Letter dated August 2, 1993 – Kazakhstan

The following letter is a continuation of what I had been through while training Peace Corps volunteers with the first group in Almaty, Kazakhstan the summer of 1993.  It was an arduous time for all of us with hot weather, very bad quality food in the staloviya (student cafe), fiesty trainees and stressed administrators.

August 2, 1993

Last week I needed a rest, even having a Type-A personality, I took a rest.  I’m willing to admit it.  I don’t like being driven but being involved with “training” compelled me into the center of the ring.  I do not like to give up on challenges very easily and this one was my match.

I have a second assistant working with me and it is so fun to get to know her.  I met Damira at church on the 4th of July and knew I wanted her to join me since she has computer skills.  She has been such a blessing in getting the Cyrillic script typed out and also knowing Kazakh.  Along with Tatyana (Polish background), I have a wonderful team to work with.

This counters some of the other bad elements I had to deal with in the Peace Corps office.  The most difficult part of any new post is that we are up in front of very tired and worn out trainees who demand to know all the answers.  But if we have never been in this country before, we don’t know and we don’t know people who MIGHT know.  However, I did find Sandy, who had been teaching and lecturing in Russia for the past five months.  I had her give a lecture on her experiences to the group.

This past week while the trainees were out on their site visits, I took a little one of my own.  I went to my future home of Kyrgyzstan and really do love the country and the people.  I had a chance to visit my friend Elizabeth Macdonald who is doing the same job I am doing with 20 trainees.  Elizabeth has been a wonderful resource to me from the first time I met her in Wash. D.C.  We traveled together to Almaty and she will be leaving one week earlier than me.  That is, if I can get my plane ticket changed from Sept. 4 to Aug. 28.  I really don’t want to stay here any longer than I have to.  I am burned out from this city, the trainees, the dorm AND Almaty.

That is why it is good I took this rest.  I went away to a lake called Issy-Cul and read “The New Russians” and did nothing that was work-related for about 5-6 days.  The lake is beautiful with mountains rising up all around it.  It is 60 miles long and mile or two wide. There are white caps and the water is cold due to mountain runoff.  I was thankful the Peace Corps authorities permitted me to go there.  I really felt homesick though as I was returning to Almaty and I saw the rolling hills just harvested which reminded me so much of North Dakota. I never thought I would get teary-eyed over my memories of that state.  I kept telling the Lord that something mighty powerful will have to pull me back to Bishkek come this fall.  Right now I really want to be where I am in control of my meals, my sleeping hours, my working hours, etc.  I felt I have had much of my independence stripped from me.  I can relate well with what the trainees are feeling and they are committing to two years here!!!

Anyway, it is an honor to have the Fulbright grant to look forward to in Bishkek.  Someone at church who is in academia said that I either am really smart or close to God. I know the first doesn’t apply to me and sometimes I feel that I have been too busy to sense God’s presence.  I can relate to Mark 6:31, I needed this rest.

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