Wednesday, April 29, 2009

"leaving happier "

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier." It has been said that if you want to look like you are a local, look down and for pitty sakes, DON'T smile.... and that is certainly evident if you walk through the Bazaar...


But even there, a smile never to far away... you jst need to work for it a little .

The pain behind the face.

This is a land of contrast... the beauty all around contrasted with the post soviet concrete.. The kindness and hospitality of the people in contrast to the poverty that they live in . But what is the most striking contrast to me is much deeper then that.

Daily I come across stories and situations that are truly heart breaking .. Yesterday one of our Sponsored kids stopped by for a visit while she was in town looking at schools.. she had a friend with her.... This young girl looked like she had it all together..... she was dressed well, and looked healthy, and was very bright ... As I served Tea, she causally started eating everything on the table... It was like the commercial we have in Canada... when the lady asks for another cookie, and she is told ..."help yourself" so she puts the whole bag in her purse... I started putting more and more out and as fast as I made it she ate it... I started enquiring about her.. in the last three years, she has lost her mother father, her sister, and her grandmother... all that is left is her and her 75 year old grandfather... they don't have much.. they live on his pension from being a police officer which is a little more then most... $35 a month..... Now she was not asking for help and she did not seem to be expecting help... that was just the way life is for her.... she had not eaten for three days, and that did not seem to be anything horrible for her... that's just the way it is....

This morning Dr Tatyana arrived with a friend .. Again the friend looked like life was good.. she was dressed well. ( which I have learned can mean nothing here ) Dr Tatyana began to share... This Ladies husband has just died leaving her with 3 young children. The custom is that the wife is to go to the mountains for 30 days to morn.... this was just enough time for the husbands family to raid the house and take everything... including the family car... what is worse is that they have some how managed to steel the deed for the house as well and are now selling it too... she was left with 3 kids and nothing... Dr Tatyana was able to intervene and got most of her things back, but does not think she will be able to keep the house... she has until fall then the house will be sold.... In my mind I was imagining all the things she might be preparing to ask for... But no they just stopped bye to let me know that they had just run into my Babushka neighbour, and she has just knit a dozen pair of slippers for the kids at the orphanage, and wanted me to stop around to pick them up....

One thing that I have spoken about is that HOPE is not always possible ... it may even be a western concept.... Many of the people we run into here in Central Asia don't HOPE for better, because they do not know that anything better is obtainable..... just about every person you run into in a day here has a storey that we would make a movie about in the West...

In the last month I have not used a translator very much, so it has forced me to start learning the language, I always said that I wanted to be able to sit down and talk to some of the characters in this play, and now that I am starting to understand better, it is exposing me to the pain behind the face....


Sure as gold is precious and the honey sweet,
so You love this city and you love these streets.
Ev'ry child out playing by its own front door,
ev'ry baby laying on the bedroom floor.
Ev'ry dreamer dreaming in their dead-end job,
ev'ry driver driving through the rush-hour mob.
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones,
You're gonna send revival, bring 'em all back home.
I can hear that thunder in the distance,
like a train on the edge of the town,
I can feel the brooding of Your Spirit,
lay your burdens down, lay your burdens down.
From the preacher preaching when the well is dry,
to the lost soul reaching for a higher high.
From the young man working through his hopes and fears
to the widow walking through the vale of tears.
Ev'ry man and woman ev'ry old and young,
ev'ry father's daughter, ev'ry mother's son.
I feel it in my spirit, feel it in my bones,
You're gonna send revival, bring 'em all back home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

So Jengish is now on horse back !

Today was a cold rainy day, and even a bit of snow... I go the team ready with Food, and Soccer uniforms for all the kids at the Village orphanage , Then sent them off and went back to bed for a couple hours.... I love an afternoon nap listening to the rain.... I also wanted to get caught up with some photo's and the latest news... there is a special photo in with these.....
This is in front of the gardens at another village orphanage when we went to meet with the director . I am here with Kyle and one of his incredible volunteers Betty . Almos is busy packing and un packing the car.... all day Packing bags to take to the invalid home Lots of excitement as we arrived with ice cream and lots of other goodies. I was going to get a full haircut and a little tighter trim on my beard, but with all the people watching and all the camera's flashing, the barber at the new barber shop was shaking , he was so nervice....

