By: Mary Jehlik, vet student at Auburn University, Class of 2018

yaks

MONGOLIA. Vast countryside. Free range herds of horses, cattle, yaks, sheep, and goats. Hawks the size of bald eagles. Thousands of miles of narrow dirt roads. Priuses off-roading up mountain sides. Chinggis Khaan emblem everywhere. Constant laughter by the Mongolian people. An experience that changed my life forever.

When I got back to the States, my family and friends would ask about my trip to Mongolia, expecting me to say a few words about it and then have the conversation change to something else. I found myself wanting to explode with stories and details about this country that so few people get to go to, but how do you even begin to express this type of journey? I went to parts of Mongolia out in the countryside that foreign people do not get to visit. The children there saw foreigners (my group) for the first time in the places I visited. I was greeted with open arms and lots of food everywhere I went. There were moments in the truck when I would look out onto the countryside and just be in awe of how majestically beautiful this country was and that I was so blessed to be seeing it with my own eyes.

I knew I would be out in the countryside somewhere in Mongolia, but I did not know where or what I would be doing. I was told the day before I left the capital city of Ulaanbaatar of how far west I would be traveling, and that I was going to be teaching English to students. Besides all the long flights it took to get to Mongolia, I ended up traveling more. Two long days in a truck heading west out into the countryside. One important concept that I need to convey is that paved roads are a luxury. I learned very quickly that bumpy paved roads are a blessing, because most of my traveling was done on dirt roads where travel is slow and tough. Even though the traveling was difficult, I was constantly praising God for allowing me to see this amazing countryside and all the herds of animals that exist in a way that we never get to see in the States.

Each place that I visited, the students were overjoyed with happiness of meeting new and, to them, strange looking

people. I felt almost like a celebrity due to the amount of pictures they wanted to take

with us. I tried my best to pour my love out onto them, teaching them how to correctly say and write things. But I think this whole trip was a learning experience for me as well. I formed friendships with the people who took care of my group and got to know them on a personal level. I loved hearing their testimonies of how God changed their lives when there is so much pressure from the government and society to be anything else but a Christian. To see their faith, pure and without bounds, was unlike anything I have ever experienced. I get emotional just thinking about them now as I am writing this. I am completely humbled and grateful that I was able to go on this trip with Christian Veterinary Missions. I would strongly encourage any type of mission work, whether it is here in the States or abroad. I am a normal, average third year vet student. God takes the normal and does something extraordinary.

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