Saturday, December 3, 2011

First week in the Armenia Yerevan Mission

Well, we have been here for about 10 days now.  The previous blog showed us eating Thanksgiving dinner and the mission home little apartment we have been staying in.  We have little recollection of the first couple days here.  We were walking around like zombies (you know, asleep but standing and walking).

We do remember well though, the counsel given to us two new senior couples from the mission president, President Carter.  He promised us that one of the sweetest memories we would have while here would be in helping the missionaries prepare people to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We could have them in our home for FHE where they could feel the spirit as we taught a short lesson and had fun playing games, all the while sharing with them the importance of families in God's eternal plan for His children.

We lived in the Mission home for nine days.  It is three apartments on top of each other.  We had the basement apartment.  The Mission President and his wife live in the second apartment and the third one above but the third one has some bedrooms and a kitchen also for overflow when needed.

 This is the front of the mission home.  You can see the President's car behind the gates.  I am coming through the door which is also gated.  You can see here the three levels.
 I am coming through the door where we will lock it and set out by taxi to the mission office where we work.
 This is a picture looking down the street (from the Mission Home gates) where you can see other countries' ambassador or embassy officials apartments.
 This is the view looking down the street the other way.
This is the fanciest ambassador's apartment which is right across the street from the Mission Home through the gate.

Here is some pictures of the Mission office where we work, which is about a mile away:
This is Joan's office.  She is the Armenia Yerevan Mission Secretary.  The door at the right is the President's office
This is Larry's office.  He is the Armenia Yerevan Mission Financial Secretary.
I just locked my door to leave.   Larry is locking his door and the sister next to me is my trainer whose place I am taking (Sister Jones)

This is the front of the building.  The branch we go to meets upstairs where there is a chapel and classrooms.  On the first level is a baptism font.  The rest of the floor is offices and storage rooms.

Let's talk a little about Armenia.  Wow! Well, the country here is poor, (90% of the Armenian people are poor), the buildings are so worn down, some don't even have running water.  There is some affluence here (the other 10%) but they are usually not Armenian.  They build a few very expensive fancy stores and they are the ones that shop there.  The Armenian people just walk by and look in the windows but could never afford to buy anything.  What a contrast!  There is no middle class and that is what makes a country great!  Think about that.

Yesterday (Friday our time) we moved into our own apartment.  It is quite nice, with just a few things amiss: the water flow is so little that it may take us an hour a person to shower.  And if anyone else in this hugh apartment complex uses the water or flushes the toilet - we may get a shift in the water temperature.  So, even though we have a washer, not sure if the items in the washer are getting the proper amount of water.

Practically every male person in Armenia smokes and so that is the bad thing living in an apartment.  The smokes somehow is getting into the apartment and we are going to find out where and see if we can help stop the flow.

Here are some pictures:

 This is our bedroom.  Behind the chairs is a door where you can go out on a very tiny balcony which is so unstable we hardly dare stand there together.  And this is what we see:

Looking one way and on a clear day you can see Mt. Ararat above those buildings.

Here is looking the other way.

 This is our clothes closet which is a stand alone furniture, typical of European furniture.
 This is the kitchen.  You can see the three filters that go to the sink on the left.  This is where we can get safe water to drink, to wash food, to brush our teeth and to wash our face.  Only problem is that it is cold water.  The warm water doesn't filter through (or at least it would take a very long time).  And so, I either wash my face with cold water or wish I had those Costco face cloths!!  You can also see here the clothes washer.

 This is a little (rather big) dining area with a little table where we eat.  This is just off the kitchen.  More chairs than is needed for that little table.
 This is across from the sink area where there is a microwave (yeah!) and a tall skinny fridge.
 This is looking at the kitchen from the eating area.  The door you see is from the bathroom, which is by the front door.
 Here is a sitting area.  This is the warmest place in the house.  You can close the door and it is like a parlor.
 This is a little area off the sitting room.  Yes, there is a piano here!  We live up four flights of stairs, no elevator of course - who got it up here?  Don't know.  This is actually the room where we set up the portable clothes dryer (you can see it on the couch there), to dry our clothes.

