Monday, August 13, 2012

Back from Kazakhstan

Hey Everybody, Hows it going?... Sweet.

Well this week was good. We finished up the Kazakhstan trip and got back to our apartment in Novo on Thursday afternoon. So we were able to spend Friday through the weekend here.

We had a really good time in Almaty. That city really reminded me of California, the way everything was really green and there were these green hills around it. Then it's really cool because there are even mountains that are snow capped around it. While we were there we even went up to the hill where Russel M. Nelson dedicated the land of Kazakhstan for the preaching of the Gospel. In Almaty they have a tutor that teaches them Kazakh for 2 hours a few times a week, so I got to go to one of those classes and it was awesome. It was really tough for the newer missionaries because the lady only teaches in Russian. Everyone in Kazy is really nice and friendly and happy and they actually smile and like to talk and stuff so it was really cool to be able to talk to some people down there. When we were there people were pretty pumped about the Olympics because Kazy got their 6 gold medals really early in the games and were up in the top ten of the medal count and everyone was really excited about that. Probably the best experience was when we tried fermented horse milk with Elders Brinton and Hansen. I guess it's some kind of national ethnic beverage there, they are really big on horses. Anyway, it was incredibly nasty. It smelled like bread dough. We each had a glass of it and I decided to just chug mine which I think was a good choice because it went down tasting like just weird milk, but then after I swallowed it just had this incredibly nasty taste and I actually started gagging and ran to the open window. But it stayed down. Elder Brinton almost lost his too. So that was a really good experience.

While were were there we did Zone Leaders Conference. We were in the branch with the Kazy ZLs. The Novo ZL's were in President's office. It worked really well through the webcam program, as far as us being able to hear, but it was pretty tough to discuss things with the lag. They have an awesome senior couple there who fed us before district meeting. We were pretty busy down there with English club and English lessons, Kazakh class, and we met with a few less active members.

Friday we had a nice long meeting with President and kind of debriefed on how everything is going in Kazakhstan and made some plans for the future there. We stopped by Aleksei's house and had a nice conversation with him, he was really happy to see us and we set up an appointment for the next day.

Saturday I was on exchanges with Elder Blake. We had a nice meeting with Andrei and family, also with young Aleksei. He's feeling much more confident about baptism and we had the date for next week but we are going to move it back a week because all of the young adults are going to be out of town at the conference in Krasno. Then the day finished very poorly because Other Aleksei stood us up and when I called him he just said it wasn't going to work out today and he wouldn't tell me why and he was with a bunch of other people. It was really frustrating because we even had Brother Paval come out there with us to help teach. We scrambled and got a home teaching set up and went over and did that at Mikael's but it was really disappointing.

Sunday was great because young Aleksei and Andrei both came. Misha blessed the sacrament, and Marina got a calling - she's now a Gospel Principles teacher. On the down side, one of our investigators disappeared and we went to his house and he was home but told his son not to let us in. So we'll give him some space for a while and just pray for him, that's all we can do. I'm curious what happened I assume it was a social thing, that it usually the problem. At church the recent convert, Giorgi, was telling me all about the Olympics and especially volleyball. He's really big on all that so that was a fun long conversation. He invited me like 6 times to come over and watch the final with him.

There will be the same number of missionaries in Kazy. Anderson is replacing someone who is going home. Harrison is going to Astana and one of theirs is coming to Omsk. Anderson goes home 2 transfers before me, or about 3 months before me.

Cool video of Matthew shooting - it worked really well on the computer. I think the horse milk was the only crazy food. Their Shaurma is a little different there and really good. My next comp is Elder Davis. He's the blonde from my MTC group from Arizona. He's awesome and I'm just still really grateful about all of the awesome companions I've been getting.

Well I think that's it.

-Elder Topham

PS. I just got a text from President that says we are stopping all English and not doing any baptisms in Kazy effective immediately on advice of our legal council as to not hinder registration efforts.
 The Huffaker's final district meeting.

Me shining my shoes.


  The ones in my had are a pair that I got here.

The horse milk before we drank it.