Monday, May 30, 2011

EVERY CHILD DESERVES A FAMILY



THE BILLBOARD IS UP AND READY FOR CHILDREN'S DAY! We received word from our team member Jayne that the billboard is up today. She sent these pictures and we are so thrilled to see the results.

As you recall this was a decision made with the Tokmok Social Service Department - that we would create a billboard to celebrate Children's Day. We also knew it was a chance to promote our dreams to the community - Children Deserve Families. So, this billboard reads at the top:

Kyrgyzstan's Most Precious Treasure - Its Children
At the bottom it reads:
Every Child Deserves a Family

Sponsored by: Tokmok Social Services, LAMb International and the Learning and Development Center
We consider this a real strong statement for the work of our team! Please be excited with us!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

OUR BEGINNING IN UKRAINE

ED DICKSON IS BY ALL MEANS A MAN WHO UNDERSTANDS BRINGING HOPE AND DIGNITY to the masses. He is a mentor to many missionaries and is the reason we first entered the missionary work in Ukraine - by invitation of Ed. What a beginning and a journey as a result of our saying yes to this invitation. Ed is an amazing missionary - doing amazing things - being the mentor to many - even to people he does not know - but know of his work.

This video is a celebration of his values, his mentoring and his dreams. Let's work to partner with Loads of Love and show ED we all appreciate him. See his web site: www.loadsoflove.ca and punch in Ed Dickson Ministry. You will be blessed by blessing ED.

thanks so much.... The LAMb Team


video

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

UKRAINE TEAM TRAVELS TO THE USA - BRINGING AWARENESS TO THE NEEDS OF MANY



OUR TEAM IS HERE IN THE USA - MAX AND OLEG ARE WORKING HARD...they have met with many - been as far South as Alabama, as far North as Minnesota, as far East as North Carolina and as far West as Ohio. Hundreds of miles have been covered and many of you - our supporters have hosted our team, giving them a chance to share the needs of Ukraine with you. Thank you so very much.

We are all meeting here in Cleveland, Ohio tomorrow - there will be lots of meetings and lots of "hope" going forth to find partners in the work of building families in Ukraine. Stay tuned for the final report at the end of the time for the team in the USA.

Next week completes the journey of this team. We are ready for a good report and for the "flood gates" of resources to open for the work of ILDC in Ukraine. Touching lives of many in our Adopt Ukraine project, the training being offered to nationals to help them work with families in crisis, the materials we deliver to many to ensure they have solid "best practice" information - all lead to strengthening families and ensuring children live with parents not staff.

Our team works hard to meet the needs of leaders in churches, schools, orphanages, and even government offices. They are committed to bringing the best available information and resources to those working directly with families and children.

We head to Ukraine in just a few weeks and will be workng on our next steps to increase the national adoptions - Adopt Ukraine will grow this year. More children will be matched with families and fewer children will be living in orphanages.

Oh - yes you know the theme - it is the one we carry deep in our hearts - UKRAINE WITHOUT ORPHANS. And this is not just a dream - it is a passion - a vision - a goal - and YOU CAN JOIN THE TEAM TO HELP.

ADOPT UKRAINE NEEDS YOU TO SPONSOR THE WORK.....YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE - JOIN THE MOVEMENT. Consider hitting the donate button for this team effort. UKRAINE NEEDS YOU TOO.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

CHILDREN'S DAY - JUNE 1 IN KYRGYZSTAN


EXCITEMENT BUILDS FOR CHILDREN'S DAY IN KYRGYZSTAN

We cannot tell you how important this day is in Kyrgyzstan. It is a day the children look forward to - yet some children just wait and nothing happens. We cannot touch every child in the country - but we can do something for some. Right now Jayne and David are working to carry out the celebration for our little friends at the orphanage in Tokmok. We have combined funds from you - our sponsors and have enough to bring a wonderful meal/celebration to this orphanage - STAY TUNED FOR THE HIGHLIGHTS THAT OUR TEAM WILL REPORT.

BREAKING NEWS - A BANNER TO CELEBRATE FAMILIES - SAYING - "ALL CHILDREN DESERVE A FAMILY". Before we left - we talked with Social Services about the possibility of putting a banner (a billboard) up that celebrated children and families. Social Services loved the idea and the banner is being designed right now by Jayne and Natasha. We will place it in a very busy intersection of Tokmok - high on a billboard and it will be there for Children's Day. STAY TUNED FOR THESE PICTURES.

