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.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Travel Update

Hi, this is Tori. I just wanted to let everyone know that Ashley's visa did come in last week and she and her district left the MTC this morning. Right now she is on a plane to Korea where she will then fly on to Ulaan Bataar, Mongolia. We were able to talk to her on the phone and she sounds happy and excited. We will keep you updated with her travels and hopefully hear from her soon. When we learn her new mailing address, we will post it. Mongolia missions use the pouch mail system and is always a free option. Hope everyone is well and thanks for your care and support.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

June 25, 2009

Hello my family :)
oh my goodness you are moving next week! I hope it goes well! and thanks S000 much for the letters and awesome package!! those books are perfect, and thanks so much for the contact solution, and all the other great stuff, it felt like Christmas :) and that is perfect traveling food!! Grandma and Grandpa Mansfield sent a package too with great stuff so it was a really good week for our whole district ;) mom, I am soooooo sorry I didn't get a letter to you by your birthday! Time is really weird at the MTC and I had no idea what day of the month it was, the weeks go by like days, hopefully the little letter got to you by now, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! :)the German restaurant sounded fun, sarah should have played her accordion;) Dad hope you had a great father's day :) dad and jake I am glad the fishing trip was fun, sorry the catching wasn't that great but that is a way cool story about how jake caught a fish off a snagged line! Hey jake if you have time (and it is summer so I hope you do ;) write a dear elder or something about the trip, and the waterpark! did they have any of those 6 story drop slides? how does a water rollercoaster work? Sarah I got your letter and it totally made my week. thanks so much! I will write you today! tori thanks for the letter too, I love them :)
Things are good here, This is potentially my last p-day in the states!!! We are slightly freaking out haha, we might be leaving on tuesday. Mongolian districts have a history of being banned from the travel office because they go there so often ;) and we have checked on visas a few times so they told us not to go back until friday, so tomorrow we find out if they have them or not. Even if they don't have them yet it is a day-by-day thing, so even if we don't find out tomorrow we still might be leaving tuesday. Ah!! it is scary not knowing but its exciting, we got our "flight plans" last week and just seeing them was so exciting, we are so in the MTC mode it hasn’t seemed like we are leaving until this week. There is a phrase in mongolian that means "excited" and if you directly translate it, it means "it became a heap of holidays!" ;) when we get our visas, it is going to become like a heap of holidays haha.
The language is interesting, we all know we aren't going to be able to understand or talk when we get there so as one of the elders in my district put it, we are buckling down for the storm, boarding up the windows, and doing whatever we can to make the learning easier in mongolia, we are all making little handheld notebooks with grammar rules and really important vocab, etc. oh man! I am so antsy! (it that is even a word!) but so excited!
We had "culture day" this week with one of our teachers and it was really exciting, they brought in traditional mongolian clothes, games, tons of pictures, etc and got us all really excited. There is a game you play with sheep ankle bones that is so fun! I can't wait to teach you!
And funny fact, I was telling aunt kerry about the fermented mare's milk people drink before I left, and she thought I had said urine, and we were all laughing about it but I found out she was right! In mongolia, it is not unusual for people to drink their mother's urine (has to be their mother's) when they are sick. It is getting less common, but my mongolian teacher drunk it when she was little and my other teacher was offered it, haha. They also used to use a variety of animal urine as a cure for a sore tooth, craziness, stigma in eyes, etc. kinda interesting ;) Aunt kerry was right!
oh and language mix up of the week- shar = yellow, umce = pants, sharsan = fried, tumce= potatoes. I got a plate without french fries and we had the following conversation, "why didn't you get fried potatoes? I love fried potatoes!" but we were really talking about yellow pants. I totally understood what the elder was trying to say and didn't notice until elder godfrey asked why we were talking about yellow pants. it was funny ;)oh! and all the mission presidents are getting trained at the MTC this week! we have a special devotional tomorrow that we are all really really excited about :)
woah this is long, family I will send info about my flight plans and when I can potentially call from the airport. I love you all sooooo much, good luck with the moving and everything this week, thanks again soooo much for everything and all of your support. This gospel message is so important and so true. It is humbling to be a part of this work and to have already seen how the Lord blesses and helps us accomplish what He needs us to do. Hopefully next time I write it will be from mongolia! love you,
ashley (mansfield egch/edge)

grandma and grandpa mansfield- thanks sooooo much for the package!! my district and I love the candy, that is some of our favorite and that is the nicest toothbrush I have used! :) and thanks for the print out! :) love you both! and the shoes are amazing!!

