Sunday, May 31, 2009

Birthday Celebration, Children's Day Celebration and More of the Same (Custom Problems) in Astana, Kazakhstan - 1 June 2009

It's great to be busy here in Kazakhstan!!!

Besides celebrating Roy's birthday on Wednesday, we went to the closing ceremony of a project we did at the Tseleningrad Regional Hospital.

The Church donated 6 new gurneys to the hospital. We were able to see them and meet with some of the nurses and doctors who use them. They are so grateful to have them!

One of the head doctors who took us around to look at the gurneys also took us to the operating area. They had us put on the hats and masks and everything!! We thought that we were just going to take a picture of a gurney, but the doctor motioned us right over to where they were operating!! (They actually thought Roy was a doctor and wanted to consult with him!!) We were really surprised that they even let us in there!!

Dr. Galina, Head of Obstetrics, and Dr. Marat Dostygarinov, Administrator and Head Surgeon who we worked with on the project.
In the evening we took Mira, Kazbek, (Mira's brother and our unofficial computer tech) and Zhanna to "Ali Baba's" for Roy's birthday dinner! We had wonderful salads and "shashlek" (kabobs) and the company was great too!!
Kazbek, Mira, Roy and Zhanna outside of "Ali Baba's" after dinner and on the way home!
Each week on Zhanna's day off, we have her come to our home; we have dinner, our Sunday School lesson and at 7:00 we have our English lesson for her and Aliya.

We met Aliya Tulebaeva on our trip home from Armenia. We sat next to each other on the plane and she asked what we were doing in Astana. We told her that we were Humanitarian Missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She told us that she also believed in Jesus! Then she said, "This is a good day!" She asked if she could come and spend some time with us and help her with her English. We told her that we have a member that we are helping to learn English and that she can come when Zhanna comes. So each week we have conversational English with these two young ladies. It's great and it has definitely made a difference with Zhanna! They have become friends.
Thursday we were invited to Aiman and Kamka's (two NGO's we work with) Children's Day Celebration at Astana Park. There we were given a "Thankful Letter" for the items that were purchased by the Church for their organizations.
After the celebration, Aiman invited us to a dinner she was having to celebrate her birthday and also Roy's birthday because they are on the same day!! The meal was delightful, as always, and the company was even better!
Kamka Medievna, Anne, Aiman Mausenbaeva and Roy showing off the letter we received from them! We love these ladies!! They and others gave toasts to us and wished us well as we leave to go home!
This week school was officially out!! On the last day of school, the young ladies that are graduating have a tradition of wearing black dresses with these cute white aprons over them!! This is a Soviet tradition and one that they have kept! We took a picture of these young ladies out on the River Walk!!

Saturday we had our last English club with the handicapped children. We made peanut butter cookies with M&M's because it is an American treat! It was hard saying goodbye to all of them. We were able to visit with the parents too!! What a treat!!

Sunday was a pretty special day because we had the Jones family, who are living in Sharbakti, visit us for the last time! Heather and the children are flying to New York Monday morning! Nathan will stay here for a month or two and finish up his research and then fly to the US and spend some time with them.

We are so grateful to have had them in our home this past 9 months. It has been good for us and we hope it has been good for them! We knew that they were going to try to come each month and we would look forward to it!! It helps when you have members of the Church that you can interact with!! One doesn't realize how much you miss that until you don't have it!! They made our stay here in Astana more enjoyable. Zhanna especially liked it when the Jones family came because Nathan speaks Russian fluently. The Lord is continually aware of what we need and provides for us!!

I'll bet you are all still wondering about the customs problems!! All of the documents are in to customs and the deadline is Tuesday. We are still waiting with baited breath!! If this doesn't teach us patience, nothing will!!!! Hopefully, by next week, we can let you know of the outcome!! We just have to remember that the Lord is in charge and everything will work out!

We have been blessed greatly and especially for the love of friends and family! It's wonderful to have such support in our lives!! The gospel is true!!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Making Wonderful Friends in Astana, Kazakhstan - 24 May 2009

This past year and a half we have spent time going to the Kazakh University of Humanities and Law to meet with the translators there and talk English with them. We have enjoyed the young ladies and have become very good friends to some of them.

