It’s 5:00 in the evening and I literally just returned from Almaty. I can’t even explain how well this day has gone, so I had to write about it, even at such a random time! The plan has been for me to locate this church in Almaty called International Christian Fellowship. I found the church on the US Embassy-Kazakhstan’s website before I left. Then, I didn’t think about writing the address down, and somehow figured I would be able to access the internet to look it up again- then google map it or something. Ha. Didn’t happen, so when my family called me on skype, I had them look it up for me and I wrote it down... Step one. Then... only having the name of the building and the intersection of the streets it was on, I asked around to the PC faculty if anyone recognized the street names, or would happen to know what buses to take to get there. Of course, Almaty being as huge as it is, no one knew where it was but they were so great about asking around for me. I was starting to get discouraged, just that it was seeming so out of reach- Anna, another trainee interested in going to church with me was very encouraging and persistent, which was good. A week or so went by... Anna and I actually picked up 2 other people who were interested in that time. Simbat, our technical trainer, had arranged a trip for people to go to Almaty today to shop for classroom supplies. She was the last person for us to ask about the address to, since she wasn’t from this area... we figured she probably wouldn’t have a clue. So we asked her yesterday if we could somehow work a “How to get to this building” trip into the plans. She is so amazing. She didn’t even hesitate! So we had 5 girls and Simbat as our Almaty trip group.
This morning - still unsure of how this was going to work with the school supplies store, bazaar, and church as the priorities. We left at 8 30 (negotiated down from 9, being that church started at 10). Once in Almaty it was so cool - everyone was OK with going to church then shopping! Even Simbat - who has never even entered a mosque!, she said she’s scared to because she isn’t good enough and it freaks her out... I can’t tell you how appreciative I am that she helped us get to this building, then even sat through the 2 hour service with us! Which was amazing by the way. The service is held in a bank building and in English (a lady told me that the service used to be held in a night club!). It’s a nondenominational church that is bible believing. So many lovely people there that truly welcomed us. Great connections. So many prayers were answered today! Fellow Christian volunteers, a solid church, Kazakhstani Christians old and young. They did a thing where all of the first time visitors introduced themselves, I thought that was great. There was even a trainee that didn’t come with our group there! She said she met a family in a shop somewhere that invited her - a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV). So it was really great to see her there too, she was excited to see us to lol. I’ve never actually talked to people I didn’t know during that little ‘turn and greet your neighbor’ part until today lol. It changes the whole dynamics of things when your in a foreign country haha. I don’t even know how this finally happened, I’m just so glad it did! A great big thank you to anyone who has been praying for me!
So I plan on going every Sunday with anyone who wants to join me... maybe the group number will grow! After church, we went to the school supply store - I wasn’t sure what to buy since I haven’t really even started anything, though I know I need more than I have (which is basically nothing lol). We had a tasty lunch together then headed back to our village. I really like these girls :) Anna from Oregon (the state), Denise from Nebraska, Laura from Detroit, and Gambrill from Florida (most recently). Good times. Very good times.