I just thought this was a cool photo of one of the men watching the concert, you can see the man in the back ground eating an ice cream cone.....

even the radio man came out of his little room to say hello

Another great photo of the kids going for a donkey cart ride....


Just to make sure you were reading the whole blog, this is Christina's new baby.. born last night ... 9 lb baby girl... mom and baby are doing well.... Jengish and Cola helping a new Babushka into the Seniors house....

Tonight I went for "Tea" at Mesha's house... ... For those of you who don't know Mesha, he Timed out of one of the orphanages that we support, and he has been fortunate enough to have a wonderful sponsor that is eager to help him out.... His friend is another young orphan that was living with his Uncle.... he was going to school and working... he then had an accident at work and cut off the end of his finger. The uncle gave him money for medical bills, but when he could not work and did not got to school for the week, his uncle recalled the loan... un able to pay, the uncle took his documents and kicked him out of the house... he now lives with Mesha...

The house is very clean and tidy, and I even snooped around and found no sign of other substance issues.. they are living on one side of a small house.. apart from bad neighbours, it is a very nice spot and in a good area of town....the problem is that it is not a separated apartment, but they each have two rooms of one house, so there is no separation from the neighbour. I spoke with the land lord, and she is not thrilled with the other renters either, and likes Mesha...the other people have given their notice and will be leaving in three weeks... we reached an agreement that I would rent the other side of the house so if Mesha thought he had problems with his last neighbour then look out...lol... kidding aside, I got it for $25 a month fully furnished.... and with it comes all the gardens and out buildings as well.... A small price to pay to secure a quiet safe house for Mesha.. he has also agreed to over see and maintain both so that it can be used as a temporary safe bed if we need it... something that seems to be in big demand here.... We also discussed future plans with Mesha... since we got to town, he has done very well in school, and is now eagerly working toward going to college in the capital city... It was so good to see a spark in his eye, and an excitement knowing that he had a chance at a brighter future... Knowing that someone has taken a personal interest in him has made all the difference to him....

I just got a call from Jengish... he is the proud new owner of a horse... not that he wanted a horse, but that is all the man had to pay him after running into his truck.... so Jengish is on horse back now.... humm I wonder If we can park our horse in the compound at the foundation..... hummmm

Monday, April 27, 2009

Repost of a comment.

I do not always respond to the comments, although I do read them all and so appreciate the encouragement that they are while we are here... I can not imagine people doing this with out the encouragement of friends like I have... actually, I can imagine, I have visited with them, and many times find myself as a sounding board for them...they are doing simply amazing things here, If only I could make half the lasting impact that they are, yet they have no avenue to share their pains and trials, and no network to encourage them daily.... It is easy to grow weary in well doing, and they need to have people like I do that remind me that their strength does not come from a pot of Timmy's coffee... Maybe you missed it, but one of m cementers left me some quotes from Mother Theresa, and she said that they made her think about Central Asia....
Now I am so far from the class of a mother Theresa, however, I have been here long enough to completely understand her heart when she made these statements.

1."The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved."

All around I see young and old , people of all ages that are totally alone in life, and are craving for any type of attention.... I think of our beautiful young girl that said to us " I don't really love him, but he really loves me and I just like being loved". I believe that by showing people love, we can bring the hope and the desire needed to not only change their lives, but to encourage those around them.
2."The miracle is not that we do this work but that we are happy to do it."
A dear friend of mine, a man who's encouragement and support I cherish, spoke one time about a song he had listened to.. It was from U2 and it was something about " I still haven't found what I'm looking for."h e then challenged us about that, and I told him that I had found what I was looking for and just did not know how to attain it...I had been to Central Asia, and I knew that this was my life's call.... so many of you have been such a big part of making that dream into a reality for me..you have been a part of my miracle ..... I can envision now a day when my family will be able to join me full time....

3."I am a little pencil in the hand of God, who is writing a love letter to the world."

I try to update regularly on the blog... I try to show the world the power of "HOPE" As I see love written in the hearts of hose around me, I try to share it with all of you.... One day you all wrote back... it truly was a love letter FROM the world... between emails and blog comments, My Girl received birthday greetings from almost 100 blog readers from all over the world.... what more do I need to say!






