First day of May: Easter and May Day celebrations

Two holidays were celebrated today in the former Soviet Union, which Kazakhstan was a part of in case you didn’t know. May 1 is May Day and Easter happened to fall on May 1 this year. Many people here have said that Easter came really late.

I must admit that I don’t know too much about May Day, but after Max (my new friend in Karaganda) reads this I hope he is able to help me understand it better. I think that May Day was celebrated in the former Soviet Union as a day for the Communist to honor the working people, a type of Labor Day celebration.

I went to church at Bethlehem Star this morning. The church was packed and probably almost 200 hundred people were left standing. It reminded me of the two days that churches are always full in America: Christmas and Easter. I guess the same is true here.

I got there late, so I went to the balcony hoping to find a place there. It was packed also, but I did find a place where I could stand and see, except that it became extremely hot up there and so I went downstairs. The choir did a superb job in leading worship and the sermons were right on message with the Easter story.

As I rode the bus home, I noticed a small crowd of people gathered around Lenin’s statue which I can see perfectly from my kitchen window. Several people on the bus noticed the crowd also and kind of joked about the people there. At the bus stop I got off and walked home past the crowd. Their meeting had already concluded but several photographers were still taking pictures, so I did to.

The gathered crowd I would say is still loyal to Lenin and his Communist ideas. There were a couple of Communist Russia flags, and people had laid flowers and wreaths at the base of the statue. I was told by a believer that several years ago people wanted to tear down the statue but a small group of Communists persisted in being vocal in their opposition and it continues to stand.

Later in the afternoon, there were several musical groups that performed in front of one of the shopping centers. I got to watch an all-girl band perform. Also in the center of town a group of young people were performing well known Russian and Kazakh songs (kind of like karaoke without the TV screen). It was fun to watch them!

Later, I went to the Mennonite church in town for a concert. From what I have been told, after the fall of Communism, some 2 1/2 million Germans that were living in K’stan, relocated to Germany. Many of these were members of Baptist and Mennonite churches. Anyway, there was a group from Germany (most of whom had lived in K’stan some time in their lives) performing a concert.

So, I had a very full day. This evening, I was watching the news on CNN and got to watch a part of Laura Bush’s comedy routine at the Media dinner from Saturday night. It was great to see her having fun at our President’s expense. It looked like he was having a good time as well. I hope you got to see some of it as well.