Saturday, March 29, 2008

29 March 2008 - More Celebration of Kazakh New Year

We didn't have room for all of the pictures of the Kazakh New Year Celebration on last week's blog, so we thought we would show you another party that we were invited to attend. Ludmilla Yeger Georgiyevna runs a day care center for handicapped children and the Church has provided her several things for her facility. She invited us to attend their celebration of the New Year.Ludmilla is standing next to Anne.

The celebration was held in a big fun center called the "Duman". We are seated in a Texas style roadhouse. Notice all the levis sewn together!! They served us traditional Kazakh food which we enjoyed very much. Once again, we passed on the tea!Mira and Anne sitting at the table with a traditional Kazakh doll.

This little girl performed on the program playing a Kazakh instrument. She did a beautiful job. Many children learn to play these instruments when they are very young.
This little girl played the "Dombrya" which is the Kazakh National instrument.

These two little boys were dressed in traditional Kazakh costumes and they both said a part on the program. Aren't they adorable!!

The Duman Center is a large activity center for families. In the middle of this huge building are four countries with their customs and cultures represented. Here are Anne and Mira standing in the American area in front of a wigwam.

Here we are in Kazakhstan's area in front of the statue of The Golden Warrior which represents the people of Kazakhstan.

Here we are in the China area with the statue of Khotey.

Roy was actually hoping for Chinese take-out but instead got an American dish!!

While we were walking around, we noticed a this little boy in one of the Church's wheelchairs, so we took his picture.

At the end of the celebration they gave us a Kazakh hat and scarf. Do we look like we fit in yet??!!

We have written two projects for local NGO and have just received approval on them. It will be sometime before they are completed so we can put them on the blog. But next week we will finish telling you about the Duman Center and what a wonderful place it is!

Thanks to all of you who have been fasting and praying for Taryn. We hope she can get well enough soon so that she can have her surgery. We feel all of your love and support for our family.


Elder and Sister Welling

Saturday, March 22, 2008

22 March 2008 - Kazakh New Year Celebration

This weekend we celebrated Kazakh New Year ("Nauryz"). They celebrate it on the 22nd of March because that is the beginning of Spring. On Friday, we were invited to a New Year celebration at a government run nursing home by the Deputy Director of Social and Labor Protection. We got there early and they let us take some pictures before the program started.The auditorium is as big as a theater. The cross-section of a yurt was set up on the stage as the back-drop for the program that was being presented. Kazakhs were Nomads and the yurts are their style of tents.

Here we are seated on the floor at a traditional Kazakh table inside the yurt. Roy is serenading me with a "Dombyra",a two stringed Kazakh instrument.At the table you can see many of their traditional foods. They have a soup that they make on New Years Day called "Nauryz kozhe" It is a milk based soup and has 7 ingredients in it (barley, beans and rice and what ever they have). They have fried bread sprinkled with powdered sugar called "Hkvorost" (in front of Roy), bite-sized pieces of fried bread called "Baursak" and "Chack Chack" which is little pieces of fried bread mixed with honey.
It's Anne and Mira, our translator who is Kazakh, sitting at the table in the yurt. Notice the beautiful hand pieced pillows and blankets in the back.

This is one of the ladies in the performance dressed in traditional Kazakh dress.
These ladies are also in traditional Kazakh dress.This man is also dressed in traditional Kazakh dress.

There were four different orphanages and nursing home groups that put on skits showing different Kazakh traditions. They did the engagement of the bride and groom, the birth of the baby, the naming of the baby and the baby's first step.

This is a picture of a "Besik" for a new born baby that the Kazaks use. This is like a small bassinet. They tie the baby to the board on the bottom.

This is a larger baby's bed that they also use. They don't name the baby until it is 40 days old because they feel it will protect the baby. When a child learns to walk they have a big celebration called "kesu" where they weave string between the baby's legs and a person in the family or a family friend who they respect a great deal, cuts the string.
All of these events in a persons' life were portrayed by these skits that were presented.
All of the skits had traditional Kazakh dancing.
And they all had a member of the cast play the traditional Kazakh instrument, Dombyra. All of the performances were judged and awards given.
After the program, we were honored to be invited to join the government officials for a traditional Kazakh dinner. We entered a room with a table elegantly set with a huge platter of "Beshbarmak" (Five Finger Meal) right in the center.

