Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Kazakh Observations 3/4/09

Kazakh Observations 
Before the memory of Almaty and the Kazakhs totally fades from my consciousness, I'd like to make some observations. I am fully aware that you cannot judge a country by one city, a city by one family, or a family by one child. Nonetheless, I have some impressions I'd like to memorialize.

I presume Almaty is at least representative of the Kazakh nation and people, and if that is not so I beg your pardon. We found the people generally to be pleasant, helpful, confident, and not afraid of strangers. People stopped on the street to give us directions. A woman on the bus offered her 16 year old daughter as a guide and translator for us. Restaurant and hotel workers were friendly and helpful. People on the bus were curious, open, and happy to talk to us, even if we did not share a common language. A bride and groom, taking their pictures at the independence monument, freezing in the 12F temperature, took time to smile and wave at us (tourists) as we watched and waved at them. They even let Elder Hughes stand in the picture. Based on the people alone, I could return to Kazakhstan.

The city was as tidy and clean as you'd expect of any modern city of 1.5 million people. There was a general lack of trash, things generally worked, and there was a positive spirit in the air. It was obvious that the majority of the older buildings were built under the Central Committee's direction, but the newer ones have a freedom of lines and imagination of design that speaks of independence.
We learned that Kazakhstan was the first of the Soviet Republics to demand and gain independence in the mid 1980's. We saw the monument to the demonstrations of 1987 and the panels behind it depicting the various struggles for independence and freedom over the centuries from rebellion against Genghis Khan to the demonstrations against Soviet control.

We visited the main mosque where men and women were praying,

the main Orthodox church where people were praying, the main renick where people prayed for business, the mountain where locals enjoyed the solitude, and in a gondola up a hill to where Elder Nelson prayed for the country to receive the Gospel.

We met with Pat and Craig Vincent, the local Humanitarian Senior Couple and learned about their months in Almaty. Every day was an adventure for them

We worshipped with the local branch in a rented hall and felt the Spirit witnessing that these were truly saints.

I don't know how the government really feels about us, but the people felt warm and genuine. Yes, I'd go back to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

What a country.


Shannon Simmons said...

I'd like to mention to Trish that I am first to leave a comment...hurray! Love you!
I am glad that you, my parents, had a nice time on your visa trip and that the people were so warm and welcoming. It certainly adds to your list of world travels!

Bob and Doretta Henshaw said...

We can not "see" your improvement personally, but we can definitely read it in the blog and are glad you are returning to "normal".

We feel like we are signed up for a "Church in all parts of the world" class with the communication from you, the Wilbergs and the Woodburys. It is great!
Love you, Bob and Doretta

Trisha said...

Thanks for the insight and feelings that you have shared. I am so greatful for the knowledge that you have and are willing to share with me.

Mark and Heidi said...

My mother, Vergie Rawlins, just called to tell me that you are serving with my son, Elder Adam Larsen, in the Novosibirsk mission. Thank you for looking out for our sweet missionaries.

I first heard about your blog from the Moleff's who have apparently arrived in Novosibirsk. The Moleff's are from our home, Kennewick, WA, state. I was actually the won who referred the Moleff's to President Michelson.

What a small World. Thank you for sacrifing seeing your grandchildren and children and serving in Russia. It looks like you are not suffering, but, enjoying wonderful travel experiences.
God be with you,
Heidi Larsen

JudyGrandma said...

Hi Doug & Cindy. Had to check and see if you had made it back to your mission. I love Cindy's "That won't do" attitude. I know it is "faith" based and sounds so like the both of you. Thanks for your example. You're like the carrot in front of our nose as we prepare for a mission in a year or 2. Love you guys.

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