Sunday, February 22, 2009

Cold Weather and Handicapped Day Care to Warm Our Hearts - 22 February 2009

Did you know that Astana is the second coldest capital in the world?? The first is Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia.

It was cold this week. "How cold?", you might ask. This morning it was -41 degrees F. with the wind chill factor!! All this week it has been -30 degrees to -40 degrees F. so we didn't get out as much as we would have liked to. Spring cannot come too soon!!
We did get out this week to a closing presentation on Tuesday for a project we did for Ludmilla Yeger Georgiyevna who runs a handicapped day care center for children.
These are some of the children at the day care center.
The children did a program for us which was fun to see. They are so cute!! Ludmilla does a great job with them!
We donated some items for the day care center. These balls, that the children are playing with, were part of the project.

Ludmilla uses performances to teach the children language skills and socialization. This wardrobe, for the costumes, was also part of the project so she could save them from year to year to cut down on her expenses.

Before we left for Almaty, the pump went out on the washer, so we knew we were facing that this week. On Wednesday, Mira called a repairman who came and was able to fix it, which was a relief because we didn't want to buy a new one! The Lord blesses us in so many ways!!On Saturday, Ludmilla had a sewing class for some of her students and teachers and we wanted to see the sewing machines that were also part of the project. Aigul, one of the teachers, is working at one of the machines.Lela is another teacher who works with the children. She is showing us another sewing machine that the Church donated to the organization. She is working on some costumes for a presentation on March 7th (which we are invited to) for Women's Day. Anne, Aigul, Ludmilla, Roy and Lela. We were glad that we could do a project for this organization.

While we were out and about on Saturday we met one of Mira's friends and we asked if we could take her picture. She was nice to let us do so! (We have wanted to show you some of the gorgeous fur coats over here along with their beautiful hats, but we don't always have time to ask complete strangers if we can take their picture. Besides, we're afraid they will look at us funny! Generally, it's so cold that we don't want to get out the camera!!)

We had Church 7:00 a.m with Zhanna today and it was wonderful! What would we do without her?!! Despite the language barrier, the Spirit helps us understand!

Hope it warms up so we can have a more interesting blog next week!! What can we say, we are trying to stay in and keep warm!

We are grateful that Ryan and Tiffanie's baby is over the RSV and is home from the hospital. The Lord continues to bless us!


Elder and Sister Welling

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Weekend in Almaty for Zone Conference - 18 February 2009

We hope all of you had a "Happy Valentine's Day"!

It's been a week of pretty cold weather but we realize this is the last winter that we have to go through, so we will make it!! It's been in the -20 degrees F. all week! We can hardly wait 'til Spring!!

We wanted to make Sugar Cookies for the English Club. We spent the first part of the week looking for a Valentine Cookie Cutter, red food coloring and red candies. No such luck! We ended up making round sugar cookies, using strawberry jello to color the frosting and bought 2 packages of M & M's and picked out the red ones to decorate the cookies with. They made a hit at the English Club!! As Mira told us, we could survive anywhere!!

We had another project approved this week for the Woman's League who needed computers for training. We are grateful for that!

Friday morning we flew to Almaty for Missionary Zone Conference on Saturday. Friday night we were invited to go to see the ballet, "Gizelle", with Sister Pat Vincent.
This is the ballet and opera theater in Almaty. It is a beautiful building on the inside as well as the outside and we were so glad that we were able to go to the ballet!The ballet, "Gizelle", was wonderful and the scenery was beautiful! We have seen more opera and ballet in Kazakhstan than we had in our entire life!! We think it's great!
After the ballet, we saw Olga, one of the nurses from Kostani that we met while doing the NRT. We were so glad to see her!! She is attending school in Almaty to receive more training.
Olga, Anne, Pat Vincent, Nadezhda and Roy. Pat invited Nadezhda to meet us at the ballet. She is not a member, but her son and husband are. Her son, Dema, is on a mission in Russia now. She is a wonderful lady and we hope that she will eventually join the Church. We feel very blessed to have met her. We also got to visit with her in Church on Sunday!!

On Saturday, we were able to attend Zone Conference and to meet President Collins and his wife, our new mission president. Kazakhstan is now in the Russia Moscow West Mission. President Pieper, a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and our Area President, was also their with his wife. What a treat that was!! We also got to meet the new Elders and Sisters that are now serving in Almaty.

It was wonderful to listen to President and Sister Pieper and President and Sister Collins and hear what we can do to be better missionaries!! President Pieper has such a love for Kazakhstan and the people here and you can feel it!!
After our meeting, President Pieper took us to a wonderful Uzbek restaurant with wonderful food and the ambiance was great!!
Sister Collins, President Collins, Pat Vincent, Craig Vincent, Anne and Roy, Sister Pieper and President Pieper ready to enjoy dinner.
President and Sister Pieper, Roy, Pat and Craig Vincent, Anne and Sister and President Collins. We had a enjoyable time visiting and talking about Kazakhstan and what a wonderful place it is. President Pieper told us that they are working towards getting missionaries into Astana, but some events have to take place first and that we are on the Lord's timetable. We just have to be patient!

