May 2006 Welcome Spring!

May 2006 Welcome Spring!
(Photo: our new house)

Hello All! Welcome to Spring in Kazakhstan, only about 2 months late :) We are finally starting to get some warmer weather, although I have heard that it is supposed to snow next week. Meanwhile, we finally moved into our new house but have 0 shelves so it is hard to know which clothes to leave hanging over one of our two chairs (the other is for Jack) winter clothes or summer clothes? The rest of our clothes went back into bags. I chose winter clothes hoping that it would force the warm weather to come :)

Our new house is great! We have four wonderful rooms all to ourselves and though we sort of miss our host family it is really nice to spread out after 10 months of living with only a bedroom to ourselves. Our favorite game currently is what we like to call sitting quietly in our chairs. That's opposed to doing everything including lesson planning in bed while our six year old sister runs wild around the house. It's delightful. We are missing having sisters though and a sink and a refrigerator, but you can't have everything. Funny enough we are currently washing our hands (and our hair) in a bucket on the floor, but we do have a television. In fact, we were offered 3 televisions. Priorities I guess. We are also excited because our outhouse is brand new! It doesn't have any lived-in smell! And the hole is really deep! Like I said, priorities.

Our new address is: Bekmahanov 6, KB 1 Bayanaul 140300 Pavlodarskaya Oblast Kazakhstan

Feel free to still try Cyrillic characters on your letters, but it doesn't seem necessary. They don't deliver the mail anyway, we just stop by the post office from time to time, so as long as it says Simms and 140300 that should about do it :) We are pretty comfortable right now (and stuffed thanks to Easter Candy) but thank you again for all the wonderful packages. Emily, I am loving the Yoga DVD! I would love to receive some postcards though if anyone gets the chance. Especially of Cincinnati. No one knows what it looks like where we come from. They love the postcards we have of Saline!

As we near our first full year in Kazakhstan (we arrived June 13), we've been thinking about a lot of things and of course missing you all all the more. I've become teary eyed lately if I even hear sentimental music. But at the same time we are excited for our plans for the next year and are hoping to really be able to make our mark here. My school has asked me to help them get some exercise equipment and I am excited because it is a need the children really have and would be a great thing to leave behind if I can pull it off. People have really been showing their appreciation lately too for our work, which has been great.

My birthday was a national holiday here, International Day of Friendship (coincidentally). We were asked to stand on the Mayor's platform for the Bayanaul parade. When we accended the platform I became aware that we were the only other spectators. In a town of 5,000 people, everyone else was actually in the parade! So we stood and waved as the people walked by and after they passed us they became spectators as well. So the last group had quite and audience! (Side note: when I was unclear as to my role in the parade our neighbor explained to me in English "You George Bush, They American People")

After the parade there was of course a concert, and the Mayor's office presented me with a pair of Kazakhstan gold earrings in the middle. It was really wonderful. Afterwards we of course went visiting, and had a really nice lunch with teachers from my school who all toasted my health, happiness, and success (and a baby named Bayanbek or Bayangul).

We just have two weeks left of school and then we'll have our summer camps and two glorious months off to travel around Kazakhstan and to see our families in Europe.

I should be on email again tomorrow for a short while if you get a chance to write back. Jack is still in Bayanaul this weekend doing some gardening, but I'd be happy to carry any messages to him.

All the best,