This is the maid for the day - just about to fold the wash that dried through the night on this rack.

We washed towels last night and put them out to dry (a portable drying rack) here in the apartment. Can you imagine how nice it is to dry off with towels that are stiff?  Drying off after a shower is an experience (time to get that dry skin exfoliated!).  It does save us a lot of space because we can stand them up instead of folding them!

 Oh well, little sacrifice for service to the Lord!

 This is looking from the area where the piano is, through the parlor, toward the front door.
 Another view from the piano area into the sitting room.  There is a stand with shelves under it and a boom box where we can play tapes or cd's.
 This is looking out the window in the eating area.  This is out on the back side of the apartment.
 This is another view out back.  Can you see the clothes hanging on the line.  It is cold here.  How do they get dry?  Old buildings.  All concrete and medal.  The floor is cold and guess who forgot their slippers!  I was sure I packed them!  But, no where to be found.  Will have to buy some here.  The floor is very cold!

The little bathroom.  It has it's own water heater which is nice.  Just one thing - the water pressure.  Very poor.  We already knew about their not being clothes dryers here.  And of course we don’t have a dishwasher, which is not a big thing.  But the water trickles out and we are not sure how we are going to get a shower taken in less than 2 hours!  Doing dishes?  Never mind!   But, you just make do.  That is all there is to it.  It is like camping.  Yes, there you go - camping for 18 months!  We are humbled.  We are fine.  We will make do and really, when we have to leave, we will miss this place!

A little about the biggest adjustment for us:  eating and the food.  Here's the scoop the first few nights we were here as I wrote it down at the time:

The food tastes so different and salty that we are presently starving because we don't know what to fix.  We can't of course read the labels which is in every language (except Spanish which would have at least some similar words to English).  So, the labels are mostly Armenian or Russian language which is like symbols.  We can tell you the sounds of the symbols in Armenian but don't know what the words mean yet.  You can't always tell by the size, shape color and similarities to our products in America.  Each country they are imported from have such different tastes for the same type product (like orange or apple juice) that it is hit and miss.

Here is what we had the first night after we went shopping for food:
 This is cooked cabbage and carrots, rice and fried tuna fish.  It was ok.  Actually I am lying, which you can tell by Larry's face:

This is the milk that is imported from France or Italy.  It is good.  I like it.  Not like milk at home but it will do.  I was grateful for that.  Larry is having withdrawal pains from Coffemate but oh well!
The second night we had spaghetti but only with tomato sauce on it because they don't have jars of tomato or spaghetti sauce (that we can find yet) and the ingredients you need to mix with tomato sauce to make a homemade sauce aren't found yet either.  Oh did I tell you that the noodles got overcooked by accident (I won't tell you which one of us wasn't watching close enough) and so they were mushy.  Mushy noodles with plain tomato sauce on top!  Try it one night in our honor.  

We don't dare eat any meat because the conditions are shabby and we are warned to be careful.  We saw how they hang the meat, cut the meat, and leave it out.  Some stores of course look pretty nice but we hear you can taste the cow when you eat the beef and so we are not ready to try any of the meat yet.  

The vegetables are out of season and so look very poor and we have to wash in filtered water and clorox them (with some veggies, that is hard to do).  I bought some broccoli because I was hungry for it.  It was so limp I could bend it in half and it cost around $5.00 for a little bunch.  But it was broccoli and after I washed it in filtered water, soaked it in clorox water and rinsed it again in filtered water, and then cooked it (I didn't want it anymore), no, I am kidding - I was happy to eat it again!

More about the food later - when we learn more.

