When their 19-year-old son Battulga was murdered by a gang six years ago, the Nranbat family in Mongolia was devastated. Their mother had lost a baby girl in child birth a couple of years before and the family felt like it was just recovering when disaster hit yet again.
“It was the darkest days, months and years for my family,” Battulga’s sister Battsetseg said via e-mail. “We were ready to give everything that we had in order to bring him back into our family. But it seemed like impossible for us at that time.”
When they sorted through their son’s possessions, the family’s lives changed once again. They found a Book of Mormon among his belongings and wanted to know more about this religion Battulga had been investigating before his untimely death. It set them on a path that led to the missionaries, and today all eight remaining family members are active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Nranbats now have a great desire to take the next step and be sealed together in the temple, but the closest LDS temple is in Hong Kong. Travel there can cost as much as $500, the equivalent of many Mongolian families’ entire life savings.
Two BYU students who met through the Nranbat family and are now engaged, want to help the family get to the temple.
Joshua Wheatley, a senior from Virginia majoring in history, taught the father of the Nranbat family on his mission in Mongolia and witnessed his baptism. His fiancé, Erica Nelson, a senior from California majoring in advertising, was a missionary companion with Battsetseg, the eldest daughter of the Nranbat family.
The two originally wanted to start a foundation to help raise temple-trip funds for the Nranbats and other Mongolian families but were told the church has already set up Temple Patron Funds to provide a way for families to travel to the temple after sacrificing and raising all they can on their own.
According to the church Web site, there are funds available for those who truly need them in order to ever have a chance of being sealed in the temple.
Wheatley said he feels the temple allows the Nranbat family to come full circle.
“The oldest son, who was the first to find out about the Book of Mormon, will finally get to join the rest of his family in the gospel covenant when they are baptized, confirmed and endowed on his behalf,” he said.
Wheatley and Nelson have changed their plans and are now trying to raise funds for the education of Mongolian families to help better their circumstances. They plan to start the Battulga Foundation in honor of the Nranbats’ son.