Steve’s Return to Ulaanbaatar

Chinggis-Khan-Airport-Ulaanbaatar-MongoliaUlaanbaatar. Two years ago, as we rode in the car together traversing the pockmarked road to Chinggis Khaan airport to pick up my daughter Natalie, who was coming in the night after the rest of us, Rita asked me, “So. . . . do you think you’ll ever come back?” I had been in Ulaanabaatar for only 24 hours and was still incredibly overwhelmed by the foreignness, the poverty, the sheer chaos we had encountered. Sheepishly, I responded, “I . . . don’t . . . think . . . so.” But over the two ensuing weeks something happened: Mongolia grew on me. Like a nomad welcoming you into his ger, the country has a way of welcoming you, embracing you, and warming your heart. By the time we departed two years ago, I made sure to tell Rita (“Remember that conversation we had on the way to the airport that night?”) that I had changed my mind and hoped to return to Mongolia one day. And here I am. Back in the night air of the Mongolian steppes, with the mint-dill scent of the steppe grass wafting over us even in the airport parking lot. Our 2014 team left Jacksonville early Sunday morning and, after a very full but mostly uneventful day of travel (Atlanta, Detroit, Seoul), we arrived in Ulaanbaatar (UB) at about 10:30 Monday night. Rita, her son Luke, and friend Dolmaa (sp?) met us at the airport and, in true Mongolian fashion we crammed our luggage and passengers into Dolmaa’s minivan and drove to the hotel. Even in the darkness, I was surprised by how much UB has changed in just two years. Building continues at a rattling pace, and even the road into town from the airport has been repaved. The national Naadam Festival has just ended (along with the World Cup–Mongolians are crazy about international soccer), so the city is relatively quiet. View-of-Ulaanbaatar I am excited to be here. Ahead of us lie several days in the countryside retracing some of the key events in Chinggis (Genghis, in westernized spellings) Khaan’s early life, and then a week at the children’s hospital and helping out with the soccer camp we established two years ago. I’m excited to see old friends like Rita, Margie, and their kids; make new friends in UB and in the countryside; and to make a difference here, all in Jonathan’s memory.

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  1. Lou Lothman

     /  July 15, 2014

    Glad to hear that you made it there safely. May God’s Spirit undergird your every step on the steppes there as you share God’s love and remember in gratitude. Godspeed and Shalom to you and all there with you. Lou

  2. Steve
    I just read your post and felt such a warm wonderful feeling surrounding me as I heard of the beginnings of your trip. It also made me feel so happy for all of those you all are helping. Jonathan would love that. I know he is right there with you. Bless you and I look forward to hearing more!!

  3. I can’t post my comment since I’m not on those sites regularly enough to remember how to “get there.” Pitiful! Below is what I was going to post:

    Steve, what an incredible beginning (except for the travel through Atlanta–tell me it wasn’t a nightmare, but it sounds as if it might have been) to this important trip to Mongolia. You, Cathy, and certainly Jonathan as well as the older two “kids” continue to inspire all of us. I tell Jonathan’s story including his wanting to go to Mongolia to many folks, and I truly feel he is there with you, watching over excitedly everything you are doing. Keep those communications coming, and I hope the trip will continue to provide support to children whose lives truly can be changed from your work. I know your lives have been changed, and we appreciate hearing what you are doing. Best to all, Nancy

    Nancy T. Beane College Counselor and 12th Grade Chair The Westminster Schools 1424 West Paces Ferry Road, NW Atlanta, GA 30327 T 404-609-6248 F 404-352-3573 E

    Former SACAC President 2004-2005 Former Member NACAC Board of Directors 2008-2011 Member ACCIS Board of Trustees 2012-2015

    From: MONGOLIA BOUND <> Reply-To: MONGOLIA BOUND <> Date: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 at 11:49 AM To: Nancy Beane <> Subject: [New post] Steve’s Return to Ulaanbaatar

    Mongolia Bound Team posted: “Ulaanbaatar. Two years ago, as we rode in the car together traversing the pockmarked road to Chinggis Khaan airport to pick up my daughter Natalie, who was coming in the night after the rest of us, Rita asked me, “So. . . . do you think you’ll ever come b”

  4. Dorothy

     /  July 15, 2014

    So glad you arrived safely. Have a great time. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers. I look forward to hearing more about your adventures.

  5. Moya

     /  July 15, 2014

    As I read this fabulous post, I am confident that Jonathan is right there with you. That special young boy with the smile on his lips, but even moreso in his eyes.

  6. May God’s light shine upon you. Jonathan is smiling from heaven.

  7. Robbie!

     /  July 22, 2014

    Steve!…Congrats to you and the team for the wonderful work you’re doing to honor Jonathan. I look forward to reading the Mongolia Bound updates as they arrive in my e-mail, and I can’t wait to catch up with you upon your return. Be cool, and continue being inspirational! Robbie!

  8. Julie Babcock

     /  August 25, 2014

    Congratulations and best wishes for this new adventure!


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