Monday, March 30, 2009

Another Presentation and Keeping in Touch With the Jones - 30 March 2009

It is starting to warm up with temperatures above freezing for the first time!! We are looking forward to the snow being gone and seeing a little bit of green here and there. Because of all the snow, there are rivers running everywhere but the city workers are trying to haul off the snow as fast as they can! When we go out, we literally "ford every stream"!! We have even shed our big winter coats and are down to our spring coats and our spring boots!! We're sure that we haven't seen the last of the snow storms but things do look promising!
This is right out in front of our apartment building where they are working!! The ice was so thick on the road that they had to bring in a big front end loader to break up the ice!!

Now, back to what we have been doing this week!! We have been pretty busy and it it feels good! Monday, was pretty much a holiday because of Nauryz (Kazakh New Year) on Sunday, they had Monday off. We worked on the computer and did paper work most of the day and then went out to see if there were any displays left over from Nauryz, but they were all gone!! Because of the economy, things were pretty low-key this year.
Monday night after the English Club, we went out and took some pictures of the new Spring decorations. This is in the Byterick Park.
This is the "Byterick" covered with fabric flowers. We actually met Frank Tetreault out taking pictures in the park also!!

These two trees are located on the Central Plaza and were put up for Nauryz, which is also the beginning of Spring here in Kazakhstan.
This large fountain on the Central Plaza has been turned into a giant tulip!

This lighted tree is located at Congress Hall near the Central Plaza. It's fun to see all the lights up for Spring!
Tuesday we went to the Minister of Justice and Religious Affairs to take him the papers that show some of the projects that we have been doing. He had been replaced with someone new so we explained who we were and why we are here. He told us that he was aware of us and wanted to come to see the closing presentations of our projects so he could let the city officials know what we were doing. We assured him that we would be glad to invite him!!

And it just so happened that we had a closing presentation on Thursday for a project we did for the League of Women. The director, Clara Yerzhanova, had asked for 3 computers to help train abused or deserted women.These are two of the three computers that the Church donated to this organization. The young man seated at the computer will be training the women.

Kulnazira, Roy, Anne, Clara and two gentlemen that were sent from the Deparment of Justice and Religious Affairs. At the presentation, Clara thanked us for the computers and told us that no one had ever helped her before. She was very kind and gracious. Kulnazira told the gentlemen what a wonderful organization that the Church was and that we truly cared about helping people. She is a wonderful PR person for us!! We just love her!!

Afterwards, Clara and Kulnazira fed us all lunch and we were able to visit with one another. The gentlemen from the ministry thanked us for inviting them! We all felt that it went well.Roy, Anne and Clara Yerzhanova after eating a delicious lunch! Clara is a wonderful compassionate person who cares about others. We are so glad that we were able to become acquainted with her. We meet the nicest people in our calling!!

Saturday morning the Jones stopped in for a couple of nights with us on their way back to Sharbakti. They had been in Almaty for a few days while Nathan Jones presented a paper at a university there. We enjoy having them with us. Heather and the children will be leaving from Astana on June 1st to go back to New York to visit and then on to Utah to visit family. Nathan will be staying in Kazakhstan to finish up his Fulbright Scholarship work.
Anne, Heather and Nathan and Jones, and their children Desi and Zoe. It has been wonderful having them attend Church with us each time they come!! We will miss them!

The attendence at our Church meetings: Elder Welling and Nathan Jones - Zhanna Beckenbi, Sister Welling, Heather Jones and Desi and Zoe. (Even though it's 7:00 in the morning, we look pretty good!) We love it when we have more than 3 people at Church! It's wonderful how the gospel can bring us all together!!

We just want to congratulate Bridget Kingsford on her baptism on Saturday! We are so proud of you, Bridget! We hope you had a wonderful day and will remember how special it was for you! We love you very much!!

We are doing well and hoping to make a difference here in Kazakhstan! We appreciate all of your prayers in our behalf! We love and appreciate you all!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Visa Renewal, Closing Presentation and Ballet in Astana, Kazakhstan - 22 March 2009

This has been a busy week for us since Mira came back from Pavlodar. Our first assignment was to get all the papers to the Immigration Police so we could finish up our visa renewal. It took us until Wedenesday because some of the information on our papers was incorrect!! But by Wednesday night, we had our visas back and we are again legal for the last three months of our mission!! We always hold our breath, because we never know what additonal information they might ask for!!

Wednesday afternoon, we went to the closing presentation for a project that we did at the Specialized Correctional Boarding School. There are about 243 students at this school that are mentally or physically handicapped. Twenty-three of them are orphans who live there. Many others board there during the week because they live so far out of the city.
Earlier, we visited some homemaking classes where the students practiced their sewing skills.
These are more of the items that the students made. We also saw the shop classes where the students were able to learn to work with wood. They even have cooking classes where the students help make the food for the meals each day. We were impressed with the school because they taught the students life skills which is so important for these handicapped children.
In the gym, the students are getting the physical exercise they need to keep their muscles strong. We were so impressed with the school and the way that it was run that we wanted to do a project for them.These are the beds that the Church donated for those who live at the school. The beds that they had, were metal framed beds and were so rickety that they were dangerous to sleep on the top bunk. These beds have the built in drawers and a shelf inside the bed. We were thrilled with how nice they looked, and the students were so grateful for them, too.

