© 2007 jim Not a Mormon temple...

Mormons in Mongolia

I had promised a post about Mormons in Mongolia, so here it is.

I have this weird habit of having strange coincidences happen to me. For instance, last year when I was in Brazil, I was visiting Santos, where my son lives. Ira and Ksusha and I were just wandering around the beachfront when we decided to stop somewhere for a beer and a bite to eat. After a while sitting there I noticed that there were some Americans at the restaurant, which I thought was a mild coincidence. But then I noticed that with them was Glauco, a guy I had known at BYU 25 years before! This isn’t the place to go into the whole Glauco relationship, but suffice it to say that running into Glauco in some random restaurant in Brazil was a *very* weird coincidence.

Fast forward to last June. I decide to go to the Mongolian countryside for a picnic with some co-workers. Mongolians love to go to the countryside because UB is so dirty and noisy. So we pack up a couple of Land Cruisers and drive 75 Km out of town to this nice little field of trees next to the Tuul river upstream from UB. Very nice, very bucolic. We settle down to drink whisky and beer and make shashlik (sishkabob) when this fairly large bus pulls up into the next field over and disgorges approximately 50 people. That by itself put a damper on the whole quiet picnic thing, but it quickly got much weirder. Some of the Mongolian kids in that group came over to where we were, accompanied by some American kids with little nametags on their T-shirts! Mormon missionaries! And other Mormons as well; some Mongolian girls wearing Utah t-shirts, CTR rings, the whole modern Mormon works.

Living as I do in the Mormon Rome (aka Salt Lake City) you would think that the Mongolian steppe would be about as far away as I could get from all that. But no; out in the middle of the steppe here come the missionaries! Fourteen timezones away from Utah, and still….

My Mormon friends would tell me it’s a sign. Well, I agree. It’s a sign that I need to work harder at getting even farther away. I wonder how many missionaries there are in Kamchatka….or McMurdo Sound!