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A sweet friendship: How 2 women became the first full-time missionaries called from Mongolia

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Sister Batchimeg Magsar (right) received her mission call in 1993 in Ulaanbaatar.
Courtesy of Bradley Pierson

Editor’s note: The following excerpt has been adapted from Voice of the Saints in Mongolia, the first comprehensive history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in that nation.

The first local full-time missionaries called from Mongolia were Sisters Batchimeg Magsar and Soyolmaa Urtnasan. They received their call around April 1995 and served in the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission and the Utah Provo Mission, respectively, from June or July 1995 until January 1997.

Although Sister Batchimeg was raised in [Mongolia,] a communist country that did not believe in deity, she believed in God and read lots of books about religion. In 1992, with the departure of communism, there were many Christian churches looking for converts. Batchimeg recalled,

“In 1992 there were lots of Christian churches in Mongolia opening their doors. I got a copy of the New Testament of the Bible. As I read it, I had a burning sensation and I knew that what was writ­ten in this book was true. My whole being was burning and I knew that Jesus Christ was real. …

When my uncle passed away, he was only 41 years old. So I began wondering what happens to us after this life. My friend was going to an American church, so I bugged her about going to her church. … As I entered the church, I had a peaceful feeling. I felt I belonged there, and I also loved the hymns. I met with the missionaries for three months and then got baptized.”

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Batchimeg “could barely understand the missionaries because they were just learning Mongolian and she didn’t know English.” Nevertheless, she “could tell the elders meant what they said when they bore testimonies.” She added, “As I was growing up, I found it hard to believe that there was no reason for my life. The Church answered all of my questions, and the gospel makes everything clear.” She gained her own testimony and was baptized on 21 March 1994. Around that time, Batchimeg visited her friend Soyolmaa Urtnasan. Soyolmaa recalled,

“[Batchimeg] wouldn’t drink tea, told me about the Church, and invited me to come see. I said, ‘Yes’ and as soon as I said it, I felt something and was excited to go.

We met at the Peace and Friendship Palace. When I met with the missionar­ies, I thought the six missionary elders all looked the same.

I was a golden investigator. My friend had been baptized about a week earlier, and after taking the lessons a few weeks, I was also baptized ... on 11 June 1994.”

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Soyolmaa Urtnasan in 2018 in Ulaanbaatar.
Courtesy of Po Nien (Felipe) Chou and Petra Chou

Batchimeg had joined the Church only four months earlier when she went to Russia in the summer 1994 to study. While studying in Russia, she wondered how someone would go about preparing for and applying to be a full-time missionary. In Russia, she walked the city looking for missionaries for two months. When she tried to the find the Church, she was surprised by the hostility that other Christians had towards what they called “the devil’s church.” She later said, “It is so sad when people feel the Spirit and know the Church is true but won’t accept it. I wish I could plant the seeds of the gospel in everyone.” One day she was walking in a tunnel and found the missionaries who invited her to a baptismal service. She saw sister missionaries for the first time and immediately wanted to be one, even though she thought it would be impossible. One of the sister missionaries was from Armenia and told her, “If you are willing, the Lord will call you!” Moreover, she also suggested that Batchimeg talk with the mission president, which she did the next day. The mission president encouraged her to fill out a missionary application back in Mongolia.

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When Batchimeg returned to Mongolia, she visited Elder Hardy and said, “I’m going on a mission!” He looked for a missionary application form and called the Church Office Building. Since she had been a member of the Church for only six months, it was too early to apply since she needed to be a member for at least one year. Around that time, Batchimeg visited her friend Soyolmaa, who didn’t understand much about missions but also wanted to share the gospel. After Batchimeg told Soyolmaa that they could serve a mission, they decided to put in their mission papers together around March or April 1995. Batchimeg opened her mission call letter during a home evening with others, and she was so excited to learn that she was called to the Utah Salt Lake City Temple Square Mission. Soyolmaa got her letter about a week or two later and was called to serve in the Utah Provo Mission. Soyolmaa remembered,

“I was called to the Utah Provo Mission from June 1995 to January 1997.

I was excited for my mission call because I would get to go to the United States and I could be a missionary. I didn’t know much about the Church then or what a mission was like. But I had translated for the missionaries before and already knew some of the missionary discussion lessons. I was trained while translating.

My friend and I both spoke Russian, so we could read the Book of Mormon in Russian and didn’t know much about being a missionary.

When we arrived, a missionary couple met us and took us to the Salt Lake Temple for our own endowment. I loved my mission and my conversion was deepened.”

Batchimeg said, “Mongolian people are good people. … They are very friendly, and they have good thoughts about others. If they will hear the gospel and join the Church, their lives will be better.”

Voice of the Saints in Mongolia

This is the first comprehensive history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Mongolia. It highlights various aspects of the establishment, growth, and development of the Church in Mongolia by reviewing key historical events while providing individual stories and experiences. Some key events include an initial hunting trip in 1984, the arrival of the first missionaries in 1992, the growth from Ulaanbaatar to the other regions of the country, the translation of the scriptures, the creation of stakes, the development of local leadership, building efforts, Deseret International Charities, and administration of the Church.

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