We were able to attend the Branch on Sunday and that is always a treat for us. President and Sister Collins spoke to us about how people can influence our lives and how trials give us the opportunity to see how we will react to things that happen to us. President Pieper bore his testimony about the 3 missionaries from the Branch, Maxem, Dema, and Rasheed, that are in Russia and the Ukraine doing such a great job and that their testimonies are so strong.

He also told us about the hard times that we are living in and that we need to pay our tithing, get out of debt and keep up on our food storage. He also told us that we need to have faith and that we need to rely on truth. He told the Saints that there will be a Central Asian Mission someday centered in Almaty with wards and stakes everywhere. He told us that God sees us in Kazakhstan and sees what we can become. All of our problems can be solved through faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ! It was such a wonderful meeting and the Spirit was so strong. We felt very privileged to be there and hear him!!
This is our accountant, Olga Berkaliyava, who pays for all of our projects when they are approved. She has to keep a record of all 9 documents and invoices so that we can stay legal. She belongs to the Branch in Almaty and has a 12 year son, Sasha. We love her so much and enjoy working with her!!
Sister Pieper is holding her granddaughter, Sophie, and President Pieper is holding the other baby, who are"stars" of the Branch!! These two babies are spoiled by everyone!! President and Sister Pieper's son and daughter-in-law, Chris and Evelyn, are living in the Branch while doing research for his Fulbright Scholarship.
The two young ladies in the center are sisters. The sister on the right is Erra and she is getting to ready to go on a mission. Her mother is the Relief Society President. Erra is such a dynamic person and will make a wonderful missionary. Sister Zonova is from Ufa, Russia (on the left) and Sister Jensen (on the right) is from Springville, Utah. They both are great missionaries!!
After Church on Sunday, President and Sister Collins and us were invited to the Vincents for Sunday dinner. We had an wonderful time and enjoyed getting to know one another better. President and Sister Collins will be going home from their mission in July but hope to see us at another zone conference before we leave.

President and Sister Collins and and Elder and Sister Vincent. What can we say about the Vincents!! They have been wonderful to us while we have been in Almaty. They plan fun activities when we are there and always are inviting us over for meals. They are the Leadership couple but do humanitarian projects on the side while also taking care of the young missionaries in Kazakhstan. Elder Vincent is a lawyer and a former member of the Seventy and has been working hard to get the Church registered in Kyrgyzstan. They do humanitarian projects in that country, also. They will be leaving to go home the 1st of April and we will miss them very much!

It has been a wonderful and uplifting weekend for us and we are so glad that we had the chance to go and be there with everyone.

It was hard to come back to the really cold weather in Astana, but we know that it won't last forever!!

We love you all and miss you too. The gospel is true and is the most wonderful thing that we have in our life!! We are so blessed!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Opening of the 2nd Container in Astana, Kazakhstan - 8 February 2009

It's been a great week ! It's always good to have places to go and things to do!

A couple of weeks ago we were invited by Raigul Duikenova to see the opening of the 2nd container that was sent from Salt Lake to Astana. Raigul is the director of the Akmolian League of Large Familes who help over 1500 families with 4 or more children and live below the poverty level.
Raigul's daughter, along with the man who helped open the container and Mira looking inside the container where Anne and Raigul are checking out the contents. After opening the container, Raigul invited us into her apartment where some of the ladies in her organization had prepared a lovely meal for us. She told us that they wanted to do something for us because they were so grateful for the clothes and items that they would be receiving from the container. They served us a lovely meal of "Plov", a Russian rice and meat dish, which was delicious! And of course, lots of fruit and vegetables. It was so kind of them. The lady that is sitting next to Anne, moved here from the Ukraine after being married at the age of 15 and has 11 children. Raigul (standing) has 12 children and we have met most of them. They are a wonderful family! The others in the picture are members of the organization and were there to help with the meal and opening the clothing container.

Thursday of this week, Raigul invited us over to where the clothes were being distributed. The "Akimat", or city officials, had given her a room, in a building by her apartment, where the people could come and select the clothing that they wanted.

Some of the ladies and men in the organization painted the walls and Raigul's husband made racks to hang the clothes on. Then with the help of her family and members of the organization, they folded and ironed the clothes and put them in piles and stacks. They went to so much work to make it look nice. We were amazed!!
You can see how neatly the clothes are folded and stacked. We were thrilled about the signs that they put on the walls. We thought that was such a nice gesture!
These ladies are checking out the clothes and were very grateful to the Church.Anne, Raigul and Roy. Raigul is a wonderful, caring lady who does so much for everyone and tries to help those in need. We have grown to love her also. She was grateful for all that we did to get a container of clothing for her. It makes us feel good when we can help so many!

Here are some pictures from our handicapped English Club that we go to on Saturday afternoon.

