It is time for another œBonnie Markoff Mongolia Trip!  I will be heading to the hinterlands (what my father always called Mongolia). This will be my sixth journey and I am sure it will be full of new adventures and challenges.

My first trip to Mongolia was in 2006. I arrived just before Christmas to an average daily high of -15 Fahrenheit! The warmth of the people I work with made the frigid weather completely bearable. I go to Mongolia as a part of Christian Veterinary Mission and work with a Mongolian non-profit group (NGO) called Vet Net. My focus is on mentoring the small animal veterinarians and teaching leadership, teamwork and practice management. I love learning about a different culture (I have washed down blood stuffed horse intestine with shots of Vodka all in the name of embracing a new culture!)

Vet Net started with one large animal veterinarian from North Carolina seeing a need for improved veterinary care in Mongolia. By teaching the veterinarians and the herders how to better care for their livestock, he would be helping these wonderful people to better provide for their families and thus raising the standard of living for people and animals. Mongolia is a vast country, three times the size of Texas. Only about 3 million people live there, and half are in the capitol city of Ulaanbaatar. That means it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The countryside people are nomadic and live in gers (yurts) that are moved to better grazing land as the seasons change. Vet Net works with these nomadic people and has expanded over time to include 80 Mongolian employees mentored by 7 full time American missionaries.

Today Vet Net has a small animal hospital in the capitol city and has an American veterinarian with an office at the veterinary school. I am able to help extensively with both of these programs. About once a month, Vet Net brings a group of large animal veterinarians in from the countryside to provide free continuing education for a week. We then visit the practices of these veterinarians over the next few years to help to reinforce the things they learned at our seminars. Vet Net also takes teachers on these countryside trips – to educate the children in the nomadic families. While all of this is going on, we are demonstrating the love of Christ and helping to plant churches. Much of the religious practice in Mongolia is fear based and they are so happy to meet a loving God!

My 2010 trip will include some time in the small animal hospital and opportunities to connect with good friends to reinforce leadership lessons from past years. The majority of my time will be spent on a trip to the Gobi desert with the teachers. I will fold myself up into a Russian Van with about 12 other people and all our gear and we will drive cross-country until we find the folks we are going to serve! I will work on team building and modeling servant leadership for a week, and then jump on the trans Siberian Railway for a solo trip back to the city! I ™m not sure what God has in store, but I know it will be out of my comfort zone, physically and emotionally challenging and worth every minute! I love these adventures!

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