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  • Writer's pictureMora Melby

Merry Christmas / Feliz Navidad

Hello friends, brothers and sisters. The year is ending, our first full year in Mongolia. Since we are going to Costa Rica in a few days, the truth is that we have been very busy. Trying to get everything ready for these 4 months that we are going to be outside Mongolia. I think we have mixed feelings, on one hand we are looking forward to getting out of the cold and going to the Costa Rican summer. Seeing my family, friends and many of you. Eat costarrican food that we haven't eaten or seen in 16 months. Like plantains, fried cheese, “olla de carne”, ceviche or any type of fish. But on the other hand we don't want to leave Mongolia, our home, our friends and the ministry. We are going to miss activities with the college students and we will not be able to go on spring trips. We feel at home and the truth is I prefer the cold to the humid heat. Let's see how it goes from -35 °C to 30 °C.

We want to tell you about some activities that have happened in the last month since we sent out the November newsletter. First, we were finally able to go buy the machines and material to make shoes for our friend Munkhnyam and his family. If you don't remember, last year we met a pastor and his family in a very remote village on our first trip. We then visited him two more times. He is a barber and his wife makes shoes. Last year we raised funds to help them buy some machines and materials since they only had a 100-year-old sewing machine and it is not made for shoes.

By January of this year we had all the money for the machinery. But the family had to come from their town to the capital. Their car was not very good and they couldn't come here because of the snow and the bad roads. Then, she had health problems during the pregnancy and then when their daughter was born they also had complications. By the time everything finally calmed down it was already summer and we were able to visit them. There they informed us that they made the decision to move to the city, because his eldest daughter was going to start university and he had an opportunity to study at the Bible seminary. Even though they were no longer going to be in that town, we decided to help them with the machinery since he had also planned to continue his ministry on the outskirts of the city. Finally, they came and last month we were able to go buy 2 machines at a store and then the materials on the black market.

  The black market is the main market in Mongolia, and it is a huge outdoors market where you can get everything. But in the winter it is very cold. We went together to buy everything, they were so happy! What we raise for them is actually not much. A little less than two thousand dollars. But enough for them to start a business and have stability so that their family survives and they can continue dedicating their lives to the ministry.

After the market we went to their house. In winter the traffic is really bad, so getting from the market to their house took a couple of hours. Finally we arrived and took down all the materials. Then, they made food for us and we talked for a while. They told us how they have been doing in the city and how the Bible seminar is going. Everything he is studying and learning is posted on the walls. We hope that after a few years they can return to their town and use what they have learned here. Meanwhile Munkhnyam's sister has taken over the small church in Tes.

In November, another important event was the English club for university students. Normally it starts in September, but we went to the countryside and then to the Philippines. Aemilii and I haven't been able to be that involved until this last month. Every Wednesday we give English classes and a reading part from the Bible. This is a very helpful way to share about the Bible to people who have never been exposed to it.

In the last month we had a couple of classes and a couple of events. In one class we shared a little bit of the Christmas story. And a student asked us why the baby who was born in the story later dies on a cross. With this we took the opportunity to share the whole story with him and another student. After sharing this, the student told us that he is thinking a lot about what we have shared. Then another student told us a little about his life. About how his uncle is a shaman in the town where he comes from and how his entire family believes in that and he has felt forced to believe in the rituals because otherwise he will suffer health problems. These two students are very close to making a decision in their lives.

We had an event for Thanksgiving and we shared why we give thanks to God. 25 students attended this activity. We made traditional Thanksgiving food and spent time with them.

A few days ago we had the Christmas activity. 60 students attended this activity. First, a few days before we invited some students to a house to make cookies for the event. At the party we had a lot of food and cookies. Aemilii organized several games, I shared the true story of Christmas. At the end we had songs and dancing. It is incredible to be able to get to know these students more and more. In February there is going to be a sporting activity with them, and we are going to miss them very much.

The other event that we wanted to share with you is about the “shepherds conference.” This is a week-long event for rural pastors and church leaders. About 45 people attended the event. They came from almost all provinces in Mongolia. The journey is always very hard for some. Whether by car or by bus. Some stay to sleep with family or friends and those who don't have a place stay in our houses. This time a lady stayed the week at our house. Of the people who came, we knew quite a few that we have met on our travels over the past two years.

On this occasion I had to share 4 times. The first time about a project that we want to implement with these leaders to work closer with them and be able to connect all these Christians throughout Mongolia and help them with content, ideas and material for discipleship in their churches.

The other 3 sessions were related to what we learned in the Philippines in November. About evangelism and discipleship. And an easy and fun way to learn the parts of the Old and New Testament that they can take to their churches too.

This event is one of my favorite parts of the year, being able to receive all these brave people who suffer rejection and difficulties in their small towns. But they continue their work of bringing the gospel and maintaining the church in communities with very few Christians.

One day of the week we invited those who came from the province of Zavkhan to our house for lunch, the truth is it was an honor to have them there. We knew them all, and we have been to their houses more than once. And being able to return the favor after so many times they have fed us and let us stay in their homes was very special.

Well, the year is coming to a close. Honestly this year has been very good but incredibly tiring. We haven't stopped with all the projects we've had and all the trips. Although we are not going on vacation to Costa Rica, we have a lot to do. We hope to be able to rest a little and see many of you.

Before finishing the last newsletter of the year I want to share a request with you. Especially now that it's almost Christmas. The organization where we serve has a daycare center for employees' children. This daycare has been active for many many years. And even though the organization cannot pay very high salaries, having a Christian daycare for employees is a very great benefit. Aemilii sometimes helps with the daycare and goes to visit her and teach classes. This year there are 11 children in daycare, and always at 4:30 pm they all come running from daycare. Which is actually an apartment in the same building where Aemilii and I live.

Well, currently the daycare has two needs. First, the toys in the daycare are very old and used, so we want to buy new toys. Secondly, the children spend the whole day in the apartment. There is space on the organization's property and next year we want to build a playground and a safe space for them to go out once the winter is over. We have estimated that the toys cost $400 dollars and the playground costs around $1000. It's Christmas time and if you were looking for somewhere to contribute during this time, it's a good way. If you are interested in giving, you can tell me or Aemilii.

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