Cate- hey there friend! love and miss ya! congrats on the Sunday school teacher calling! ;) it is scary but you and Morgan really are both great teachers, you will do great! hope work is good! and you are sooo right, I don't feel anymore at home than when I am at the temple too :) love ya!

alyssa- thanks so much for the letter and blog post, wow that little boy sounds amazing and it would be so hard to see him leave! It is so comforting to know God knows and loves each and everyone of us, especially those little orphans in romania. love ya and keep up the good work!

kat- hope the vegas heat isn't killing you! hope the internship is going good and that you have found some volleyball buddies :) love ya!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009

June 18, 2009

Hello my family!!!!!
love you! thanks for everything as usual, mom thanks for typing that letter while dad was gone and thanks for the e-mail :) It is so good to hear from you. Linds thanks for the letter too, I can't believe you are in nursery now! woah, just as you were loving primary, but i know you will do a really good job, and good luck with everything.... ;) Thanks for the update on dad and jake's trip, that sounds so fun! I'm glad they get to go to a waterpark too, man water is one of the things I miss the most ;) but no worries, in mongolia there is no water, and if there was it would usually be frozen ;) when are you all leaving illinois officially? have fun with your day trip to your home town mom :) I keep forgetting that it is summer and that everyone is out of school, and good luck with the moving.
Things are good here, I can't believe it is p-day again already! I don't think I realized how little I would actually know when I left the mtc, 2 weeks is so short a time, and that is all we have left! We are still studying hard, I guess I just hadn't thought it out, you don't become even slightly fluent in a few months ;) we watched the restoration movie in mongolian yesterday and my teacher told us we would be able to understand it, I caught about 5 words, and never even understood a sentance. Me and the elders are pretty humbled ;) But not discouraged, faith and fear don't exist at the same time so we are trying to erase the word fear from our vocabulary, lets just say it is going to be incredibly humbling when we get to mongolia. I am trying to get at least the lessons down so I can say what I want to about the important things and add my simple testimony as we teach, but I think that is really all I will be able to do for a while. but I really am excited!! This message is so important and we are not alone in this work!! If the Lord wants us to learn mongolian, we will be able to learn it.
In the mean time however and with this "speak your language" thing, we have said some pretty funny things. I kept a little list this week.
"my potatoes are talking!" (suppossed to be "discusting")
"our bodies, are like dogs" (“sacred” - this was a funny one, an elder said it while we were teaching and dogs are about as low as you can get in mongolia, big insult)
investigator- "We can pray to God?" me- "no, we can't". (this was bad!i missunderstood the question, we definitely CAN pray to God;)
"I ate the shepherd that was killed." (sheep. they sound similar ;)
"are you drunk?" (ready)
"What is that?!" (who is that)
Thank goodness we have teachers, they read through our lessons and we had accidently said some pretty bad false doctrine:
"saturday is the sabbath"
"we can shop, and do whatever we want on the sabbath"
"we should desecrate sunday"
- and something to do with using a word that meant friend instead of spouse, and when teaching the law of chastity that is not a good mix up ;)
Learning a language is a fun and intersting thing, at the RC yeaterday I was trying to read a lady's name and I looked at it for 5 minutes and couldn't fingure it out, finally I asked someone and they told my it was Ethyl, I had been pronouncing it mongolian style (sounded something like 'ethoolth" with some spit). I also got to call a lady I talked to last week at the RC to follow up, she lived in an area where they didn't have missionaries but we are able to send some from another area, and she had had a really good talk with them, was going to church, and was so excited about the book of mormon, it is amazing how easy it is to share this message! She kept saying, "did you know joseph smith was only 14? its amazing!" :) ah I love missionary work!! and I keep telling myself I love the mongolian language ;) (i really do;)
My companion left for figi, she was such a great companion! I am with the indonesian sisters now who are great too, I've been lucky and have been with amazing sisters this whole time. things are good and still no word on when we leave, hopefully things will be on time ;)
love you all, and have such a good week!!
ashley / sister mansfield

