Posts tagged Texas

Harvey has taken over global news

News for us is that the plum trees have taken over with their bounty…the harvest is plentiful.  The apples are done and my Mom has taken care of about two 5 gallon buckets full of apples.  I have maybe a gallon or so in the fridge and will make a few more apple pies.  Now, what to do with all these plums that Ken and I picked tonight?


That is OUR news on the homefront but things are not good for my friends down in the Houston, TX area.  The following are pictures of the couples home that I know from Almaty, Kazakhstan.  The devastation that so many families are going through is very sad. But these people are working together to help each other because that is all they have left.

I’m grateful for our fruit and vegetable harvest even though it means a LOT of work to make them into something.  I just give most of it away like the turnips and the basil.  Next will be the red beets.  Oy my!

Thom Orr

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“Why do you do it?”

Yesterday I gave a talk about Kazakhstan to a group of about 20 people at a Rotary meeting in my hometown.  The usual questions came afterwards, “What’s the weather like?” “What do people eat in Kazakhstan?” (Last talk I gave about KZ I answered “horse meat”)  But the inevitable question came up “Why do you do it?” In other words, “Why do you want to go back to a complex place that noone has really heard much about, that is the “ends of the earth?”  From port to port, on a good traveling day, it takes over 24 hours to get to my final destination from my hometown.  So, good question.

However, I’m ready for that question because I keep asking myself the same thing.  I am going back for the Kazakh students.  Also, I have met some fabulous friends who are waiting for me.  Not only that, I have plants that are waiting for my eventual return (thanks Benedicte for watering them) and also my stuff is stashed in about four different locations.  Ken and I moved to a new flat that is half the price of our old one and twice as far away from our university.  Fortunately, it will be up in cleaner air away from the highly trafficked Furmanova and El Farabi streets.  That is another upside.  The downside is that I won’t have the fantastic view of the mountains that we were paying for. 

I told the gentleman who showed genuine interest in what I had to say about Kazakhstan that I felt called to go.  I also added that noone goes to Central Asia as their first country to live in.  All my friends are seasoned travellers who have survived living in other countries, this place is NOT for greenhorns.  He finally said that he admired my going to the ends of the earth, to Kazakhstan. True, there are so few of us that go to this place and since there are only about 15 million (correct me if I’m wrong) Kazakhs who live in this vast land that covers the size of four Texases, not many Kazakhs make themselves known in other countries.

Why do I do it?  I love teaching, I love teaching my Kazakh students, I love Kazakhstan!!!

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Run out of words – Speech Class Photo instead

p3030061What fun to have FIVE expats to listen to my Academic Speech classes last night.  Alexandra on the far left came in with four bouquets of tulips to show our appreciation to the four ladies who came to visit.  Thanks to Thom for taking this photo and giving a talk about his travels around the world and coming from the country of Texas.  He stated that he has been to 49 states in the U.S. (missed Vermont by miles)

Busy time right now with getting midterm grades put together based on the first half of this semester performance but also largely on their infomative speeches.  I’m proud of most all of my students who showed passion on their chosen topics, they “wowed” our expat guests.  I commented to our Language Center Director today that none of the 31 students chose Kazakh food as a topic to give a speech on.  He has maintained all along that food is NOT an academic topic.  Agreed.  We listened to informative speeches such as tourism, violence against women, dreams, leadership, financial crisis and much more.  In any case, I’m out of words today!

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Witnessed Friends’ Wedding Yesterday

Sorry for dropping off the map with my blog entries the last several days. Our friends Jeannie and Ken got married yesterday in Texas and fortunately Ken and I flew to Houston to witness this fact. Their relationship has been eight years in the making.  We feel responsible for introducing these two people who are about our same ages.  Now we feel even MORE responsible that their marriage be a healthy one with fruitful ministry.  My husband Ken was the best man and I helped lead the congregation in singing some hymns. Jeannie’s younger sister was the matron of honor. There were about 50 people who were invited, mostly family and friends.  We were Ken’s friends and basically the only people he knew besides Jeannie’s immediate family, the rest were Jeannie’s colleagues, friends and other relatives.

Needless to say, we’ve been a bit busy travelling and I would call that WORK!  Going through security checks and x-ray machines after packing judiciously, boarding planes and disembarking, getting rental cars and dropping them off on time to board yet another plane.  We nearly missed our connection last night to Phoenix from Houston but now we are visiting friends and family in Arizona and enjoying it though the weather is hot like in Kazakhstan.  Supposedly this is monsoon season so we have had some rain. 

Which reminds me, I need to get back to tending my gardens in NW MN, they have become overgrown with much weeds.  Thistles can stand erect at nearly a yard tall.  Quack grass is the bane of my gardening existence.  The day before we left for TX, I was out frenetically pulling weeds for nearly 6-7 hours. 

Despite weeds in my garden, life is good!  Our friends are married off, we wish them all of God’s best!!!

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Friendship – “Do you see the same truth?”

petuniasred roseskaput roses

Some friends of ours are FINALLY getting married on July 12th after an eight year courtship.  Ken and I were instrumental in getting them together in Ukraine, one is from Texas the other from Michigan.  So I guess that qualifies us as bona fide matchmakers for people who are about our age.  However, it may be too soon to tell for sure that this knot will actually be tied because they haven’t gotten married YET.  Other false starts make me leary to even write about this unique friendship that started in Ukraine and has continued over e-mail and phone calls these eight long years.  I found out about this upcoming wedding on a Skype conversation the other day, my friend still isn’t quite sure herself this is going to pull off so she sent me a simple attachment as a wedding invitation.  So low budget will this wedding be, yet we intend to fly from Kazakhstan home to Minnesota first and then the next day after fly down for the wedding in Texas.  The TRUTH of their union together as man and wife will sink in once they both say “I do.”  Until then, it is still up in the air.

From C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves he wrote the following in chapter four:

In our own time Friendship arises in the same way.  For us of course the shared activity and therefore the companionship on which Friendship supervenes will not often be a bodily one like hunting or fighting.  It may be a common religion, common studies, a common profession, even a common recreation.  All who share it will be our companions: but one or two or three who share something more will be our friends.  In this kind of love as Emerson said, “Do you love me? means Do you see the same truth? – Or at least, “Do you care about the same truth?’ The man who agrees with us that some question, little regarded by others, is of great importance can be our Friend.  He need not agree with us about the answer.”

I hope the “answer” on July 12th will be a resounding “I do.”


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