Wonderfully Unexpected

A Scotsman, an American and two Mongolians begin a very long journey. Far from the set-up of a corny joke, this is the story of an incredible adventure with an unexpected twist.

Tze, a Scottish photographer and filmmaker, is travelling with Bougulai, long-term worker Bill and their driver. As they set out their aim is to document various ministries in the northern areas of Mongolia.

Beyond the hustle and bustle of rapidly developing Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia’s plains stretch out before you in every direction. The vastness of the surroundings is astonishing. For miles and miles there is nothing but the mountains that punctuate the distant horizon. As the travellers set off the sparseness of the landscape is coupled with snow, wind and temperatures far below freezing.

Even in the well-equipped 4×4, getting stuck in snow, ice and mud is a reasonably common occurrence; now howling wind whips the snow up off the ground making it even harder to push it clear.

Travelling 19 hours a day in these conditions, with no roads and no directions, certainly creates a heightened sense of dependence on God. Tze finds that he is praying more, aware of the wisdom the team needs at each and every turn. Which path will be the safest? Can this partially frozen river be forded here?

The group know that God is with them in their travels, but their plans may all come to nothing and God must be trusted then too.

Just when it appears that the journey has got a little better, when the snow is more patchy and ground more level, a horrible bump is felt inside the vehicle. The bottom seems to fall out of the world for those travelling in the back. As the driver carefully applies the brakes, it’s one of those moments where everyone is acutely aware that something has just gone seriously wrong.

From outside it quickly becomes clear just how badly wrong. The left rear wheel is sticking up at an awkward 45 degrees to the road. With the rear bumper close to the ground, the vehicle looks just as forlorn as the four men who stand gazing at it.

The temperature is around -20C, so whilst some of the team jack the 4×4 up to investigate the extent of the damage, the others collect dry cow dung for a fire to provide some warmth.

Once it is possible to assess the chassis from underneath, the problem becomes all too obvious. Part of the suspension has sheered. Attempts are made to fix it. However as time wears on it is plain that with their limited selection of tools, it is not possible to make the required repairs. Their plans to travel onward are thwarted.

So the band decides that there is nothing for it but to head back to a nearby village in the hope that someone can help.

In a much-felt answer to prayer, there is a welder in the village and he agrees to help get the truck back in working order.

In traditional Mongolian fashion, the welder’s family welcome the travellers into their yurt for food and drink. Out here offering hospitality comes as naturally as breathing. Getting in from harsh conditions to steaming tea and a warm stove is a very welcome experience after many miles cooped up in a 4×4.

In the course of the evening an opportunity to share the gospel presents itself. Bill and Bougulai explain the gospel to the whole family as the group sit together in the yurt. There are no churches in the village and given the distance between villages here there may not be any other believers for a hundred miles. In spite of this, late in the night,
the welder’s daughter decides to follow Jesus.

Was this what these 14 days were really all about? Were the 3000 miles of arduous travelling just to share the gospel with this one family? To see this one girl put her trust in the good news and give her life to Jesus? Perhaps. God is Lord of all; he set in motion the events that unfolded long before any of them were known to the four travelling in that 4×4.

This story is from the OMF video “Off Road Road Trip” and is part of a series of videos about Mongolia shot for OMF by Tze Hung Seeto.

All five videos can be watched online at omf.org/uk/mongoliavideos