Saturday, December 10, 2011

First week in December

Tonight is Monday and we just had a missionary discussion in our home with the missionaries.  It was with an older gentleman (about our age, so not that old, and I wish I could remember his name), who has been reading the Book of Mormon and who has a strong testimony of the truthfulness of it.  The Spirit was so sweet in the room as he spoke of how he felt while he reads the Book.  Larry and I were able to bear our testimonies in Armenian and that was special to us!  We listened to the discussion on the Restoration and could understand some of the words.  The missionaries would ask us questions throughout and we would answer our feelings and they would translate.

This was a special evening for us!  This is what it is all about - Spreading the gospel as the Savior taught it among men and watching people change and enjoy the blessings that come from obedience to the commandments.  The Lord really blesses them and they feel something they haven't felt before.  We want to do more of that because that will be the memories we will bring home in our hearts.

The first day we were here the President and his wife took us two couples around Yerevan to see some of the uniqueness of the city.  The first few pictures are of the Genocide Monument in Yerevan is a memorial complex dedicated to the memory of the one and one-half million Armenians who perished in the first genocide of the twentieth century, at the hands of the Turkish government as victims of the Armenian Genocide.

 This is the Genocide monument.  It is a solemn place to visit.  The Armenian people do not want to forget, and so the monument, but it is painful for them.  Between 1 and 1 1/2 million Armenians were massacred.  They were put in a situation they couldn't survive.  Consisting of forced marches under conditions designed to lead to their deaths in an effort to exterminate the Armenian people by the Turks.  Please take the time to see this short segment from "60 minutes" to learn about it at:  type this website address and you will better understand the issues around that event that happened in 1915.

 President Carter (in the hat) with Sister carter.  Elder Eyre on the left with the Griffiths in between.
Now the same, but with Sister Eyre added
Elder and Sister Eyre against the backdrop of part of the Genocide monument.

  This is a circular area that shelters the eternal flame memorizing all the victims of the Genocide; it stands as the Memorial Sanctuary. The eternal flame is housed under 12 tall, inward-leaning basalt slabs forming a circle. 
 There are a few flowers here but if you see that 60 minute segment you will see the hugh memorial event that takes place in April and how this place looks at that event.
Another shot of the eternal flame

 Here is Elder Eyre, Sister and Elder Griffiths and President and Sister Carter.

Elder Eyre cannot understand how these inward leaning walls can stand, so he is studying them.

A few feet away is this arrow-shaped monument of granite, 44 meters high, reaches to the sky, symbolizing the survival and spiritual rebirth of the Armenian people. Partly split vertically by a deep crevice, this tower symbolizes the tragic and violent dispersion of the Armenian people, and at the same time, expresses the unity of the Armenian people. 

The monument is on a hill looking out over the city of Yerevan.  

These next set of pictures are some artifacts and details on the grounds of the Genocide Memorial.

 At a tombstone I believe.  These letters are Armenian for B, I, T, L, I, S, but don't know what the word  means.  I is pronounced like a long e, so the word sounds like Beetlees.

 From the two parts of the monument shown in the background is the underground museum in the foreground

 This is President Carter turning back because the door to the museum is closed.  We will go another time. This is an underground museum with library & archive sections; an axial path leading to the central area of the monument that is paralleled with a 100 meters by 3 meters basal wall.
 These next set of pictures are of the Genocide Museum from the outside.   
You may notice the glass wall on the lower left which would be the viewing area from within 
the Museum. 

From the top you are looking down into this bowl and the wall with inscriptions of the names of the regions, towns and villages of Historic Western Armenia (the regions where the genocide occurred).

 On a good day you can see Mt. Ararat which is almost totally obscured here.  When we get a good picture on a clear day, we will show you how daunting it is.  Mount Ararat which is about 25 miles to the south is the mountain to which Noah is to have landed on the left flank near the top one third.  This mountain stands 17,000 feet high and is the single largest volume mountain in the world.  Mount Ararat rises from a plain at the 2000 foot level and is not part of a mountain range or chain.  It stands alone and is massive.  (No wonder it was chosen to be the place the ark landed!)  This picture does not do it justice - you just have to be here to appreciate its size (and I have been all over Mount Rainier in Washington).  
 This is the Cathedral of the Apostolic Church and is in the name of Gregory who was the main
force behind Armenian accepting Christianity in 301 A.D.  He healed the king who recognized him 
as a man of God and so declared Christianity the state religion.  The Armenians are predominately christians and are very proud of this legacy and heritage.

