Kshennia was an excellent translator and spoke beautiful English and will be leaving next week to study in Bucharest, Romania. We fell in love with her from the start! We also told her about ourselves and our Church and what we were doing here so that she could more easily translate for us. She thought it was wonderful what we were doing as a Church.
When Kshennia came to meet us the next morning for breakfast, she informed us that all of the roads were closed to the city!! In fact, the people that were coming from the many out lying villages couldn't be there to receive their wheelchairs.
This is the storm that we woke up to. This is the picture out side window of our hotel. The night before we could see streets but the blowing snow made it impossible to see anything. All schools were closed but everything else seemed to be moving as usual. We were fearful that we would be stranded there but were assured that the train would get through!!
Alexander Mikhilovich, who is the NGO (non- government organization) person who arranged for the 500 wheelchairs, came to meet us with his driver and took us to a State Office building where the presentation was going to be. Alexander himself is handicapped and works closely with all of the government officials and other NGOs for the handicapped people in Karaganda. He is a wonderful man and works tirelessly for those that need help.
These are the government dignitaries that were present. The man in back, Abishev Zhandos Akylserkovich is the Director; the lady in white and brown, Krykava Natalya Alexeyevna is the Deputy Director and the lady in pink, Yugai Olga Vladimirova is the Department Head. All of them are from the Department of Labor and Social Protection for the Karagandinskaya Oblast (state government). Alexander is in the front.
The room was set up like a press conference. There were two TV stations present and five people from the newspaper. Everyone got a chance to speak and thank us and the Church for the wheelchairs. Roy gave his speech again and did a great job!
This lady received the wheelchairs for the handicapped children throughout the city. This is the smallest wheelchair that was shipped in.
The lady exiting the door spoke during the presentation. She very emotionally and tearfully thanked us for the gift of the wheelchair that she had received in behalf of her daughter who is 20 years old. She has been packing her everywhere she goes and because of the wheelchair she and her daughter both now have freedom!! We both cried when she spoke and she hugged us both after the presentation!
This is the doctor in charge of dialysis for one of the major hospitals. He was there to receive two wheelchairs to help transport the patients back and forth to treatment. He wanted to personally thank us for the great help the wheelchairs would be to the patients.
This is Alexander who has become a great advocate for the handicapped. After the presentation, he and some government officials took us out to dinner. They are all just wonderful people. They wanted to know about our family and why we chose Kazakhstan to come to. We told them that we didn't know that it even existed!! But that we love the people and the country. They also wanted to know how we could have six children and 18 grandchildren and still look so young!! What can I say!! After hugging everyone and promising to come back, we boarded the slow train to Astana. It was so crowed because everyone was going home for the weekend. The trip was to take about 3 1/2 hours but because of the weather, it was the only way out of town!! We got on the end car and had to walk through 5 differant cars with every seat full and people standing in the aisles. Finally we found a seat where three college students were sitting.
This is Tatayana and a friend of the other two young ladies. They all live in a town called Arshaly which is about 45 minutes away from Astana. The train stops at every town that why it takes so long! These girls were so nice and made the train trip very pleasant and enjoyable. We talked with them and another young man who joined us later. He also spoke English and is working as a computer programmer in Astana.
This little boy heard us speaking English and came up the aisle to listen. He said, "Hello". Roy said, "Do you speak English?" He replied, "No!" He leaned over the seat for an hour listening to us speak and then counted to 20 in English. He was such a cute kid!
We got home about 9:00 p.m. and we were certainly glad that we were here in our warm apartment!! All we can say is that it is part of the adventure!
Well, that's it from the land of ice and blow!!
Elder and Sister Welling