We want to tell you that we will adjust to the complete cultural shock that we faced when we got here.  We already love the people and I think we did even before we got here.  We try to learn a little of the language each day.  We can bear our testimony and will do that this week on Fast Sunday.  
It all just humbles us to recognize how very much we have in America and how we take that all for granted daily.  The missionaries here are such strong young men and women.  Like the Mission President says, they have to be some of the strongest in the world to come here and survive the things they face here.  They are not allowed to proselyte but have to find ways of talking to people, like meeting them on the streets when someone inquires as to who they are.  It is a hard mission for them but they are valiant and it is a privilege for us to know them.
Here is Larry's input and more about Armenia:

Elder Eyre is the Mission Financial Secretary and he feels a little out of his element.  The economy here is cash only with no credit cards so he has gotten a quick introduction into accounting from hour one day one.  The Armenian Dram is equal to $2.62 USD and so you can see he deals with numbers in the thousands which is daunting.  In that sense he is the Mission Banker having to dispense funds and keep accounting records which are reported to Moscow (which is where the Area Office is) and of course Salt Lake.
Our Apartment is on the fourth floor and is street side so we get to observe and HEAR all the street activity, which is continuous. (Especially at night when we are trying to sleep).  They go to bed very late - sometimes 2 or 3 in the morning and then sleep late.  Since most are unemployed they have nothing else to do.  

Public transportation is the main mode or means for getting around.  There are of course Taxis, by the thousands, and then a vehicle called a Marchutney, which looks like a Dodge 10 passenger van, but they can get double that number on them.  Then there is the bus system and trolley and trains.  It usually takes traveling by at least two of these to get anywhere outside of the city and to some extent certain location here in Yerevan.  We have not seen the trains yet, they are more outskirts of the city. 
As we are in Armenia, we are in the home of the Armenian taxi driver and they are something else to watch.  At any one time there will be tens upon tens of them moving up and down the streets with the painted lines on the streets and roads a mere suggestion.  Yet they can move about this city in record time and without incident.  
To watch the traffic flow up and down the street is to watch a living thing as it undulates back and forth across the road, darting here, darting there.  The honking you hear is to let the other driver know he is there as we don’t see much angry honking.  They can put four cars abreast on a two lane road and although you’d think you are in for an accident we move with ease even if the space between the cars is not much more than a coat of paint.  
It is an experience to ride in a Taxi and I don’t think Disney has anything like it.  What an experience to be travelling down the wrong side of the road and weaving in and out of traffic and darting at the last minute to avoid a headlong collision.
Oh-h-h,  it is our understanding that the Armenian taxi driver is something else in other parts of the world meaning they are good and so we get to see where they are raised and trained.  It is like organized chaos and is difficult to truly relate the experience of seeing how all the modes of transportation go up and down the street!!!

In closing we want to let you know that we love you all very much.  We do love being here and hope and pray that we can do the assignment that is expected of us.  We know we cannot do the work without the help of the Lord.  We rely on Him to guide us and we feel His love and concern for us.  He has helped us so much already.  We know as we study and read the scriptures, we will be worthy of His Spirit to assist us.  We study them together as well as separately and it is a sweet thing to feel the warm and comforting Spirit of the Holy Ghost as He touches our hearts to testify of the truthfulness of what we read.  The scriptures are comforting, they inspire us keep the commandments and to stay close to the Lord.

We will close.  We love and miss you. For now we say, 
Bahree gishyr  (Good night or have a good night!)
Elder and Sister Eyre


  1. Wow that post was awesome. Love to hear all about the food, transportation, living conditions and see all the pictures. I have such a better picture of armenia and your life there now and am very humbled as well. Mom when did you become such a comedian. I could help but laugh out loud so many times in that post at your description of things!!! Very cute!! We'll as always cant wait to hear more about your expirences there. We love and are so proud of you and pray that heavenly father will bless you both in all the work and sacrifice you are doing!!

  2. Thank you for documenting all this! It's so fascinating, seeing where you live, what you're doing, what the country looks like. This blog will make a wonderful book for you to print out at the end of this. I know you'll do awesome- I've always felt you two have such strong spirits and the people there are lucky to have you!

  3. Fun to see all the pictures and read your descriptions of everything! Very detailed, felt like I was there! (feeling your hunger and feeling not very clean after your long shower!!) LOL!! So proud of you guys!! Love you!!

  4. Wow! What an experience you are having! I am just a wee bit jealous :)

    It sounds like you will have your hands full!

    Love the food pictures--they look about like the food I make when I can't think of something to cook...

    Sarah M