For many months, we have been following MHS grad Allie Spain as she serves as a missionary working with The World Race. It’s young Christians spreading the Word in a new country each month.
Since we heard from her last, she has been to the Philippines and Mongolia, and is now finishing her time in China. At this point she is unable to talk about China since it is a closed country to missionaries. Their work there has been very low key. I hope when she leaves, we can learn more about that.
While in the Philippines, she worked with a ministry based in Manila which goes into bars where girls are being prostituted and builds relationships with them, hoping that they will eventually decide to leave the bars and come to live in one of the homes the ministry operates. The ministry provides food, housing, schooling, and an allowance to the girls. If they have children, the children are allowed to come, too.
While there, Allie’s team went to the bars at night, bought girls drinks and just talked to them. Then they invited them to come visit the homes where they can get help.
Allie said: “Many people think they work in this industry because they want to or like it, but they hate it. All of the girls I talked to said that they were only doing it because they need money for their families. They all have dreams of being teachers or business owners, and want something more. It was so amazing to be able to offer them a way out and a way to follow their dreams. At the end of the week, 37 bar girls showed up to come back with us and see what we are about! Of the 37, five chose to immediately move in and leave the bars behind!”
Then Allie moved on to Mongolia. She reported: “It’s very cold here so we are bundled in our yak socks and mittens. We are evangelizing with the college community here this month and holding events in the evening where we invite people we meet during the day to play games, learn English, and worship with us. We are staying in the church sanctuary with two other teams – 17 girls all together in a tiny space. We cook our own meals this month, which is nice because we can buy and cook American meals like chicken noodle soup and pasta.
“Mongolia is a very poor country and the language is very difficult. Usually I can catch on to simple phrases in other countries like hello and thank you, but this one is more difficult. There is revival happening here though and they are very open to hearing about Jesus. Before going into Mongolia, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Now, after spending a month in that beautiful place, I am proud to say that I was able to experience their culture. So here are 11 things I saw, experienced, and believe you should know about Mongolia.
“1. First, you should know that Mongolian babies are the cutest. Their chubby cheeks brought a smile to my face every day.
“2. Now about the weather … it’s crazy. While in Mongolia you are likely to experience multiple seasons in one day. A day may start off overcast, freezing, and even snowing. But by the end of the day it will be sunny and 75. It’s unpredictable. We learned to bring layers wherever we went.
“3. The traditional homes in Mongolia are called Gers. The easiest way to explain it would be to equate it as their version of a tent. Gers are mostly seen in the Mongolian countryside or on the outskirts of the city. Also, Mongolia only has one major city, Ulaanbaatar.
“4. Mongolians eat lots of mutton. If you are served meat, you might as well just assume you’re being served mutton. This was hard to get over at first, but eventually you’ll come around to the idea. It was actually quite good.
“5. Despite popular belief, unmarked taxis are totally safe. Obviously use some discernment since you are getting into a random guy’s car and basically hitchhiking around town, but they are cheaper and pretty reliable. It’s a great way to meet people and have some pretty interesting conversations.
“6. Along the lines of transportation, in Mongolia you’ll face many options to get around including, but not limited to, taxis-marked and unmarked, bus, bike, horse, and camel. Take your pick. I’d suggest horse or camel though, it keeps life fun.
“7. Mongolians love to have fun. This is evidenced by the extraordinary amount of karaoke bars throughout the city. Everywhere you go, there is a sign for karaoke.
“8. Mongolian people also love to share. It’s a part of their culture to share everything. So if you make yourself some tea with a Mongolian friend around, you might as well go ahead and offer some to your friend.
“9. When greeting elders in Mongolia, it is customary to hold elbows and go in as if you were going to kiss both of each other’s cheeks, except instead of kissing, the elder will sniff you. It’s weird, but just go with it.
“10. Mongolia is completely underestimated. It’s beautiful. There’s life and advancement happening. Sure it’s cold most of the year, but their coffee is spot on, the hills are breathtaking, and the people are so kind. It’s definitely a place worth visiting.
“11. Mongolia wants to know Christ. The young generation is the key to revival in this country. The fire is being lit and the young people are desperate for hope.”
Allie has been on this trip since last September and I asked her to tell me the best and worst of the experience. Her are some of those.
Best/favorite food: Momos from Nepal. The easiest way to describe them would be like a fried, vegetable dumpling. I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else!
Worst/most disliked food: Fried chicken on a stick from the Thailand night market. I like fried chicken, but I’m choosing this as my least favorite because it gave me food poisoning and now I get really picky when it comes to eating fried foods.
Best/favorite living situation: Staying in a home with an American couple in Thailand back in November. It almost felt like we were back in America, with comfy beds, hot showers, a western toilet, and AC. It was a nice break from our normal living conditions.
Worst/least favorite living situation: Cambodia in month five. We were all in one small room and had only a squatty potty all month and bucket showers. It was hot and crowded, but it was a learning experience.
We’ll have more from Allie as she finishes her missionary work in South Korea later this month.
If you missed any of Allie’s previous stories, just go to marysvillejt.com and click on Off the Hook, then on archives.
(Melanie Behrens – firstname.lastname@example.org)
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