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

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Sister Jennifer Hansen
Mongolia Ulaanbaatar Mission
Post office box - 242
Ulaanbaatar post office - 49
Ulaanbaatar Mongolia, 13381

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Senior Companion for the Day!

WOW this week.

For starters, pretty much the whole city has not had hot water all week.... yay! So Sister Gardiner and I wake up early every morning to boil water, then we fill our washing machine and dish it out with a bowl and pour it over ourselves like a little puppy dog so we can be clean. Sister Gardiner said last summer she went an entire transfer without hot water, so this is probably just the beginning!

My favorite English class. These will be my seniors next year!
Earlier this week, my companion and I were joking around that we needed an addiction recovery program for ice cream. Well, there is an addiction recovery program in Preach My Gospel, so just for fun, we were reading it and laughing that we need to do those things to get over sugar. THE NEXT DAY we went on an STL split, and when Sister Gardiner and I were back together that evening, she said one of the investigators she met with happened to open up and explain their smoking problem, and that they want to be baptized but can't stop smoking. Well, we had just familiarized ourselves with the addiction recovery program, and the wonderful 12 step program that the church offers, and she said that she was able to take the first step in helping this person. There is no way that Heavenly Father was not in that situation. Matt emailed me this week and told me an amazing missionary experience that he recently had as well, and said "There are no coincidences, only blessings.". That becomes more and more true every day.

Teton Tony, the mountain ram, king of the Mongolian country. (Not)
[parents note: this is a reference regarding her grandfather's childrens book HERE]

Speaking of STL split, I was with Sister DeRuyter for the day, and it was great! We stayed in my area to work, and she doesn't really know Selbe, so I was kind of the senior companion for the day! Woah! I made all the phone calls, had to find all the investigators houses, schedule follow-up appointments, etc. Turns out not just following your trainer around everywhere is actually kind of difficult! But it was awesome to see that I can actually do those things, and it was pretty nice to have some responsibility. Also kind of a confidence booster that I am learning and improving, and that I could take the lead on all of our lessons without Sister Gardiner there. So, I might be OK in 3 WEEKS when she DIES.

Just, really getting into those conference talks.

Yesterday we had our new stake conference!! WOWW it was amazing!! We knew that our Selbe ward had been split, and a new stake was created, but we didn't get details until just yesterday!! Elders Wong and Toronto from the 70 were here to organize the new stake, and it was so wonderful. 5 of our branches became wards. 5!!! Our Selbe ward split into Selbe and Bayngold, and Bayngold is in the same stake, and Selbe is in the new East stake!! Which means until the end of the transfer, Sister Gardiner and I are serving in BOTH stakes!!! WOW! It was such a great day. Elders Wong and Toronto talked about how much the Mongolian members are being blessed, but how they cannot start to rest now. We are SO CLOSE to getting a 3rd stake. It will hopefully happen while I am still here. They talked a lot about the missionaries and members have to be equally yoked and work together, or else we cannot do anything. The members here are so faithful, but they have to work just as hard as the missionaries to find people, to share the gospel with their friends and family, and if they don't work with us, then we can't do anything. We need them, and they need us. It was the most interesting stake conference I've ever been too.

Cute Mongolian boy!

It was also President and Sister Benson's last conference. They both bore wonderful testimonies and shared their love for Mongolia. They have done such an enormous, incredible work since being here, and Mongolia and of course all the missionaries will miss them. But we are also very excited for President and Sister Harper to come as well!

Great things are happening!

This week in preparation for zone conference I have been studying about love, and how love and fear cannot coexist. Moroni 8:16 says that perfect love casts out all fear. So if we are fearing, then it means that we're not loving enough.

Romans 12:21 "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
Here's my revision.

"Be not overcome of fear, but overcome the fear with love."

Have a great week.

Hansen Egch

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mongolia and drunkards go together like cheese and crackers

Mongolia and drunkards go together like cheese and crackers- it's just the way of life here. But there are those special few that I will just never forget. Like the man this week who stared at us for a good 10 minutes across the street before approaching us and attempting a conversation in Russian. He quickly realized that we don't speak Russian, and we weren't about to let him know that we speak Mongolian. But he went on for about 5 minutes about how he was so mesmerized by my green eyes and just couldn't bring himself to walk away and blah blah blah. When the member that we were waiting for finally showed up, he held and kissed my hand for so long until I all but pushed the poor guy over. We left with his parting "би чамд хайртай" meaning I love you. Yikes.


A little peek of the suburbs of UB. I am very sheltered here in the city.
2 miracles happened yesterday!

