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    First Young Women Camp in Mongolia

    Mary N. Cook First counselor in the Young Women general presidency

    I knew camp would be a wonderful way for the young women in Mongolia to recognize God’s love for them and appreciate His wonderful creations.

    The first Young Women camps in Mongolia were some of the most memorable experiences of my life. While serving a mission, my husband and I assisted the newly baptized leaders and young women. We had just one branch in Mongolia, and most of the people had been members less than one year. Acting as an adviser to the Young Women leaders, I knew camp would be a wonderful way for young women to recognize God’s love for them and appreciate His wonderful creations.

    Quoting from my August 15, 1995, journal entry:

    “Last week we went camping with the young women. It was fun . . . wet, but fun. It had rained the entire week before we left on Friday. That morning it was clear and warm, and we were excited to go. We got four small tents from the Boy Scouts here, and the girls brought two other tents. We had forty-three girls show up, seven leaders, and one other missionary couple.

    “Overall, the camp was great. As soon as we pitched our tents, torrential rains came down on us. The Scout tents were less than ideal, and water drenched the heavy woolen blankets and clothes. We had to put 8–9 girls in 4-man tents. They didn’t seem to mind. They went hiking, picked baby strawberries by the handful, peeled potatoes in the creek . . . all in the rain. We didn’t hear a complaint.

    “Friday night, we studied the Book of Mormon by candlelight. It was a great experience. The leaders led a discussion that would have gone on for hours if we hadn’t sent them to bed. They went to their wet tents and conducted testimony meetings. They loved every aspect of the evening. Everything is so new to these people. They have so few opportunities, and it is ever so rewarding to provide some worthwhile opportunities for them to learn and grow. I’m sure we have started a tradition of girls’ camp in Mongolia.”

    The Church in Mongolia was in its infancy. They had no scriptures translated into Mongolian, no camp manual, nor even hymns in Mongolian. But for two days in the Mongolian steppe, they enjoyed God’s creations, studied the gospel together, became more united, and felt the Spirit as they shared their testimonies of their newfound religion.

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