At age 22 while living in Mongolia I developed a severe chronic pain condition that effects every aspect of my life. Continuing this blog reminds me that life's challenges are stepping stones meant to lift us, not roadblocks meant to defeat us.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

May 28, 2009

Hello Family!!!
Thanks for the letters! mom thanks for the e-mails, dad thanks for always writing, linds it is so fun to hear from you, you sound crazy busy!! Good luck with the v-ball day and movie, I am excited to eventually see it ;) and good luck with girl’s camp! let me know how that all goes. Thanks for the package family! I got the first one, and my companion, district, and roommates and I have loved the food ;) I hope you are all doing well, tori good luck with packing help and sarah and jake, congrats on being done with school!!! enjoy the summer! woah it just hit me that you all are really moving, this is going to be an adventurous summer ;) mom and dad, are you making a trip to utah? Good luck with it all. And I am so glad you got to go to the lake!!! way to go on the wake board, I didn't know our jet skiis could pull one of those, that’s awesome! and sarah, you can waterski!!! yeah!! :D
Things are good here, we are over half way done with the MTC! We are only going a little crazy ;) (my teacher said we hit the crazy point that most districts don't hit until their 10th week) but we are still working hard and having fun. The new teaching system is soooo much better, we are learning a lot, and I am getting more used to the mongolian pronunciation, I spit and say my L's funny even in english now, our goal as a district is to be so good at mongolian that we become really bad at english ;) The weeks are pretty similar, lots of studying, great devotionals, etc, I am trying to think of what happened that was different.
The mongolian lesson went well last week! We taught about the plan of salvation, and I don't like how our lessons are one way (we talk and our "investigators" listen, smile, and nod,) so I asked if she (a really cute lady from mongolia) had any questions, and she went off in mongolian, it was funny, it took me about 10 minutes of asking poorly pieced together questions to figure out what she was asking, and when I finally did I poorly pieced together an answer but at least it was an attempt, I’d rather get used to this process here, because it is definitely going to happen in mongolia. (and it makes our lesson longer, haha :)
We practiced buying things before our lesson and in mongolia a lot of the markets don't have set prices so you barter for the price, and we practiced that before the lesson. we had just learned the money system but I thought I had it, so I was discussing prices with a lady and she kept laughing at what I was saying, saying I was "very good", etc, and it turns out that while I thought I had been changing the price by Dollars, I was really only changing the price by cents. So I seemed like such a stickler, it was way funny! ("I won't buy it for 20 dollars but I will buy it for 19 dollars and 95 cents, etc ;) I need to practice the money stuff.
My district invented a new sport this week, so you know how I said we are going a bit crazy? well we study a lot, any spare time, but we had 30 minutes of personal time before a meeting this week, and we played some intense badminton. Complete with a little featherything as a birdy, mongolian dictionaries as rackets, and headphone cords across chairs as a net. we played some intense 2 on 2! I swear we really are focused, but we all agreed that was the funnest 30 minutes yet (and I am still a recreational therapist at heart, play is important ;) we are limiting our games to once a week.
This gospel really is so amazing and I love getting to study it so much, I have believed in this church my whole life but it keeps hitting me more and more powerfully how real, and how important our message is. I talked to a man in the referral center for 45 minutes yesterday who has a sad story, divorced, his kids stole his credit cards and put him 30 thousand dollars in credit card dept, now he lives in a shack and works three jobs to play off bills he didn't create, etc, very lonely, and sees no way out. We just called to see if he got his DVD, and he said he never answers when he sees unknown numbers call but something told him to pick up the phone. He listened to our message and is meeting with the missionaries, and I am going to keep in touch with him, and I was so humbled at the realization of the power that our message has to improve and change lives. I was able to promise him that God knows him, loves him, and knows what he is going through. His situation seems so impossible to get out of, but it was powerful to realize that I know 100% that if he has faith and trusts God, then somehow, I don't know how but somehow, God will take care of him, and bring hope and happiness back into his life. How comforting it is to know that we are in the hands of the Lord! Who better to take care of us than the God and Creator of all things? Miracles are at His command, and His greatest desire is for us to be happy. This life is hard sometimes and things happen that we don't understand, but Christ is waiting to 'encircle us in the arms of His love', and will take care of us. I don't mean to go on about this, I am just gaining a greater desire to help all people know what Christ has done for them, and what more he is waiting and ready to do. My goal was to say "God lives and he Loves" in mongolian and I can do that :) I think that is the most important thing we can learn in this life.
I love you all so much! hope you have a great week, good luck with everything, and you all are in my prayers!!
love ya, ashley (sis mansfield)