The director of the school is Kusain Katkenov and we found him a wonderful and caring individual. We would definitely like to work with him again!!

After seeing the beds, the director took us into the gym where the students were gathered and applauded as we walked in. He told them that our organization had provided the new beds for them. It was fun being there with them.
They presented a short little skit about a rich man and a poor man. The streamers coming down represent the yurt.The students did a wonderful job and we enjoyed it all very much!! It's gratifying to be able to help out a good organization like this one!!

We spent Thursday out and about picking up invoices for the next project that has been approved.This is a picture of the new suspension bridge which was just finished and crosses the Yesil River. The thing that is unique about this bridge is that the arch suspending the bridge crosses from one side of the road to the other as it crosses the river. It is pretty cool!!

Friday night, Frank invited us to go to the Ballet with him and two other pilots. This is Jean-Pierre Simon, from France, Rosalind Heinemann, from Virginia, and Frank Tetreault, from Virginia, and Anne and Roy from Fielding, Utah. We saw three one act ballets-- classical, comical and traditional Kazakh.
This is the classical ballet,
This is the comical ballet,

and the is the traditional Kazakh ballet. It was all wonderful and we were glad that we went.!! Going to the ballet here is a bargain! It cost all of $3.33 a ticket!!

Today is Nauryz, which is the Kazakh New Year!! So Happy Nauryz to everyone!!Tomorrow is the rest of the Nauryz celebration, so it is also a holiday, so we will probably go out, if the weather is good.

We had our usual Church meetings with just the three of us and we are so grateful that we can meet together each week!!

May the Lord bless each of you!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Tulips Are Up!! in Astana, Kazakhstan

This week has been pretty uneventful with Mira, our translator, in Pavlodar. She will be returning on Sunday night and we expect to be really busy this coming week!

The good news is that we have heard from the couple that are replacing us and hopefully, they will be here sometime in June. We have a lot to do to get ready for them!

We also found out this week that the project for the "Children's Charity Fund" has been approved and we are very happy about that!. We will be out most of this coming week getting invoices and prices for the computers, chairs and sewing machines for them.

Mira called us and told us that we have two closing presentations this week on projects that we have done!! That is always good news and we will let you know more about that in our next blog.

Now about the tulips...........
They are not up from the ground, but wired up on every lamp post, bridge and some buildings throughout the city!
After getting a hair cut, we took these pictures as we strolled through the "Lollipop Park" on the way to the grocery store.

We had our favorite Air Astana pilot here in Astana, Frank Tetreault, over for dinner this week and he shared some of his pictures with us.
This is the walking bridge behind our apartment building that spans the Esil River. The tulips are a real stand out!
As you can see, they have wired them to every lamp post across the bridge!
And, they are especially beautiful at night!!
These are the lights across the walking bridge into Astana Park!

These decorations are on the building next to the Radisson Hotel! They go all out with decorations here!!

So, this has been a good sign that Spring is coming! But as I write this blog, alas, it is snowing outside!! Everyone here is looking forward to Spring, because winter lasts sooo looong here in Astana, Kazakhstan.

We did go to a couple of English Clubs this week as well as visiting with the student translators at the University. It's nice to have things that keep us busy when we are not so busy with Humanitarian work!

The first thing we will do Monday, is to take our papers from the Akimat (Mayor's office) to the Immigration Police to see if they will renew our visas. We'll keep our fingers crossed!!

We want to congratulate Gabriela Welling on her baptism on Saturday!! We hope it was a special day for you, Gabriela, and one that you will never forget!!

How grateful we are to be members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! What would we do without the Church in our lives! What a blessing it is to have the Holy Ghost as a guide and a direction in our lives. We are truly blessed!!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Things Are Looking Up in Astana, Kazakhstan!! - 8 March 2009

We feel like Spring is finally coming to Astana because it hasn't been below zero all week!! We have also been able to go out and do more with the better weather.