When we leave the country - things DO NOT STOP. We have a great team on the ground. Yet, one by one we leave for a time. But there are many nationals in Tokmok who pick up the tasks and continue the work. In fact LAMb International now has 10 national staff - all paid to continue the work in carrying out the purpose of LAMb. Let me recap the team of NATIONALS and their talents of our FULL TIME STAFF.....

Natasha - our Country Director
Zukrah - assistant to our Country Director
Acel - our family resource parent for Dayspring
Madlin- our child advocate for Dayspring
Larissa - our project manager and liaison with Iskra Men's Home
Emma - our life skill specialist for Dayspring

Part Time Staff:
Tanya #1 - our coordinator for our on the ground expenses
Ludmilla - our bookkeeper who keeps us straight
Gulmira - our helper at Dayspring
Tanya #2 - our helper for English Classes at Iskra

SO THE WORK NEVER ENDS AND THE ABSENCE OF OUR TEAM IS JUST A PHYSICAL PRESENCE GONE - THE WORK CONTINUES....
DAVID AND JAYNE LEAVE NEXT - THEN THE WRIGHTS. YET, RUBY WILL BE RETURNING IN JULY FOR A SHORT TIME.

FOR NOW - IT IS GEARING UP FOR CHILDREN'S DAY - JUNE 1, 2011. STAY TUNED

Saturday, May 14, 2011

WHEN HELPING SOMEONE BRING DIGNITY

THE HIGH MOMENT WAS THE VISIT TO JESSICA'S FAMILY
We  have talked about this family many times on the blog.  They are very near and dear to our hearts.  Over the years we have watched them grow and become stronger and stronger.  About a year and half ago we asked the father, Ooomogon if we might help him get into a rehabilitation center for his drinking issues.  He said that was not necessary, for when he worked he never drank.  He only drinks when he cannot find work - he just gets depressed.  And his work?  He knows construction.  So this time here there have been lots of renovation projects going on with our team member John Wright.  We have always used the construction skills of a local man by the name of Vlady.  And this time Valdy needed help - enter Ooomogon.  We have watched him help us when a recent team did some renovations on his apartment and he seemed skilled.  The result is fabulous - he is working on John's projects and - Vlady says he is a GREAT worker and really likes him.
 
Today  I visited Inura and Ooomogon to tell them we have a sponsor for their son's operation - he has a very strange growth on his knee.  ( Little Maglin is in the picture with his mother Inura and Ooomogon is in the picture fixing his new furnace for his home.)  Dad was busy at work today at home.  Since he has a job and income, he has taken on doing more renovations in the apartment.  He has not asked for a thing - he is working as he makes money.  Today it was such a joy to visit this family.  Father working, as he has two days off; mother visiting with her sister and five little children running around - gladly taking the bananas we gave them and having a little treat and laugh.  It was a happy moment - one that truly shows how helping can make a difference in such a good way.  Dignity and joy was evident in this family.  Father gave me a big hug and kiss on the cheek, mother hugged and hugged.  Little ones - grabbed my hand. 
 
And tomorrow - you can be assured that mother will meet me at church and her little daughter will be with her - Myleta - and what will she do?  She will come straight to me to sit on my lap.  Yes, this is a good thing.
 
And, this was the high moment of my day.  What a blessing to seen WHEN HELPING BRINGS DIGNITY TO A FAMILY.
 
 
--
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
                                                                                by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Friday, May 13, 2011

LIFE IN KYRGYZSTAN

BECAUSE YOU ASKED...
 
We are often asked, what is life like in Kyrgyzstan.  We blog different things to keep you in the know, but there are some things that just don't get communicated well.  For example, costs of things are so extreme.  You can purchase a tea kettle like the beautiful one pictured for about $5.00.  Yet, you never know if it will be good or not so good.  In the case of this tea kettle - both John and Lynn purchased one the same day - exactly alike.  One for Julie and one for me.  Beautiful we thought - wow stainless steel.  Well, maybe not so.  Maybe some sort of plastic?  At any rate - early this morning I got a call - "TOSS OUT THE TEA KETTLE IMMEDIATELY!"  It was our good friend John, and it seems his own tea kettle decided it had worked for two weeks and that was long enough.  It rebelled by bursting into flames - (see the picture of John's kettle).  Well, it was an easy decision - toss out the kettle - and go back to the gas stove and a pan!  This is Kyrgyzstan after all.
 
