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Shining moment: Mongolian marathon

About 70-80 members of the Church assisted at the annual marathon in the Mongolian National Garden Park on Sept. 9. The marathon is organized by Achilles International Mongolia, a non-government organization. This event brings more than 5,000 participants, including 168 with disabilities.

Tuvshinjargal Gombo, the public affairs director for the Church in Mongolia, decided to contact the race organizer after she received a prompting. She called Saranchuluun Otgon, the founder of this event, to introduce herself and offer to have volunteers from the Church assist with the race. Following their discussion and approval from the stake presidents in the area, it was decided that the Church would help by preparing meals for about 700-750 race volunteers.

Enkhbat Damdin, who was asked to lead the cooking team said, “When our priesthood leaders asked me to cook for more than 700 people, I thought ‘That many people?’ ” Then immediately Luke 5:5 came to his mind, where Simon Peter said to the Savior, “Master, we have toiled all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.”

Damdin continued, “I said, ‘I will do my best!’ Then all of the sudden I found many others who were ready to help me cook.” He and half a dozen members cooked several large batches of rice on gas stoves in the early hours before the race.

Later that morning, more than 70 members from the food delivery team arrived wearing their yellow “Mormon Helping Hands” jackets. Despite the cold and rainy day, over 750 people — including doctors, police, and other race volunteers — were greeted by a happy face with a plate of food. The extra food allowed a few of the other 5,000 participants to also enjoy a meal.

Otgon expressed great appreciation and added, “We are so happy to cooperate with the members of the LDS Church in our activity and we hope that we will continue this partnership in the future. We are happy to invite the LDS Church again to partner with us in this and other activities in the future as well.”

On behalf of the Church, Lkhavgajargal Dalaichuluun accepted an “Appreciation Acknowledgement” certificate from the event founder.

Dalaichuluun said, “It was a wonderful experience for me. I was so proud that I could represent the Church at this marathon.”

She added, “I had a very strong feeling that we are here to serve others. I was so happy to serve and help anyone who needed my help. I saw how people were happy to eat our meal, and I think we need to participate more often in these kinds of activities.”

— Po Nien Felipe Chou, for Church News