4."I know God will not give me anything I can't handle, I just wish He didn't trust me so much."
One of my greatest challenges here has been the Invalid home for men... It is the hardest place to visit, and yet brings me the most personal satisfaction as I see the differences in the men's faces, yet so much more needs to be done... Some times I think to my self "How dare you" when I walk away from a situation like this boy here... we gave them a nice room, heat and food.... what more could they need.... allot ... that's what... How can I be content with this.....this is the place that Children are sent when they turn 16... these are the ones that we did not help in time.... then today I was asked.... where do the girls go.... I answered " God has not given me the strength for that yet."... Is that excuse good enough ... as soon as I said it, I felt my insides turn.... there is so much more that needs to be done, I am afraid we have only touched the surface.....

5."Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing"
A smile really is a beautiful thing, and I have come to realize the Power that it carries... When we have teams here, I try to share with them just how powerful a smile can be... as a presentation or some other thing that we all have to stand around and behave is going on.... I like to keep myself occupied ( It is usually in Russian or another local language and I have no clue what is going on ) "I play the smile game".. I don't just look , but make full eye contact with some one, usually an orphan or a senior.. then when I am sure that they know I am fixed on them, I give them a little smile.... Most times, the kids will actually buckle at the knees.... Probably the most powerful and profound gift I could give them... to know that to me, they are a beautiful thing!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Coffee's gone !

Today began with some good news... The little boy from the village will be having his operation tomorrow... The parents have checked us out, and read all the information we gave them, and they are ready to get this done... It's kind of mixed emotions for me.. we have helped with many operations, and every one, I am always concerned about what if something happens... It takes so much to build someones trust, then I have to just stand back an let the system take it's course.
I had the farm 5 with me all day today... at 12:00 they headed off to the Central Asian church, and I went out for lunch with Almos and his family... They are a wonderful young couple and have a beautiful family... They have both had incredibly tough childhoods, and both have over come , with kind gentle spirits...
After lunch, we went out to the village for a donkey ride, and then fishing up in the mountains... after dark, we went back to Aigola's house and had a wonderful visit........ At supper it was evident that it was a long day.. Sibera wanted to say grace... we bowed our heads, and She started loud and clear... then her voice started to get quieter and quieter, then all of a sudden she started snorring... I thought she was kidding at fist, she can be a real ham, but when we all started to laugh so hard I sides hurt, it was evident that it was not intentional... it was kind of the same reaction I got from Jengish last Sunday when at 9:30 at night when I was ready to head for town, his head hit the steering wheal, and then he looked up at me and said.." I can't keep up with you".... I don't know what it is with young people these days...
Today was the day tat my original ticket had me leaving ... the reality of that hit me when I made coffee this morning, and used the last spoonful of Tim Horton's coffee.... I may be a bit of a bear for the next couple days... either that or I won't be so hard to keep up with..... Hummmm I did see that Red Bull is now for sale at the market!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Oklahoma


This morning I headed early out to the village to talk to the family of the little boy with the cleft pallet.. We have a place for him for his operation on Monday morning.. Their is a slight hitch ... they have this understanding that my faith group eats them , and sells them for body parts, and when they except help from us they will automatically become the same faith as us... So I brought one of our friend with us as a translator to talk to them... She is Dungan, and I also gave them the phone number of Isar ( our Bus Driver) , and he has agree to talk to them as well... he has watched us for many years now, and will help us to convince them to do what is right for the son... I brought them a couple books from the Dr that are in Russian, and explain the entire operation.... I guess ow it is a wait and see.... If I don't here from them in the next couple days, I will try to find someone in their own community to help as well...

The rest of the day was a fun one. We had 22 of us pile into the bus and head to the capital city... I had Angola's family as well as our US friends, and Sergei and family, Acel and family, and a bunch of kids from the English class I took them to a production of Oklahoma at the Hope academy in the capital city... Hope academy is the school that all the diplomats and foreigners here send their kids to... It was an incredible production... video

everyone had a great time, then we went out to an Uzbek restaurant for supper after the show. We are home now, and it is 8:00 and feels like midnight.... I will try to get a second wind... I have the farm family and Benson here tonight..I will put on a movie, maybe Lord of the Rings 1,2,&3, make them some popcorn, and go to bed....