cate- thanks for the letter, hope work is going good! I wrote last week but forgot to mail it! I am going a little crazy ;) love ya and hope you are well!

kat- thanks so much for the letter too! I'm glad you are liking the internship and I hope you have found some volleyball buddies ;) i forgot to mail your letter too! love ya!!

alyssa- thanks so much for sharing that story about how you went on splits with the sister missionaries! that was so great! wow thats cool you get to help with the missionary work in romania too :) I hope things are going good, sounds like quite a unique experience, love ya and I hope things are going good! (and that was so funny you had accidentally been cat-calling the kids! gotta love learning languages ;) love ya!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

June 11, 2009

Hello my family :) (rep booth;)
Thanks again for the letters, it is so fun to hear from you all, I am really glad the trip to utah when okay, that sounds crazy busy! We have made that drive a lot haven't we, glad it went okay. Mom thanks for the e-mail, how does it feel to be done with seminary? Dad and jake, have fun on the canoe trip! take lots of pictures, I would like to see them dad, thanks :)I love stuff like that, you will have so much fun! Linds, I heard the volleyball day was a total hit!! Donielle said her daughter loved it, way to go! :) and thanks for your letter, love ya and miss ya!!!! tori, thanks for the letter too, you always make me laugh and it was so funny, you know our family well, I could picture everything you were describing :) And sarah!! you got your patriarchal blessing! I am so excited for you :) That can be a huge blessing and help to your life, I’m so grateful Heavenly Father gives us our own little piece of personal scripture :)
Things are good here, we leave in about 20 days!! These next three weeks will be interesting, we as a district decided to SLY (speak your language) for the last three weeks, we really need it and it will force us to learn better and start thinking and speaking mongolian. Yesterday was our first day, and it was so hard! I don't think my head has ever hurt so much, haha, it was really an interesting experience, my brain was working so hard every minute just to try to communicate and it was funny, my district was so tired yesterday, this language stuff takes it out of you! we are usually so energetic at gym but we were all so beat, but it is good :) it is refreshing to be thinking in english as I write this. It makes you realize how much you don't know but that is exactly why we are doing it, better to get as much of the language shock out of the way in the safe MTC ;) my companion and roommates have been very patient, I say things in mongolian and then translate for myself, it has been an interesting experience, and we are getting better at charades. I think I took communication for granted, it is hard to not say what you want to, but then again it is a miracle we really can get around with just mongolian, I hope the learning curve increases these next few weeks.
Elder Bednar spoke at devotional this week and it was sooooooo amazing! You could feel the power and love coming from him as he spoke, we truly have God's chosen apostles leading this church. And calling people from the Referral Center is still great, it is exciting to share the happiness we have :)
The flu is still going around but it is not a huge deal, they are having missionaries leave as long as they are healthy, my roommate, sister going to Indonesia, got the flu and is in quarantine, so far the rest of us are good, we caught something else but it hasn't turned into the flu yet and I don't think it will so all is good.
Um, i can't think of any funny language mixs up this week though I am sure there have been many, my elders have found the advantages of speaking a language no one else knows, they go up to people and talk in mongolian all friendly, and they really are just using every mean adjective they know. They think they are pretty funny and i should be more mature and not laugh but it is pretty entertaining ;) it is funny how they learn the mean and teasing words faster than the basics, but it is all in good taste (usually ;) and gets them speaking!;)
No word on visas yet, they say we won't know until right before we leave. The english teaching has been good, we made some neat friends from Korea and mexico :) this is our last week of the english teaching training. It anyone knows any fun games or activities to teach english as a second language, I would love ideas and suggestions! mostly conversational language. And family I have a big favor to ask, could you look for a small and simple english grammar book? I don't know, maybe they have one of those "english for dummies" books, I realized I didn't pay attention in school and I don't know how our language works! If not that is okay but if you have time it might be helpful.
um, thats all, thanks again for everything, I love you all so much! I am doing good and still trying to work hard, my brain is running a marathon that has just begun, but it is a good, exciting, and important race! Love you!!!
ashley (mansfield egch)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

