Mapleton LDS ward give to Mongolian kindergarten

Liz Elder - Springville Herald | Posted: Thursday, December 17, 2009 12:05 am |

Font Size: Default font size Larger font size The children of Kindergarten 147 in Mongolia will be napping on 50 new quilts next year thanks to the Mapleton 13th Ward LDS Relief Society. The quilts will replace the rough, worn ones the students have used for 30 years. Mongolian kindergartens serve as mainly day care for students with regular classes starting in first grade.

Along with the quilts, they will be playing with handmade balls and wearing handmade caps and have new pencils, crayons and writing paper.

Mike and Cindy Johnson live in Mapleton. They met while students at BYU-Hawaii. Mike served an LDS mission in Mongolia and Cindy is a Mongolian citizen who went to public schools under the Communist regime, when the government schools were better funded than they are now.

Mike and Cindy's interest in Kindergarten 147 was spurred by a photo of some children sent to Cindy by a friend, showing children at a lower income city school playing with a few broken toys, prominent among which were several Gatorade sized bottles filled with water and food coloring that were being used as dolls.

As a developing country, Mongolia is struggling to educate all of its children. While schools in the cities are better off, schools in the countryside serve poor families, many of whom are nomadic herdsmen who must bring their children to the main village in the center of their province and leave them for the winter at boarding school. These nomadic tribes have a long history of moving to feed their herds and their nomadic way of life has strong cultural ties.

Cindy's grandparents spend much of their life in a ger (yurt), moving with their animals. They make their own clothing, including shoes, and live the way their families have lived since Genghis Khan first united the Mongolian tribes.

The initial hopes of Mike and Cindy for the 13th ward were low, just a request for a few new quilts to replace some of the old ones for the kindergarten. Cindy was astounded. "Our expectations were very humble. We asked the sisters in November and the project was finished by December 3."

Dona P. Coats, the Mapleton Utah Stake communications specialist, said, "It was a wonderful project. We were all so happy and I'm sure all those people will love those quilts."

Cloe Gyman organized the project, cutting fabric and batting to size and prepping bags of quilting materials, much of which she did with a cast on her leg. Thirty to 35 women helped tie the quilts, with the ward holding sessions on two different days and then having women take home materials.

"It was a real combined effort; women who worked quilted at night, and mothers with children at home quilted at home." Sister Coats herself did much of the quilt binding at home.

Mike and Cindy plan to continue the project and expand it next year into a non-profit. They have ties to Mongolia through another non-profit, DP Worldwide, they can use to identify schools in need. The shipment from the Mapleton ward will piggy back onto a shipment from the Swanson Foundation of Ogden which is going in February, so there will be no cost to send the materials.

For now, they can be found on the web at



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