Journey To Mongolia
by Katrina Leigh Carter, student at SCS
Katrina took a leave of absence from the Seminary in order to be a missionary in Mongolia. We asked her to tell us about her journey which we hope to record here. Please pray for Katrina and the team!
What an adventure it’s been since I left California and we’re only 13 days in. Leading up to where I now live in Mongolia for the next 3 weeks, my squad and I spent 4 days at launch in Atlanta receiving more training, saying goodbye to loved ones, and prepping for our upcoming journey. These days were tough on my nerves. I had already said goodbye to my home, my sister, and my friends but now I had to say goodbye to my mom and America for the next 11 months. Going into launch I was sure I was ready. However, I’ve learned that when there’s idle time to second guess, the enemy will do everything he can to stir up doubt, fear, and loneliness. Spending my last night in isolation with a mere 2 hours of sleep before catching our 3:45AM shuttle to the airport, I had the thought of backing out. A shouting voice reminded me of how easy it would be to return home and chalk all this up to something that I had once thought about doing. By giving too much attention to those words I wrestled with my own mind, tossing and turning until my spirit won out and I woke up to catch our first flight toward Mongolia.
That first leg was quick without sleep, as we stopped over in New York for a 16-hour layover. Upon arriving at JFK two girls offered to watch the whole squads’ luggage so we could go out and explore. What a touching act of servitude! Volunteering to sit on the cold airport floor before we could even check into our flight, in the corner of a dirty walkway, with 30+ hikers bags is not something that had readily crossed my mind and I praise the Lord for these women who gave up their time so others could enjoy the city. During our time out, a couple girls and I made our way to Central Park. On the way there we rode the subway, where I sat next to woman named Nina who struck up a kind conversation about why we were in New York. Asking me if my belief was in Christianity, I responded with the answer that my belief was in Jesus and though she took interest she didn’t exactly share the same. Nina proceeded to tell me about her Hindi upbringing/belief and that truthful love is the only given purpose of life. On this point we obviously agreed, and I got to leave her with a metal heart covered in Scripture. Lord bless her for that conversation and thank You for the appointment we shared.
Free Prayer and a New Friend
After getting off the subway, we walked the crowded streets of the city and stopped to eat 2 slices of pizza with a Coca-Cola for $2.95. That’s right! $2.95! Oh boy was it delicious. Yum yum! We gobbled up the New York flavor and walked a few more blocks until we arrived at the greenest spot in that concrete jungle. Seeing a little of what Central Park had to offer we sat around on a grass hill for awhile and one of the girls left to go meet up with her dad. Talking about connections, theology, and ideas of love my teammate and I decided to roam a little further and find a bathroom. Discovering and using we emerged to find two women on a bench with a sign that read free prayer. Naturally and in need we wandered up and asked for their petitions. What beauty surrounded us in that moment as we stood getting prayed for in front of the masses walking by. May Jesus bless that ministry with a flurry of other people seeking the same. We ended the day with ice cream and Times Square before heading back to the airport and making our way through check in.
Headed into a 14hr flight for our next layover in Beijing, I was beyond tired and really needed to sleep. I asked Jesus for a window seat that I had not previously had, and our Father kindly responded. God not only gave me a window seat but placed me next to an empty seat and a woman who generously gave up her aisle to let me have the whole row because she saw I was struggling to find rest. All praise! Lord bless that woman for her warm heart. Though we didn’t speak the same language we did share conversation and laughter and I ended up with about 10 hours of rest on that flight with a new friend.
For that leg of the trip we were supposed to have a 4-hour layover in Beijing, but our plane took a detour. We ended up in another city where they held us on the plane for what seemed like 3 hours before refueling and heading back to Beijing. That 14-hour flight turned into an 18-hour flight with a few extra hours of just sitting in it. Oh my. Praise the Lord for the ways he kept my cool and didn’t allow bother to break in. Truly I think there’s contentment I’ve learned. Upon finally landing in Beijing we had just enough time to catch our 3rd and last flight to Mongolia. Yes! Here we go. On that last flight the Lord gave way to intended conversations and vulnerable communication. How sweetly He moves in His design and I’m so honored to watch it all unfold.
