[Note from Jen's parents: The text below is how Jennifer began her homecoming talk]
The first part of the 10th article of faith says: We believe in the restoration of the ten tribes and the literal gathering of Israel.
In approx. 722 BC, according to the Old Testament’s Book of Kings, the house of Israel was lost or scattered as 10 of the 12 tribes were carried away into captivity. The Bible, Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants all refer to them someday returning from the North Country, or from the North.
For thousands of years after Christ’s earthly ministry, as the apostasy spread around the globe, Nomads inhabited a vast land in North-Eastern Asia nestled just south of Russia’s Siberia and just north of the Wall of China. This land of meadows and mountains is called Mongolia. Mongolia’s Nomadic tribes squabbled until late in the 12th century, until an incredible leader emerged. You’ve probably heard of him. His name is Chinges Khan, or as you probably know him, Genges Khan.
Chinges organized the Nomads, and over the following decades they expanded their civilization at an un-comprehendible rate, from the Caspian Sea to the Sea of Japan. By the end of the 13th century, under Khan’s successors, the Mongolian Empire expanded to most of Asia, most of Russia, Eastern Europe, most of China, and became the largest Land Empire in the history of the word.
Over the next few centuries, the Mongolians would be unable to hold onto such a vast empire, and it collapsed. You can imagine what this violent expansion and contraction might have done to the lost 10 tribes, as they were further scattered.
Almost a thousand years later, by the early 20th century, the Mongolians had dwindled, and came under the reign of the Soviet Union.
In the 1992, after the fall of the cold war and collapse of the Soviet Union, Mongolia became an independent democratic country. And a ray of sunshine, freedom, shown down on Mongolia. A year later, in 1993, Elder Neil A Maxwell dedicated the land for missionary work. The restored church grew amazingly fast as Mongolians eagerly accepted the gospel.
Initially, since there were no stakes in Mongolia, there were no Patriarchs, and no Patriarchal blessings. It was only as Mongolians left Mongolia on missions, and returned with Patriarch blessings that they began to learn their linage. Surprisingly, some were from Reuben, and Naphtali, and Gad, and Simeon, and Levi, and others of the 10 lost tribes. Over the next few years Mongolians realized their blood carried the linage of all 10 of the lost and scattered tribes of Israel.
In March of 2016, when I arrived in Mongolia, suffering just as bad, if not worse, of jet lag, President Benson took us up on a hill called Ziason, which offered a panoramic view of the capital city of Ulaanbaatar. It was also the same spot where Neil A Maxwell dedicated Mongolia for missionary work just 23 years before.
We sang a hymn and we read Maxwell’s dedicatory prayer. Then, together we read Jacob chapter 5 verses 14 & 15:
14 And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard went his way, and hid the natural branches of the tame olive tree in the nethermost parts of the vineyard, some in one and some in another, according to his will and pleasure.
15 And it came to pass that a long time passed away, and the Lord of the vineyard said unto his servant: Come, let us go down into the vineyard, that we may labor in the vineyard.
And the realization that I was in the nethermost part of the vineyard, was accompanied by powerful feelings of incapably and inqualification, but also those of empowerment and determination, and my purpose of a servant began to come together, like a puzzle.
. . .