Adil, Veronica, Aman, Masha and Yerbol are some of our students!
Mira, Timur, Dinara and her little brother playing the game.
Roy helping Yerbol and Damir play Bingo using English words. The kids loved it!!

Brother Kareen Vardynian, a wonderful artist who belongs to the Branch in Almaty, has painted a picture for the Church's International Art Competition.

We found out a couple of weeks ago that his painting has made it into the finals!! Because they have to have the original for the final judging, they rushed it by DHL to the United States and Utah. The Branch had a party for him and a send-off for the painting. Isn't it beautiful!! We hope he does well!

It was just us and Zhanna for Church today but it was wonderful!! The spirit is so strong and it makes us focus on what it really important in life. Because of her work schedule, we have our meetings at 7:00 a.m. so that she can go to work. We love her for her dedication!

This week we found out that the NRT for 2009 in Kazakhstan has been approved and also the Correctional School project was also approved. We are excited about both of those. We are working on two more projects and will be visiting another orphanage this week. We love to keep busy!

We are doing great and we hope all of you are too. Isn't the gospel wonderful and we are so grateful to have it in our lives! Thanks again for your love and support.


Elder and Sister Welling

Monday, February 2, 2009

Keeping Busy Despite the Cold in Astana, Kazakhstan - 3 February 2009

It's been quite cold here but not as cold as last year! We do have more snow than we did a year ago. But we still have things to do so we bundle up and go out!

A week ago, we were able to visit a lady, Dr. Ms. Balkhiya Suleimenova, who is the Chief Physician of the City Ambulance Service here in Astana. She, along with another doctor from Aktobe, visited the United States to see the ambulance service there. They visited Iowa, Tuscon, Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Salt Lake City and were in the US for a month. While in Salt Lake they were given a tour of Temple Square and the Area Presidency asked us to follow up and visit with her and let her know that we have Humanitarian Missionaries here in Astana and also to see if she had any more questions about the Church.
We asked her how she enjoyed being in the United States. She said that all of her life under Soviet rule she was taught that Americans were the aggressor and that they were very bad people. She said that it has taken her whole life to find out that just was not true. She told us that Americans are so kind and nice and that they care for one another. She was impressed with the ambulance service in the US and said that we have the best care possible.

While they were in Salt Lake City, they also visited Snowbird and sat in on the practice session of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She showed us the pictures of her trip including some from Temple Square. She told us how much she loved being at Temple Square and the spirit she felt there. She also told us our religion is concerned about families and about people's souls and what we do matters in this life. That made such an impression on her!! We gave her a "Family Enrichment Program" book that tells how to have a Family Home Evenings. She was delighted with it and said she would use it for her family! We told her if she had any questions about the church to be sure and call us!
She took us downstairs where some wonderful "treats" were prepared for us by the staff. Dr. Suleimenova, Anne, Roy and Mira visiting about her facility here in Astana. Dr. Suleimenova has 720 employees and is over five different stations throughout Astana. This is the dispatch center of the city. She also told us that every ambulance must have a doctor and the training takes 7 years. The training for an EMT in the US is only 2 years and she feels that it is a much better way. She told us again that people really care for one another in the US and that the medical EMTs demonstrated that.

She thanked us so much for coming and invited us to a event that they will be having in February. She is a wonderful person and we are sure that we will see her again.

Wednesday was Mira's birthday and we wanted to take her out! On the way to the restaurant, we stopped and she took a picture of us because, as she put it, the day was so beautiful with the frost on the trees!

Anne and Mira enjoying their meal!

Roy enjoying after dinner conversation with Mira.

We don't know what we would do without Mira. We really couldn't function without her. She is wonderful and works so hard for us and always keeps us on the ball. We love her so very much and wonder how she puts up with us!

Anne and Mira in the park on the way home from the restaurant. What an enjoyable time we had!!

Friday of last week we visited the Tselenograd Regional Hospital to deliver some paper work for a project that we are doing for them and also took some receiving blankets, which were sent to us by Deanne Hughes, for the newborns there.

The blankets were so cute and the mothers were so grateful. Of course, the babies are just adorable!!

The mothers were so shy but very appreciative of the gift. We presented six mothers with blankets.

Deanne also sent this beautiful crocheted blanket and the nurses were so impressed with it that they are keeping it in the room where they prepare the babies to go home. Roy, Anne, Aigul, who is head nurse over the maternity section, Galina, who is the head doctor over maternity and an assistant, Aisulu. It was wonderful to be able to give out the blankets for the moms and their babies!!

This is a common scene this time of year in Astana!! Crews are everywhere, breaking up the ice or compacted snow on the sidewalks. It is as hard as rock because it is so cold!! They shovel it into big piles and then load it into trucks and haul it out of town.

We are truly blessed each and every day! We thank you all again for your love and support. We couldn't do it without all of you! May the Lord's choicest blessing be upon you!


Elder and Sister Welling