Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Algiers Gulag, Nazarbayev University, Touring Astana

Alan wanted to show this painted curb.  Now that the snow is gone, there is a lot of repairs going on.  You can see that the paint ends towards the end.  There apparently was a car parked in the way when they painted, so they had to go around it.

There are plenty of bricks that they are getting ready to put out.  We didn't know what they were doing, but apparently they are moving the bus stop down the street and making a new stop.

This is the street in front of the church building.  They have totally ripped it up.
This sidewalk leads up to the church.

You can see that our English group is big.  We're going to need more chairs!
The Astana Internation Club planned a tour out to the former Gulag named Algiers.  It was a Soviet prison for the wives, mothers, sisters and other female relatives of the men that were sent to the gulags in Russia.  It was a very sobering place.
This is a model of the train cars that brought the women here.  They called it a Stalin Wagon.
This is the monument to those imprisoned here.

They had prison guards, but there was no place to run to anyway.  This location was about 30 miles outside of Astana.

The women were told they were being taken to a "special" place.  So they came dressed in their best clothing.

This represents an interrogation of a prisoner.  They had to sit on the stool with their feet hanging for many hours until finally the capillaries in their feet burst and they fainted.
Many of the women had children that also suffered.  They were given hot soup that was too hot to eat, but only had one minute or less to eat it, so they starved.  If they took bread with them, they were accused and punished for stealing.
The black rose rising out of the granite represents that life goes on in spite of troubles.

The memorial wall has names of those that died here.

Our friends, Peggy, and Elder and Sister Colton, the Area Humanitarian Missionaries from Moscow.

Afterwards, we took the Coltons to visit the Nazarbayev University in Astana.  All classes are taught in English here.  We have several members who work here.

This is inside the main corridor.  The different colleges branch out from this area.

They were dedicating the new sports facility on the day we came.  It is very nice and has all sorts of sports equipment.

The next day we went to visit some of our organizations.  This is Balamai, the children's kindergarten.

Here are the older children at the school.

Can you read his shirt?  North Arizona!

Some of the teachers at the school.

Our friend Kamka wanted to treat our guests to a special lunch.  This room at the restaurant looks like the inside of a yurt. 

It looks like we're sitting on the floor, but there is a hole under the table for our feet.

Bishparmak, salads, balsak and kumis! (And Coke a Cola)

We noticed there was a dombra in the room, so we had Nurgissa play a tune for us.

The next day we had a tour of the city.  We visited the new mosque, the pyramid, Biterek, etc.  Too bad the weather was not so friendly.  We had more wind the past few days than we can ever remember before.


It was actually a beautiful day!
A photo especially for my Brazillian daughter in law.  Dauren's shirt is for a capiora team from Rio de Janiero!


Monday, April 22, 2013

April 21, 2013 Relief Society Activity

I think all the snow is gone now.  There was one pile that was thrown off the roof of our building that sat in the shade, slowly melting.  As of yesterday, it is finally gone.  The weather has been quite nice this week.  We had a little bit of rain but the temps were nice.

Now that the snow is gone, we have to watch out for the bumps and potholes in the sidewalks.  You cannot just assume that the sidewalk is going to be even.  When we left the church building Friday night, everything seemed normalna.  But when we came back on Saturday, the whole street was torn up and they're redoing everything.

Here's a couple of photos showing the damage the weather has done over the winter.

The stucco has just peeled off this building with the thaw.

Here are some stairs outside the Polish Consulate.  I think some of the damage was done by vehicles!

Of course it was the rainy day that we got to go out and visit Galia's school again.  It has been quite a while since we were able to visit.  On the way there, we had to go through a muddy path.  I had to hang on to the fence to keep from sliding down the hill there!  I think my shoes weighed an extra five pounds after that.  I should have taken a photo!  But, we made it after all and had fun visiting with the class.

We played a game with the kids.  They blindfolded us and had us draw on the chalkboard. 


We also went into another class to let them practice their English on us.  These children are so well behaved.  We really enjoy visiting them. 

This boy's shirt says Men are Always Right.  We had fun teasing him about it because it's PINK!

We had a Relief Society activity on Saturday.  One of our sisters is very gifted artistically and offered to teach us how to do a drawing.  The rest of us are not so artistically gifted, but we had a great time anyway.  The elder's Kazakh instructor Zhansayu came too.  We were able to communicate OK.

So, now we know how to draw a yurt.
One of our elders has artistic talent.  He drew a chart for us to track our district goals.  He went the extra mile to make it with Kazakh legendary characters and local landmarks.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ups and Downs!

Lots of ups and downs around here recently.  The weather went from being below freezing to 81 F in about four days.  We got a few more photos of the river as it was melting and the ice was breaking up.  The ice did not last long after we hit the warm temperatures.  It is gone now!

One guy was wading in the water.  I'm sure it is still too cold for that!

Lots of people are out and about on a Friday evening.
It was nice to have some beautiful blue skies and sunshine.  Everyone seemed happy to be outside.  We were waiting for the elders so we could try and find one of our members at his work.  While we were waiting, I took a few photos of the children that came by.

Isn't she so cute?

Well, Dad got his arm in the way, but these were two cute little boys in their summer caps.

Then these two came by.  It turned out that our friend has changed jobs and we have lost track of him.  His phone number is not working, his wife said she doesn't know where he's staying...... so??
We have been having great turn outs at English recently.  We have about 50 chairs and they're almost always filled every Tuesday and Friday evening.  A couple of young ladies came the other night that we had not seen since September!  We did not expect to see them again.  And one of our former investigators decided to start showing up again!  I think we prayed him back!
We have enjoyed having the elders teach some discussions here at our apartment.  It is very interesting to see the investigators' pondering what they're hearing, and understanding.  But, then often the response is, but I'm a Muslim, so the Koran is most important to me.
And it is very sad when one of our new members has a challenge of faith and as much as you want to help them overcome, it is something everyone needs to work out themselves.
We will be losing a few of our members at the end of the school year that are moving on to new opportunities.  New jobs, graduate school, whatever.  So we'll miss them.  But then we receive news that there are new families coming to work at the U S Embassy!  Ups and downs!

Here the elders are getting a chance to watch Saturday's conference in our apartment.  We showed the Sunday sessions for our meetings at church on Sunday with a pot luck lunch in between sessions.
We had a visit from our mission president, his wife and their son who has just completed his mission to Mexico.  He came "home" to Russia to visit his parents and is heading home to Utah next.  So he got to see a different part of the world on his way home.  We had lunch at the mall with them.

As you may guess from our jackets, the weather turned cool again.  Back to the jackets and boots and dodging rain puddles!