Archive for June 23, 2008

Life “Under the Sun” in Kazakhstan

Our Internet has been down for over a day and Ken is trying to remedy the situation.  We are coping with withdrawal symptoms of not getting our news or e-mails from friends and family. Technology, love it or hate it.

Yes, modern technology has finally arrived in Kazakhstan, such as it is.  Our landlady called the other day to ask if there was a speeding ticket in our mailbox.  Ken told her no.  The only thing we get in the “snail mail” is the usual monthly bills for Internet, water and electricity.  According to her, there are now hidden cameras in specific intersections in Almaty that can catch license plate numbers which triggers a photo and time of speeding infraction.  She was afraid that she could get a worse penalty if she didn’t pay what might have been a traffic violation. Traffic technology has arrived in Kazakhstan to hopefully protect the innocent in other cars or on the sidewalks from predatory, high speed drivers.

Yesterday I was told by our British friends that a Kazakh woman who was crossing the street to her place of employment at 8:30 a.m. was knocked face down onto the pavement by an errant driver of a car.  Her colleagues witnessed the accident from the office window overlooking the street.  Brian, being the good boss that he is, took her to the emergency room of the hospital but she was not treated until three hours later when they eventually switched her to another care facility and three hours after that she was mercifully put into a wheelchair, given a glass or water but she was still bleeding all over.  An x-ray showed that her nose was broken.  She has many more bruises to recover from but at least she was not killed.  I know another American who witnessed a man get hit by a car, he was thrown into the air and he died.  It took her months to get over seeing that tragedy.


Moral of the story:  don’t get hit by a car in Kazakhstan even if you are legally walking on the white and black “zebra lines.”  Pedestrians don’t seem to have right of way here.  I’m not sure if the guilty driver in this recent accident will pay for the damages suffered by this young woman or if he will even be fined for his carelessness.  If he is rich enough, he will be able to buy off the system. In any case, it is good to know there is an ultimate Judge in matters being “under the sun” on hot pavement.




The book of Ecclesiastes, supposedly penned by King Solomon of old, has the term “under the sun” at least 28 times that I counted and only several times wrote “under heaven.”  Seems strange that a king of his stature, whose life was fairly cushy with a plethora of servants and concubines, would even be exposed to a moment “under the sun.” So pampered would King Solomon have lived befitting a king under fans of palm branches and under the shade of thriving grape vine leaves.  “Under the sun” seems more appropriate as a phrase that a manual laborer would use while picking cotton or cultivating the field behind some beast of burden.


Most all know that the punch line of wise old King Solomon’s life which depicts “vanity of vanities” comes in the last chapter and verse (12:13-14) FEAR GOD!  However, there are foreshadowings of this bold statement in other places of Ecclesiastes such as 3:14 “I know that whatever God does, It shall be forever.  Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it.  God does it, that men should fear before Him.”


Also in 5:7 we are warned to keep our vows: “For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity.  But FEAR GOD!”  And again in 7:18b “…For he who fears God will escape them all.”  We can take hope in 8:12 “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who FEAR GOD, who fear before Him.”


Finally, the whole duty of man is summed up with, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: “FEAR GOD and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”


Of course, Ecclesiastes has other familiar quotes of wisdom, such as from chapter 3: “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven. A time to be born, and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance…”  Or later in verse 11: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.  Also, He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”

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