Video: WJXT Shares Jonathan’s Story & The Mongolia Bound Mission

Donate to Next Year’s Mission Online!

Thanks to the support of our beloved friends at Wolfson Children’s Hospital, you can now donate to the next Mongolia Bound mission online here.

There is so much work to be done, from helping to get essential medicines to proper equipment to medical training; your contribution will help establish a life-saving pediatric oncology program in Mongolia’s only children’s hospital, Mother & Child Hospital.

Two Years Ago Today

Two years ago today, our family experienced the most painful day of our lives. We lost the precious little boy with the brilliant smile you see above – our son, brother, and friend. Not having him physically with us hasn’t gotten any easier; pangs of longing to hold him haven’t gotten any duller.

But today, we marvel and rejoice at how much Jonathan’s enduring spirit continues to help us accomplish. During his all too short life, he showed us how to be kind, how to be positive, and how to reach out to others in need. Even though we cannot see him, he continues to make waves of good that ripple outwards.

Because of Jonathan, the medical team at Wolfson Children’s Hospital and our family visited Mongolia, one of the places Jonathan most wanted to visit.  Because of Jonathan, Dr. Sandler and the Wolfson medical team are helping the doctors at Mother & Child Hospital build a pediatric oncology program and will be returning again next year to further the project.

Jonathan’s kindness, compassion, and desire to help others are qualities we want to spread as far and wide as we can. He inspires us all to be better; his presence in our lives has forever changed us.

If you would like to contribute to the next trip to Mongolia, you can send your donation here:

Kerrie Slattery
Development Director, Wolfson Children’s Hospital
Baptist Health Foundation, Inc.
841 Prudential Drive, Suite 1300
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Please note that your donation should be earmarked for Jonathan Soud / Mongolia Mission.

The First 3 Days: Paul’s Take

So as not to be left off the blogging train, I’ve decided to give my own, possibly redundant, account of our first three days in Ulaan Baatar.
I’ll spare you the details of our flights and arrival at the hotel, as I’m sure they have been capably discussed by my companions. Rather, I’ll skip to the first real site we visited in Ulaan Baatar: The Zaisan Memorial, shown below:

As you might have guessed from the picture, it’s Soviet. Very Soviet:

Why yes, Comrade, that is a Red Army soldier holding the flag of Communist victory and brandishing an AK-47. However, the triumph of the proletariat over those bourgeois capitalist pigs doesn’t end there! The inside of the Zaisan Memorial is a veritable masterpiece of The People’s Art (read: Marxist Propaganda)! Just see for yourself:

Ah, how beautiful. The victorious Soviet soldier is crushing the flag of Mongolia’s eternal enemies, the Japanese Empire.
Actually, given the whole Manchuria debacle, the Mongols probably liked this part of the memorial. However, there is a noticeable absence of any mention of the country that actually caused Japan to surrender at the end of World War 2…
Moving on! Here’s another touching image:

It trumpets the defeat of Nazi Germany by Communist forces. While this is a message I think we can all get behind, I’m not sure Hitler had any designs on Ulaan Baatar in the 1940s. And finally, one last image:

Mongolian troops, who of course willingly joined the Soviet Union under no coercion whatsoever from their neighbors to the north.
What I’m getting at here is that Soviet propaganda might not be the most accurate source of world history. However, it was awesome for a history enthusiast like me to actually get to see all these things with my own eyes.

And now for something completely different:

In about the starkest contrast imaginable, we next visited a Buddhist monastery. The first building we entered housed an 80-foot tall statue of Buddha. Unfortunately, they charged $5.00 for the privilege to take pictures, so I can’t provide any. However, I did get a shot of the outside of the building:

That should give you a good idea of the size of the statue; it took up most of the inside of the building. Off to the side of this building was the more private part of the monastery. It was still open to the public, but there were actual monks in this part. Here are some photos:

From the monastery, we went to Sukhbaatar Square. It’s basically the city center. On one side is the Parliament building, on another the ballet and Louis Vuitton store. The centerpiece of the façade of the Parliament building was this statue of Genghis (Chinggis) Khan:

As we were standing there and admiring the sights, a Mongolian came up to us selling paintings. After we got him to leave by saying we’d come back at the end of the week, he encouraged us to find him again. He assured us we could locate him by looking for his UCLA cap, which we took to be a person’s name. His own name, actually, since he began pointing at himself and repeating “Ooklah, Ooklah” (Read out loud for best effect).

The following day (Monday), we started the morning by touring the hospital. However, the afternoon is where I should go into greater detail. Justin, my dad, and I went to a local field to help some of the kids play soccer. We taught them drills, the most popular of which consisted of me standing in goal while they took shots. Many of these shots went in. Whether that was due to my generosity or incompetence I’ll leave unanswered.
Today consisted of much of the same, but with many more children. Whereas on Monday we only had 10 or so kids from a single district of town, today we had a solid 25 from both the district and the orphanage. The greater number allowed for a much better scrimmage, which in turn left me much sweatier than the day before. But it’ll be worth it if these kids are better than me by the end of the week… Which, admittedly, wouldn’t take too much.

After seeing where these children live and what kind of background they come from, it’s really great to see them smiling, laughing, and having an all-around good time. I’m glad we’ll be able to do it for a whole week and I hope they’ll continue playing long after we leave.

Welcome to Mongolia Bound!

photo via

Welcome to Mongolia Bound! We are seven people who are bound together by a common mission: to help mend the bodies and spirits of children in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s capital city.

This journey would not be taking place were it not for the special bond that our son, brother, patient, and friend Jonathan Soud shared with Dr. Eric Sandler, his hematologist-oncologist.

Jonathan, a merry traveler who was constantly ‘visiting’ places he hadn’t been by using Google Street View or watching Globe Trekker, counted Mongolia his favorite place to visit in the future. He shared with Dr. Sandler that his very favorite episode of Globe Trekker focused on Mongolia; unexpectedly, Mongolia was also on the top of Dr. Sandler’s list for places to visit because he wanted to help children who had leukemia there but didn’t have access to the same sophisticated treatments.

Jonathan was known by all for his radiant smile and compassion for others. With the expertise of our medical team (Dr. Eric Sandler, John Ng, and Sally Hendricks) and the support of our volunteers (Justin, Steve, Paul, and Natalie) we hope to spread this love and joy at The Children’s Place of Mongolia and Mother & Child Hospital in Ulaanbaatar.

We will also be lucky enough to stay in a traditional ger (yurt) in the country as well as experience Mongolia’s national festival, Naadam.

Stay updated on our trip by signing up for email updates on the top right and following us on Twitter & Instagram @mongoliabound.

We can be contacted throughout our journey at

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