cate- HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! um pa pa um pa pa happy birthday happy birthday, lalalalala. (I wish I had an accordian ;)

alyssa- it is great to hear you, good luck with everything, it sounds hard but i am so proud of the work you are doing! what an amazing and hard experience. good luck with the language and the children! love ya!!

kat- every time I play sand v-ball at gym I think of you! hope your internship is going great ;)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 21, 2009

Hello my family!!
how are you all doing? Thanks so much for the letters, mom and dad thanks so much for keeping me posted with things at home, you all sound good and busy as always ;) Your letters really help :) Thanks for the pics of josh's graduation! you all look good, tell him conrats, and lindsay, I love your dress! ;) And sarah, dad told me about what happened this past week and I have something to say to you, How could you?! how could you be so darn smart?!!!!! haha my sister is amazing! congrats on the test score :) I am so proud of you and not surprised at all ;) I'll see you at BYU when I get back! :) Linds thanks for the letter, your primary kids sound sooo cute and sweet, for relief society this week (we have it with all the sisters at the MTC, the MTC president's wife is the relief society president, and it is great!) they always get really great speakers like Sherry dew, and Sister Cook from the Young Womens presidency, and this week we heard from the General Primary President. It was a great message about the opportunities there are for us as sisters to teach the children specifically as we are teaching families, and she told some great stories of the faith that children have and it made me think of your primary music time and the truths that you are teaching them :)
I hope you were/are able to get the jet-skiis! Play a little extra hard for me ;) Jake, it is now your obligation to be the driver that knocks people off. Keep me posted ;) Tori hope you are having fun at home!
Things are going good here, all is well :) I can't think of much to write this week, no real funny mixups or anything, so this letter might be a bit on the boring side ;) Dad you asked about visas, and they sent out for them a few weeks ago. They had to wait until it was closer to our departure date to apply for them, the past two groups have had problems and were delayed, so we will see what happens, I really hope they come in on time! We are scheduled to leave July 1st, and one of the biggest mongolian holidays starts the following week, its called nadaam and it is like the Olympics of mongolia, huge traditional sporting competitions, etc and the missionaries got to go so we really hope we get there in time for it. I had forgotten to type up a resume to go with my application (I don't remember seeing I needed to write one, oops) so my teacher let my use his laptop to type one real fast, hopefully it was what they wanted.
Our teacher Brother Cannon has been thinking about the mongolian curriculum a lot, and he is deciding to make some changes, and I am so glad! Usually we teach a different section/lesson each friday in mongolian, and so we have to spend the whole week working on it, and neglect everything but our lesson. We cram for our lesson all week, and then go back to class and immediately start translating our next lesson and trying to learn that. It is frustrating because it feels like we are constantly cramming and memorizing just to spit it (literally with mongolian ;) back out in a lesson, and then we move on and never really cement what we learned. My teacher has been talking to missionaries in mongolia and found that they leave the MTC burnt out rather than pumped up so he made some changes. Every other week we teach in english so we have two weeks to prepare lesson, and so we can take the time to learn the lesson well, work on teaching skills, and know what we should from preach my gospel. It also gives us time to work on general conversational stuff, which we really need. So things are better and it feels less like school, (cramming just to pass the test, or teaching appointment). This is a crazy language, but it is fun :) we can have really broken conversations with each other and I am still butchering the pronunciation, but the words are sticking a little easier now :) A return mongolian missionary said to treat learning the language like drinking a cup of hot chocolate, Don't rush it or you will burn your throat, sip it slowly and enjoy it. There is an incredibly sense of urgency with missionary work, but the language will come when it does. :) I am still loving this and working hard.
Thanks again for all your love and support, I am so blessed to have such a great family! I hope you have an amazing week, and good luck with everything!

mansfield egch (or edge, as the elders now call me, it is spreading so I now answer to the mongolain word for "mother")haha, love ya!

