By Tricia Goecks


BELVIDERE – When Jeremy Meyers told his wife Sarah that they were invited to a Christmas party on Dec. 22 at Steam Plant Restaurant for Susie’s Garden Patch, she initially protested.

Sarah couldn’t imagine why they had been invited to the party because they had not helped Susie Silberhorn or Mary Brubach that year. Sarah even accused her husband of honing in and inviting themselves to the party.

As Jeremy has been telling his wife lately, sometimes he knows things.

Jeremy was in on a little secret with Brubach and Silberhorn. Shortly after the entire Blasingame family, along with Mary and Kevin Brubach, Susie Silberhorn, Dawn and Ellis Mundy were assembled at the restaurant, in strolled Marilyn Blasingame who returned from Mongolia for a surprise visit.

Ruth Blasingame immediately erupted in tears. “My mom started crying right away. I was shocked because she is not a crier,” Marilyn Blasingame recalled.

With the health issues that Jimmy Blasingame faced this year, Marilyn wanted to come home and see her dad with her own eyes. She was pleased to see that he is doing better and is on the long road to recovery.  Ruth was overjoyed to have all four of her daughters Marilyn, Karie, Tracey Jones, and Sarah Meyers along with their husbands and children together for the holidays.

Marilyn Blasingame has been stationed in Mongolia through the Peace Corps since June 2013.  She lives in Öndörkhaan, which is the capital of the Khentii province. Blasingame joined the Peace Corps as part of her Master’s program in public health at the University of Pittsburgh.

Nestled between Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west, Mongolia is known as the land of the eternal blue sky because it has 250 sunny days per year. Blasingame describes the weather in Mongolia as “like Midwest weather, only more extreme.”

Indeed it is.

Located south of Siberia and just north of the Gobi Desert, the temperatures where she lives regularly are 20 degrees below zero in the winter and can drop as low as 40 or 50 degrees below zero. In the summer, the temperatures are very hot. Like the Midwest, the land is very flat. “A lot of people describe it as being not desolate but empty. But when you go, it is so amazingly beautiful,” Blasingame said.

Blasingame lives in a small apartment provided by her agency. It has a water boiler that holds 20 gallons of water.  “I cannot control the temperature. If my apartment is cold, it is cold,” Blasingame explained.

In a nomadic country, Blasingame considers herself to be fortunate. Another Peace Corps volunteer lives in what is known as a ger, a round felt tent which does not have running water.  An isolated country that was once part of the Soviet Union, “Their culture has maintained a lot of aspects of what they were like for the past 1,000 years,” Blasingame explained.

Upon arriving in Mongolia in June 2013, Blasingame spent the first few months living with a host family while she took language and health courses as part of her training program.  The family did not speak English and Blasingame did not speak Mongolian.  The communicated with each other via sign language and gestures. Despite the language barrier, Blasingame fell in love with her host family. “It was one of the best experiences that I had learning a family inside and out,” Blasingame said.

Since arriving in Mongolia, her Mongolian has advanced to an intermediate level and she is able to converse with others for running errands and having simple day-to-day conversations.  With her co-workers at the health department, they communicate with a blend of English, Mongolian and hand signals.

In addition to helping teach best practices for public health issues, particularly infectious diseases, Blasingame and the other Peace Corps volunteer started an adult English Club to teach Mongolians who would like to learn English to improve their job prospects or travel abroad. With the English Club, they do activities such as cake baking, or having skating parties. “We try to come up with interesting and fun ways to improve English,” Blasingame said.

Among the adjustments that Blasingame has had to make since being in Mongolia is what she describes as the fishbowl effect. “I am always on display. I do not look Mongolian. I am always on the outside,” Blasingame explained. “I wasn’t used to that at first with people looking and staring and wanting to know about me because I am different.”

“Sometimes it surprises me how other people perceive Americans. People want to learn more about America. They have a great view of what America is or they have basic questions,” Blasingame said and mentioned that she has been asked if people speak American in America. “People view you differently when they see you as an American.”

Blasingame helps dispel American stereotypes. Through the news and movies, Mongolians have a disjointed view of what typical life is like in the States. “They see the glamour and the problems,” Blasingame explained.

Just as she has helped the Mongolians see past the stereotypes of America, Blasingame has had to learn beyond the stereotypes of Mongolia. She has had to learn that Mongolian beef is not typical of Mongolian cooking. “Most Mongolian food is boiled meat and potatoes and noodles. It is pretty hearty but it isn’t spicy or flavorful,” Blasingame added. “They have some interesting dishes that I have come to like.”

She was grateful last fall for a care package from Silberhorn and Brubach that included a wide variety of spices because it represented a taste of home.

Blasingame also learned that Genghis Khan is as beloved to the Mongolians as George Washington is to Americans and said that they have “a very different take on it.”

“They have a huge love of Genghis Kahn,” Blasingame said of the twelfth century warrior and leader of the Mongol Empire. “Mongolians love him because he preserved their culture in a lot of ways.”

During her time in Mongolia, Blasingame has realized how important her family is to her. “My family is what I have missed the most of everything,” she said.

Since moving to Mongolia, Blasingame has fallen in love and hopes to bring her new love back home with her when she finishes with her Peace Corp service next year. It is a 10 month old Mongolian street dog named Myrtle.

Blasingame has been excited to reconnect with her friends and family in Belvidere during her visit home. She returns to Mongolia on Jan. 6 where the temperature is forecasted to be 13 below zero.  And that’s before the wind chill factor is added in.

Blasingame can be reached via Facebook. Her e-mail address is She also maintains a blog at

Buy Viagra Overnight Delivery USA.