Then later in the day, I heard a knock on the door.  It was my neighbor wanting 20com - she was collecting from each apartment dweller - 12 apartments in all.  20 coms each.  Seems she hired someone to cut the shrubs - 2 men taking all day for just 240coms!  Can you imagine - Well, you likely cannot - unless you understand 20coms = about 40cents.  Yes that is right 40cents.  Meaning these two men worked all day - and very hard for just $4.80.  See pictures - and this was done by hand - no electric clippers here!
 
And the final part of the story - to live here is very hard.   Food is extremely expensive here and costs almost the same as in North America.  Our little babushkas living around us make about $27 US per month pension.  A large bag of rice can cost that much. 
 
So in spite of the tea kettle - we are blessed beyond our understanding to be in this beautiful country with these beautiful people.  Just thought you might like to know some of the realities of life in Kyrgyzstan.
 


--
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
                                                                                by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

LEAVING KYRGYZSTAN - NEVER A GOOD TIME

IT NEVER FAILS - THERE IS AN ARRIVAL DATE AND THERE IS A DEPARTURE DATE - 
YET THE LIGHT NEVER GOES OUT!
 
Lynn has already departed for home and actually has arrived back into Barrie - now already into the routine of Canadian life.  I am still in Kyrgyzstan and will be departing on Tuesday.  I have the calendar filled in for returns to Ukraine, and to here in Kyrgyzstan. I have dates full of training in Ohio, New Hampshire.  There are calendar dates with the LAMb retreat, family visits and even bookings far into 2012.  Each has an arrival date and each has a departure date.
 
Yet, here I sit - most times not knowing if I am leaving home or going home.  Interesting - it is the same for Ukraine.  When living between several different worlds, your perspective changes, your values get challenged, you find new cultural norms creeping in and life just gets to be somewhat "weird." Yet - both Lynn and I know we were made for a time such as this.  And we are carrying out what we believe is the purpose for our lives.
 
Today was good - planning and completing things - crossing new bridges and opening new doors.  We tell everyone here we just want to serve - and "how can we help you?"  Some receive this question with tears, others with joy and others with disbelief.  Yet the question remains - and the goal remains.  We are all here to do just one thing - to serve.  Today was such a reminder of this for me - as we were busy closing down activities, meeting and saying good bye to our friends and contacts.  It was a day of highs and lows.  Challenges and victories.
 
I am not free to share all the details, but just know - that you -  our supporters are so appreciated.  In the darkest moments of the night - which sometimes come in the middle of the day - I close my eyes and remember words of encouragement and words of support.  Thank you all so much.
 
Tomorrow - we will be dealing with some very important details for Dayspring - Saturday meetings, some coaching with an individual, and preparations for leaving.  Sunday church, spending Family Day with an orphanage, and birthday parties in the eveing.  Monday - back to Bishkek to finish up some work for Dayspring, big staff and team meeting if possible and packing.  Time has moved quickly - and there is yet so much more to do.  There are so many unmet needs - the seniors, the disabled men, the children at the orphanages, the families we help, on and on.  Today when checking with our team member to do some planning for the Fall - she just said - seems we all have so  many different directions we are all going in - so true. The team has made a mark - now working hard in lots of directions to make a difference.  
 
AND WE CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOU - THANK YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH 
--
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
                                                                                by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

UP RIVER AND WORKING TO STRENGTHEN FAMILIES

TODAY WAS A VERY FULL DAY OF LOTS OF DIFFERENT IMPORTANT ACTIVITIES - Lynn left for home this morning and I have remained here to complete some important unfinished business. 
 
Last night we celebrated a birthday (see the picture) with Dabu,Tanya and Anita.  Dabu's birthday celebration was a yummy meal of logman, pizza, salad and of course cake.  David and Jayne joined us all and we celebrated in real Kyrgyz style.  It was a very special evening to be with our very special friends. Anita gave us a short concert to show here developing skills on the piano.  We dearly love this family.  One bit of sad news - it seems the eye surgery done for Anita in the past did not take and might need to be done again.  We are praying this is not the case.
 