alyssa- thanks for the letters, it sounds like you are having quite the experiences! it sounds hard, keep it up, you are amazing and even if it doesn't feel like it, you are helping those kids!

steve, ashley, and jake- thanks so much for the cookies and letter! that was awesome!! and I am jealsous of the hiking, and falling into the water was inevitable, thanks for being the one to do it steve ;)

kat- hope you are liking your internship! thanks for the letter!

cate and morgan- hope you had a wonderful trip!!! :)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

May 14, 2009

Hello my family!!
In mongolia the greeting for "what’s up?" is literally asking " what is new and beautiful in your life?" so what is new and beautiful in all of your lives? :)
Thank you all sooooo much for the letters, I love hearing from you! I got the pictures of sarah at prom, and she looked gorgeous!!! Some elders saw the pictures sarah and they asked for your address, I told them you were a bit young for them, haha, but seriously you looked so beautiful! I love the dress! Linds thanks for the letter, that is fun you painted the house and I laughed so hard about the chopped snake! That is gross! Say welcome home to josh for me, I’m glad he is back and that you all had a safe trip. Tori thanks for the wedding update! Oh my gosh I wanted to be there so bad, I was thinking about it all day
saturday, it is a good thing that this church is true and that missionary work is really important, or I would have had a hard time not being there! I would love pictures, printing some and mailing them would be the best if you are able to do that, thanks sooooo much! I'm so glad you were able to go! have fun back with the fam! Jake thanks for the letter! You and sarah do sound super busy, good luck finishing up school. And dad, you are amazing as always ;) Mom happy late mother's day! sorry I didn't mail the card in time for sunday, hope you had a good one!
Things are going really good here, its crazy I have been here a month, the time is flying but its a little scary only having 17 months of my mission left! I have so much to learn. But the language is coming, we taught last week and our lesson went really well, it is so cool to bare simple and pure testimony about God's love for us, the need for a restoration, and the truthfulness of this Gospel. Elder Pickett and I taught for 30 minutes in mongolian and you could feel the spirit and what we said is true! Even if it is said in poorly pronounced mongolian ;) This week language has been a bit hard, we are teaching about the plan of salvation in mongolian tomorrow and it had been hard translating all we want to say with the new vocab and I was a little frustrated, but I was lucky to have a really good experience last night. My elders are zone leaders now and had a meeting so I got my teacher from mongolia to my self, and she sat right in front of me and said she was a mongolian investigator and told me to teach her. So I did! I talked with her about God, prophets, scriptures, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, prayer, and Jesus Christ in mongolian for 45 minutes! It was cool, it was the first time I taught without using a "script" of memorized lines, she would ask questions, I would try to answer and it was really broken mongolian and I broke a lot of grammar rules I’m sure, but it was so cool to realize I could share what I know about God and explain it, in mongolian! Wow the Lord has blessed us, there is no way I could talk for 45 minutes in another language after 4 weeks without his help. :)
My weeks are pretty much the same, so I want to take a minute and tell you about my teacher sister Marta. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met! She is mongolian, and joined the church in mongolia 8ish years ago. When the missionaries found her there were only a few chapters of the Book of Mormon translated into mongolian, but after reading those few pages she knew it was true, felt the Church taught the truth, and joined the church as a young women with no family support. She decided to serve a mission even though her family was really against it and she left a really good school opportunity in Mongolia. She served in the Colorado mission and learned english, and finished reading the BOM for the first time on her mission in english. Her sister joined the Church, and after her mission her parents joined the church, and now her family and extended family are members and strong in the church in mongolia, and some have served missions. She is now here blessing our lives and she has such a strong testimony! She just graduated from BYU, and majored in Biology in her second language! She has been away from mongolia for 5 years, but is going back next year so I will hopefully get to see her in mongolia :) She tells us that she is the product of missionary work :) If I can find one "sister marta" in mongolia and help them join the church, all of this will be worth it!!
Our teachers are way more available now so we have been getting taught regularly and it is great :) Some funny language mix-ups from the week are …
"God Gave Joseph smith a new shadow" - elder in my group
" So do you eat God?" - said by me, to our teacher (ah!)
" What is your favorite leg? which one?" - I asked our mongolian volunteers this by accident while trying to get to know them, it was really funny, she pointed to one of her legs and said it was her favorite ;)