June 4, 2009

Hello Family!!!
I hope this finds you all well! thanks again for the letters as always, I love hearing about what you are doing, Mom and dad you are probably driving to utah right now, hope you travel safe and good luck with getting ready for the move!! Wow dad you sound super busy, campout to utah to campout, that canoe trip sounds so fun, hope it goes well:) and I got the packages!! linds thanks so much for yours, I love love love those granola bars and everything else you sent ;) and mom and family thanks for the package, the speakers are perfect! just the right size and work great :) and thanks for the soap on a rope! I am so excited about those, and Tor thanks for the wedding pictures!! grandma and grandpa sent me some too which was great so I got to see some, thanks! :) you looked adorable and Cate was gorgeous!! Linds, the v-ball day sounded like a hit!! way to go :) thanks for the dear elder, I think i did get it the same day :) tor when you sent me that card in the package i thought mom had written it, so when you started talking about playing in the mud and sliding around, i was picturing mom doing that and was like "go mom!!" haha :) that sounded like fun on memorial day, way to get muddy! :)
things are still good here, the weeks are flying by now and we leave in four weeks! With how fast the weeks go, that might as well be 4 days! we are getting really excited but a little nervous about the language, starting next week we are only speaking mongolian until we leave! our conversations will be interesting ;) Um, wow the week went by so fast I am trying to think what happened... oh! we started our english teaching training. We are required to teach english in mongolia and I found out we actually teach in universities and colleges, so i am glad they train us in how to teach english as a second language. We observe classes for missionaries who are learning english, and we taught two english classes this week. I like about everything and I didn't think there was a subject I didn't like, but I found one, English grammar. During our training I realized I don't even know my own language haha! But it is actually fun to teach because we get to teach these really cool missionaries from all over the world and we get to know them :) we teach a few more times this week and next.
The flu has also made things a bit interesting here, It is not a huge deal, there have been some cases of swine flu here, and they have a quarantine area on campus for all those that are sick, many people just have the normal flu but it is not a big deal. we are not allowed to shake hands, hug, etc and the new missionaries that come in have to leave their families at the door. They actually cancelled all flights for the next two weeks just so they can make sure the flu is under control. My comp was supposed to leave in a few days but is still here, I feel the worst for the Finnish district, they had been here 12 weeks and were all packed and ready to leave monday, but now have to stay two more weeks. I hope it all gets worked out by the time we are supposed to leave. But I and the majority of the missionaries here are healthy and well :)
Me and the sisters going to indonesia got off campus yesterday and got permission to go to the mall with our branch presidents wife, we had some things to return and needed a few things, it was funny to ride in a car again after 2 months ;) the elders asked us to bring back rocks from the real world haha. In my hall are the missionaries going to indonesia, figi, tahitti, madagasgar, samoa, tonga, and people learning hattian creole (no idea how to spell that) It is funny we are with all these tropical islands, and then there is mongolia right in the middle ;) It is really fun being with all the polonesians because they are soooo good at volleyball ;) we are still loving gym :)
So life is really good here, we get to hear amazing devotionals each week, (oh and tori, susan easton black spoke in relief society and it was awesome!!! :) and it is so neat and humbling to be a part of this work. I cannot wait to get out there and to start teaching what I know, even if it is in really broken mongolian :) I love you all so much and good luck with everything at home!!!
love ya!
ashley (sis mansfield)

ps I got my new name tag with mansfield written in mongolian, I will have to send a picture :) and we learned our names in old script and it is the prettiest language ever!!! love you all!!!