burley, Idaho, to Billie Lenton Vandever and Virginia Elelealoha Kirkham Vandever.

[They will replace the Bensons in July 2016]

Sunday, April 24, 2016

These are not Noodles!

To add to my running list of new foods, this weeks addition was sheep intestine. When the potential investigator we were meeting with put the plate in front of me, I thought it was just really thick flour noodles- with a weird texture look to it. I didn't really think much of it though, and put it right in my mouth. These are not noodles. I REPEAT THESE ARE NOT NOODLES. You can't really chew them... you just kind of mash it as much as you can then swallow the whole thing. Tastes like rubber.

Potatoes on a stick. It was only 500 Tugrugs so like 25 cents.
Lot's of fun things happened this week. I went on an STL split with Sister Harker and got to meet a few of the people she's teaching, and they were are all really great lessons. I think she's almost at her year mark or something and her Mongolian is really good, so it was good to be able to practice my language with her.

Tegeed ["And then" in Mongolian] that night Sister Gardiner lost our room key (not bitter) and we ended up sleeping on the floor of another companionship's apartment. And of course it had to be on an English night, when we have to get up early to get to school. Also right after English we had a zone training, and we definitely had not showered and I had been wearing the same outfit for 3 days at this point because I had approximately 5 minutes to pack before our split and while in Mongolia dirt everywhere is just a way of life.

It all eventually turned out ok. We got a new key and went directly home to shower and do studies. We didn't get to meet anyone that day though which was a bummer, but we made up for it by being super awesome the rest of the week.

This is the zaak where we buy our groceries!
Let's talk about "M" for a sec. Our miracle boy. He is definitely our hamgeen mundug sonerhogch. That kid has so much faith. This week he had a big important test that he was really nervous for and thought he was going to fail. But before he went in, he prayed really hard and ended up getting in the top 15%. He said he could feel God helping him remember all the answers. He has another big test coming up and he's going to study really hard and pray for help and he's not even nervous. Hahaha then yesterday at church his sister (member) told us yesterday he didn't read from the Book of Mormon then he had a dream that Sister Gardiner asked him if he was reading the scriptures and it freaked him out so now he'll never miss a day again :)

On the left is our friend Mongtoia, and second to right is an awesome ward missionary Odvold who is getting ready to turn in her mission papers! We're so excited for her. I also get to go on a split with her tonight.

We were so lucky to get so many referrals this week. We have 2 more to contact today that we didn't have time to yesterday. We spent a whole day this week doing some "visiting teaching" with our awesome relief society sisters, and trying to get more investigators. Just think about this for a sec. Our entire ward is converts. Pretty cool, huh? Converts teaching converts, and inviting more people to be converted to Christ. Mongolia is really awesome that way.

I love the scriptures. I love Jesus Christ, and I love being a missionary! There- I said it!

Sister Hansen

After we do all our p-day stuff today, we're going to the dinosaur museum. And if you can't tell, I'm really excited about it.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Hard Work is like Ritz Crackers

Happy 1 month mark to me! We celebrated by going to KFC. It tasted like America! I think. I don't really remember what America tastes like, but it was pretty dang good!

This is my "halfsie" Mongolian companion, Sister Gantsetsig that I'm with when my regular companion is teaching English. She doesn't speak English, so it forces me to up my language game.

I got to go to my school finally this week. I will be teaching grades 6-12, so pretty much the entire upper half of the school. Also, I really have my work cut out for me.... those kids are INSANE. So hopefully I can find some ways to gain their respect and get some learning taking place in the classrooms. I'll be using all the skills I've been acquiring for the last several years- great learning experiences will be taking place! (Also great work experience- hello awesome resume in 15 months)

Me and Sister Gantsetsig

A miracle happened! That boy I told you about last week who we needed a baptismal signature from his parents GOT IT! I don't even know how! Because they live way out in the desert and don't have internet or a printer or anything.... I think they have cell phones, so he sent them a picture of the form, they recreated it by hand, signed it, took another picture and sent it back. I'm not sure though, but I don't really care because he is so excited to be a member of this church!!! Our last lesson he gave the sweetest prayer asking to be a good church member and a good missionary some day. He'll be the best missionary! He's the perfect age right now to get the priesthood and start preparing. We're so excited.

This is a little sand storm that we experienced this week! Lots of wind and sand blew in from the desert and it kind of really hurt to walk outside! Cool, eh?

There are a few special places in my area that we can see beyond the buildings of UB and get a glimpse of the mountains. These are my favorite places! Cities are kind of hard sometimes.... but still cool!

We also found a family this week with a gold-mine of potential priesthood holders, so hopefully we'll see some good things happening there.

What I've learned this week is that there are going to be days that you're really discouraged and just want to die. During those times, I've just wanted to sleep for 13 hours or just read my scriptures and hope it will go away. But as soon as we get on our feet and start moving and teaching people and changing lives, that's when we're the happiest. Hard work fixes bad attitudes. It's like the magic medicine. Like that time Kevin and I were like 7 and decided it would be a great idea to have a clementine eating contest and we each had like 20. I never thought I would see the light of day again. It was miserable. But then we found the "medicine". Ritz crackers. Somehow the salt from the crackers counter-acted the citrus from the clementines. I don't know. But we had found the cure, and then we proudly walked the street of Alturas Dr. knocking the doors of our friends to tell them "if you eat too many clementines, just eat ritz crackers, and you'll feel better." This is all a true story. Ask him yourself.

