Thursday, January 31, 2008

31 January 2008 - Letter from Kazakhstan

Last week we went to visit a new school here in Astana. The Church donated an audiometer to a handicapped organization that used to teach their hearing and speach impaired students in the basement of an old building.

Because this new school had room, they gave them a couple of classrooms for their handicapped students. They don't mainstream special needs students in Kazakhstan.

This is Anne, Mira our translator ,and Kulnazera who is the assistant in the handicapped organization.

The school is three stories and houses children from the ages of 4 - 17 years of age. They have nearly 1,000 students in their school.

They start at 8:00 a.m. and go until 5:00 p.m. and have extra curricular activities after their regular school.

The teachers are paid the equivelent of $400 a month.

This is a picture of us with the director of the school (middle) and her assistant (to the right of her) and Kulnazera, the assistant in the handicapped organization, and us.

They thought Roy was wonderful since he told them he taught school for 36 years. They related to him very well.

They were wonderful and friendly ladies and showed us the entire school even though we only came to see the handicapped students. They told us we could come back anytime!!

This is Mira being tested on the audiometer that was donated. As we entered each classroom the students all stood until their teacher told them to be seated.

They also tested Anne and found that she had 30% hearing loss. Huh?? Of course their was a lot of distraction going on in the room so I couldn't tell what I was listening for. Oh, well!!

They took us to a classroom with an interactive board. It is actually a computer screen that is mounted on the wall that you can write on or display any pictures, overheads, movies, or lessons of any kind.

Here she is demonstrating how it works. She can write in any color or width. It was amazing!!

They have a doctor's office, a dentist office, a physical therapy room and a room to help children with breathing problems.

Here I am getting my teeth checked by Kulnazira!!

Try adding a doctor, dentist and physical therapist to each school budget in America!!

These beds are for the young students when they get tired and need to rest.

Even though they start at age 4, they don't have to leave the preschool curriculum until they are 7; but they can start regular school as soon as they are ready and mature enough to learn.

We went to see an audiometer and ended up on a three hours tour. !!!!

We also ended up with a "snack". The table was filled with juice and tea, two plates of salami, two plates of cheese, two plates of tomatoes and cucumbers, two plates of open faced sandwiches and four different kinds of cookies and a couple of bowls of candy and some fresh fruit!!

This is Kazakh tradition and they expect their guests to eat!! If you empty your glass they hurry and fill it. The food is delicious!! And we visited with all of them. They were all so kind and gracious and we appreciated the hospitality. You can't help but love these people. They are truly wonderful!!

The young man in the picture was our driver who is the director of the handicapped organization's son. He is hearing impaired.

After lunch they showed us the two big gyms and then took us to the cafateria and wanted us to eat!! We hoped we didn't offend them but we declined. They said that maybe next time we could eat with the children.

Every child in the hall greeted us with a "Strastvitcha" (hello) and a big smile!!
We had a wonderful day!!

Just a note in passing: Monday morning here, as we were on line, Michele came on to chat to tell us that the Prophet had passed away. We were saddened by the news, but we are so happy for him and grateful that there was no illness or suffering. We will miss him because he did so much as a prophet and will be remembered by everyone.


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, January 27, 2008

27 January 2008 - Letter from Kazakhstan

We're still doing fine in Kazakhstan. The weather has been above zero the last couple of days and we can sure tell!!
The next two pictures are some very important people in our lives. To the right is Svetlana Rahimzhanova. She is the Visa Clerk for the Church here in Kazakhstan. She got our visa to get us in and takes care of the registration and renewals to keep us here. She is a member in Almaty who served a mission in Kiev. Besides working for the church, she teaches English and Institute. If we have any problems at all we call Sveta first. She is a sweetheart and we love her very much!!

This is the Wikle Family; Robin, holding Caleb and Gene holding Jacob. He is in the army and works for the American Embassy. They are expecting another boy the end of March.

We hold church in their home each week and we depend on them so much. If we have any problems or need help of any kind, we call them.
We have learned to love them dearly.

This is the little market right across the road from where we live. It is called the Anvar Market. It is not on the ground floor but is up one flight of stairs.

