I was sitting on the couch in a family’s home in the village outside of Almaty this past week. I was simply observing the cutest little girls play their games and speak their beautiful Kazakh language. We were there because their aunt wanted them to know foreigners. They loved us in the way all little girls love the older girls. We taught them games and simply spent time with them. They taught us words and we taught them.
I sat there thinking to myself how incredibly remarkable that it was, here I am in a KZ village spending time with little kids (which I have truly come to value) and how that moment was a gift. Time here in this country is a gift.
We had such an awesome opportunity to travel to the South of KZ this past week. We visited Almaty which is the largest city in KZ. The name "Alma" means apple in Kazakh.
Like I said in my last blog, it was a 20-hour train ride but really it was cool to ride in a train like this. We had beds and our own little cart (it reminded me of the train in Harry Potter haha). On the way down we shared a cart with an older man who was very talkative. He was the typical old grandpa man who probably has grown up working very hard and has seen many things. He was a very interesting fellow
In our time in the city we did so many fun things. We went to a KZ speaking fellowship and spent time with the local believers (It was a day of all different language ha!). That day was fun because we went to a place up the mountain a ways and it had bumper cars! These bumper cars were not like in America though, they were legit I almost flew out of my car on several occasions. After this we went and saw “Puss in Boots” the new animated movie in Russian with them (and I understood most of it). We also visited an incredible museum of all KZ history, played in the park in the beautiful weather! The three of us also visited the biggest bazaar I have seen! It was so intense and I was very over stimulated with all of what was going on around me! It was good that after this we met with the KZ team leader and met some of his family and were able to enjoy an awesome meal with them in their home. They are a wonderful family and I loved hearing their stories!
On Wednesday we helped out our local believing friends sister with her English class at one of the many Universities in Almaty. This was good because we saw what students outside of Astana think and act like. There is definitely a difference in attitude and values even. After this is when we met with an older KZ lady who was the aunt of the little girls. She drove us two hours from the city to this village close to the mountains. We taught the girls fun games and our friend told them the story of Daniel in the Lions den. We ate plovf with them and had a great outside of the city cultural experience, all the while getting to help the aunt share love to her nieces and their friends.
Thursday we rode a bus all the way up the mountain to where they held the Asian winter games there we went ice-skating in this huge ice skating rink where they had speed skating! It was incredible. This rink is in the middle of this valley in the mountains so on all sides were pointed snow tipped picks towering overhead! Then on Friday we went to the ballet with our friend who teaches English. It was a beautiful performance and I was happy to spend time with our new friend.
I have definitely decided that I love trains for the soul purpose of meeting people. On this train ride we met our cabin friend, the girl who shared with us. She was so sweet and talked with us and I even let her put make up on me haha! (She likes doing that kinda of thing J). We talked about lots of things from relationships to language to our faith. I hope we will be able to meet up with her before we leave. It is just amazing how friendships start and how there is purpose even in an incredibly long train ride. There is purpose even in a “vacation.” We did get to do really fun things and enjoy time with our best friend but we also encouraged local believers and had great conversations about the Father with people. We are constantly living to glorify Him.
My joy rests in the purpose of the Father. My satisfaction will reflect His glory. My every moment is made to reflect him. We can be one of two kinds of scopes. “When you magnify like a microscope, you make something tiny look bigger than it is. A dust mite can look like a monster. Pretending to magnify God like that is wickedness. But when you magnify like a telescope, you make something unimaginably great look like what it really is. With a Hubble space Telescope, pinprick galaxies in the sky are revealed for the billion-star giants that they are. Magnifying god like that is worship.” (John Piper)
So my day-to-day purpose in life is this. I am to be a telescope, and a light that is not revealing Madison but rather the galaxy creating Creator. So even in a “vacation” I do not cease doing this. I find joy and that deep down feeling of peace when I live intentionally, and purposefully. And it is a journey to find out the ways to die to self and to love. We love by showing the dying souls around us that there is life-giving beauty in the Father’s grace and this grace is His glory. And when it is His glory it is ours because we are His.