Then, first off today - Lynn's ride did not show up and we were in a panic to get him to the airport by 4am.  His ride was to be here at 2:30am.  Seems someone forgot to tell the driver.  Oh well, after waking up half of Tokmok, we got a driver and Lynn was off and made the plane okay.  He is in the air Moscow to JFK as I write this.  Then at 6am my day started.  And then they decided they would not check his bags all the way home - guess they wanted his bags to live somewhere else.  So, he will have to pick them up in JFK and re-check them into the check in - meaning they just might want to charge him for two bags.  He did not have to pay for two with Aeroflot due to his international travel and that we fly a lot.  So we will see.  We have been having everyone carry back TONS OF CRAFTS made by our friends in the orphanages.  We are going to have a GIANT EXHIBIT AT KEMPENFEST IN AUGUST IN BARRIE, ONTARIO CANADA.  IT WILL BE AWESOME.  IT WILL BE A MAJOR FUNDRAISER FOR THE HUMANITARIAN WORK WE DO.
 
1.  We headed to Bishkek for a meeting with the Minister of Labor and Social Protection to continue our planning on our project.  We gave her the report of the first training and listened to her ideas for the future.  We will be working closely with her for the rest of the year to strengthen the field of staff who work with children and families.  We are very excited about this.  We have a big project going.
 
I gave her a full set of the curricula (see the picture)   that we are teaching along with electronic copies for the reproduction for the trainers - we are developing 25 nationals for the continuation of this training in the field.  These trainers are practitioners in the field from all over Kyrgyzstan.
 
We also talked about Iskra and the work being done there - the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection is VERY sympathetic to the needs of the disabled.  We see this as a very exciting and progressive paradigm emerging.  This Minister is real AWESOME.  SHE TRULY GETS IT!
 
And we have some other things on the cooker......but details will only be given when we are sure they will happen.
 
2.  Then over to the visa department we went - heads bowed deeply - seems I forgot when I extended my stay her for another week -  that my visa would be running out today.  WHOOPS.  This could mean a fine of up to 10X the cost of a visa and my visa was $100.  So over to the visa department of government to beg mercy and file for an extension....and we CAME HOME WITH A NEW VISA!  Total cost?  $32.00 US.  Now, how is that for mercy and grace!
 
3.  German Embassy to drop off some papers.
 
4.  Social Worker Association and Bishkek Humanities University project -  to give them the plan for the next work in the area of abuse and neglect and help for those working with children who have been the victims.  We will have Dr. Jordan Greenbaum back to help us with this - if we see the plan will work.
 
5.  Final stop - The Lawyer Office to update our Registration to include our new project - Dayspring.  Seems we need to strengthen this statute to be more specific for the project in order to not present problems in the future.
 
TOMORROW
 
1.  Meeting with several different Tokmok persons about Dayspring - Social Services, etc.
 
2.  Completion of the registration in Bishkek.
 
3.  Meeting with the Director of SOS Children's Villages and Family Strengthening Project to continue our plans for future training and consultation with the staff who are working directly with families and children.
 
4.  Swetlie Put orphanage
 
5.  Meeting with Children's Inspector to deliver a new computer to them for their work
 
FINALLY - FOR A TEAM - ARE  YOU INTERESTED?  ONE FOR THE FALL AND ONE FOR THE SPRING!!!!
 
 
 
 


--
Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.
                                                                                by Robert Louis Stevenson

 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

TOY BOXES FOR ORPHANS FROM CHILDREN IN OHIO

WHEN CHILDREN PUT THEIR QUARTERS TOGETHER - THEY CAN REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.  In Beavercreek, Ohio, there is a group of little children in the Sunday School Class of the Dayspring Church.  They have adopted our Dayspring children - same name  - different programs - different countries.  This is an awesome group of children who want to make a difference in the lives of other children.
 
They sent over funds and asked we purchase a special gift for each child who will come to Dayspring Family Life Resource Center - and what better gift than a toy box for their toys.  So - toy boxes have arrived and soon will be filled with the personal possessions of children living at Dayspring.
 
Dayspring Ohio children helping Dayspring Kyrgyzstan children.  What a beautiful story. 
 
(PICTURES - toy boxes being delivered and received.)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

AND MORE PICTURES FROM ISKRA


MORE PICTURES FROM ISKRA - HOPE AND DIGNITY BEING RESTORED


A DAY AT ISKRA - HOPE AND DIGNITY BEING RESTORED


ISKRA - BRINGING DIGNITY TO THE DISABLED MEN.  What a morning it was.  We arrived at the men's home about 10am and they were waiting for us there, as they usually are when they hear we are coming.  We had a truck load of  "goodies" for them.  We had cups, plates, spoons and two giant suitcases full of art and craft supplies.  We headed for the art room to deliver this - all being carried by our friends at Iskra.
 
