Thank you to the multiple people who have been prompting us to write again over the past few months – chief of whom has been my mother.
Here’s a recap: we have now been living in Mongolia for 6 months, minus, you know, all the ‘business trips’ and visa necessitated travel. There’s actually a couple amazing things about this:
1) I think it is more surprising to us that we’ve been here for 6 months already than it is that we’ve almost been married a year now –
2) However, this has, in a lot of ways, made it feel like we’ve been married for way longer.
3) My best friend’s wife is getting pretty ripe, in the most ‘pregnant’ sense of the word. They’ll have their first boy in celebration of our wedding anniversary! WowWOWwow
4) It is already getting cold again. I can see my breath every morning when I walk to work. Say it ain’t so.
5) I can say the sentence ‘When I walk to work’. We actually both have jobs here. Even more than one each! And honestly, our jobs are going super well. We love it. Who’d a thought?
6) It feels weirder to call the US home than it does to call here home. More on that below.
Sheri and I booked tickets last week to go back to the States for Christmas! Talk about exciting! We’ll be flying Turkish Air with an overnight layover in Istanbul on the way there (Merry Christmas to her), and then I’ll get a day in Kyrgyzstan on the way back (Merry Christmas to me). We fly into Chicago on the 20th, and will then go straight to Pittsburgh and spend Christmas with Sheri’s family, returning to Chicago for New Years. I’ll come back here to keep teaching shortly after, and Sheri will spend a couple more weeks on the East Coast with family and friends.
So, while we haven’t checked this with the folks yet, if you weren’t planning to spend New Years in Chicago already, then change your plans – you can crash at our place.
Mom, is that okay?
At least, pencil it in.
Coming back to the States feels very different this time. I think this is the first time for either of us that we’ve made a trip to the States as a vacation. On the Race, there was this “home as the goal” mentality that people were almost desperate to race towards. Now though, our lives are here, and home feels like a casual trip. It’s like we realized, without the obligation of a program or organization, that home really is just a plane ticket away, should we choose or feel the need to swing by.
And now it seems, at last, after what will be nearly 14 months, that our honeymoon will finally come to an ‘end’. We always told ourselves that we were still going strong on the honeymoon as long as we didn’t step foot on American soil. But now we’re thinking of just calling this our honeymoon until… forever. We’re just enjoying it too much to even think about getting off any time soon. “All the world’s a honeymoon, for all time”, as the famous quote goes… I think, right…? Something like that…?
The world has become much smaller to us now, really, and the US is no further away than our immediate plans, and barely closer than our most wild hopes and dreams. It can all happen at any time, can’t it? We can’t wait to see people. It’s all about the people. Especially the nephews.
In other news:
Given the fact that we came here ‘semi-permanently’, we’ve been forced to leave the country a rather large amount of times, which is harder to do than you might think when you’re landlocked and your only two neighbors are huge and have strict and expensive visa requirements.
Summer was a haze of in and out, in the best possible way – the first time we got kicked out of Mongolia we went to Thailand, where we found off-season, a magical time of year with no crowds and killer deals. Then I took a little company business trip to Brunei to get some experience and wisdom from one of our guys at another branch. A month later, Sheri did a visa run to Beijing for a couple days, and a few weeks after THAT we both had to go to Korea to get our work visas. Naturally, there were no complaints on this end.
Sadly, though, the season of necessitated evacuation has come to an end. And with it, August brought the end of summer, short as it was [WHY?!?]. The hills are already browning over and the weather is as unpredictable as it gets. There’s about a 40 degree temperature differential just throughout the day, so every time you leave home you have to guess how cold it is, and then calculate how cold it might be in a few hours, and then you have to put on different clothes than the ones you just walked in the door wearing an hour.
Our apartment is the most wonderful, comfortable sanctuary we could imagine. We absolutely feel at home here.
Right now, work is starting to pick up for both us. Sales are starting to roll out for my supply company (I’m actually succeeding at the job I’m being paid to do!), and I’m teaching English all over the place, which I’m loving tremendously. Sheri’s taking Mongolian classes in the morning, and still cutting hair at the salon, although, not as frequently. She’s volunteering occasionally and also hoping to take work at a coffee shop in one of the universities, to help the students practice conversational English.
We went through a spell of cynicism, which seemed to be rife among the expat community at large – and we combatted it by putting notes on the fridge every day of something we’re thankful for. People can be tough here. But this was an important step for us – pray for continued good attitudes about this place. Some of the more telling entries have been “For customer loyalty and the vegetable lady” – “When Mongolians smile back at me” – “The Bath Tub” – “Mongolian babies” – “Once in a lifetime Putin opportunities” – “Wednesday night small groups, Kathy’s cooking, and Pab after”.
We’ve got a pretty solid base of community here now, so the Lord has definitely answered that prayer, aaaaand we were on the winning team at trivia night the other night – so things are really on the up and up.
We want to be better at giving. We also want to be intentional with our time, which we have definitely made a concerted effort at and I think seen improvement in, so praise the Lord. We’ve run across a number of things that have been convicting for us lately, in the way we spend our time, and what we ultimately pursue.
And finally, I wish I had been more diligent in updating blogs throughout the summer, there were definitely some pretty good stories worth telling. I’m hoping to make a point of sharing some of them in the weeks to come.
Thanks so much for the support, we love you very much, and we are very excited to see you come Christmas time –
Danny and Sheri