Mira made sure all of their paperwork was correct for their visa renewals while we fed them all breakfast. While they were filling out their papers, we received a call from Svetlana, in Almaty. She was surprised that the Elders had come because the two Elders that were sent to Almaty to renew their visas had been rejected and were forced to remain in Almaty for an extra two weeks!!
The next morning Mira was at the Russian Embassy bright and early. When she finally got in out of the freezing cold, they wanted to see the missionaries train tickets from here back to Novosibirsk to make sure that they were only going to be here for just a couple of days. Roy and two Elders jumped in a taxi and off they went to the Russian Embassy with the train tickets. When they got there the consulate told them he needed copies so he told Mira to come back tomorrow!! It's so frustrating!!
So Mira came back to the apartment and made copies and got everything ready for the next day! We sent her home and took the missionaries sight-seeing which was so much fun!!
Elder Luddington, Elder Bindrup, Elder Jesse and Elder Bendixsen on the Government Mall.
The Elders and Elder and Sister Welling on the Government Mall. We also went to the Mosque and they loved it. They asked questions and were able to converse in Russian, of course! It was so interesting to us and we learned a lot because they translated for us what was being said!
Friday morning Mira was at the Embassy bright and early again! When she did get in she called Roy and said they needed $240 more dollars to get their visas processed and to hurry because they close at 12:30. So we dropped everything and ran to get a taxi. (It was 11:40!) We didn't have time to call the Elders. We hurried as fast as we could because the missionaries were leaving tonight on the train, hopefully! We gave Mira the money and she went in again. We waited and hoped all of this was going to happen on schedule! She came out and informed us that we would be able to pick up the visas at 5:00 in the evening!! She was leaving for Pavlodar at 2:00 on the train.
We called the missionaries and they were relieved that the visas would be going through. Roy went with the missionaries while they checked out the souvenir store and stopped in at "Ali Baba's" for just a taste of Kazakh food. They had "Baursak" (bread) and "Horse Kabobs" which they loved!! They also went to the history museum and then over to get their visas at the Russian Embassy. They all breathed a sigh of relief when Elder Bindrup walked out of the Embassy with their passports!!
Then Roy took them to the Ramstore, which is a Turkish chain but they cater to Americans, and they bought Salsa, Ranch Dressing, Ortega Sause and Taco spices and more to take back to Russia! They acted like kids in a candy store! That was their favorite place!!
It was hard to say goodbye to them that evening. What a wonderful opportunity we had to be with the missionaries!! We loved being with them and talking to them and feeding them and feeling of their Spirit and enthusiasm.!! Hopefully, they will be back in 3 months to renew their visas again if Moscow approves of it. It was just wonderful having members of the church here with us.
Saturday morning Roy went with Gene Wikle to the train station to pick up Nathan and Heather Jones and their two children. They are living in a small village near the Russian border. He is doing research for his Doctoral Degree. It has to do with the Russian citizens of German descent that were moved here at the outbreak of World War II.
They spent the weekend with the Wikles. We went out to dinner on Saturday night and they were with us for church Sunday.
This is the largest group yet that we have had for Sacrament Meeting!! So we had to take a picture! The Jones family on the left and the Wikle family on the right. Anne is sitting by Zhanna Beckenbai, our Mongolian sister. (Roy is taking the picture!) The Jones hope to be able to come once a month for church. We are so thankful because he speaks Russian very well and is able to communicate with Zhanna, too! It was wonderful having them with us!!
We have two closing presentations this week to attend. We are well and happy and trying to get as much done as we can before winter sets in. We are not going to get fat so that we can hibernate for the winter but we do want to get the work done!!
We hope you are all continually praying that the Lord will soften the hearts of the leaders of the former Soviet Block countries. The missionaries struggle continually with the rules and regulations and it certainly is hampering the work.
Elder and Sister Welling