Saturday we had a dinner for a few of the young ladies that we met in the first class when we first came to Kazakhstan. We wanted to get together with them and find out what they have been doing since they graduated.
Zarina, on the far left, has been our substitute translator. She has been wonderful to fill in when Mira has been gone. She is very special to us and we have grown to love her. Bilimzhan and Zhanara are two of her classmates and they are wonderful young ladies, too. They have all been to the United States on the Work and Travel program that is offered here. We enjoyed meeting with them the first winter we were here in Kazakhstan. Mira, our translator, actually helped us get into the university to meet with them each week.
Mira, Bilimzhan, Anne, Zarina and Zhanara. Bilimzhan and Zarina are both trying to go to the United States to further their education. We had a wonderful time visiting over dinner. We told them that if they ever get west of the Mississippi, to let us know!! It was hard to say goodbye to them!! We will never forget what special young ladies they are!This is the Russian group of translators that we have been spending time with. Back: Oksana, Anne, Allema, Lena and Azhar, teacher. Front: Dina, Kundous and Christina.
Roy and Anne with the Russian group of translators. When we say Russian, we mean that they went to Russian speaking schools. We loved the young ladies and got to know them quite well!!
These are the Kazak group of translators. Dinara, next to Roy, speaks very good English and dreams of going to the US. Sultanat is next to her and is one of the few practicing Muslims that we saw at the university. Bizhan, next to Anne, is from a family of 10 children. The other girls in the class are Gani, Nurgul, Zarina, Kama, Ulzhan, Bota, Aidana, and Kunnur. (Some of the students were absent.) The last day we attended the class, they gave us these cute Kazakh caps!!
These are the 4th year translators who are graduating this summer. These young ladies were a fun group to be with. They are Zamira, Diana, Zhuldys, Azel and Saina.
Markhabbat, Zhupar (teacher), Diana and Azel

Zhupar, the teacher of the 4th year students, became a real friend to us. She is a very dedicated teacher and appreciated us coming each week to her class.

It was hard to say goodbye to all of the students that we have gotten to know. What a blessing it has been for us to learn about each of them and their culture here in Kazakhstan!! They are special to us and we will never forget them!

We had Spring a couple of days this week and we were able to take a picture of all of the beautiful apple trees in bloom!! They are everywhere here in Kazakhstan!

When we woke up this morning, we had snow on the roof tops!! This has been a very long winter!!

We are still working on getting the NRT equipment through customs. If we can't get the necessary documents this week, they may have to send the shipment back, which would be devastating to the training that we have set up for July!! We just need to have faith that it will happen!!

Our time is getting close and we know that it will be hard to leave these wonderful people. We are working hard to get everything done!! We have truly loved this experience!!


Elder and Sister Welling

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Day Trip to Borovoya, Kazakhstan - 18 May 2009

After catching up on a few things this week, we decided, with the help of our friend, Frank Tetreault, that we needed to take a day trip to Borovoya, which is about 2 and a half hours from Astana. Borovoya is the nearest mountain resort to Astana and many people go there for rest and relaxation during the summer. People always ask us if we have been to Borovoya yet. We decided that we can't go home without seeing this wonderful place, so we decided to hire a taxi and away we went!!
When we got to Borovoya we found a small town, with lots of hotels and resorts and several sanatoriums. They all surround Lake Borovoya which is nestled in the trees among large rock formations.
Sergei, our driver, took us to a huge cropping of rocks and told us that we should climb to the top. When we got to the there, we took these beautiful pictures!!
It was amazing to drive from the steppe into this mountain region and see all of this beauty which seems to be out in the middle of nowhere!!
The rock formations are just amazing!!
This is beautiful Lake Borovoya!! This was taken on the very top of the huge rocks. You can see the road down below.
This rock is one of many with a unique formation that was eroded away by the effects of nature. We saw this all over the area.These are the exhausted hikers (well maybe just two)!! Roy, Anne, Sergei and Mira. This is the trail up to the top of the rocks!! It's a good thing we did this first or we probably wouldn't have had the energy to do it later in the day!!
Out in Lake Borovoya is a large cropping of rocks that look like a sphinx. Any picture that we have seen of Borovoya has this huge rock in it. The rock is called Zhumbaktas cliff or "Riddle-stone".
This is the "Riddle-stone" taken from the other side of the lake.
Roy and Anne with the Zhumbaktas cliff in the background!! (We got caught in a couple of thunder showers; hence, the wind blown and rained-on look!!) As you can see in the background, the area surrounding the lake is covered in pine trees.
Out in this clearing is a monument to Ablay-khan, one of the rulers during the 1700's. He is famous for uniting the early Kazakh people against the Djungars, which were from China and Mongolia. This is a very impressive monument!
This huge eagle is at the top of the monument! Of course, the eagle is one of the symbols of Kazakhstan. There are carvings and symbols of Kazakhstan on the monument as well.
Sergei took us to another area in the forest where there is a waterfall. This rock formation is on the way to the waterfall and looks like camel. Of course Mira and Anne had to have their picture taken on it!
When we got to the waterfall, this is what we found, a large layer of snow among the birch trees!! It was amazing! You can see how thick the snow in this area is. The waterfall is running underneath the snow!! Mira, Sergei and Roy
Mira, Frank Tetreault and Anne and Roy on the bridge over the stream where the waterfall is. You can see the snow in the background!!
Then Sergei took us to another area where there is a small lake called Bolshoe Chebachye. It has a lot of beach area with huge rocks everywhere. There is also a land mass that stretches out to the middle of the lake and has birch trees growing there and another sandy beach area. Roy is resting on one of the large rocks that are along the beach.
On the way back from the beach, Roy took this picture of this rock formation which is called the Okzhetpes cliff ("Inaccessible by Arrow") and on the top of the cliff it looks like a baby elephant lying down on it's knees!!This is a closer picture of the elephant. Pretty cool, wouldn't you say!!