Tomorrow we are going for a donkey cart ride into the mountains to go fishing with Torat...My brother is always showing photo's on his blog of his 4 wheeler on his fishing adventures... A can't wait to see how tomorrow turns out... it can go either way...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Call 911 and step over the body !

I received a letter from my Mom today... she of course has been following the blog, and she sent me a little advice after reading a few of the stories .....
"I remember the advice given to me from A.A. when we were at the height of our involvement with helping alcoholics at the motel. I was horrified by it but once I calmed down, it made sense - It was - "Dial 911, step over the body and have a good day." In other words, get the person the best help you have at hand and then get on with your life doing what you are called to do."
This is actually a practice that I have begun.... I was starting to get a little concerned that I am becoming desensitized to things here... maybe I am becoming hardened... but every now and then I realize that I am still vulnerable. maybe it is just how I am learning to prioritize.... ... I had a heart crushing moment today... A man that we have been trying to help made a Bad choice... We have been trying to help his family for a long time. He has a large family, and our lives have become so entwined, that some of his kids I feel like and treat like they are my own... All of our workers have given extra attention to try to bring stability to this family.... Yesterday, Gengish was able to make a break through with the father, and the father asked if he could please join Gengishes rehab program... This is the breakthrough I have been waiting for for a long time... We now have a starting place to begin restoration.... Today he went to the centre, had lunch and decided that he was not staying, and went home.... When his son met up with us in the capital city an hour later, I took one look at him and I could feel that crushing blow...Everyone says that sober , the Papa is a wonderful caring man..... my question is ... is it not that sober caring wonderful man that takes the first drink that brings carnage and destruction to those he loves... is this the sign of a good man ? ..... I guess I need to just call 911 and step over the body..... that does not mean that we are not devastated, but until he "comes to himself" there is nothing more that I can do for him, and I can't let him distract me from the rest of the day... I just waisted two trips to the city on him.... I don't have that kind of time ... there are to many others that are ripe for the harvest.
Like this man
How many times do we pass men like this in the front of the bazaar... they push themselves around on little carts they have made, and beg for money.... today with our friend Kyle, we did not walk past, we stopped and made a difference.....
Friends of Kyle's have brought over 150 of these incredible little carts to town.... They are made of wood with a light steal and aluminum frame... they are hand propelled, and have large wheelbarrow tires to navigate the rough terrain here .... the cart is put together and modified specifically to fit the individual...
in the back there is a large space to carry groceries and supplies... this means that rather then just sitting at the front of the market begging, they can run a small business helping people with their shopping and carrying their groceries.... I will be trying to schedule a clinic in town in the next couple weeks to fit a bunch of adults and kids for their own carts.....

Tonight it was off to the invalid home for a visit and a celebration of the new room .... The nurses were as excited as the men to see us today, and some of them have even volunteered to come and work with us where ever we go.....
We brought Ice cream for everyone, and packages of pastry, apples, socks and candy...


Here is our friend that is newly up and around out of his wheel chair... he was dancing to the music that Larisa's Family sang for them



Not to be out done, this man threw down his crutches and began to dance .... 278 men watched as he took his first steps

We seem to be getting a collection of extra wheelchairs and crutches here if you hear of anyone that needs them...... it is amazing what happens when you shine a little light into the dark corners.... HOPE is an amazing thing.......

Before we left, a couple of men wanted to sing for us.... it was such a great night.... This place that was such a dark spot is very quickly becoming a light to others... I can't remember if I have shared about my taxi driver Almos.... with out Julie and the girls here, many times, the bus is a little to big, so I have been using a taxi... I found this taxi driver that has been such a blessing to me... something in his being bears whiteness with mine.... Tonight as we were VISITING, with the men, I looked across the room, and Almos was TALKING to one of the men.... tears were streaming down the mans face as Almose spoke life into this man ..... It is no coincidence that he is working as a driver for us... that I am sure of.... HE gets it!
Tomorrow morning I am going early back to the village to let the parents of the little boy with the cleft pallet know that the operation has been fully sponsored for their son, and that the top cleft pallet surgeon in the country has seen the photo's we gave him, and that surgery has been scheduled for Monday morning... We also have sponsorship money in transit for an operation for a shunt for a Hydrocephalus baby that is in need.... I will share more about this in a post dedicated to this issue as it is something that I have developed a burden for, and I feel needs to be addressed more, but for Today, WE CAN AND WE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.....


