Kerry Williams back in Mongolia

In March I spent two weeks in Ulaanbaator, Mongolia, volunteering with VETNet, a Mongolian NGO supported by Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM). This was my seventh trip there, but it had been six years since my last visit, and so in the lead up to the trip, I was very conscious that while in many ways I knew what to expect, it was likely that things would have changed. I was especially praying that I would be open to what God wanted me to do this time, rather than assume it would be like previous trips.
VETNet workers provide education to vets, herders, and teachers throughout Mongolia. By providing good quality and reliable training, they build relationships that enable them to share the gospel with these groups and other community leaders. Over the 20 plus years that VETNet has been in existence, many people have come to know Christ, many countryside churches have been planted, and there has been a significant advancement of veterinary care across the country.
Mongolia is a fascinating place, with beautiful countryside, cold winters, very little rain, and incredibly hospitable people who are proud of their culture. There isn’t room in this article to tell you everything, but if you are at a VCF event and would like to know more, I will happily talk about Mongolia for as long as you will listen!
As on previous trips, my role was primarily teaching and supporting the Mongolian small animal vets who work at the clinic run by VETNet in Ulaanbaator. Compared to previous trips, there were more cats being examined, as well as an increased number of Mongolian pet owners bringing their pets to be seen earlier in the course of a disease. It may be another continent, but some things are no different, as the pyometra comes in on a Friday afternoon, the intestinal foreign body arrives on an already busy day, and things run more smoothly with plenty of coffee and chocolate! Many things, however, are very different. The veterinary education available in Mongolia is very lacking, especially in small animal medicine, and so amongst the less experienced vets particularly, there is a tendency to ‘pattern spot’ rather than work through a case logically, as they simply don’t have an understanding of the underlying physiology, or sufficient training in how to take a problem orientated approach. Over the two weeks I was there we covered so many topics and discussed many cases from blocked cats to itchy dogs and dental disease to anaesthesia.
One thing that has stood out every time I have visited has been the obvious joy the VETNet team have in their work, and this trip was no different. They really do live out Nehemiah 8:10 “The joy of the Lord is my strength”. Most evenings I had dinner with one of the Mongolians, and it was a privilege and encouragement to share how God was at work in our lives, to learn more about their life and how I can be praying for them, and to understand more of the Mongolian culture. On other evenings, and at the weekend, I would spend time with some of the Americans who are serving in Mongolia long term with CVM, and I am very grateful for their welcome, their hospitality, and their friendship. One couple have been there since my first trip in 2006 and are very dear friends to me, so it was lovely to reconnect with them.
Mongolian people have a great sense of fun, and we shared many laughs including at my attempts at the language, differences in culture, and the ‘normal’ crazy things that happen in veterinary practice.
As always, this trip was far more about what God was teaching me than about what I was teaching the vets there. I was reminded of the power of the gospel, through the many testimonies I heard of VETNet teams sharing Christ with students, herders, vets, and teachers, and so many people coming to faith. I was challenged about my perspective, and how easily I become focused on the tasks I need to do, rather than the people around me. I was able to slow down, to rest, to take time to just ‘be’, and to spend un-hurried time in God’s word. Time has flown by since I arrived back, and I would be lying if I said I have kept that sense of perspective, am still spending the same un-hurried time in God’s word and am fully focused on the people around me at all times, after all, I am human! But much of what God reminded me of while I was in Mongolia has stuck with me, especially the truth of Nehemiah 8:10. My love for Mongolian people, and for the country itself, has grown even deeper, and I very much hope to go back again.
If you would like to know more about Mongolia, VETNet, or going on a short-term mission trip with CVM, please do get in touch.

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