So in conclusion, hard work is like ritz crackers. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hansen Egch

Having dinner at a member's home. She made us this "river fish" from a lake in Mongolia. It was delicious!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

CONFERENCE was better than Christmas!

Well ya'll, newest additions to the "tried it" list includes camel's milk this week! Also go ahead and add it to the "never want that to come anywhere near my mouth again" list!

Regarding teaching English, not yet, we had 3 weeks of training then I was suppose to start tomorrow, but now it might be Thursday. 

Holy grail of restaurants in Mongolia - Still haven't set foot inside.
Sister Gardiner and I have become good friends and we both have the same goals and are very hard workers, so we are a good companionship.

Mongolian is still very difficult. There are days that I feel pretty good about it, then there are days that it feels like I'm chasing a run-away train. It's actually the opposite then you think... I can speak way more than I can understand. I can understand most of when my companion is speaking (or really any American for that matter) but as soon as a Mongolian starts talking to me I'm at a complete loss and don't understand a thing. But I'm still working hard and have only had one really discouraging day and I don't ever want that to happen again, so I'm keeping my head up.

Mongolian Teeter Totter

We currently have 7 investigators with a baptism date. A Mom and son, mom and daughter, and a father and husband should be getting baptized at the end of this month, Sisters and mothers will be next month! They're all wonderful!

There is another boy, who is SOO prepared to get baptized, but because he's under 18, we have to have a parent signature to teach him, and his parents live way out in the huduu (countryside) where there is no internet or mail or anything, so we are praying for a way to receive that permission so he can be baptized. He is so excited and ready and awesome.

There's a guy whenever we go to teach one investigator, we think he's like a nephew or something, probably in his 20's, and he always sits on the couch during our lessons and watches TV. We don't know his name or anything about him, so we always just referred to him as "couch guy". But after zone conference and getting all fired up about finding the shepards, we're like "Wait a minute.... COUCH GUY!"

Staying in shape for Rock Climbing

Easiest highlight of this week.... GENERAL CONFERENCE! It was better than Christmas!! (especially true because they don't celebrate Christmas in Mongolia)

I personally have never been very good at focusing during conference- my mind easily wanders and zones in and out during the talks, and I almost always fall asleep at some point. But In the days leading up to general conference, I have been praying and preparing myself to stay attentive and open-minded THE WHOLE TIME. Well, God blessed me so much.

I have a solid 10 pages of inspired notes, guidance, encouragement, and revelation from the mouths of the apostles and leaders of the church. There wasn't one talk that I didn't learn something new from or felt the spirit. I didn't want it to end. Also, the music was AMAZING! The BYU-Idaho choir was awesome! I also took a bit of my computer time today to watch the Logan Institute Choir from priesthood session, and they were SOOO GOOD!!!! I was so glad to see so many of my wonderful friends! I may have leaked a tear or two... don't tell anyone. I just love them so much.

I learned a lot during conference about raising children, strangely enough. I felt that it was a common topic among many of the speakers, and for the first time like, in my life, I felt the importance of preparing myself to be a mother. Even though I'm on a mission now and that is a long way off, I kept feeling the urge of gaining knowledge and faith for my future family. Also, the temple. Which I miss a whole lot, and cannot wait for the day when I can go again. So, pretty much when you pick me up from the airport next summer, don't even go home- just take me straight to the temple.

Ok, so here's pretty much my summary of all of conference, and some of my favorite talks. So basically all of them.

Mary R. Durham- 2nd counselor of the primary presidency- When she started to talk, I could already feel myself trying to zone out. She's talking about raising our kids, teaching our children, blah blah, I'm not gonna have kids anytime soon, not relevant. Then the spirit was like "STUPID! PAY ATTENTION!" and I was like, "What?" Then I did, and I learned so much!

Donald L. Hallstrom (70) I LOVED this talk. "Our earthly identity is not wrong as long as it does not interfere with our eternal identity". "You can have what you want, or you can have something better." He also shared a cool experience about MoTab singing the hymn "How Firm a Foundation". This was so special to me because I had a very significant experience with this particular hymn and it's power when I was working at camp last summer. It was a re-confirmation to me that I am where I am suppose to be, doing what I'm suppose to be doing.

Kevin R. Duncan (70) "We are all Saul-like individuals with Paul-like potential"

Neil L. Anderson- Reaching out to the youth of the church. Woah, this one was good.

Mervyn B Arnold (70) Rescuing the lost sheep. This man brought so much love to the podium. I could feel it through the TV screen. DO NOT DELAY GOING TO THE RESCUE. We're responsible for doing the Savior's work until He comes again.

David A. Bednar- Heavenly Father does not inted for us to experience the renewing and refreshing feeling of baptism only one in our life. We can experience it every week when we take the sacrament. Our limitations can be overcome. Our weaknesses can become our strength. There was so much doctrinal goodness in this talk.

