Category Archives: Life as I experience it

Grocery Shopping Taken to New Heights!

When I flew into Almaty in January, I spent 2 days there attending a conference before I flew onto Karaganda. I didn’t get to see much of Almaty due to the conference. However, there was one place my supervisor didn’t want me to see. I didn’t know why so I didn’t think too much about it.

Well, last week, I had the ocassion to travel to Almaty. I was scheduled to teach at the Bible Institute. Some other Americans I had met in January wanted to take me shopping so they took me to the store called “Ramstore”. It is based in Turkey I believe.

Anyway, I was in shock as I entered the store. It was like walking into Wally World (WalMart) in America.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of English language magazines and books. I bought a Newsweek magazine for about $6.
Then I headed to the grocery department. I couldn’t believe my eyes! Saltine crackers, maple syrup, cake mixes, frostings, tortilla chips, canned soups. I’ms sure my eveys looked like a kid’s eyes in a candy store.

My favorite find was SALSA!!!! I didn’t even care how much it cost. (Not exactly true…) I had gotten used to a salsa type in Ukraine, but it is not available in Karaganda. I had tried some other stuff that was supposed to be the same, but it wasn’t.

It’s probably a good thing I don’t live in Almaty…my checkbook and bank account probably couldn’t survive!

ENGLISH… What's That?

ADJUSTMENTS

I guess the biggest adjustment thus far has been not speaking English. To date, I haven’t met anyone in Karaganda that is a native English speaker. So, since I left Mick and David in Astana on Monday evening, I haven’t spoken but a couple of words in English (most of them to myself).

I’m not really worried about forgetting English since I do a fair amount of e-mailing, but certain words do seem to leave your vocabulary without use. I know a few times in Kiev, during conversation, a word would escape me.

On a brighter note, hopefully my Russian will dramatically improve. I need to find a conversation partner who can help me work on my grammar. The Russian language is complex with 6 cases and every noun is either male, female or neuter. So a word can have numerous endings depending on its usage.

Pray that I will get a better grip on the endings of Russian…and also that I don’t forget that other language I speak (what’s it called…oh, I remember, English!).

Whether to weather the weather

Blizzards and other things related

Since arriving, I have been told by numerous people that the worst weather months in Karaganda are February and March. It seems that as the weather begins to warm (I use this term figuratively) into the single and low teens, the wind picks up as does the snow and they have blizzards here.

Yesterday, as I was riding with a brother to another city nearby, he explained that it is impossible to see 1 or 2 meters in front of you. We witnessed trucks and street equipment out clearing the sides of the highways. He said that it was in preparation for the large amounts of snow that will pile up during these blizzards.

Later that afternoon, I was talking with the man who works at the parking lot where I park the car. He told me to begin preparing for the blizzards. He told me to stockpile water and food.

I guess that’s good advice. I’m a Texas boy and I know that everytime the weather forecasters mentioned snow or ice, everyone (and I do mean everyone) was at the grocery store stocking up. I guess we thought the snow or ice might stick around for several weeks instead of several days.

Now, being a Texas boy, I have only heard of blizzards. I have never witnessed one. However, there were times living in Wichita Falls that it seemed like someone forgot to close the door between us and Colorado as the cold wind came barreling from the north.

So, it will be interesting to see what one of these “burans” (blizzards) looks like. I just hope that I get to witness it from the comfort of my kitchen window (that looks out at Lenin’s statue) and not from the road while driving a car.

Bush's State of the Union

The apartment where I live has cable TV and CNN is on the system, so I was able to watch the President’s message live. How great is that!
Living overseas, a person feels disconnected from life in the US so it is great to be able to witness events like this take place…live on TV no less!

I was very moved when Bush acknowledged the lady from Iraq who had voted on Sunday, but I almost cried when he acknowledged the mother and father whose son died in the war in Iraq. It was incredible to watch this mother hug the woman from Iraq. I watched as Bush was choked up by the event that unfolded for all who were watching.

Still living the adventure in Karaganda,
Joe

First Impressions

Well, the move to Karaganda, Kazakhstan is complete, for now. Most of my personal belongings are still in Kiev. This is a temporary assignment until I sense whether or not the Lord wants me to move permanently to Kazakhstan.

The apartment where I live is in a great location…right in the center of the city. I have a not-so-perfect view of Lenin’s statue that still stands proudly in the central park.

However, I do like the prospect of being so close to the central department store and the grocery store.

I haven’t walked much to explore what else is nearby since the weather is so cold here. It has been below zero since arriving, but today finally got up to 7! Hurray!

The locals tell me that it will warm up some this month but then the snow will come. They can experience blizzards here as well.
As with most Soviet style cities, the hot water is heated in a central location and then piped to the apartments. For some reason though, my hot water really smells rank. The cold water does not smell that bad.

Living the Great Adventure (smelly water or not!)
Joe