This is the platter. The bottom was covered with wide noodles and there was 25 lbs. of roast beef on top of that. They don't take any bones out of their meat. They even leave the large joints as you can see in the picture. There were also round casings which we hoped were sausage.!! They gave the honored guests, which were us and the Head of the Department of Languages the pieces with the biggest bones. They handed Roy a 5 lb. roast and Anne a 8 lb. roast to eat with our fingers.
It was good. They handed us some of the other meat and it was sausage. However, it was horse!! But it was good! They also had cooked intestines on the platter, but they didn't offer us any, of which we were thankful!!!

We also had the fried bread, pickled salad, stroganoff (made from liver, kidney and heart) and it was good. They had the homemade cottage cheese and they poured homemade sour cream over it, salty sour milk curds, and plenty of tomatoes, cucumbers, and dried apricots, raisins and fresh fruit and cheese. They also had homemade butter and "Chack Chack". They also had wine and tea and alcohol but we drank water. Everyone around the table had to give a toast and we each gave one too.

Damazhan, who is at the end of the table, is the one who invited us. They lady next to Roy kept putting food on his plate every time he ate a bite!! Mira had a wonderful time translating from Kazakh to us because everyone around the table spoke in Kazakh because it was a Kazakh holiday!! We had a wonderful time and lived through it all!! We will have to show you our other New Years' experiences later.

Michele and Kenny's Taryn, is scheduled for her open heart surgery on the 31st of March. If any of you would like to fast with us on the 30th, we would appreciate it. Thanks for your love and prayers!! We need them at this time!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 9, 2008

9 March 2008 - Out and About in Astana, Kazakhstan

This week has been a week of odds and ends. We've done a little of everything trying to get some things done before our translator left for Pavlador for a few days to celebrate her mother's 60th birthday.

Monday we went to Kampka Medievna, who is over the Society for Handicapped Children. While we were there, we delivered some hats that we just received from Roy's mother, Rhoda and his sister, Tamra. They have been making them this winter to send to us.

They were thrilled with them and were glad that there are more on the way! They are planning to give them to the children for an upcoming holiday which is International Women's Day. It is the equivalent of our Mother's Day but it is for all women, old and young.

While we were there, a lady came in from a nearby village, Piervomayka, to get 7 wheelchairs that she received from the Church. Her name is Olga Evaldevna and she thanked us so much for the wheelchairs! She was so grateful for them!!

While we were at Kampka's, she invited us to a Spring Celebration that was held at the Youth Center on Tuesday afternoon. This is a picture where the event was held. All of the handicapped children throughout the city were invited. We had a great time!
We spent the next day trying to get our visa's extended. Lots of "red tape" and new requirements keeps things interesting, to say the least!! By the time Mira gets back, maybe the paperwork will be done and then hopefully, we can stay for another three months!!

We have volunteered to help a handicapped youth group who want to learn English in their English club. We go to the Kazakh Russian University on Saturday to interact with these youth.

This is part of the group that we meet with. The lady on the left is an instructor for the group. The two girls with long hair, are students at the university that volunteer in the class, too. They are wonderful young people!!

Here we are with the whole group! Mira is taking the picture, as always, that's why you never see her!!

In February, we went out to our first Russian restaurant. We took Mira because, of course, we don't speak Russian enough to know what we are ordering! But as soon as we started speaking English, they brought us an English menu! When you order, all you get is the main dish. The potatoes, vegetables, bread, butter, ketchup, etc. are all separate and all cost extra. Mira wanted ketchup for her fries and they told her it would cost more!!

Roy had Beef Samuvar and Anne had chicken in a wonderful sauce and we both had fried mushrooms!! It was all very delicious! The helpings are small but just right for us!! It was not that expensive! Next, we're planning to try a Kazakh restaurant if we can find one that doesn't require selling a major organ!!