1.  Barber equipment for our barber at Iskra - a beautiful speech about how this was so important - the sharing that is done for his work.
2.  A birthday song for our shoe repair leader - a beautiful metal "foot" to repair shoes, some shoe equipment and a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.
3.  Our art departmen leader gave us the items we ordered - five beautiful "throws."
4.  AND THEN THE FUN STARTED....
 
We headed out to the unused and grown over volleyball court.  We had two trucks of sand ordered and the men started to join in on the making of a beautiful new volleyball court.  Just look at the pictures.  It was a morning full of tears on our parts, joy in our hearts - and wonderful moments as we worked along side of our friends.  By the beginning of next week - we will have the net up, volley balls purchased and we will be ready to go.  If you want to join in on the journey to build this place into dignity for all you can help.  The sand was just under $200, the pad for the basketball court will be about the same - just think for just $500 you have brought sports and activities to men who have in the past had NOTHING TO DO BUT SIT.
DIGNITY BEING RESTORED - NOT JUST A HANDOUT - WE HAVE DONE THIS TOGETHER WITH OUR FRIENDS WHO HAVE BEEN FORGOTTEN NO MORE

Friday, May 6, 2011

ANOTHER DOOR TO THE BLOG IS CLOSED



GREETINGS AND GOOD MORNING - The weekend is here and we have lots of plans.  We head to Iskra today to take lots of supplies to the men; art supplies, cups, bowls, spoons and of course our love and hugs.  Later in the day we are taking the team to Bishkek to see the sites, visit the Osh market for their take home gifts and then of course to take pictures of our beautiful capital here. 
 
Monday is another holiday - we will be going to the city parade and enjoy the festivities and the culture.  Veterans will be honored on this day. 
 
For now - the second door to the blogs has been closed - but we have three others - so will keep the messages flowing.
 
STAY TUNED FROM MORE FROM TOKMOK!  AND MORE ABOUT KYRGYZSTAN WITHOUT ORPHANS...OUR MESSAGE REMAINS THE SAME.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

COMPLETING SOME "UP RIVER" ACTIVITIES






AWESOME COUPLE OF WEEKS - Today we are completing some amazing "up river" activities.

MINISTRY OF LABOR AND SOCIAL PROTECTION - TRAINING THE TRAINERS - We had three days of training last week developing some very talented workers from the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection. These trainers will be conducting training all over the country once their development process is completed. We have an agreement with the Ministry to develop these trainers (who are workers and leaders in the country right now) to become trainers for their peers. We have an aggressive schedule in place to complete this process by the end of the year.

BISHKEK HUMANITIES UNIVERSITY - After two years of planning and working toward this project to implement a one year specialization for child and family work into the present social work program - we have all in place to begin the courses this Fall. Over the last two years we have had many different activities to lead to this result - lots of lectures in the university, we have invited different experts to consult on the project (Eileen Lally from University of Alaska, Dr. Tatiana from Tomsk University in Russia, and Chris Tappan from New Hampshire Child Welfare System.) These experts have taken the Ohio University Partnership Project which the Institute for Human Services has designed and have helped us put together the new courses for the starting in the fall of 2011. Chris Tappan has led in this project and we are very thankful for her help and commitment to this. She will continue to take the lead and return to work with us in the Fall once the course work begins at the university.

SOS - FAMILY STRENGTHENING PROJECT - Our training has continued with the NGO, SOS. We are excited to say we have now completed 10 days of training with these social workers - helping them better understand working with families and children of abuse, neglect and abandonment. This program is very well respected around the world - over 130 countries have SOS projects. We are honored to be working with them doing what we can to strengthen them with skills, knowledge and methods of working with crisis families and children who are in need of services.

SPECIALIZED TRAINING AND CONSULTATION - Two years ago we invited Dr. Jordan Greenbaum to come and work with the different partners we have here - helping them to better understand the impact of abuse and neglect on the orphans in care. She came and was deeply touched at the needs and how she might be able to offer her expertise. Once again, she is here - however this time she brought Peggy Woodard with her. Peggy is an expert for the State of Georgia in working with children and families where abuse has occurred. They have been doing many lectures and training: hospital staff in Bishkek, SOS workers, orphanage staff, orphanage directors, NGO workers, and other LAMb partners who are working with children and families.

