To mark the traditional national festival of Naadam, MAF Pilot Ryan Van Geest flew a team with Athletes in Action from Ulaanbaatar to Tsagaan Nuur (meaning White Lake in English) – a 450-mile journey.
Having spent the afternoon playing soccer, American football and Frisbee with the local children, the next day Ryan and his friend Marcus challenged some local men to a wrestling match – an intrinsic part of the festival.
Ryan said: 'They have five rounds, where all the people wrestle someone. The winners wrestle each other until there is one person left. We lost, but we did okay!'
(Long-distance running, golf and hockey are more Ryan's pastimes after all...)
The other sports played were archery and horse racing, with the children showing some incredible riding abilities at speed.
While some of the party stayed in town, part of the reason for the trip was to share the Good News with the forgotten Tsaatan reindeer people.
MAF’s mission pilot and his friends Marcus of Join Christian Services and David of Norwegian Lutheran Mission rode on horseback over the mountains to their remote settlement of hide tepees, home to the 100 nomadic Tuvan reindeer herders.
It took Ryan and his friends 8½ hours each way, and included 2 nights on a glacial mountain.
The four men spoke with the Tsaatan elders, then went swimming in the glacial rivers and played volleyball. They bought some crafts, shared the Good News, showed the Jesus film, and handed out gift boxes from Samaritan’s Purse. The trip was a great encouragement to ‘Jake’, the only pastor in remote Tsagaan Nuur.
It is a privilege to support remote Christians and help proclaim the Good News in a practical way.