Sunday, January 25, 2009

Opening of the 1st Container in Astana, Kazakhstan - 25 January 2008

This has been a busy week here in Astana! As we mentioned last week, both of the containers cleared customs and we were grateful for that. At the beginning of the week, Kamka, the recipient of one of the containers, asked us to come over to the place where the contents were going to be distributed. Kamka has been collecting used clothes from the people here in Astana for the handicapped and needed shelves and racks to display the clothes on. We wrote a project to supply her with these items and they came just in time to display the clothing from the container also. These shelves, hangers and baskets won't even begin to hold all the clothing from the container; but it will help a lot because they will put out more items each day.Tuesday we were invited to Kamka and Ramazon's home to have Bishbarmak with some of the people that Kamka works with in helping the handicapped. They also wanted to thank us for all we have done for them in helping get the container here.
Raigul (who also received a container), Rosa, Kulnazira, Aigul, Kamka and grandson are in the picture.
Aigul, Rosa, Kamka, Raigul and Aiman, Mira, Roy and Anne posing for the picture. All of these ladies have been with Kamka since 1998 and they never gave up trying to find ways to help the poor and needy. Each of them talked about Kamka and her tireless effort in helping those that are less fortunate or who have handicaps. She herself has two handicapped children. (Kulnazira is taking the picture.) We love them all! They are wonderful people!
After dinner we were taken out back to see the container and what was in it. They had lots of boxes of quilts that were made by Relief Society sisters! It was so wonderful to see the quilts! Pictured are Rosa, Mira, Kamka, Aiman and Anne.
Here the men are unloading the container. Towards the back are bales and bales of clothing. In the boxes are new wool blankets. We couldn't believe how much was packed in the container!
The men loaded the boxes of blankets and bales of clothing into Kamka's van to take to the place where they will be distributed.
This is the first sack of boots and bundles of clothing brought into the room where the clothes will be distributed. This young man is deaf and the other lady works for Kamka.
As we were going through the clothes and sorting them to put on racks, Anne found this shirt with "LaBeau's", famous for their raspberry shakes from Bear Lake! That was fun! We also found a Utah Jazz shirt and a Box Elder Middle School Choir shirt!
Kamka had specifically asked for walkers and canes, if there was any extra room in the container and all of these items were sent. The people here do not use walkers in Kazakhstan but when the people saw them and how to use them they were pretty excited about them. Mira told us that the only place she has seen walkers used is in the United States.
Kamka is explaining to this woman how to use the walker. She has an 18 year old son who cannot stand without holding on to something and a walker could help him. She eventually took the one that also has a seat on it so that he can rest when he gets tired.
Roy, Kamka, Anne, Kulnazira and Zhakupov Kairat Assetovich, director of the Homeless Shelter here in Astana. He took canes and walkers and lots of boots and clothing. He wants us to come and visit him to see if we can do anything to help their facility.
All of these ladies that were helping to fold the clothes and put them on hangers were psychologists and social workers. There were many handicapped people who helped also.

A tired but happy crew of young ladies! They worked hard all week getting the place organized and ready for the people. They will spend the next couple of weeks getting the clothing and other items distributed to the poor and needy.

It has been so very cold this week and we ended up being out in it quite a bit. But it just makes you appreciate the nice warm apartment we have!

We also visited a school for the handicapped, helped out at the English Club and met a wonderful lady who spent some time in Salt Lake. We'll tell you about her next week.

We did find out yesterday that Kazakhstan is now in the Russia Moscow West Mission instead of the Russia Moscow Mission and that President Collins is our new mission president. We will probably go to Almaty the middle of February to meet him.

We are so grateful for the opportunity we have to serve here in Kazakhstan! We are so blessed to have the gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives; to know who we are, why we are here and where we are going gives us the peace that Christ talks about. We are grateful to our family and friends and for their love and support. You are all wonderful and we feel your prayers for us each and every day! May the Lord bless you in all that you do!!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cold and Snow in Astana, Kazakhstan, 18 January 2009

The exciting news this week is that the containers from Salt Lake were released on Friday from Customs and delivered on Saturday to the consignees!!! We are thrilled!! We know that it wouldn't have happened if the US Embassy and the Lord had not helped us out and for that we are truly grateful!! We are continually blessed every day!

We spent most of the week just working on the projects. There is a 9 step paper chase that we have to do for every project and since it's been a slow week, we will explain it to you. (You might want to get a snack!)
When a project is approved, we have to get an official Letter of Request, stamped and signed and properly dated, from the organization of what they need, along with their Bank information, Tax Information and their Certificate of Registration. When we have these three documents, then we get the Prepayment Invoice from the vendor stamped and signed.

