Monday, January 25, 2010

Welcome to Almaty!


Kazakhstan! We made it. I wish I could tell you just how crazy life has been these past three days have been, but words just couldn’t do this situation justice. Steven and I arrived Friday morning and we hit the ground running. Friday’s adventures included an introduction to our glorious, huge, and luxurious (not really) new apartment. Steven and I live together in a 1 bedroom apartment (locals call it a 2 room because they include every room that is not the kitchen or the bathroom and we have a living room). When I first stepped into the apartment I just about died. I didn’t think it was possible to live in a place like this, especially for 6 entire months. But, three days have passed and already I am getting used to it. I figured if I came here and lived the same way as I do in everyday life back in the states then I would forfeit every experience that God has in store for me. This whole journey is supposed to be about getting out of my comfort zone and surely my comfort zone is nowhere to be found. To be honest, it is one of the most miserable things ever, but I can feel the growth tingling within me already. In an experience like this Paul’s words about rejoicing in our sufferings takes real meaning. As one of the other SMs here put it, back in the states I had God, here in Kazakhstan I need God. No longer do I experience spiritual “disciplines”, I experience crying out to my God in bitter helplessness. However in all the chaos of new surroundings I am comforted by a wonderful group of people who I have come to know and appreciate very quickly. After church on Sabbath we went over to Gina and David’s borrowed apartment (which is super nice) and had a spectacular dinner with some amazing brothers and sisters from the Russian/English church that we attend. After stuffing ourselves we got so lost in the good conversation that the buses stopped running back to our place so we decided to just crash on their couch. Sunday (today) started very early. Veronica, Steven, and I hopped on a bus at around 7 in the morning and ended up passing our stop and getting lost. We finally hopped in a taxi (Fun Fact: Anyone with a car is a taxi in Kazakhstan—just stick out your hand and someone will be more than happy to give you a ride and take your money) and made it back “home” about an hour later than we wanted to. From there it was a quick breakfast and shower then off to the mountains to go ice skating. We went ice skating with the other SMs and a few new people. We went to this massive, outdoor ice skating rink and by the end it was snowing quite hard. I should mention that to get to the mountains, we take a bus, however, not just any bus. We take normal city buses that cram people closer together than sardines in a can. I learned rather quickly that there is always room for one more. It was 45 minutes each way and every part of my body seemed to touch a different person. Claustrophobia? I’m pretty sure the Kazakhs have never heard of such a thing. Anyways, after all of this we went to the market to pick up some groceries, got back to our apartment and were supposed to head out to prayer meeting. Turns our Steven and I couldn’t muster up the energy to open the door and were nauseated at the thought of another bus ride. So we checked in early and I ended up getting in bed at 7:00pm! Oh it was amazing to finally get to sleep. So this is just a brief description of all of the action that was packed into our first few days. Hopefully jetlag will wear off soon and we will be able to get settled in.

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