We are headed up to it.  Sister Eyre in the red coat.  Griffiths in front or behind (which ever way you look at it!)

 Not sure of who this is but this statue is typical of statues we see all over Yerevan who recognize and/or honor some hero.  This country has a rich history which is full of wars and struggles of the Armenian people who, like the Jews, have a cultural line and bloodline back to the time of Christ.  This statue is along the walkway up to the Cathedral.
Elder and Sister Griffiths, Sister Eyre and President and Sister Carter.  And you know who is taking the picture.
Most all Armenians belong to the Apostolic Church.  A little about the church: The Armenian Apostolic Church (In ArmenianՀայաստանեայց Առաքելական Եկեղեցի)is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities.   Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church. The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church traces its origins to the missions of Apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus in the 1st century.   
The official name of the Church is the One Holy Universal Apostolic Orthodox Armenian Church. We will explain at another time the story behind St. Gregory the illuminator!

A view from one side of the Cathedral and all of the jumbled metal and otherwise
appearance of a junk pile, are homes.  The country is generally poor with this 
economic state being more heightened since Armenia declared their independence from
Russia in 1991.  The unemployment rate is between 60 to 70%.

The next two pictures are from the same vantage point.  Can you see Mt. Ararat in the distance?

 Looking back down the steps that lead to the Cathedral toward some apartment complexes.  Apartment high rise complexes are all over the city.  We live in one.

 So you won't think this church is orange (the previous pictures are just before the sun set), here is the true color.
The inside of this Cathedral is wide open with the dome, seen above, being the central architecture
feature with a massive chandelier hanging down from it.  It is the center showpiece and draws the eye, which then can focus toward the front of the Cathedral and beautiful stained glass depictions of past events.

Sister Eyre speaking: Today is our preparation day and I am preparing to get over the head cold (I just acquired), at a fast pace!  I have things to do and cannot be bothered with this nonsense!  Hopefully tomorrow I will be fully recovered!  We are doing the wash, even though we have to do it all throughout the week because you can only hang so many clothes on the clothes line.  It takes 2 hours for the clothes to wash and 24 hours for them to get dry.  We don't hang them outside because there is a serious dark "fallout" in the air and remember Elder Eyre's shirts are white (at least when we got here).

Are you ready for some laughter?  Friday morning I was showering (or should I say I was under the trickle of water) when I turned around (with my eyes closed) and started to lose my balance a wee bit.  I grabbed the shower curtain (which is only up with a suspension rod) and it fell down. To keep the water from going out on the floor (which now that I think about it - just how much damage can a trickle do), I turned off the water and proceeded to put up the shower curtain.  Ok, I can't reach very high and so it will do until Elder Eyre can put it up higher.  I turned the water back on - (you have to understand something here - the water is usually either real hot or real cold. You turn on the hot water and then introduce the cold at a very miniscule amount or it will be cold).  Well, I turned it on and evidently turned it past the miniscule and found the water cold, which made me scream, just a little.  So, anyway I finished and reached for the towels... I forgot to put next to the tub.  (This is a very deep tub and I have to almost jump over it to get out).  I called for Elder Eyre to bring me my towels.  Ok, not so bad you say.  Then after getting dressed and putting on my "face" and "thinking" about doing my hair when all of a sudden the lights go out.  We were in the dark for awhile with our little flashlights.  We had decided that I would gather my things and we would go to the office where I could finish getting ready.  We are the earliest ones there by an hour and at this point it was two hours before we usually get there!  After I got my things all put together we started to head out (with my cold wet head) and suddenly the lights came back on!! Yeah!

So, you see, we are truly "campers".  I must say at this point, lest you feel sorry for us or think that what we share is "complaining" - I want to make this perfectly clear, we are  HAPPY campers.  We love being here and know we can accomplish many wonderful things with the Lord's help.  He does bless us every day and we know that these experiences we will cherish forever.  We love getting to know this place and  how the people feel and think.  They are wonderful and we love them!

I hope you enjoy seeing what we see and hearing what we experience.  We love you all very much!!

Elder and Sister Eyre

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