Sunday, September 11, 2011

What is up

Well, literally, what is up is the sky.ha
What is up with life...well there are a lot of things. 
Soccer and school are pretty much taking over my life right now with the occasional youth group which is such a blessing. Doing my best to make each one, sometimes being late. 
I am still major homesick from my second home. I was talking to one of my friends about Kazakhstan and the people there and I was talking about it as my home. I didn't really notice it until she pointed it out and was like "Yeah, I am." because it pretty much was/is. 
I miss my brothers and sisters and mom and dad!!



 Ilias (Director's son)


 Kuanysh (Director's son)




 Maksim, we called him Max :)     

Little Roma :)

 My Kazakh mom and dad, Kairat (dad) and Gulshat (mom)




Beautiful Zhana (Director's daughter)
They are ALL amazing! :)

I miss our translators!                                                       

This is Talgat!
He was Hysterical! He always made me laugh. The first time we met him he cracked a joke at me...I knew we were going to get along just fine!haha I miss him. I greatly enjoyed getting to know him.
Zarina, she was so flippin' amazing!

I enjoyed getting to know her.

Raha, he was so sweet and a great working partner. 
He was so funny and a great talker and listener.
I enjoyed getting to know him as well! 
This is Ulia, she was a great and sweet girl.
She was and still is learning English to become a better translator.
It was a joy to get to know her.

**I think that it is a safe bet to say that is was SO good to get to know everybody on this trip.**

One of the kids that I grew most to, Maksim, we called him Max, got a facebook and I was TOTALLY excited! I am friends with everyone over there who has a facebook and I was ecstatic when I received a friend request from him!! :))
I have been staying in contact with them as much as possible because I want to know what is going on in their lives, and because if I do that I miss them a little bit less, but only a little bit. 
I have been taking some senior pictures with one of my friends moms and that has been fun, but it has been a little weird because since I am not that girly I feel weird having SO much make-up then I would put on and then make sure my hair was in the right position, etc. But to say the least it has been SO much fun!
Here are a few of the pictures I took with the first set, the second is yet to come.

Thank you for taking time to read this! :)
I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your weekend and please whenever you think about the soldiers from 9-11, say a prayer for them. 

Love Always & God Bless,
Shaina :))

Thursday, August 4, 2011

This is Home

 "I've got my memories / Always inside of me / But I can't go back / Back to how it was /...Got my heart set on what happens next / I got me eyes wide / It's not over yet / We're miracles / And we're not alone"
This is Home, by Switchfoot 

So for those of you that read my last post know that I was out of the country for a couple weeks. I got back around last Wednesday at around three in the morning. If you haven't read it, I went to Kazakhstan with a youth delegation. It has shown me so a lot. It was the most amazing and life changing thing that I have ever done. The first week we did a lot of rehab things.We went to an orphanage and painted a front gate, painted a house, and painted railings.We shoveled a lot of crud into a dump truck. After that, we traveled to this little village in Asa and we built a playground for the children, nothing too fancy but something for the kids to play around with.
 Picture from the orphanage

Pictures from the playground                                                                                     
That first week, I didn't really feel like I was out of the country until the middle of it, when we had to work with some volunteers to help build the playground that spoke really little to no English. It was kind of frustrating at first, but then soon realized that even though it would have been nice to speak the same language, we still worked well together. We even got close to perfecting charades.

The second week I feel had the most impact on me. We all traveled to Vanofka to the House of Hope orphanage to play with the kids (when I say kids keep in mind that they range from 5-18 so they aren't all little), love on them, and be with them. At first I was worried because I didn't think that I would connect with the kids. That I would get frustrated like I did when we went to Asa because I couldn't understand. I didn't think that they were going to like me because...well I don't really know why but I was just afraid of that. I was afraid that I wouldn't be myself around them because they wouldn't fully understand. And let me tell you...that was the last thing that happened. We communicated AND connected A LOT better than I ever thought that we could have. Being around those kids helped me be more of myself than I ever thought that I would. We all connected within the first day and grew as we met each day.

 Our first day there the guys and myself kicked the soccer ball around, played a few games and the losers got butts up.ha I have never loved playing soccer so much as much as I did, playing with the kids. I felt kind of special because I was the only girl who played with them, so I hope I held my end well.

I am getting acquainted with our dinner here. He is staring me down. Talgot (on the right) decided to be in the picture. He was the best translator anyone could ask for. He is hilarious!

 I was able to be apart of the killing of the sheep. In these pictures I am skinning it. The brave hands that are showing me what to do and holding the coat that I skinned and the meat tight so that I could skin, belong to Kuanysh. He is the son of the directors of the orphanage. He is super hilarious. He spoke quite a bit of English. Sometimes correctly...sometimes not. But he chose when.ha

Teaching some of the kids to play American spoons. Even thought we should have shown them Kazakh spoons.ha

This is on our way to the camp. Me (top left) Ali (top middle) Aaron (top right) Nate (bottom left) Max (bottom right) 

Jessica, Marina, Anya
Beautiful girls :)

This is the group that made it all the way up the mountain. This was the most challenging, not just physically, but mentally and a little emotionally...especially when you almost take a nasty spill down the mountain and thankfully caught by someone behind you (Thank you Sara!). 
It was totally worth it. It was truly amazing!