We have been playing way fun softball games in gym, it feels so good to hit and field a ball again! My companion played on the BYU hawaii team, we have a lot of fun!

okay, funny story of the week...
The elders at the mtc are all super nice, and always hold the door open for us sisters. This week, I saw the funniest thing I have ever seen in my life, and I don't share it to be mean, it was just so classically funny, and shows how great the elders at the mtc are. Me and 4 other sisters were walking out a building and there are glass doors inside at the top of the stairs to open to go down them. An elder was at the bottom of the stairs but saw us coming and wanted to open the door for us, so he sprinted up the stairs but tripped, and fell right into the glass door a foot in front of us. His face squished the glass and he slid to the ground with his face squished on the glass. It was soooo funny, but he popped right up, and still opened the door for us! it was amazing! It totally made my week :)

K, I am out of time, I love you all and wish you the best! have a great week!!

ashley (sister mansfield)

cate- you are married!!!! thanks for the letter! love ya!
kat- thanks for the letter, good luck in vegas!
alyssa- keep up the amazing work, you are amazing!
britt! I am soooo excited for your mission call! love ya!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

May 7, 2009

hello my lovely family!
Things are still going good here, the weeks fly by but at the same time the days last forever, we have been here three weeks now. Only nine more to go! :) It actually doesn't seem like a long time to be here anymore with all we have to learn, a new group of missionaries going to indonesia got here (class room next to ours) and it seems like after a week they know what it took us three weeks to learn in mongolian, different languages have different learning rates i guess, the mongolian is coming, slightly painfully but its coming ;) We taught in mongolian last week! It was a very one way lesson, we didn't understand much what the "investigators" said, but it was good practice and a good experience. I accidentally told them during my testimony that the book of mormon killed God's true gospel. ah! I'm glad we have the MTC to figure stuff like that out, I mixed up the words for contain and kill. For the record, I know the Book of Mormon CONTAINS God's true gospel ;) The funny language mix ups are just beginning, one of the elders keeps accidentally calling people his mother, it’s funny, but now some of the elders in my district call me their mom on purpose now, (they say that’s what I am to them, don't know why haha) (edge = mom, egch = sister). Speaking of the mongolian elders, one of our elders went home this week, he had a back injury not long ago and has been in constant pain so he had to go home to get surgery. We miss him but he is planning on coming back to mongolia when he is better. So there are 4 mongolian missionaries now and we are one of the only legit MTC 4-somes, 3 elders 1 solo sister.
um, i'm trying to think what other questions you have asked, My P-days are good, we have been able to get to the temple each week which is so great! I saw Connie Todd and his wife (dad's cousin?) in our temple session! It was cool and they say hi :) My companion is amazing and really likes volleyball and softball too which makes gym really fun, (you are right dad I do play hard that hour, they were inspired to let us have that hour of gym ;)
Elder M. Russel Ballard spoke at our tuesday devotional!! It was amazing to hear from an apostle of the Lord, he spoke on desire and gave some really great advice and guidance. He told us to write home and thank our families and parents on behalf of the first presidency and Quorum of the 12 for helping us and letting us serve missions, so on behalf of the first presidency and 12, thanks mom, dad, and family :) I really am loving the MTC :) We teach in mongolian again tomorrow and we are a little better than we were last week, hopefully it goes okay.
The three new sisters in our room are great, we had a birthday party for one sister last night complete with oreo cake (pile of oreos) and birthday crown (made out of rolled napkins and colored with dry erase markers). The other sister missionaries here are all so great and make good friends :)
Okay that’s about all, I send my love and best wishes to you all! Happy Mother’s Day mom! (I don't get to call home from the MTC, sorry, but I do get to call from the airport when I fly out, so I can talk to you in July :)
take care! mansfield egch

Caitlin- Oh my goodness!! have a wonderful wedding day! I have been getting the dear elder letters (thanks so much!) and I sent a letter to the address on the dear elder letter, i hope you get it! love you! read the last 3 lines of 4th Nephi 1:16, and change the word ppl to "couple", and that is how I feel about you and Morgan :) love ya!