A Warm Reception and Work to do
At last we made it to Ulan Bator in Mongolia but unfortunately not everyone received their luggage. At least 3 people (maybe 5) on our squad showed up to the country without their living packs for the next 11 months. Rough! The normalcy of frustration would have caught anyone’s temperament in that situation. However, the celebration of entering the country outweighed the upset of missing belongings and I rejoice to see such satisfaction in the sole of our Lord. Our team stayed in UB that night at a local church where we met a woman named Hungar. We talked over coffee about how she was saved, the way she found the love of her life in Jesus and her desire to be a missionary in Russia. Oh God what a desire to have. Please bless her journey of sharing your Good News to a permanent place where she can celebrate Your love.
The next day my team and I had to take an 8-hour bus ride which turned into an 11-hour journey before we reached the place we’d be staying for the next few weeks. Oh Lord the abundance of travel was certainly lengthy but praise Your name for leading us to Transformation Mongolia. At Transformation Mongolia we have the opportunity to serve a loving church passionate about Jesus by helping the community with their English while working alongside their coffee shop ministry. Some of the girls are even participating in a music ministry. How blessed! The people here have welcomed us with open arms and I’ve even learned a few key Mongolian phrases. With the ministry this month being specified, I’m also praying about ways we can use other gifts. Whether that be by organizing storage rooms, painting building fixtures, or tending garden, I’d love to exceed our hosts expectations and encourage them in all the ways they’ve been blessing this town.
I had a hard time battling the absurd negativity of my lowly thoughts when the very next day
our host took us to different parts of the city to pray aloud over the community…
Looking for these opportunities and not receiving much of a go ahead I struggled to find my place amongst this ministry. Taking that struggle to God I felt Him tell me that I was here this month to pray and part of me was saddened by that response as if it was nonsignificant or less than any of the other ministries. Really?! Pray? That’s my ministry for the month? I had a hard time battling the absurd negativity of my lowly thoughts when the very next day our host took us to different parts of the city to pray aloud over the community and my morning Scriptures read “He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city” and “behold I have put My words in your mouth, see I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and break down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Hallelujah my King! Thank You for those words. For the life they brought and the reassurance that You always have such great plans for us.
Since that day, I’ve given my testimony about deciding to follow Jesus in front of a Mongolian church service. I’ve also began teaching English to a few adults which I don’t think I’m the most equipped for. Both these circumstances have taken me out of my comfort zone but perhaps there’s more being gained from the experience than I already know. In fact, I’m certain that possibility is a kingdom truth. Thank You Holy Spirit for bringing about new experiences and showing me how to find joy in it. Thank You for refining and taking time to meet with me. I learned today that my mornings with Jesus are essential for peaceful living. I’ve always been a nighttime Scripture reader but this past week I’ve been waking up early and sitting with the Lord for at least an hour. Writing, reading, speaking, and simply enjoying His fellowship, today I didn’t get that. I didn’t get up as early and as a result the day went differently. There were frustrations, annoyances, troubles, and difficulties that were heightened today. I felt the pressing opposition weighing down but thankfully God decided to allow my afternoon class to be a no show and instead made time for a life-giving conversation that brought refreshment. Oh Lord how I grateful I am for Your tender care to our needs. I praise You for what you’ve done in these past two weeks and can only imagine what You’re bringing in the next. In the meantime, let me celebrate the present moment as I press into Your heart. May You grant me with Your wisdom and give me revelation on how to better serve the people around me. Let me extend and accept grace as I learn more of who You are. Longing to hear You in new ways Father I pray for Your voice, for Your visions, for Your dreams. Speak Lord, shout! Show me and teach me. Lead me and shake me into the excitement You offer. Thank You Jesus for all this and more. Thank You for hearing and thank You for loving. In Your mighty name my Lord, Amen!