Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Lesson learned in Mongolia

The first trip overseas by a priest who is now working here with seamen and the foreign community was to the land of the descendents of Genghis Khan. He took note of the wide-open plains, the blue sky and the many horses and sheep. Though the language was different, their facial features were the same as his own.

He went to Mongolia to help a Korean missionary priest who had gone there some ten years earlier. During the priest's visit, he traveled far and wide and ended up at an isolated ranch. Mongolians are famous for their portable  tents, and it was in these circumstances that he had his first experience of  the nomadic life. No electricity, no water and no toilets made life extremely difficult, but it was the lack of toilets that was the biggest hardship.

A small hole in the ground, surrounded by a fence, right behind the tent, was his toilet. Eating and defecating were seen as similar activities, both without needing privacy; in fact there were no rocks, trees or other objects that would provide privacy. The children, especially, felt no need to find a  private place, any place would do. They just lowered their pants and did their business. There was no need to avoid the eyes of others; laughing, they would look at you. It was the priest who was embarrassed. 

Last week, the priest went to a center for children of foreign workers. The weather was cold, and he wondered how the Mongolians in their country were making out. The recent move of the children's center to this new area, which was a factory area, had been completed and everything was in order. The Mongolians here in the city are no longer nomads but making money in the factories. On that day he was caring for three of the Mongolian children who were sometimes crawling on the floor and sometimes walking and falling, and always shouting.

He spent time playing with the children using the  toys available. Conscious of a strange smell he thought was from the factories surrounding the center, he took one of the children and placed him on his knee while riding a toy horse. He noticed that the child was wet with a chestnut-sized dropping from the back side of the child; the child was laughing. Too much dissimulation is not a good thing, the priest reflected, when eating and excreting waste from the body is part of the natural process.

He lowered the child's pants and saw the big 'Mongolian spot' and the child laughing all the while. He remembered the children he met 10 years ago in Mongolia who were out behind the tent, laughing and relieving themselves. You guys grow up strong, he silently wished, and hoped that their lives back in their country riding their horses would be happy.

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