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the year without a santa...

the Mongolian Christmas edition of quirks and joys:

1. We went to the black market on Monday looking for some vegetables and a kitten. There were plenty of puppies but we knew we couldn't get one because they get too big. So I decided to tell the man standing next to us, trying to give me his business card about pets, that we wanted a cat. He started making a small motion with his hands. And finally he said "mini cat." I was like, "Yes!! a mini cat!" He asked us if we wanted a man or woman mini cat, got our number, made a phone call, then he said our cat would be there in 2 hours.

Not even 10 minutes after we left, I got a phone call saying, "Your mini cat has arrived." So, we turned around and got ripped off, I'm sure. We payed 13,000 tugrugs for him, that's around 10 dollars. The guy pronounced to everyone around "arron-goro" (13) as if to tell the world how much he got from us. It was hilarious.

We named him, Dobby, after the house elf in Harry Potter. He is nuts, like all "mini-cats" and we really enjoy his energy. He is already spoiled and sleeps right in the middle of us in the bed we share :)


2. I view walking outside for any amount of time as free botox. I can't feel my face while I'm outside or for a period of time after I come inside.

3. As I've mentioned before, I heard that the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet at -30 degrees. The scales have been kissing each other quite frequently as of late. And they say, it's only going to get colder.

4. I drink tea like a Mongolian now. I can't keep the tea bag in my mug for too long because there is like a flavor explosion if I do. My tastes buds might be dying. I can now get 3 cups of tea from one bag of tea.

5. I ate horse meat for the first time recently. We have heard that horse is their winter meat. The best (and scariest) thing about eating horse meat is that I didn't hate it.

6. While teaching my English class about and, but, or and food items. I learned that many Mongolians "...do like horse meat, but do not like chicken." That seems impossible.

7. Christmas in Mongolia is an oxymoron. They call the Christmas tree a New Year tree. They have NO idea who Santa is and they really don't know what exchanging gifts is about. It is so weird because they do have some Christmas trees up but it's just like a big "Sike!!"

It is so difficult for me to wrap my head around the fact that I live in a place that has never heard about Santa and even harder to comprehend that some people have never even heard the name Jesus.

As hard as it is to be here during the Christmas season, it is really beautiful to get to share with them and teach them about a season I love. The moment when I can help someone understand Christmas and all of it's incredible meaning is a life-changing moment for me.

I pray that your Christmas is filled. Please spend time with your family for me and enjoy every beautiful part of this season.

Joy to the world.

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October 26, 2011.

That is the day I last wrote a blog. That's not the day when my life changed but it is a day that I can recognize as one of the last ones when I knew who I was and what my purpose was.

I'm not generally a quitter. Sure, sometimes I quit on books or I quit on small projects but in life, nope. I  try hard at most things, usually right until the end. I won't say that quitting is not a thought that meanders through my being when something gets tough but I have come to learn that when I stick things out I come out having learned a thing or two.

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I tried. I also had my very first panic attack, too.

It was too much. I couldn't think or breathe. I couldn't cope with the devastation I felt for leaving Mongolia early that March morning. I couldn't cope with no one understanding what Mongolia had meant to me and how it had changed me right down to my bo…

The Prayer of the Empty Water Jar

Jesus, I come into the warmth of your presence
knowing that you are
the very emptiness of God.

I come before you
holding the water jar of my life.

Your eyes meet mine
and I know what I'd rather not know.

I came to be filled
but I am already full.

I am too full
This is my sickness

I am full of things
that crowd out
your healing presence.

A holy knowing steals inside my heart
and I see a painful truth.

I don't need more
I need less
I am too full.

I am full of things that block out
your golden grace.

I am smothered by gods of my own creation
I am lost in the forest of my false self
I am full of my own opinions and narrow attitudes
full of fear, resentments, control
full of self-pity, and arrogance.

Slowly this terrible truth
pierces my heart
I am so full there is no room for you.

Contemplatively, and with compassion
you ask me to reach into my water jar.

One by one, Jesus, you enable me
to lift out the things
that are a hindrance to my wholeness.

I take each one to my heart and