CONFERENCE TODAY AT DAYSPRING - Today ends the training events for this time in Kyrgyzstan. We are completing this time here with a conference at our Dayspring Family Life Resource Center - we will have many different workers, ministries, NGO's and parents in attendance for the conference. Our topics are rich and deep: working with children who have been sexually abused; helping families of children who have suffered trauma; understanding the dynamics of abuse with children in care; being the support for the family and the child when trauma overshadows each day. We are so excited to have Dr. Jordan, Peggy, Jayne and others here willing to share their expertise. Our conference at Dayspring is just the beginning of many times we will invite our neighbors, NGO partners, churches and others to come and learn - to share and to work together with us - for our dream - A KYRGYZSTAN WITHOUT ORPHANS.

STAY TUNED FOR OUR NEXT BLOGS - AS WE SHARE THE "DOWN RIVER" ACTIVITIES NEXT....ALL IN HOPES OF A KYRGYZSTAN WITHOUT ORPHANS.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TRAINING CONTINUES





With four out of the five days this week declared holidays, only Wednesday is a work day, it's a testimony of the desire of many in this country to learn that our training and lectures continue each day.

Dr. Jordan Greenbaum lectured yesterday for the staff at Crosslinks and today she is lecturing in the morning at the Humanitarian University and this afternoon consulting and sharing with a group of doctors and nurses at the children's hospital in Bishkek. Later in the day she and Peggy will be travelling to an orphanage that cares for disabled children. The director has requested Dr. Jordan come and share with her staff.

After ten days of working with the staff at the Humanitarian University, Chris Tappen left to return to the States. Chris has been and continues to work with the staff on the implementation of a Child Welfare specialization into the five year Social Work program.

Ruby's training schedule this week includes four full days with the staff at SOS in Bishkek plus a staff training day at Dayspring.

Although the days are long and tiring, starting shortly after 6am and ending around 7 pm, the impact of "Training as a catalyst for change" cannot be underestimated. As participants experience competency based training, the word spreads and the requests for additional training increases dramatically. As one participant shared with me: "We have never seen or experienced such training, please, please, teach us more".

As the time for this trip starts to wind down, we realize the urgency of establishing national trainers - those who can continue the training in our absence. We have identified a group of about 24 potential trainers and have completed a three day TOT, Training of Trainers, with them. What remains for them is the training of content. That will require an additional 16 days of training before they can start their involvement in the newly established training system.

We are very excited as we consider the long term implications for children and families in this country. As we have said before, we have a vision of Kyrgyzstan Without Orphans. Every child deserves a loving. caring, nurturing family.

Thank you for your support. Training is not inexpensive in terms of travel, materials, translation and implementation. When you consider the steps outlined in "When Helping Hurts" - the steps of Relief, Restoration and Development, it is the Development piece that will bring permanent change.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

IT'S A HOLIDAY

Well it's May 1st and today is Labor Day here in Kyrgyzstan. So today,tomorrow and Tuesday are considered holidays and everything is closed. After working Wednesday I am told there are more holidays. To be specific, Thursday and Friday. Apparently this is the favorite month for the nationals...lots of holidays.

So as a special treat, today we took our team for and outing - headed for the tower and mountains to have a picnic. It must have been a good idea because we had lots of company. The weather was great and of course the scenery breathtaking. Some of our group climbed the Burana tower. The tower is a restored replica of a trading area along the silk road, in fact a major cross road of the famous silk road.

After that visit we headed up into the mountains to an area near a waterfall. Again three of our group, the more athletic ones, climbed up to top of the falls.

There was some four wheeled traffic in the mountains today, but most transportation we saw was on four hooves - lots of horses and riders today.

After a week of training it was great to be in the outdoors. Another four day training starts tomorrow for some of the group, the rest will be making the rounds to the seniors and men's home in Iskra and are involved in different lecture venues as the week continues. It will be a very busy week.

Oh, by the way, for those of you on the other side of the world, we had an earthquake here this morning at 8:31 am. It just jiggled things a little bit. The centre was actually across the border in Kazakhstan. That's the third one we have experienced here on this trip.

Attached are some pictures from today.











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