President Monson- May we choose the harder right, rather than the easier wrong.

Bonnie L. Oscarson (YW pres) Conversion comes from searching the scriptures, not the internet. Choose faith over doubt- it's a CHOICE we make every day. We need to get this knowledge from our head into our hearts. We know it, but do we believe it?

W. Christopher Waddell- Peace of mind is not determined by our ability to avoid sorrow. Learn, Listen, and Walk.

D. Todd Christofferson- Fatherhood. Prepare your mind, so you can prepare the minds of your children to hear the word of the Lord's coming. By reading scriptures to or with your children you are acquainting them with the the sound of God's voice. Challenges are often an indication of the Lord's trust in you.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf- He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. God will force no one to heaven. "We are made of supernal material, highly refined. We carry within us the substance of divinity." Pretty much every word he spoke was magic.

Gerrit W. Gong- With God, there is no "point of no return"

Dallin H. Oaks- Opposition gives us a real chance to prove our willingness to endure to the end. Our opposition is equivalent to our strength. Sister Gardiner and I discussed this talk during our companion study this morning, and it helped both of us in more ways than one.

Paul V. Johnson- I LOVED this man's talk on the resurrection. He was so humble and loving. Resurrection is the cure for all earthy ailments, no matter what is broken in us. We will someday be be healed and whole, beyond the reach of any troubles. It brought so much peace to me. I studied more about the resurrection during my personal study today, and it is such a hopeful, happy gift.

Holland- This man is a legend. Post-illumination affliction (so like coming home after a mission, or literally any time you leave the temple) After each heavenly experience it is inevitable that we have to "come back to Earth". The first great COMMANDMENT is to love God with all our might, mind and strength. But the first great TRUTH is that God loves US with all His might, mind and strength.

"Bless me tomorrow to remember what I learned today."


Back together again after the MTC (Guild, Bottorff, Hansen, Olsen)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

More Shepards!

Lots of great stuff happened this week! We had Zone Conference on Saturday and it was super great. Elder Cowles, Heacock and Urness are all my zone so that was a fun little family reunion! We talked about a lot of things, but one of the most prominent things that stood out to me was the need to find more priesthood holders in Mongolia. We discussed the priesthood holders being the shepherds of the church. I reflected on a seminary class I had years ago in Junior high about shepherds, and ever since that has been a special topic to me. That last few days I have devoted more personal study time to the priesthood, and my appreciation and love for that sacred power has skyrocketed. I realized that I haven't understood or appreciated how blessed I am that my father holds and honors that gift, as well as my good friends. Zone conference really fired me up about finding more men to teach.

Before Mongolia, I wasn't really worried about what other people did with their lives. I figured as long as I was doing what's right and taking care of myself, then that was good enough. But I can feel the Lord changing me in that regard. I will share a couple experiences with you.

All the little Hoonsnee Delgoors (grocery stores)
The day after zone conference, we were in a taxi, and our driver was a nice, young lawyer with a wife and a 1 year old baby. We gave him a card for the free English classes offered at the church and invited him to come. He was very grateful! Then he didn't even charge us for the ride!  But as we spoke with him, the thought kept coming to my mind "He would make a great priesthood holder." I wanted so badly to tell him how the gospel can bless his family. Leaving his car, I actually felt genuinely sad that we couldn't share the message of the restoration with him. Sometimes it's really hard to not be able to speak openly about the gospel, especially when you come across really great people who you know would be happy to hear it.

Lunch with a member

Another small experience: we were on a bus, and there was a man probably in his mid or late 40's near the front that was looking at me (because everyone looks at you if you're American) so I smiled at him and he smiled back. Without even realizing it, I caught myself praying for this man whom I have never spoken to, that someday, whether in this life or the next, he will have the opportunity to hear the gospel and receive the priesthood.

Add Sea Weed to my "ate it" list

The priesthood trend continues when on Sunday a new father had the opportunity to bless his little baby in sacrament meeting. As he gave the blessing, although I didn't understand all the words, the spirit again reconfirmed to me that the priesthood power is the same in every country, in every language, and it is real and unchanging.

Sister Gardner and myself

I was again studying the the words of King Benjamin this week. I hope to become a more mighty and bold speaker when I have the opportunity to testify of the power of the priesthood and repentance. I'm so grateful that we can repent every day. I have learned how to utilize that gift, and in a purely selfish and physical sense, it helps me sleep better at night :) After I pray to my Father in Heaven, I know that I can go to bed having been forgiven of my mistakes of the day.

I love pianos

Mongolia is cool, yo! I'm not much of a big city girl, but I'm really starting to like this place :)

Studying with headlamps while the power was out

I'm glad you enjoyed conference- I'm excited to get to listen to it next week!We don't get to watch it until next week because it has to be translating to Mongolian! I loved the pictures! I recognized more people from the Logan Institute choir.

Ханьсэн Эгч

Rationing my Peanut Butter

Mongolian washing machine requires water from shower

Mongolian Clothes Dryer (at least this apartment)