And that is not the only good news; we were able to get our computer up and going again with the help of Mira's younger brother, Kazbik, who spent several hours working on it.!! He found out that we had 34 viruses which was causing all the problems for us!!! So now we're back in business again!! Also, we hope to get a new computer from Moscow, because we found out that ours is not Church approved. We'll see what happens!!Thursday we went to a closing presentation of a project we did for a handicapped organization who were given sports and exercise equipment. This little boy is playing ping pong on table that was provided by the Church.
Veronica, who has some physical disabilities, is trying out some of the exercise equipment. Her mother is looking on and Elena, the director of the organization is helping her.
This young man has some extreme physical disabilities but was enjoying using the exercise equipment. This equipment will be used by these youth to help strengthen their muscles.
This young mother has two mentally handicapped little boys, one year apart. They were having such fun with their mom on the exercise equipment.
Elena, the director of "Social Adaptation of Children", does a wonderful job helping the handicapped youth in Astana. She is a very kind and loving person and we enjoy working with her so much. We were glad that we were able to do this project for her organization. (She is standing next to Anne and Roy.)
Friday we were invited to a program at the University where we visit and speak English to two classes of translators. They wanted us to come and see the program that they were preforming in. When we got there, we found out that this program was to help recruit high school seniors to come to this University. And the professsor, over English translators, (in the middle) wanted us to speak about the importance of English. We tried to get out of it, but he insisted!!At the end of the program, this professor gave Anne her bouquet of flowers that were given to her for International Women's Day, which is celebrated on Sunday. She told us she gave them because we were foreign guests in their country. We thought that was so kind of her!! Aizhan, on the left, is the teacher of the students whose class we visit each week.
Friday we were invited to a program by Ludmilla, who is the director over a day care center that we just finished a project for. Anne, Ludmilla and Roy
These are some of the children that preformed on the program.
Ludmilla, her assistants and some of the participants dressed like little chicks. The program was to honor mothers for International Women's Day.

Because Mira has gone home to Pavlodar for a week, we had Zarina come and translate for us. She is such a sweetheart and we dearly love her! She has been so willing to help us out when we need her!

On top of everything else this week, Mira started working on getting our visas renewed. By Thursday, we were able to get our papers into the Akimat (Mayor's Office) for approval. If they allow us to stay, we will then take our papers to the Immigration Police who will issue our visas for 3 months, which will allow us to stay until June 23. When Mira gets back next week, we will start that procedure.

We had a wonderful sacrament and sunday school meeting with Zhanna today. We are so glad that she continues to come early each Sunday morning! We don't know what we would do without her!!

Today is International Women's Day in Kazakhstan which honors all women, from little daughters to grandmothers! We have never seen so many people with bouquets of flowers and candy as we have this week. It is a wonderful celebration!!

Love to each of you!! The gospel is true and we are so blessed because of it!

Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Paperwork, Projects and Presentations in Astana, Kazakhstan - 1 March 2009

Can you believe it's March already?!! Time is really going fast here. We were able to get some things done this week despite the cold.

We spent the first part of the week doing historical reports and final reports on projects that we have completed and then sent them to Moscow. Roy also got the information he needs to do a wheelchair project in Pavlodar.

Our biggest problem right now is our computer!! It is too old, or too slow, or has a virus; but just isn't working!! Roy has threatened to throw it off the balcony!! We are waiting for a call from Salt Lake for the tech people to tell us what to do about it. We are pretty frustrated at this point!! Hopefully they will call this week.

We were able to go to visit the Children's Charity Fun, who work with disadvantaged children and teenagers. They help nearly 3,000 people a year. We are hoping to do a project for them.

While we were out and about this week, we took some pictures of the fire trucks over here.
This is what a fire truck looks like in Astana, Kazakhstan. They were having a fire drill at the correctional school while we were there dropping off some papers.Fire trucks are orange and white and look nothing like the ones in the US! It's hard to believe that anything could burn around here because everything is made out of cement or brick!!

Friday we were invited to go to a "Living Stones" presentation held at the First Presidential Museum where they honored handicapped children for their participation in art.

Kamka Medievna, an NGO that we work with, was honored for setting up the program for the handicapped children and teenagers.The guest artist, from Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with one of the students that participated in the project. This is one of the Church's wheelchairs.
The artist teaches them how to paint on rocks to make them "come alive". This is some of her art work.
The artist shows them how to create what they want on paper first and then on the rocks. These are two of the students that participated. The young lady, Masha, is in our handicapped English Club that we go to on Saturday.

This is some of the rock painting done by the children and teenagers. (It actually looked better in person. The camera doesn't do it justice, so use your imagination!)The students were grateful for the chance they had to show some creativity and we were grateful for the opportunity we had to attend to see some of the handicapped students that we have helped through different projects we have done.

We were able to do a project a few weeks ago which was a Montessori room for an orphanage here in the city. They asked for items that would help the children with their manipulative skills, which consists of lacing, buckling, things for sizing and shape, sight and touch, ect.The director of the orphanage along with Mira and Anne looking at the different items that were donated by the Church for the room.

The director along with Mira showing off manipulatives to learn to lace, tie, zipping, ect. These items were very well made and we were impressed with them.

Roy and Zhanna looking at more of the items for the Montessori room.

This is Zhanna, who we worked with on this project. She has an organization that helps individuals and groups. She was wonderful to work with and we enjoyed getting to know her.

We are still busy with our English clubs and visiting English classes at the university. It sure has helped to keep us busy and we have made some wonderful friends that we will never forget!

We are so grateful for the gospel in our lives and that we have a chance to spread the gospel through humanitarian work. May the Lords bless each of you!


Elder and Sister Welling