We buy our juice, milk and bread at this store, along with a few other things. Half of the grocery section is candy and alcohol.

The people recognize us when we come in and they are very friendly.

This is one of the four Raddison towers. We are right in their back yard or are they in our back yard??

Our apartment building is what you see on the left.

These are two wonderful ladies, Sholpan and Ludmilla, who run a day-care center for handicapped children, mostly pre-schoolers. The Church bought them some beds and small furniture for the children and a computer for the office.
We went to get acquainted and we were greeted with a table full of food. Anytime you visit it is Kazakh tradition to feed your guests. They don't put out a few treats, they fill the table full!!

All the ladies in Kazakhstan wear beautiful tanned leather or fur coats, mostly mink. They are gorgeous and very expensive but most of all very warm. These two ladies, who we don't know at all, let us take their picture.

Many of the ladies wear the beautiful fur hats to match. I think I just might buy one, a hat that is. I'd have to sell the house to get a coat!!

Saturday after doing laundray and cleaning the apartment, we went for a walk along the river which runs right past the Raddison.
Of course, it's so cold that there is no water running!! In fact, they cut the ice for ice sculpture in the parks. It is very beautiful and we will show you in the next couple of weeks.
We will try to keep you informed on what we are doing each week with lots of pictures; so stay tuned.
Thanks again for all of your prayers in our behalf. We love you all!
Elder and Sister Welling

Monday, January 21, 2008

21 January 2008 - Letter from Kazakhstan

We thought we would show you a little about where we live in Astana.

This is our apartment building from the back. Everyone enters from the back because all of the fronts of the buildings are offices and stores. The building is three times longer than what you see.

The lst floor behind the stores is indoor parking; but it is so costly than they park on the street. But the street is so narrow, they just park on the sidewalk.

We live on the third floor of apartments which is actually the fourth floor. If you count up three floors of windows, that is the level we live on. But our apartment windows face the other direction.
Notice the cute "babushka" on the front (back) step of the apartment with her groceries. Does she look familiar or what?

This is the front door (back) of our apartment building. This is an upper middle class apartment building. It even has a combination lock to get you in the door. But it seldom shuts tight.

This is the long flight of stairs into our apartment building up to the first level of apartments where we get on the elevator. None of this area is heated and we carry little megalites with us just in case the lights are out.

These are the mail boxes. Most of the bills for garbage removal are still in the boxes. If you would like to write us, here is our address:

LeRoy Welling
12 Irchenko Str., Apt 154
Astana, Kazakhstan

It should take about 3 weeks to get here so we
will be patient.

This is the living room and our office. We have a three piece sectional (but it's all bolted together) and an arm chair. See the "dedushka" working hard on the computer.

This is our bathroom which is quite large. Around the corner is our tub and shower. In this corner is the washing machine. It takes 2 1/2 hours to wash a batch of clothes so we have to start early in the morning. There are no dryers in Kazakhstan so we dry everything on drying racks which we forgot to show you; but use your imagination!!
We also have another half bath which has a toilet and a sink. Everyone tells us how lucky we are!

And this is our kitchen which lacks a little in counter space, but, the stove has a lid that drops down and that's our counter space!
We have a window to the left which looks out on the back of the Radison Hotel.
The only table in the apartment is in the living room so we plan on purchasing a table that we can work on and move the table from the living room back in the kitchen where it belongs! That way we won't have to clean up all the paperwork from the projects we are working on every time we eat!

We also have a bedroom and also an entryway where we hang our coats and take off our boots and shoes. Everyone removes their shoes and boots and puts on slippers before entering
the living area. We love our apartment and we are thankful that it is as nice as it is. By Kazakh standards it is very large and well furnished.
That's about it. We are doing well and getting out more and more. Thanks again for all of your faith and prayers. We love you all!!

Elder and Sister Welling

Monday, January 14, 2008

14 January 2008 - Letter from Kazakhstan

The two pictures are of the "Baraholka" the huge bazaar that we bought our boots and hats in Almaty. It goes on for miles and miles!! It is incredible and there is no heat at all.
The pictures don't do it justice at all.!!