1- I did my hair for the first time since coming to Mongolia! Wut. Let's be real, that's not happening again any time soon. Also, Sister Gardiner informed me that I am probably the only girl that didn't bring a hair straightener on her mission... guess I didn't get the memo.

2- M got baptized! It was so beautiful. She is so wonderful and was so excited and even though the water heater is still broken and she had to go under freezing cold water, she still came out beaming and happy and it was just a great day. Her sister S was going to be baptized with her as well, but had to take a last minute trip to the countryside for work. We were afraid that M might not want to be baptized without her, but we were so happy she decided to move forward with her decision. Now she can be there for her sister when she gets baptized, hopefully this week!

M's baptism!! Mongolians make us look like giants.
They were also really adorable when we asked them who they wanted to baptize them, and both of them wanted us to do it! Hahaha. Sorry, remember that priesthood authority thing? Yeah, we don't got it. But they did say they wanted an American, so we asked Elder Fillmore, because he's in our ward, and he did a great job and made it a beautiful day.

Sister Gardiner and I also had the really cool opportunity to help with the long-distance sacrament meeting! Because there's lots of members that go to the countryside during the summer, they have set up this long-distance call and hook in people from all over so they can listen in to sacrament meeting- and if they have 2 or more Melchizedek priesthood holders, (and permission from President) they are allowed to have the sacrament. So Sister Gardiner and I prepared talks and were able to give them over the phone! It was so neat! We just did it from the mission office, and there was just 5 people there, and we got the sacrament and everything! It was super cool. Also I got a really great compliment from the man who was conducting, who was very surprised that I have only been here for 2 months because he understood my Mongolian very well! So that was a nice little confidence booster.

This week while I was studying Jesus the Christ, I loved the discussion about Jesus being tempted by Satan after his baptism. Talmage mentions that Nobody is meant to meet the foe and overcome our trials once and for all. The opposition that comes from the adversary is persistent throughout our lives. I keep being reminded that there is no "arrival" while in this life. We've never just "made it". If we have overcome a challenge, it has only strengthened us and prepared us for whatever it is that is coming next. We should never be at ease in Zion.

Keep being righteous!

Love, Sister Hansen

P.S. So sometimes on my mission, I get weird cravings for random things, and this week it was dirt biking. Don't ask me why... I don't know. But I just really wanted to go dirt biking this week! So I've started a list, and when I get those weird cravings for things, I write them down, so when I get home, I'll have a big list of things that I will want to do. Right now a lot of it is food. Some places I want to go. Things to do. Movies to watch. Etc.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

You just had a language miracle!

We are doing a lot of hard work and miracles are happening!

Its Spring in Mongolia!

We got a new stake!!! Woo!! The Selbe ward (Sister Gardiner and I's ward- thank you very much ;)) got split so now we're in charge of both! Wuuuuuuut. We've got big plans for this transfer so get a lot of work done. If we can get one more stake then the possibility for a temple increases a lot. This last weekend was stake conference. We already knew that our ward was splitting, but we didn't know for sure if we were getting a new stake, so that was a wonderful surprise!

Sister Gardiner enjoying spring.

Since transfers, I have a new half-companion while my companion is teaching English, and she's another Mongolian! Yay! I love doing language studies with Mongolians. It helps my understanding and accent so much.

Zone Conf?

Also this week, Sister Gardiner and I have implanted the "PPP". Push-ups, Prayer, and Planning. We're suppose to exercise every morning, but the days we teach English we have to leave early to get to school, so we don't have time. So PPP was born! I'm not gonna let all this Mongolian food get to me... Like that giant bowl of seaweed I had to eat yesterday...

Also this week we had a huge English Symposium Thurs-Sat with foreign language professors from each BYU campus and the Asian Area DIC language coordinator here to do workshops and presentations. There were tons of English teachers, administrators, as well as our Inviting Organizations (our sponsors). So that was cool.

Most of the Americans in the mission at the English Symposium

This week I had a little language miracle while meeting with one of my favorite ladies! We were talking about eternal marriage and baptism and my companion gave me "the look" to bear my testimony (unspoken companionship language- the best) and I remember that I was talking, and words were coming out, but I have no idea what those words were. But things were just happening. Then all of a sudden, I stopped talking and my face was red and my heart was beating, and the member that was with us was crying, but I didn't know what just happened. Then later on our drive home, my companion said "You just had a language miracle, and I felt the spirit so strong while you were bearing your testimony, and it was perfect." Thank you, gift of tongues.

The MTC gang's all back together!! (minus Urness who was too slow to make the picture)

I'm glad to hear things are well in Utah, and I'm so happy you got to see Adam!!! He looks incredibly happy in that incredibly blue suit... ;)

Also, happy graduation to all you high school graduates!!

