November 8, 2008
Countdown to Court, Day 1
Today Emilia and I had one long visit, as it’s the weekend. After her feeding, we played until she became too tired to keep her eyes open. I think I really tire her out with all my play. After all, she isn’t used to so much stimulation at the baby house, as the nurses have to spread their time between eight babies. That’s a lot of work!
The nurses have commented that before I came, Emilia would simply lie in the giant crib (it holds about 5-6 babies at a time) and only raise her arms up and down. Now she is a little wiggle worm and moves around all the time. They credit me with this change, and I’m thrilled to hear it. It just amazes me how a little one-on-one attention can truly transform a baby’s behavior.
As I may have mentioned in the past, my driver, Vladimir, likes to take different routes to and from the baby house so he doesn’t get bored. Today, he and I were alone, as my weekend interpreter, Shonara, had to leave the baby house a little early to take her son to the hospital. Unlike the U.S., people go to the hospital here even if they have a cough or the flu. I don’t get the impression that there are doctors in private practice, though I may be mistaken.
Vladimir made a right turn when we left the baby house, which he never does, and we followed some muddy streets through a residential area. Then he came to a stop in front of a church and said, “Ka-ta-Lee-cheh-skee.” Aliya must have mentioned to Vladimir at some point that I’m Catholic, and he took it upon himself to take me to the church, which is very much off the beaten path. I was extremely touched that he thought to do this without being asked.
I didn’t know how much time I had – after all, Vladimir and I can’t converse without Aliya or Shonara’s assistance – so I only went into the chapel for about five minutes. It was like going home, and I felt a wonderful sense of peace and belonging wash over me as I knelt before the altar. Although it’s not likely that I will get to this church again before I leave Uralsk (It’s miles from the Pushkin, and I only have Vladimir for very short periods of time), I was so grateful that he took me there. I have been missing going to church, and this visit filled me with joy. I think I thanked Vladimir a dozen times.
There are very few Catholics in Kazakhstan, and that is why it’s been so hard to find the Catholic Church (I believe it’s the only one in Uralsk). Most people are either Muslim or Russian Orthodox. Most days I pass by or near a mosque or a Russian Orthodox church.
This afternoon Aliya, Kati and I headed to the bazaar in town. Kati had never been there before, and I wanted to buy some gifts for the baby house. It was bitterly cold, as we walked through the outdoor stalls, but I was able to take care of a few errands. Kati and I plan to head back tomorrow afternoon, so that we can browse around some more. Even if we don’t buy anything, the experience is certainly worth it….though I may have to wear my silk longjohns, if I’m going to be outdoors!
It’s snowing quite heavily now, and it’s starting to stick. I wonder if I will awaken to a winter wonderland. Here in Uralsk you never know!
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