14 January 2008

Dear Family,

Monday, December 7, was the Russian Orthodox Christmas, a holiday. The only people who really celebrate it are Russians but everyone considers it a time to take off work. It is hard to get anything done from Dec 15 to January 7 because of all the holidays they have here.

Let me tell you a little about the country. If you get outside the city for a ways there is literally nothing as far as the eye can see. It looks like you are in a frozen wasteland. But in the middle of the city there are huge buildings and a lot of building going on. Everywhere you look there are building cranes that are even decorated with Christmas lights. The buildings are massive and they even have a huge Muslim mosque right in the middle of the city. We are anxious to get out and go walking so that we can see the sights but it is soooo cold that we just don’t dare.

Let me tell you about the cold!! I know that you’re sick of hearing about it but when we go out it literally takes out breath away. And then we start coughing until we get used to it. ( I mean if you CAN get used to it.) When we go out we really bundle up; thermals, tights (for me) scarves, boots, hats and gloves. And we wrap the scarves up around our face so our face is partially covered. We have fur-lined boots which really help and then, of course, our coat and we stay pretty warm except for our face. It is very difficult to stay out in it for any length of time; but these people are used to it and it doesn’t seem to bother them. Although last week, grades K-4 didn’t go to school for two days because it was below -25 degrees F. When it gets this cold, the moisture in the air crystallizes right out of a clear blue sky and falls to the ground. It’s amazing!!

The people seem to be very helpful and friendly. So far we haven’t had too many problems communicating. We do a lot of pointing with some Russian words involved and charades have come in handy. They really have been patient and understanding and they appreciate it when we try to speak some Russian. If we really need help we just ask young people if they speak English and many do speak some words.

Monday we studied projects and familiarized ourselves with the files. Tuesday, Mira came. She is our translator and we love her. She is about 4 ½ feet tall and weighs 88 lbs. And yes, size zero does exist in Kazakhstan because most of these people only eat two meals a day and they would rather look good than be full! We haven’t seen anyone overweight in this country!! Mira makes all our calls, translates the necessary forms into Russian for the Non Government Organizations (NGO’s) and helps us manage the paperwork and there is a lot of it.

Wednesday we visited Government offices that had to do with our registration. You have to register to live in any city and every time you move you have to register again. We have to take LDS church pamphlets into these offices every three months to let them know that we are still here. Mira goes with us and explains what we do and why we are here.

Thursday we spent the time here with Mira translating Non-Commercial Invoices to get ready for the wheelchairs that are coming to Astana, Karaganda and Kostanai They should be here some time the first week in February. That is pretty exciting for us.

Friday and Saturday we spent doing laundry and cleaning the apartment and cooking food and going through all the files, reports and projects to get our questions ready for the Browns that are coming from Moscow to train us. On Saturday, we met them at the airport and spent the evening with them here. What a wonderful couple they are!! They are the Area Welfare Directors stationed in Moscow. Saturday and Sunday they spent helping and training us. They were also able to go to church with us at the Wikles. It was nice having another couple with us for church!! They told us that President Paul of the Area Presidency is aware of where we are and he told them to take good care of us which they did!

Well, that’s about it for the week. We are doing good and we hope to get more pictures on the blog. We still do not have our laptop hooked up, which seems to be the trial of our life, but we are making headway.

We want to thank you all for the love and support and the prayers and all the help you have given us. We feel those prayers because things have started to look up. We know that our Heavenly Father loves us, He knows where we are and He is aware of what we are doing, even if we don’t.


Roy and Anne

Sunday, January 13, 2008

13 January 2008

Dear Family,

We have had a very busy week but eventful. We met with a lady from Mongolia who lives in Kostanai and we took her to church with us. She is the only member of the church living there and she is thinking of coming to Astana to live. She speaks Mongolian but is learning Russian.She bore her testimony in Russian and Gene Wikle interpreted for her and it was very inspirational. She is staying with relatives in a very poor area of Astana in a “dacha” which is a country home but with outhouses and no running water. We were humbled by the situations that people live in.