As we leave our apartment each day, we see piles of snow and ice everywhere. Everyday men and women are out and about chipping ice and snow off of the sidewalks and gutters. They pile it up and then shovel it into trucks and the trucks take it out of the city and unload it somewhere!! We think they are getting ready for the big thaw!!

This is the view from our bedroom window every night. It is one of the towers of the Radisson Hotel. It reminds us of something out of an alien movie that we have seen!! Pretty cool, huh!!

That's about it for this week. Next week we will be in Almaty on the weekend, so the blog will be late. But thanks to all of you for the prayers and support and the love we feel from each of you. It means so much to us.


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 2, 2008

2 March 2008 - No Flight to Kostanai, Kazakhstan

Wednesday we sat in the airport for three hours and were very disappointed when we finally found out that our flight to Kostanai for the wheelchair presentation had been cancelled due to bad weather! Go figure; bad weather seems to follow us everywhere we go!! But this time it preceded us!! We called Sergei in Kostanai, our NGO representative, and he said that no flights had been in or out in two days. Kostanai is a city up north in the mountains and it takes 13 hours to get there by train!!!
We felt bad that we weren't able to be with him because this is the first time any Humanitarian work from the Church has been done in Kostanai. But since he had everything all set up with the government officials, he went ahead with the presentation without us because they need to get the 250 wheelchairs distributed to those who need them.

So for those of you who are wondering what it is like living in exotic Kazakhstan, we are going to show you a little more about every day life here!!!
Every two or three weeks, our translator calls the water company and we have water delivered to our apartment door. There is 19 liters (about 5 gallon) of water in each large container. The water is very bad here and everyone, even the locals, only drink bottled water. It costs us about $8 a month.

When the water comes, we pour it from the large 19 liter jugs into the smaller 5 liter jugs. This makes it easier for us to use. From the 5 liter jugs we pour it into the 1 liter bottles for brushing our teeth and drinking and cooking. We use the tap water for everything else.
Saturday is P-day and also laundry day. We start first thing in the morning washing clothes and it takes us all day long! They have no dryers over here that we know of, in fact many of the locals don't have washing machines and there are no laundromats. To wash one batch of clothes takes 2 1/2 hours!! If we have places to go on Saturday, we start washing at least one batch of clothes on Friday night.
Every city has their indoor and outdoor bazaar. We have not been to the outdoor bazaar in Astana yet because it is too cold. But we have been to the indoor bazaar a few times, once by ourselves!! It has four floors and on the bottom floor is nothing but fruits, vegetables, dried fruit and nuts. It is unheated and covers about a block in size. On the other floors, which are heated, are shops of evey kind. You can buy anything you could ever want, if you can afford it!!

We wanted to take a picture of the bazaar and so this young man volunteered to be in the picture!! They are so friendly! In this picture you can see all kinds of raisins, nuts, dried apricots, pumpkin seeds, etc. It is incredible the amount of stuff they have in one place!!

The fruits and vegetables are so much cheaper here than in the stores so we try to go every time we are in the neighborhood!! It is clear across town from us and we only buy what we can pack home!!

One Saturday, between laundry loads, we went for a walk on a wide walking bridge that crosses the river just to the south of us. On the frozen river, people were ice fishing.

This is taken from the walking bridge looking to the east. Notice the horse monument. Kazakhs love horses and because of their nomadic Kazakh heritage they have a lot of statues and monuments of horses.

On the way home from our walk we walked down on the river and crossed on the ice.

Notice the Radisson in the background. Our apartment is in the backyard of that giant hotel!! As thick as the ice is, we don't know if we will ever have spring!!

We'll continue to keep updating our work over here. We pretty much have our own schedule and we do a lot of paper work for the projects we are working on so we spend a good share of the time at the computer, something that we have never done before, but we are learning a lot.

We love and miss you all, but the Lord is blessing us and we are where we should be!


Elder and Sister Welling