 Maxim and Myself
I feel like I grew closest to him. After Sara caught me and I had my little break down, he left the top to come and get me and Sara to help us the rest of the way. My shoes had no traction and I slipped too many times and after Max came down to help us, he caught me and held a grip on me making sure that I didn't fall anymore, all the way to the top. He was one of the main reasons I made it to the top. Him, Sara, Aaron, and Ella. Then on the way down, he and I and Jason worked together getting down. We held onto each other making sure that we wouldn't fall. He is so careful and so protective of me, which I was more than thankful for!

Losha and Olivia
Losha was hilarious. Even though he didn't speak much English, I feel like I understood him (most of the time.ha). Olivia, along with Jenny, were great roommates, and I am glad that they didn't kick me out after accidentally scaring the crap out of them the first night (I have a scar now, which is pretty sweet).

Ali and (Jedi) Kuanysh 
Ali I loved her random things that she would say when she was on the slappiest happiest kick. Like, "Kuanysh, you would make a great Jedi." hahahaha Kuanysh, he truly would make an excellent Jedi. Every time I think of the word Jedi, I think of him going to get our Coke and he made a spectacular role that only a Jedi would be able to do and be proud of it. He and Max always picked the best apples for us to eat (they were soo good!).

The beginning of the goodbyes and we still had one more half day together. After the kids started saying thank you to all of us and that they think of us as their American brothers and sister (of which I am honored!) and that they love us, I lost it. I started bawling and I couldn't stop until I had people come and comfort me, like Max, Kuanysh, Ella, Losha, Taylor, Oleg, Kaisar...and the list goes on and on. They are all truly amazing and caring kids, and I love them and miss them so very much!
They all give the best hugs.

After crying for a while, I decided that I needed to stop and enjoy the time that I had left with everyone. So we went outside and took pictures. It took a while, but there was a smile on my face that replaced those stupid tears. The people in the picture made sure of it. 

In order from top left to right: Jeff, Nate, Max, Aaron, Igor, Losha
Middle: Zach
Bottom left to right: Gabe (only in the second picture) Kuanysh, and Oleg
Ohh, the boys. They are special. And I love them. The first picture is supposed to be a tough guy face and the second is one of them smiling. I, for one, love both of them.

In order from top left to right: Annya
Middle: Anya, Marina, Jessica, Ali, Shaina (me), Olivia (blonde), Taylor (purple shirt), Ella (pink shirt)
Bottom: Jenny
These girls were such a blessing. They were sweet, quiet, and some of them even knew how to dance.

Kuanysh: "This is for Americans ONLY!"
Max: "SHUT UP"
Kuanysh: "Okay, okay, you can stay."
Me: "So can Losha."
Taylor: **Looks pretty sweet. She knows how to pose**

Need I say more?haha

I miss these kids soooo much!! I hate going to see them everyday for five days to not seeing them at all. Even though I was on the other side of the world, I felt like I was home, with my Kazakh brothers and sisters. And being away from them, I feel so homesick. Since I have been home, I left a big part of my heart over there with the kids. This past week has probably been the hardest for me. Every time I think of them, I just look at the notes that some of them wrote me and re-read them, look at my bracelets that a few made for me, and just revisit pictures. Sometimes I even get the privilege of talking to them on Facebook, which is always really nice! 
   The top pink note is from Zarina, another one of our great translators. She is incredibly sweet.
   The bottom pink note is from Annya, one of the caretakers of the kids. She is also incredibly sweet.
   The bottom blue note is from Kaisar, one of my Kazakh brothers. I talk to him some on Facebook, which I love it! He is so fun to talk to! :)
He would be one of the first to comfort me when I was sad. He is soo caring! He is a really good dancer. He was so fun to dance with. Him, Max, Kuanysh, Losha, even the DJ who knew me as Shakira.ha

   The first blue note is from Max, another one of my Kazakh brother. One that I grew really, truly close to. He wrote the note in Russian, so I had to wait and ask Talgot to read it and translate it for me when he had time. After he translated for me, I wrote the meaning in English on the next blue note card. He is another really caring, sweet person that I love dearly.
   The green note is from Oleg, another one of my brothers. He was so sweet, and also caring. I think caring is just a characteristic all of the kids had. Oh, and boy he can dance, too. They all got it on the dance floor. They were so much fun!
   The white, tinted pink note is another note from Zarina. She is so thoughtful and I am so thankful and blessed that not only she, but all the others decided to write me. The first few times I read these, I cried so hard. Now I just get a little teary eyed but they make me happy.

These are the bracelets that, Marina and Lena, beautiful girls that are funny and thoughtful (right hand), Max made the one on my left hand. It is with the bracelet that had a cool theme on it for the week spent together.

Looking and revisiting these things makes me a little less homesick because I feel like I am with them, until I realize that I am not. I never knew that I could love these kids as much as I do within the little time period I have had with them, but I could. I did. I do. They will forever have a place in my heart! And they will be forever missed until I see them again. Because I know that I have work that isn't finished yet. Until I see them, I will keep in contact with them. Talk with them on Facebook, email, and do my best to figure out how to Skype and Skype them.

So this is my condensed version of my trip to Kazakhstan. I hope you enjoyed it. If you want to ask me questions please do so. I would be more than happy to answer them!

Love Always & God Bless,
Shaina :))