The First Day and a Half

Some times I find it enjoyable to read others blogs when they are wth us... there is a team here we are working with , and it is fun to look at things from thier perspective, so here is what they experienced in the first day and a half that they were in town.....

I seem to have hit the ground running...... I think we have heard that before somewhere. There is no such thing as settling or relaxing here. Only a constant knowledge that there are so many people whose lives that have been touched here, and how much work there is to be done. This morning I was met at the airport by many friends new and old. At 5am and with many hugs and smiles my baggage was claimed and safely placed into the waiting vans.
Quickly we stopped to empty the van of the 200 plus pounds of "stuff". What kind of stuff? A little of this and a little of that.. I am sure our "stuff" will be the subject of upcoming posts. Maybe not chronilogically. But WE will try our best to keep up to date.
Then.............off to the Bazaar. This is a photographers dream come true. The sights are vibrant and alive with colors at the bazaar. Turn one way and there are brilliant bright blues and reds, turn another and watch the tents swaying in the breeze. Everywhere are people haggling for the best price, and people wanting to help carry your treasures (for a price that is as this is their trade). I think most heightened though were the scents. The bakery, the fruits (pineapples, bananas, apples) But One that was simply amazing to me was the spices. This seemed to evoke all the senses. And made fore some good photos too. This was a swift trip but productive. Bananas and apples by the kilogram (37 pounds of bananas, 20 pounds of apples) even 450 dipers we purchased... All very much appreciated when given to their recipients.




Lunch was a bit of an adventure. Chinese food in Central Asia, the menu written in Russian, with a local translator.. A bit hilarious when placing an order. I think (notice I use that term loosely) I think we had several different Beef platters, a few chicken platters and one mutton platter delivered. Of which we shared family style over some rice (reese in Russian).

Then off to of all things a concert! Put on by friends we met on our first trip . Vladik (my super cutey .. I could not stop hugging him and he is just always all smiles) was in the concert put on by the school children. Traditional dancing, a reading of the traditional poem Manas. What better way to see and experience the heritage of Central Asia.



Then about two hours to collect thoughts and kind of decompress and off for dinner with friends. Lagman~~~ One of my favorite local dishes. I am simply going to have to learn how to cook this dish...
Ooof and now I am frantically trying to get some photos to you all before I pass out for 6 hours and get up and start the next round.

Wow just isn't enough... and neither are words. so the pictures may do Central Asia a bit of justice.

DAY TWO

We headed back to the bazaar again today to finish up shopping for the Barbershop renovation. Combs, brushes, a hot pot, razors, mirrors. We had stopped first at a small furniture store for chairs and a vanity style table. Oh and don't forget the supplies for Big Mean Dog! All loaded up we took off for the invalid home. The men were so excited to see our cars pulling in. And equally excited about the furniture being unloaded and brought in. Before entering WE had a ribbon cutting ceremony. We and everyone else could not contain the excitement and there really was jumping for joy happening here.
The room is freshly painted. Small and cozy for a barber shop. But yet in a short time the room was completely full. Workers bringing in the supplies, photographers journalling every step, and at any given time at least 20 men watching in anticipation. Not exactly sure how they decided on the first customer, but in no time flat the barber chair was occupied and the first customers shave was begun. The light and joy and gratitude from all of these men was simply amazing. I know I said this before but words just can't express the joy that these men have knowing that people care.







So off from there we spent an amazing time in a small extremely poor community. A community that seems to be untouched by time. But full of amazing love of one another. The children were ecstatic to receive beanie babies as gifts. A table was set and we all sat around to enjoy a Central Asian tea hour. So many traditional foods and drinks. (I'll have to do a bit of research to know the names of everything) While there a small girl came in. She asked us to come to her house because today was her birthday! I believe she was turning five. So after tea hour at one house we went off to the second for Chai at the second. Pastries were the hit at this party.


Well ... I have to run as my ride will be here shortly. I will post more as I can.