Coming from the AA community of Gwangju in Korea, Br. Simon, Br. Christophe and Br. Truyen spent 10 days in Mongolia. They worked as volunteers in a primary school of the Sisters of Saint Paul de Chartres and went to meet the nomads in the Gobi desert. Br. Truyen witnesses.
Discover the country
The country is poor. For a long time, the Mongol ancestors lived in camps. Today, these camps have been replaced by buildings in big cities like the capital Ulan Bator. About 30% of the population is still nomadic or semi-nomadic. Most residents are Buddhists and many people do not have any religion. Most citizens belong to the Mongolian people, with a few minorities such as the Kazakhs and the monks.
A few days volunteering
Welcomed by the sisters, we first sat down to discuss and create a common work program. Sometimes we work too much side by side in our mission, “every man for himself”… In Mongolia, we worked for the first time abroad. It was a meaningful experience: helping poor students and getting to work together. Our tasks at the Saint Paul de Chartres primary school were to decorate, clean and rearrange the tables, the chairs and the school supplies for the start of the 40 students. A service towards the youth who are the future of the country, society and the Church.
Take the pilgrim’s staff
We merged with another group from Korea, the TE QU, composed of a priest and nine lay collaborators, and traveled together for two days through the country. We can truly call this a “pilgrimage” for we prayed together, celebrated the Eucharist and shared our meals. We went to the Gobi desert, where we lived in difficult conditions. No water to wash… at night it was very cold. Above all, we met poor families and people who were going to fetch water, one container after the other. Now we have a better understanding of the experiences of Jesus in a desert; without water and populated by wild beasts. On the paths, we saw shepherds and herds of 200 to 300 sheep. Shepherds and their wives live in tents that must be moved often. The work is very painstaking, but we discovered a real inner life among the nomads. They are people of honesty and sincerity.
I asked myself a question: why do shepherds take the trouble to keep moving? The answer is that sheep are constantly moving around to find something to eat. Shepherds must move with their flock. In addition, in winter, the sheep must take refuge in caves. Through the image of the shepherd, who must follow the flock, I think of Catholicism. Since the 13th century, Catholicism in Mongolia has gathered only 2% of the population. Therefore, the field of the mission is wide and needs workers. Today, priests must go and tend their lambs. Is it not the meaning of our motto? We are to work on all force to make THY KINGDOM COME, in us and around us!