Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wrapping Up Our Mission Experience in Astana, Kazakhstan - 20 June 2009

Okay, I know I'm slow!! The jet-lag is finally waning and we wanted to finish up with the last three days of our mission!! We can't believe that it has come to an end!!

First of all, we want you to know that the day before we left to come home, the NRT equipment was finally allowed through customs without any taxes!!!! Yeah!!! We wanted to do cartwheels, we were so excited!! We were sure we wouldn't find out until after we were home. It has taken 2 months to clear customs!! What wonderful news!

Tuesday we had Zhanna come over for dinner, Sunday School and English class. We were able to show the Shaws how we did everything so that they can continue on with Zhanna. She had a wonderful time and takes part quite a bit now! Her English is really improving and she is warming right up to the Shaws!! The transition is going really well!!
Wednesday we went to Kamka'a office and visited with her family and Kulnazira and other NGO's that were there! It was very tearful because we have learned to love them so much and they have become such wonderful friends to us!! They gave us some gifts to remember them by. We will certainly miss them!! In the picture are Roy and Anne, Kulnazira, Kamka and Ramazon and their grandchildren!! Wednesday afternoon we did some more training with the Shaws!! They are going to do a great job!! We are so glad that we were able to spend some time with them and get to know them. They are wonderful, dedicated people that will continue the work!

After we sent them home, we began to finish up packing and also to finish up the last minute reports! Anne finished cleaning up the house while Roy finished up some other things that had to be done. Roy was even working on the reports when Mira and Sergei, our taxi driver, came to pick us up at 2:30 a.m.!It was terribly hard saying goodbye to Mira, our translator for the last 18 months!! We love her so much!! She has become like a daughter to us!! We will never forget her!! We have relied on her so much and we could have never done what she did without her help!! She has been invaluable to us in every way; especially with the NRT documents that she had to do. She worked so long and so hard, we just can't thank her enough!! "We love you, Mira!! We hope to see you next year when you come to the United States!!"

How does one say goodbye to people and places that they will never see again? It has been extremely difficult to leave a culture and a people that we have grown to love and really care for! We will never forget these people and their wonderful kindness to us while we have been here!! We boarded our Lufthansa plane at 4:30 a.m.;said goodbye to Kazakhstan and flew to Frankfurt. From there we flew to Denver and from there to Salt Lake City, Utah. After 36 hours in the air and in airports, we finally made it home to Utah.

Our family was there to welcome us at the airport!! It was so good to see all of them. We were excited to be there with them!!

Thanks so much to all of you who have followed our blog!! It has been fun to hear from you!! We appreciate your love and support for us!

We know that our life will not be nearly so exciting that we are home!! But we will try to keep our blog updated!

Our mission was wonderful! We would recommend it to anyone!! We have learned so much about people and customs and countries that we certainly hope we can go again!! The gospel is true, our Savior died for each of us that we may live again, our Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us, and we can live with Him again if we keep the commandments!


Elder and Sister Welling (for the last time!)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Saying Hello and Goodbye in Astana, Kazakhstan - 7 June 2009

Wow!! What a mission!!

We are down to the final few days and it has been very difficult but exciting to welcome Elder and Sister Shaw, who will replace us, and to say goodbye to some very dear friends!!

But before we get to that, we want to let you know that we are still waiting on customs. Surprise!! Surprise!! We were hoping to get the equipment through before we leave, but we're sure Elder and Sister Shaw can handle everything. All of the documents are in and it is still a waiting game. Hopefully, we will hear tomorrow!!

The good news is that we said goodbye to the old computer and finally said hello to the new one after a six week wait!!

We had our computer tech, Mira's brother, Kazbek, come and set it up for us and put on all the programs. One of them happened to be in Russian so he had to get the English version and come again the next day!! We appreciate all the work he put in to get the computer up and going!! He is a fine young man and we will miss him!!
Frank Tetreault, our friend and Air Astana pilot, took us out to lunch at Astana Park. We had a wonderful time visiting about our plans for the future. He will be leaving to go back to the US a week after we leave!! We hope to keep in touch! He made our stay in Astana that much more enjoyable because of all of the cultural events that we attended with him. It was wonderful to get to know him and his wife!
This little "babushka" cleans our entry way and stairs into our building plus the elevators. She does such a good job and is always pleasant and happy to see us. She is going through some difficult times, but we wish her the best.

We picked up Elder and Sister Shaw bright and early Saturday morning!! They are excited to be here and eager to learn everything they can about what we do. Their first responsibility, though, is to get over jet lag which they are trying to do!!
Our last Sacrament Meeting in Kazakhstan was pretty emotional for all of us!! The Spirit was very strong and many tears were shed. It was hard saying goodbye to Zhanna, who we love so much!! We will miss her terribly but we know that the Shaws will love her and she will learn to love them!!
We will never forget Zhannagul Beckenbi and her testimony and sweet spirit that she has. She is the only native member in Astana and hopefully there will be a branch here someday!!
And now we turn the reins of this assignment over to Elder and Sister Shaw from Rexburg, Idaho!! They will do a wonderful job!!

This mission has changed us in a lot of ways...

This is how we looked when we came out into the mission field


.. .this is how we look now!! But we think that a couple of weeks home and lots of rest and we will be back to normal!!!

Our time has come to an end here in Kazakhstan! This has been the greatest experience of our lives. We have grown in so many ways!! We are blessed for having had this experience and because of it we will never be the same. Our Heavenly Father has truly blessed us and our family!!

We will see you all in three days!!


Elder and Sister Welling