We then email this to Olga (she eventually has to have the original), our accountant who lives in Almaty, because we cannot handle any money, and she makes the Bank Transfer of funds to the vendor. Then Olga creats 3 Contracts and gives us all of the copies. We have to get all 3 Contracts signed and stamped by the organization and then we send them to Almaty, so the Branch President can sign and stamp all of them. Then Olga keeps one copy and sends the others back for us and the organization.

After the goods are delivered, we have to get a copy of the Delivery Invoice from the organization, stamped and signed and we send a copy to Olga and we keep a copy. Then we get a Final Invoice from the organization saying all taxes and charges have been paid. These are also signed and stamped. Olga gets a copy and so do we!

After the Closing Presentation, where we go and take pictures, we get a Letter of Acknowledgement from the organization, stating what the Church donated to them, signed by the organization--original to Olga and we get a copy. It's quite a process and sometimes we don't know what we have handed to us so that's where Mira comes in. She tells us what we need and if it is properly signed, stamped and dated!! If it wasn't for her we wouldn't know if we were coming or going!! She is a blessing in our lives!! And that's the story on the paperwork!!

It has been a pretty uneventful week but we had lots of snow fall and they even closed the roads into Astana because of the drifting snow. We stayed in when we could but did have to go out Wednesday night and boy, was it cold!!!!

Here we are dressed to go out. Roy even has his ear flaps down on his "shopka"!!
This is the upper walkway along our apartment building. It has drifted quite a bit, as you can see.
When we go out, we either take the high road, where Roy is, or the lower road, where the cars are parked! This is a lot more snow that we had last year!

These nice young lads were out playing in the snow and they let us take their picture!

We are keeping busy but trying to stay in when it's really cold!! It's been down in the single digits and with the wind chill it's even colder. Winter does seem to last forever here. Only three more months of it and it should be getting better!!

Thanks for all of the prayers, love and support from all of you. We feel it each and every day! We are so blessed to be here on a mission in Kazakhstan! We wouldn't trade this experience for anything! May the Lord bless you in all that you do!


Elder and Sister Welling

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back to Work in Astana, Kazakhstan - 14 January 2009

On January 7th was the Russian Orthodox Christmas so it was a holiday throughout Kazakhstan. We worked on the computer and tried to get caught up on the paperwork for the projects we have been doing.

On Thursday was a big New Year's Celebration at the Mega Mall in the Babylon Pirate Center. All handicapped children's organizations, along with the children of handicapped parents and the League of Large Family Organization were invited to attend.
Roy, Mira and Anne in front of the large New Year's Tree in the Babylon Game Center.
Here we are with Kulnazira, one of the NGO's we work with here in Kazakhstan. She is a real friend and we just love her!!While we were there, we also met Raigul, who is the director over the League of Large Families and Kamka and Ramazan, her husband, who were on their way to the Customs office to see about getting the two 40 ft. containers through customs. We wished them luck and told them we would keep our fingers crossed! The containers have been in customs since the 29th of December! (We'll fill you in on the rest of the story later!)

We took pictures of some of the children enjoying themselves on the rides!
We just had to take a picture of these cute little kids dressed up. It is customary for people to dress in costumes for New Year's parties so many of the children did. Aren't they adorable!!Over 500 children and teenagers were invited to this event. All of the children could ride these rides free of charge. They do this every year for the handicapped children's organizations.

Later in the afternoon we found out that the documents on the containers from the train company did not have the same wording as those that were sent from Salt Lake; they left off "Humanitarian Aid". Now the customs officials want the US Embassy to verify what is in the containers, which they can't do because they didn't send them!! We are now working with a gentleman from the US Embassy who deals with customs officials and he is trying to help us out. Hopefully, by the first of next week, we will be able to get these containers through!! This is really an exercise in patience!!

Before anything leaves Salt Lake, the organization that we are working with has to guarantee that the containers will be able to get through customs or they will not send them. The Church is spending so much money sending these containers and if customs rejects them, then they are sent back at the Church's expense. In Turkey, they ended up sending some containers back because they couldn't get them through customs after months of haggling with customs officials.

Saturday morning Nathan and Heather Jones, and their children, arrived from Pavlodar. They are on their way to Almaty to get new diplomatic visas so that they can go anywhere they want without having to register in every town. We enjoyed having them with us for the weekend!!

Walking home from the Ramstore on Saturday, we decided to get some pictures of the ice sculptors on the river.
Roy in front of the Kazakh poet, Abai. The weather was actually pretty nice that day!! No wind!!

The Jones Family: Heather, Desi, Zoe and Nathan all eating ice cream and cake before leaving on the train to Almaty.

