Monday, June 24, 2013

Another week in Astana

It was kind of a quiet week.  Two of the elders had to go to Omsk, Russia for a visa renewal trip.  They have been here six months and President decided it is easier to have them get extentions than to try and send new missionaries in.  Another elder has been transferred to Russia in preparation for his release in a few weeks, so there was no point in getting him a new visa.  And our fourth elder has traveled to the mission office to work on a project for Kazakh lesson materials.  He will return with a new companion in a few days.

So, we and the sisters handled English on Tuesday night.  We had a pretty good turn out.  On Wednesday, the sisters had to go to Almaty for a couple of days to work with the sisters there, so it was a good thing that the elders had returned with their new visas in time for English on Friday.

We did get one project approved this week.  It is for music toys for a rehab center for children in Stepnogorsk.

We decided to take a walk on Saturday.  Too bad it was the hottest day of the year so far, so we got too much sun.  But it was kind of nice to be out and see people enjoying the warmer weather.

We are starting to see new decorations around town.  That can only mean one thing ... another holiday is coming up!  They have a big celebration the first week of July for Astana Days.  It is the anniversary of Astana's being the capital of Kazakhstan.  Coincidentally, it is also the president's birthday.  And, someone on the bus told us that the president has the same birthday as George W Bush.  Who knew?

It will be the 15th anniversay for the capital!

Some people are starting to enjoy swimming at the "beach".  We pretended that the sound was like the beach in Hawaii or Cancun.  We had to pretend pretty hard!

We went to new territory on our walk, going under the rainbow bridge.  You can tell it was a beautiful day.

We can see this bridge from our apartment.  It has colorful lights at night.

The Kazakh flag is supposed to represent the blue sky and the yellow sun

This is what we saw on our way to church this morning.  These four little kids were out for a stroll.  The park is across the street and I think that's where they were trying to go.  I think the oldest one is two!  We looked around and couldn't see any adults with these kids.

But all of a sudden, someone came running out from one of the streets looking for their little angels.  They must have noticed that it was quiet!  At least they stopped to consider if they should cross the street or not!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Children's Day

It was Children's Day a couple of weeks ago, so our Primary sang "I Am a Child of God" in English and Russian!  We even had our two visitors sing.  They will be moving here in July.  The girl said "This is so much nicer than Ethiopia!" (where they've been living the past couple of years.)

We had the opportunity to go and help Sister Vera with her garden (dacha).  Alan was happy to get to work with the soil.

Sister Vera is setting up a picnic for us and the Sisters after we helped weed her garden.

A few days later we went back.  This time with the Elders.  The weeds had come back, but the plants are growing too.

We've had some lovely days recently.  We still get the occasional windy, cold days, but we love seeing the beautiful blue sky.  This is a large fountain.  It is so nice to see it without the ice on it!


 We rode on an extra long bus.  It has a flexible part in the center.  It may be hard to tell that it's bending as we go around a corner.

This tree is in full cotton!  This fluffy stuff blows all over the place.  On a windy day, it looks like it's snowing!

We thought this was interesting.  This old run down place is right next to one of the most expensive buildings in the city.  It is designed to look like some buildings in Moscow.  There are seven of them in Moscow, (called Seven Sisters), only one here.  We think the owners are holding on to the property until the city offers them the right price.

Alan wanted to show this piece of cable that's spliced together to get a longer length.  This has been laying on the ground at a hotel construction site.  We've seen it survive all kinds of weather conditions and so far as we know, there's been no fires or accidents because of it.

We had another first in our little "branch."  The first baby blessing today of little Ian Craig who was born last month.  We're so happy to have a new little one to love.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

More Interesting Things in Astana

I found a few random things that caught my eye recently.

The girl in the back's purse matches the other girl's coat!

They're still remodeling bus stops all over town.

And there is the famous Kazakhstan bicycling team.  And to think, I almost didn't take the camera this day.  We were looking for an address (that we never did find) but we did run into Sister Vera from our branch.  So we were able to say Hello to her.
And, we found the newest fast food place in town!  Almost as good as home, but for sure better than a Kazakh hamburger!

While we were in Almaty for Zone Conference, we sang "Happy Birthday" to a few of our favorite missionaries with Sister Gibbons.

This sweet girl is our friend (from Hawaii) Maxat's little sister.  She was practicing for a talent show to be held that evening at the branch.  Since we had to leave before the party, we were happy to watch the rehearsal.  Her older sister Sabina is serving a mission at Temple Square.
Welcome to Astana's first annual Scripture Chase.  To wrap up the first year of seminary / institute, we had a contest between three teams, including our (young) missionaries.


Zoe did great too!

Our seminary / institute students and teachers

They have finished working on the fountain at the park.  It now has a pretty elaborate system that changes patterns.  Sometimes they even play music to go with it.

These are some pipes the road crew is working on out in front of our church location.  These boys could not resist climbing on them for a little fun.

These sweet girls are our friends at English Club.  We met Aiganym (on my left) on the bus one day and she's been coming to English since January.  Sadly, she's graduated and is moving back home to Almaty.  We hope we can visit her when we go to Almaty.  The girl on my right is Gulnaz and she lives in Astana with her family.