Steve: As you know, our hotel is our temporary home here in Karaganda. It's called The Little Windmill (or it may be Old Windmill... we can't remember) and is rather eclectic. The inside is decorated like a German chalet... log-cabin walls, wagon wheels on the restaurant benches, and pastoral German countryside painted behind the karaoke stage. Our room has a very large (very firm) bed and a 42" wide screen plasma TV that's the same model as the one we have at home! If I understood more Russian the TV would be much more enjoyable, especially the telenovelas dubbed in Russian. Luckily there is Russian music television. What they are communicating there is patently obvious. Jamie says I can't watch it any more. I don't think she liked the way the barely-clad lady in the video was eating her hot dog. Ok, whatever.
There is a little restaurant downstairs that provides breakfast for us every morning. The server, Natasha, knows enough English to make ordering a breeze. We had some "porridge" our first day here that was amazing! Sometimes we have eggs or little open face sandwiches with the heavy type of bread that is common here. While we are looking forward to moving into an apartment soon, it is kind of nice to have some things taken care of for us right now.
Jamie: Well, we did it - one more Kazakhstan adventure to check off the list - we have eaten horse. We went out last night with our travel partners and interpreter for Five Fingers, which is the traditional Kazakh dish. It's served on a large platter and shared amongst the whole party and traditionally it's eaten with the hands (get it - five fingers) but now apparently utensils are more en vogue. It's really just a platter of horse meat and sausage served on a bed of wide noodles and we really enjoyed our dinner - not just the new experience and fun conversation but even the food itself! We all agreed that it really just tasted like roasted meat... but our favorite part was the fried bread balls. Mmmm - fried dough.
They also served tea in the shallow little dishes that I learned about at Sestra's baby shower, so that was cool.
Now we just have to find some kumis to try (fermented mare's milk) and our culinary exploits will be complete!
Our favorite Sestra memory from yesterday was playing with the stacking rings on the shelf o' toys in the visiting room. They're situated between Yabo the Elephant (no idea - it's just an elephant that says "Yabo" on its shirt) and the knock off Mickey Mouse doll, above the very scary battery-powered singing and dancing pigs. It's pretty amazing to us how much fun you can have with 6 rings and a plastic rod - putting the rings on Daddy's nose, wearing them as bracelets, and, of course, stacking them! The rings were a big hit and they may have to come down off of the shelf again soon when we get tired of the toys we brought.
Prayer request: Please pray for our three kids today, that they will be deeply bonded together as sister and brothers, both in the next few weeks and throughout their lives. We pray that they will look out for each other, spur each other on to good works, and bring out the best in the others as members of the same team working toward common goals and with a common love. There will always be squabbles, but we pray that those will be superficial and will quickly dissipate in the light of their abiding love for each other.