We are doing great. We have had the Browns from Moscow here helping us get trained and things seem to be looking up. They have been wonderful!! They are going to go to church with us and it will be fun to have more than 4 people present.

We will write more but we are going to put some pictures on our blog so here goes.

This is Sister Pat Vincent and I at Medey up in the mountains in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
She and her husband are the leadership couple in Almaty. We had lots of fun sightseeing with her. Notice the Olympic size skating rink in the background.

Don't we look like a couple of Russians? How do you like the hat on
Elder Welling? He looks like he blends in, doesn't he?

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Back to Astana, Kazakhstan

Latest email message sent Saturday, Jan 5th...

Dear Family,
Monday afternoon we went over to the Elder and Sister Vincents to celebrate New Years Eve with the three sets of missionaries (2 sets of elders and a set of sisters) and Gary Despane (a retired American Airlines pilot now working for Air Astana). He is from Mendon, Utah but stationed here in Almaty. We ate and played games and watched the Work and the Glory until the Elders had to leave by 12:30 a.m. There were a few fireworks going off all night but at 11:30 they started going off everywhere even out of windows and along the sides of the street. We went home at 12:30 but couldn't sleep because of the fireworks that never quit until 4:00 a.m.!! We had a wonderful time with all of them. New Years Day Sister Vincent called and we went up to Medey with the missionaries and her. It is a winter resort with Olympic size skating rink up in the mountains above Almaty. When we get our blog going we will post the pictures. It was very cold at all and we had a great time. After we got back we went to the Vincents to finish up the leftovers from the day before. Wednesday we slept in and went to Svetlana's home and met her mother. She helped us a little with our job and we got some more things straightened out. We have to do more with our registration in Astana at the end of the month. After we got back we started packing for our plane trip out on Thursday. The Branch President in Almaty, Murat Mongaseive, took us to the airport. He is a wonderful man and speaks pretty good English. We appreciate him so much and paid him for the ride. We would rather pay him than a taxi. We knew that our luggage was overweight because it had been flown to Almaty and they only allow 44 lbs. per person. We packed as much as we could into our carry on and my purse but we had to pay over 100 dollars but then they wouldn't let us take our carry on aboard because it was too heavy and so they made us check it too. At that point, I lost it!! The lady behind the counter felt sorry for me when she saw all the tears and so we didn't have to pay extra for that bag. Whatever works, I say!! We were met by Robin Wikle who took us to our apartment and a stranger on the street helped us up the stairs and onto the elevator with our 5 big bags. We couldn't get in the apartment so the neighbor had to help us unlock the door. What a day!!! We have had so many people do so many little kindnesses for us the minute we left the United States. The Lord is really watching out for us and blessing us!!! We moved in and unpacked and it sure feels good not to have to live out of a suitcase. It has taken us a couple of days for the apartment to warm up. We found a space heater out on the patio. We turned up all the radiators and we still wear our thermals and sweaters indoors. Friday it was -30 Fdegrees below and it makes it even hard to breath. We did laundry Friday while we moved in and went through file after file. We hope we get this all figured out soon. The church is delivering a container full of clothes sometime the end of January or the first part of February and then we are doing a Neo-natal Resusitation Training sometime in June. Elder and Sister Brown from Moscow are flying in here next weekend to train us in our job. Since everything is shut down in Russia until the 15th because of holidays, they decided to come. Saturday Gene Wikle, who works at the American Embassy and a great guy, took us shopping. He told us that he doesn't know why he decided to come to Kazakhstan but he feels it is his opportunity to serve and support us while we are here. What wonderful people he and his wife and children are!! It would be pretty lonely without them. The funny thing is that he and his family will be here until August 2009 and we leave in June!! He's from Chandler, AZ and we told him that when he gets back to the states that we will look him up when we visit in Arizona.
Well, that ends another eventful week. We will be attending church on Sunday with the Wikles and a lady from Mongolia will be there and she just speaks Russian and very little English. We told Gene that it was up to him to do most of the communicating. We'll see what happens. We hope to stay home and start in earnest our humanitarian work. Bye until next week. Keep those messages coming.
Love, Roy and Anne