Sister Hansen

From her hike last week

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day = Skype

It was great to see ya'll on Skype today! You all look beautiful and it was wonderful to talk even if just for a few minutes. Have a wonderful mother's day! 

So as soon as we finished Skyping with you, we got a call from M - our brand spanking new wonderful member. He said he needed to meet with us right away at the Baynzurkh church. We were a little worried. Yesterday he received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and we were so happy for him, but before sacrament meeting started, he and his sister were in the hall crying. We went to see what was wrong, but he didn't want to talk to us. We were pretty nervous because we didn't know what was going on. But he still received his blessing, but then went home after sacrament meeting, without really talking to us, which is so unlike him. It was so strange. So just barely, like less than an hour ago, we went to the Baynzurkh to meet him, 

He told us that he was leaving right now to go to the countryside, and had to say goodbye. That's why he was so upset yesterday, because he found out that he had to leave, and had to go home to pack. It was so heartbreaking- he just wanted to say goodbye to us. He wrote Sister Gardiner and I the sweetest letters and got us little gifts. He is excited to be friends with Sister Gardiner on Facebook next month :) And by the time he comes back to the city in September, my Mongolian will be amazing and I will actually be able to talk to him! He was definitely a little miracle. His baptism was originally going to be in 2 weeks, and if that were still the case, he would have missed it. So it really was a miracle that we were able to meet with him so much and he was baptized and confirmed this week. We love that guy. 

Jen's first baptism in Mongolia

Sister Hansen

Fish sandwich
[From Jen's parents. She told us on the Skype call that transfers were on Wed and she didn't change. She will likely remain with Sister Gardiner until she completes her mission in late June. She also said English teaching has been tough due to the kids being anxious to be done with school and a little crazy. She team teaches English at the school, grades 6 - 12, with Sister Kofoed. She is optimistic that things will be better in the fall, when she can begin the semester with the kids.

She also said that the ward went out in the country for a hike. She was happy about that. These pics are from the ward hike.]

See the single Ger in the distance

This is one of our investigators, B... she's so happy and jumbly all the time :)

Prayer Flags - Like they leave on the top of Mount Everest

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Lots of language miracles this week

I feel like I was just here. I don't know how the weeks go by so fast. I've nearly completed my first transfer. We don't do anything that normal missionaries do like tracting or anything, but we never have a free minute. We don't have time for a free minute. There's too much work to be done.
Jen got your tongue?

I noticed lots of little language miracles this week. We met a random white guy who has lived in Mongolia for 4 years, teaching English and stuff. He was pretty cool. He said that he's been studying the language the whole time he's been here (4 years) and we talked to him a bit. Well, I've been here a month and I know way more than he did, so that was really cool.

Mongolian names are really long and hard to remember, but I always remember specific experiences that I had with people, so this is how I help myself.  

Also at district meeting, I pretty much knew what was going on the whole time. I obviously still didn't catch every word, but generally, understood what everyone was talking about, and it felt pretty good.

I know a lot happened this week, but it just went so fast I don't remember it. M is getting baptized on Friday!! Woot woo! We brought him to another ward's baptismal service and he really enjoyed it! Also, I got to see Elder Heacock perform his first baptism! That was so great!

Here is a really poor picture of us with M at the other ward's baptism service!
English is..... something else. It's really hard. It's definitely stretching my patience and my abilities. We had an English training to discuss a new curriculum and I think that by the time school starts next fall I will have some new ideas and actually be able to start with my students from the beginning instead of jumping in their class a month before summer break... that was not a good idea. But I'm learning. 

I'm so grateful to be called to this special work. It's unlike any experience in the world. I've been so strengthened and shaped in such a short amount of time since coming to Mongolia. I also am so grateful for the blessings of the temple, and am so happy that we have them so near by in America. Go as often as possible.

If I had more time I would talk about how trials refine us, but I don't so here's a scripture.

D&C 136:31: My people must be tried in all things, that they may be prepared to receive the glory that I have for them, even the glory of Zion; and he that will not bear chastisement is not worthy of my kingdom.

Love you all,

Hansen Egch

P.S. Transfers are next week. Because I'm training I'll be staying with Sister Gardiner for the whole 12 weeks. (supposedly) Unless something crazy happens, nothing should be changing for me next week!

The dinosaur museum was SO cool!!! Apparently Mongolia has a huge amount of dino fossils and stuff. There was a full T-rex skeleton that was AMAZING. Most of it was real. They had a map showing which were real fossils and which were casts, and most of it was genuine.
Sometimes in Mongolia you have to jump over gates. And sometimes that results in your skirt ripping to a very missionary-inappropriate point.