Almaty- Easter, Mountains, Snow and other thoughts

This was the first time that I can remember that I haven’t been with family or friends on Easter. I traveled to Almaty, arriving on Saturday, so that I could attend an English service on Easter Sunday.

When I arrived for the service, I couldn’t believe the hotel they were meeting in. It is a large, modern hotel with a conference hall that is beautiful. There were several hundred ex-pats in attendance. It was great singing a mixture of traditional Easter hymns with several contemporary songs. The sermon was great as well.

I walked over to the local mall to have lunch. There is a pizza place there with a salad bar so I decided to eat there. As I was seated, I noticed some Americans sitting across from me and so we struck up a conversation. They are in Almaty to adopt a 12 month old boy. As we ate our lunch, I learned they were from South Bend, Indiana and attend a church there.

After lunch, I walked around the mall and found an internet café. I was interested in knowing how March Madness was going so I spent an hour trying to catch up on the tourney, events in Kyrgyzstan and other news. While sitting there, I met another American woman who was there adopting a child. Her husband had left the day before to return to the states, leaving her to finish the paperwork before going home.

I still had a couple of hours before meeting someone who was going to take me to an English Bible study. It had snowed most of the day, but wasn’t too cold, hovering right around freezing. So, the land was becoming covered in snow and it was beautiful.

I walked around for about an hour and finally met up with my friend and went to the B.S. and then went to her apartment to have dinner with her friends. Finally, after a long day, I headed back to the Institute to get a few hours sleep.

Monday morning came early. Friends from Kiev were to arrive early, but with the time change for Kiev and not for K’stan, that flight arrived an hour earlier than scheduled. So, the director of the institute, the driver and I left for the airport at 5 a.m.

The family arrived and we all went back to the Institute and had breakfast and then we all took a rest until lunch. After lunch, the Institute director, his wife and the driver took us on a tour of the city and then the mountains.

Mountains border the city to the east and south. They were beautiful. With the snow on Sunday, there was lots of snow on the mountains and we got to see some incredible sites. The mountain area has some great lodges and immediately I was thinking it would be a great place for a retreat! I really enjoyed my time in the mountains.

I don’t know how to ski. I went cross-country skiing with Gary Ellis once in the mountains near Grand Junction, Colorado and after that adventure I said I would never go again. However, I may have to rethink this as I have found out there is a Christian who teaches skiing there in Almaty. With the end of the skiing season, however, that will have to wait until next winter.

I had a great time in Almaty and have grown to really love the folks at the Bible Institute and the work they do there. I will be teaching a couple of classes there in May and look forward to my time there.