Alyssa- thanks for the letters! romania sounds crazy but amazing, i'm proud of you and good luck! i love hearing from you!

Kat- have fun at the wedding!!! be enough of a bridesmaid for the both of us ;) love ya and good luck with your internship next week!

Dan- thanks for the message and best wishes to you!

I'm off to the temple! love you!

Friday, May 1, 2009

April 30, 2009

hello my dear family!!!!
Thank you all so much for the letters, they have been great. I got the written one, the dear elder letters, and mom's e-mail :) thanks everyone! It sounds like things are doing good at home, I didn't think it was possible but I love you all even more now that I am out here! :) I mailed letters to you all and I hope they find you well :)
Things are going great for me, time is so weird here at the MTC! Each day seems so long, but the weeks absolutely fly by, i can't believe it is thursday again! I think it is a blessing, we have a lot to learn each day so they seem long, but the weeks fly by so we don't get discouraged, its great! :) I don't feel like a new missionary anymore which is exciting, the 3 sisters me and my comp were with left for Indonesia on Monday and last night the three new Indonesian sisters came :) I helped show them around with the zone leaders and the MTC really is kinda feeling like home (it better, i will be here a while ;)
The new sisters are nice and I love my companion sister Soli! She loves to play volleyball and softball too so we have fun at gym (which is absolutely glorious, getting to run around for an hour is amazing! especially now that we can go outside!) The elders in my district are doing good too, we know each other well by now and have fun, they work had and offer comic relief ;)
The Mongolian is coming, it is a crazy language Sister Marta (mongolian) has been teaching us a ton and as one of my teachers put it, she blows our faces off with words. Haha its like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant but we are getting some of it! Funny language mix ups keep happening and I am sure they are just getting started, one of the elders accidentally introduced himself as the savior and it was really funny. It is cool hearing so many languages around campus, and my elders wanted to sound cool and fluent in mongolian so started saying random words, names of letters, and conjugations to each other when walking. They act like they are having an intense discussion but really they are saying "soft sign! hard sign! past tense conjugation, present progressive, mine, yours, sister, and future tense!" it is really funny, especially sense everyone is really impressed with their "good" mogolian ;) We are teaching the first lesson for 30 minutes tomorrow in mongolian! ah! It will be interesting, we translated all of our own sentences this week and I am spending the rest of the day trying to memorize it and I will let you know how it goes ;) Its funny, by tomorrow we are supposed to teach someone to pray, and we can't even pray very well yet! We don't know how it will happen, but we know it will happen and we will somehow learn this language ;)
The spirit at the MTC is so strong, there is a peace and happiness that comes from just being here and being a part of this work :) We got to go to the RC yesterday (call center) and answer phone calls for an hour and it was so fun!! It is so exciting to be talking to real people about the message that we have, and it is even more exciting when they want a Book of Mormon and the missionaries to come! I got to talk to several nice people and a family yesterday :) God Lives and He Loves!!! Everyone deserves to know that and if my mission is going to be as fun as that hour talking to people on the phone, these next 18 months are going to be amazing :) Jake you would be proud of me for this, a man called yesterday because he couldn't get his DVD of the Lamb of God to work, he had just bought a new TV and everything but couldn't figure out the remote so he called us, it was so funny, as you know I am totally technology illiterate and I can't even turn on our TV at home, but somehow we talked through it and I helped this nice man get his remote to work ;) he was really excited when it started, but put it on pause and let me talk about the rest of the message we have. Um, I can't think of any other stories, but all in all things are going good, we are studying A TON, and I am happy :) we have so incredibly far to go, but I try to look at where we have come instead of where we have to go when thinking about the language and it helps :) If the Lord wants us to be able to speak mongolian, we will speak mongolian! I don't know how it will happen,but it will :) I love you all soooooo much and thanks again for your prayers, love, and support. You are in my prayers and I think of you often!
love sister mansfield ;)

p.s. the dear elder letters are working great, i don't get much time on the computer so it is nice when you send them through dear elder so i have more time to read them :) i love the hand written ones too! and tell donielle wolf thanks for her letter! she makes me laugh and is so great :)

pps ; alyssa i hope you made it to romania okay!! thanks for your letter and I hope you are well! good luck!

take care everyone! God lives and he loves :)