It was also enjoyable having them here for Church. Zhanna called and asked if we could have church at 7:00 a.m. because she has a new job and has to work on Sunday! We told her we would do whatever time that would allow her to come. We were through with our meetings by 9:00 and had the rest of the day for reading and relaxation! The Jones boarded the train for Almaty later in the evening. They will be back in a couple of weeks on their way to Pavlodar. It's wonderful having company!

"Happy Birthday, Dad!" We can't believe your 95 years old!!!! Congratulations! We just want you to know that you are the best Dad ever and we love you so much! You are an inspiration to us all!

Thanks again for all of your love and support! We are so grateful for being here in Kazakhstan and for all of the things that we have learned. We truly love the people here!! Thanks again for your prayers in our behalf.


Elder and Sister Welling

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Happy New Year in Almaty, Kazakhstan - 6 January 2009

Happy New Year to you all!!
Tuesday morning, before leaving for Almaty, we got the wonderful news that Ryan and Tiffanie had a baby boy, Easton Miles, born on the 29th of December. Both mother and baby are doing great!! We are very richly blessed to have 20 beautiful grandchildren!!

After our flight to Almaty, Sveta, our visa clerk, translator, and all-around go to lady, took us to meet with Dr. Tamara Chubakova and her assistants, Dr. Aliyah and Dr. Zarina about the Neonatal Resuscitation Training for next year.

We met at a lovely restaurant and were so happy to see each of them again! Dr. Tamara is over all prenatal training in Kazakhstan and Dr. Aliyah and Dr. Zarina were with us in July for the last NRT in Astana, Kostani and Kokshetau.

We discussed when the next NRT would be and where and all the details about it. The sad part is that we won't be able to be here for the next one but we will be in charge of getting everything printed, shipped and ready for the next training. The next Humanitarian couple will be able to be a part of this wonderful experience.Dr. Zarina, Roy, Anne, Dr. Tamara Chubakova, Sveta and Dr. Aliyah. These ladies are wonderful, dedicated doctors and our lives have been enriched by just knowing and working with them.

Wednesday was New Year's Eve and we were invited to the Vincents for a party with them and the missionaries. The pary began at 1:00 in the afternoon.Sister Pat Vincent is at the sink. Sister Davis, from St. George; Sister Samsonovich, from Vladivostok, Russia; Elder Craig Vincent and Elder London, from Orange County, California, all having a good time at the party.

We started out the party with a Scripture Chase for all of the missionaries. Then we had a Murder Mystery Dinner. Between the courses we had to solve the murder. That was lots of fun!

Elder London, Sister Davis, Elder King, from Idaho; Sister Samsonovich, Pat Vincent, Elder Volegov, from Latvia; and Craig Vincent and Anne (in front) watching a movie which was next on the list of things to do.

The missionaries changed their clothes before the next movie began. In front, Elder London, and Elder King. In the back, Elder Jonovich, from Arizona; Sister Davis and Sister Samsonovich. It was so fun to be with the missionaries! Elder King and Sister Davis will be leaving to go back to Moscow in the next week.

The party was so much fun and we enjoyed being there with all of them. We watched the fireworks at around 11:00 and left for our apartment at 12:30 p.m. which was nine blocks away but only took us about 25 minutes to get there! There were so many fireworks going on and everyone was out on the street having a fun time.

Saturday night the Branch had a baptism! Morat is the newest member of the Almaty Branch. What a fine young man he is! These are the missionaries serving in Almaty with the newest member. Elder Volegov, Elder Jonovich, Elder London, Morat, Elder King, Sister and Elder Vincent, Sister Davis, and Sister Samsonovich. Many members came to the baptism and gave their love and support for Morat. It was very special for us to be their for a baptism.

We had a wonderful Fast and Testimony meeting. It was nice not to have to be in charge of Sacrament Meeting for a change! It was also wonderful to have a variety of people bear their testimonies. The people in this Branch have very strong testimonies and they will be the ones that will move the work forward. It's not easy being a member of the Church in a Muslim country.

The Vincents invited us for dinner after church, along with Gary Despain, an Air Astana pilot from Mendon, Utah. We enjoyed the visit so much with all of them and it was hard to leave. The Vincents will be leaving the 1st of April and they still don't know who their replacements are!

While we were there in Almaty, it snowed for two days. It was beautiful and it wasn't even cold. When we flew back to Astana on Monday, we realized just how cold it is where we live. We don't know if we will ever get used to this cold!! But it sure was nice to have a break from it.

We hope you all have a wonderful new year and that the Lord will bless you in all that you do. We love you all!


Elder and Sister Welling