We had a wonderful day and to top it off we ate at one of the cafes in town...and had "Shashlek" which is kabobs - chicken, pork and lamb. It was wonderful and very tasty!! Anne, Roy and Frank Tetreault.

We had a great day we had!! Sergei was a great guide and knew just where to go and we appreciate all he did for us. We are glad that we took the time to go. It would have been a shame to leave Kazakhstan and never have seen this beautiful area!!

As far as projects, we are still waiting for Moscow to give us the go-ahead on the new computer program. We are also still dealing with getting customs clearance that we thought we had for the NRT equipment. The fun never ends!!

Thanks to all of you for your love and support!! We are so blessed and have felt the "tender mercies" of the Lord constantly on this mission!


Elder and Sister Welling

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Victory Day Celebration in Astana, Kazakhstan - 10 May 2009

Happy Mother's Day!!

We have become accustomed to dealing with customs here in Kazakhstan!! We found out that we haven't the right documents because the laws have changed, so we are trying to get the right ones supplied and a new letter written to the person in charge!! We (and Sveta and Mira) will be working on that this week! The shipment is in Almaty and we're trying to get all the documents in place so that we can get it through customs!! Wish us luck!!

Friday, Frank Tetrault invited us to go to the opera, Figaro, with him!! We found out that he and all of the other Air Astana pilots that are 60 years of age and over, are now terminated as of June 15 because of new Kazakh aviation restrictions! He was disappointed over that; so now he will be flying home a week after us. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to get to know him and his wife.
"Figaro" was great! The singing, the set and the costumes were unbelievable, as usual!!The guy who played "Figaro" is on the left. The opera was all in Russian, but we read the synopsis of the play before we went so we could figure out what was happening!!

On Saturday, May 9, was Victory Day which is celebrated as the end of the Great Patriotic War (World War II).

Raigul Dukenova, one of the NGO's that we have done a couple of projects for, invited us and she helped us get into the celebration. She is the lady behind the boy in front. Kulnazira and her granddaughter, Anne, Kamka and one of her office workers, Raigul and her two daughters, son and husband and Roy. We asked if we could have our picture taken with this representative of the Russian Orthodox Church. They said yes and so we did!! He didn't ask who we were but we wished we could have told him!!

These little ladies and gentlemen were waiting by the fence to get into the area closer to the monument. They are veterans of the war or their husbands were veterans of the war and many of the little "babushka's" wear their husbands medals. They were so sweet that we just had to have a picture taken with them.!!

While we were standing there they ushered these older people and the Russian Orthodox representative into the area closer to the monument. Because we were standing there, we walked in with them, even though we didn't look Kazakh at all!!

This is the monument where the celebration took place. There were thousands of people there. Soon there were black cars pulling up close to where we were standing.
President Nursultan Nazarbayev, got out and walked in front of the crowd, which was about 50 yards away from us!! We couldn't believe how close we were to the President of Kazakhstan!! Here he is putting a large basket of flowers at the foot of the monument.
The military performed for the President.
Here is the President watching the military perform. We were so grateful that we ended up where we did because we got to see so much more that we did last year; we were behind the fence last year!!!After the President left and the crowd dispersed, we were in the area where we could have our picture taken at the foot of the memorial with the basket of roses. One of Kamka's voulenteers, Kulnazira and her granddaughter, Anne, Kamka and Mira. We decided that we can get anywhere if we have Kamka, Kulnazira and Raigul with us!!
Another picture taken at the monument. This is such an impressive monument and the relief pictures on the side are incredible as well.
On the way home, we stopped at the Byterick Park and took a pictures of these camels. Camels are actually in Southern Kazakhstan and not up north where we are.
In the afternoon, we took Frank with us to the Ballet and Opera Theater where they had a concert honoring the veterans. The lady in blue is playing a kobuz.

After the concert - Frank, Mira, Anne and Roy. We had a good time and it was nice to be out with friends!!

We hope all have a Happy Mother's Day and are able to talk to your family!! The gospel is true and we are so grateful to be members of this wonderful church!!


Elder and Sister Welling