MMP amping up to present Mongolia Festival Sept. 18

MMP amping up to present Mongolia Festival Sept. 18

Image Credit: Submitted

For many years groups from Mongolia Mission Partnership have been traveling to Mongolia to help build schools and playgrounds, fix homes, create safe drinking water, and share the Word of God with the Mongolian people. It has been all about building relationships.

Now MMP is bringing Mongolia to Amish Country.

The inaugural Mongolia Festival will take place Sunday, Sept. 18 from 4-6 p.m., where people can experience Mongolia through food, activities and customs.

The MMP normally hosts a fundraiser fall banquet but wanted to try something new this year, creating a festival that should provide insight into Mongolia and its people.

“We tried to think of something that would appeal to younger people and families,” committee member Char Kellogg said. “It’s an exciting concept.”

The concept is focused around Mongolia’s Naadaam, a national celebration that is based on the nation’s three manly sports: archery, bareback riding and wrestling similar to sumo wrestling.

“Sometimes during Naadaam, businesses close the doors for a week to celebrate,” Kellogg said. “I’ve been in Mongolia and witnessed these events, and they are fascinating. They feature an eagle dance and a lot of other unique activities.”

Because of that uniqueness, Kellogg said MMP is designing its festival around those events, although they have taken liberties to make them much safer for visitors.

She said they will present wrestling with inflatable sumo costumes, longbow archery and horse rides for children.

In addition, the festival will present Mongolian food, and Kellogg said there is one simple ingredient that is involved in most of the Mongolian dishes.

“They feature meat, meat and meat,” she said. “It’s a meat-centric society that eats marmot, goat, horse, sheep, yak, camel and other meats. We will not be so bold. We are using hamburger.”

On the menu will be deep-fried, hand-made meat pies with spices; a fried rice dish with vegetables; cabbage slaw, which is big there; Russian ice cream; and hot dogs for the kids who don’t feel adventurous.

“We are hoping this will become an annual event and we can grow that menu,” Kellogg said.

They also will have some Mongolian children’s games, some with hoops, chess and games with sheep knuckles.

According to Kellogg, sheep knuckles have four sides, and each side appears different, so Mongolian children make up dice-type games with the knuckles.

“They use the knuckles like dice or marbles and create their own games, so we will have some fun games for the kids with sheep knuckles,” Kellogg said.

In addition, there will be ultimate Frisbee, which Kellogg said is just now becoming a popular sport in Mongolia, and a bounce house for the kids. There also will be a craft tent set up for families where kids can learn how their counterparts live halfway around the world. There will be a furnished Mongolian ger and opportunities to take pictures in Mongolian clothing, a petting zoo with sheep and goats but sadly no Bactrian camels, and a marketplace featuring handmade fair-trade merchandise.

There also will be a video playing with a message from longtime Mongolia missionary Laura Schlabach and Mongolian music.

A guest speaker who has served in Mongolia for 26 years will provide perspective on Mongolia.

“Initially, she and her Mongolian team translated Christian books that focus on character and relationship building and emotional and spiritual maturity,” Kellogg said. “Her ministry has now expanded to include training counselors from all walks of life. She will also talk about Mongolian traditions and take questions from the audience.”

Kellogg said this event and annual church mission giving are their support for the MMP. Last year the organization raised $90,000. Kellogg said because of rising costs, dollars don’t stretch as far as they used to.

She said the organization has gone from more disaster and relief work to finding ways to support pastors in the nation as they grow their churches.

“It’s more about church planting and developing entrepreneurs,” Kellogg said. “It’s very gratifying to see the growth of the churches in Mongolia. It’s a long-haul thing that takes a long-haul attitude.”

Kellogg said the second hour of the event will feature the Mongolian speaker, who will flesh out exactly what the real Mongolian celebration of Naadaam is all about, as well as share about the outreach project, Pearls of Wisdom, which focuses on teaching Mongolian women to take better care of their health.

“It’s moved from merely translation into teaching educators and social workers counseling techniques,” Kellogg said. “She has quite a high-level counseling course.”

Kellogg said the Mongolian Festival hopes to give a glimpse into life in Mongolia for those who haven’t experienced it.

“We hope to expand the interest in and knowledge of the work going on in Mongolia while keeping it fun. Things have grown so much there in society in so many ways,” Kellogg said. “It’s not the same Mongolia when we first went there in 2005. It’s a democracy with a communist president, and they continue to take great pride in their warrior society heritage.”

The public is invited to stop by and experience Mongolia, with plenty of fun and education painting a picture of its people and the growth that is taking place there.