Anna and I (and two other Missionary couples) arrived early in the morning of May 14th to a welcome party of most of the current couples serving for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Anna and I are replacing Elder Richard & Sister Carol Lasson, who so faithfully served for two years. It was a welcome sight to see that many smiling faces wearing the familiar LDS name tags, that made us feel welcome to the magnificent country we will be privileged to serve in. After processing through customs and loading our luggage into the vehicles, we had a leisurely ride into Ulaanbaatar in the wee hours of the morning. It is strange that after arriving at our apartment, getting unpacked enough to get to bed about 3:00 AM we were able to get up early in the morning for our orientation of the LDS Church building and other staff members. Our apartment building is a very short 4-minute walk from the Church's building on Tokyo Street.
Our first street crossing was a little traumatic as the pedestrians do not have the right of way in a crosswalk, as we are used to at home. We were told about the traffic rules that exist here, but experiencing them facing oncoming traffic is true reality. The method of crossing the street is to spot a gap and move to the center line and wait for a gap in the next lane of traffic. The system works quite well and since drivers and pedestrians both understand the rules, it really works out better than in the states. Even crosswalks at corners have to be watched because cars turning right have the right of way, although they seem to stop for us if we get careless.
Everyone told us we would loose weight coming to Mongolia because of the food, but I believe that I will gain weight due to the excellent restaurants and available food that is here. We are walking and climbing stairs everywhere, but not enough to offset the great food. We brought lots of personal food and toiletry items because we thought they wouldn't have them, but surprise, surprise, it seems every little shop in town carries the items we so carefully packed and hauled through the airports.
Although we have spent only two days here, I already sense the wonderful spirit of the people here and their desire to do good things. I had one of our garden coordinators come into the office (he just got out of the hospital) and he realized that the greenhouse fabric hadn't been ordered yet - and the seabuckthorn bushes hadn't been planted. We worked out what he had to do and was back in an hour with an invoice to get things going. He was really concerned for the Branch members in his area and his responsibility to serve them.