We have a little balcony which we showed in a previous blog entry. We were standing out there when midnight came and we watched a spectacular show all around us. Everyone had fireworks and they were going off all over the town. It almost sounded like gunfire! We went out on the balcony and all of the people across the street were on their balcony and both sides started to set off fireworks toward each other! It was neat to watch but kind of scary too!
Armenians really take seriously this time of year and the celebrations start on New Year's but go on for about 13 days, which includes January 6th - their Christmas day. They clean their houses and begin to put the food out for when company comes. They start to visit at midnight New Year's and all through the next week. The food stays out, even the meat! It is important for them to have lots of food and when you visit their house, you are expected to eat all they give you. In a later blog we will have to show pictures and share with you the different foods they have here. Very different than anything in America. Everything tastes very different even though it may be the same product we know - like milk, O.J. butter, jello, juice, canned good or frozen foods.
For those of you who are in the Kennewick Mission, here is our friend Mher who is presently serving in that mission as of Jan. 13. This is a picture the night he was set apart by the Mission President. Here is him and his family, President Carter and a friend from London and Elder Eyre. Mher is third from left.
This is his two brothers with him on the right.
They are such a neat family. This is the fourth missionary from that family. We were excited to get here and find that an Armenian is called to serve in our hometown! He has been assigned to Richland!
Our humanitarian couple (Elder & Sister Rich) took us to the village where they helped the villagers build a water pipe through town so that they could get running water. Before that they had to go a long ways to bring water to their homes. There is just a spigot that they now use but it is so much more convenient for them, they feel so appreciative of the Rich's. It was so interesting for us to see this little town and the humble homes and the gratitude of the people there. Below you can see the little village in the distance.
The name of that little village we are going to and is just ahead in this picture is called Saralanj.
Here is the spigot where they get their water for their homes. It is by the mayor's office. The inscription is a tribute to our Church for this project that has blessed the lives of hundreds of residents in this little village. They just couldn't thank the Rich's enough on behalf of the Church!!
Looking up the street from the Mayor's office and we start to see the houses. We are walking up the streets of Saralanj.
Lots of snow and cold as we make our way up a street to the mayor's house.
Elder Eyre bringing up the rear, after inspecting a spot in the road where they had killed a chicken for their dinner. These are three houses in a row on his left.
These homes are not insulated and only heated by a little wood stove inside.
We are just approaching the mayor's house.
This is the mayor's shed used as cold storage for his fruits and vegetables from his summer garden and orchard. He gave a sackful of apples and pears (which were a lot crisper and sweeter than in the store). As he doesn't have much to begin with, it was humbling to have him give so much!
Eric, our Armenian driver with the mayor's wife over his shoulder and Suzie (in black boots), our translator, conversing with the Mayor's wife. See the quilts on the line?
The Mayor on the left with his wife and Elder Rich (who headed up this humanitarian project) and he is greatly loved by all in the village. The mayor position is not a political position as he volunteered to help his village and doesn't get paid.
Another home as we headed out of the village.
Below are two pictures of a typical Armenia cemetery.
On our way back to Yerevan, we stopped in a little town called Aparan for some fresh baked bread right out of the oven (see below). This place is known for its unique breads which if you look inside this one you can see some round bread stuck on the inner wall cooking.
This picture shows him using two poles with hooks on the ends as he grabs a cooked loaf (something less than five minutes.)
We love missionary work and have been able to go with the missionaries to their discussions and to help teach and testify. It has been the highlight of what we do. We love our office work but missionary work - talking, getting to know people, teaching and sharing the gospel is a privilege and opportunity we shall never forget.
As we come to know the people here we come to love them dearly. As we taught recently in a couple's home, we should like to describe what we witnessed. Their apartment is very small with little furnishings. There is very old furniture. They have a room with a table, a couch next to it, a couple of chairs, there is a curtain that divides that room from the kitchen. There is a small wood burning 2 ft deep by 16 inch square stove that has a pipe that goes up and across the room and out the hole in the window.
While we were there we noticed the daughter (who along with her husband and little 9 month old baby boy who lives with them), bringing in a bucket of water. She put a heating element in it and left. (It is used to heat the water). A short time later the wife came and got the bucket and took it into the kitchen. It was at that time that we realized that they had no water in their apartment! Wow, were we humbled!
Two days ago, In the afternoon, I rode with Elder Eyre as Ruben took us in the mission van to pick up Elder and Sister Watkins who are the Employment specialists, in Charentsavan where they were teaching a workshop. We had to bring them and their tables back, along with their interpreter. I had never been there and I was very impressed with the little city. It is easy to see how beautiful it may be in the summer. There are actually pine trees (only a few though). The little place they call their chapel was humble. Their branch president is somewhat young and in a wheelchair. He is very nice and has one of the poorest branches in Armenia. He is always coming to see if we have extra clothes or shoes or coats for the people of his branch. You see, when the missionaries leave to go home, most of them leave their clothes here. Problem is that they are mostly Elders, many are bigger than the small Armenian men and most of the clothes are white shirts and dark suits - which are too big and the shoes are also too big. I know that when I leave, I will be happy to leave my clothes and shoes behind for some Armenian women to use.
We love our work and we love each of you and hope that you recognize how blessed you are with the things that you enjoy and may possibly take for granted. We know that we sure did while living at home.
The people here are kind and we feel safe and we are happy to learn about their way of life and see how humble they are in circumstances that we could only imagine. They are very family oriented, very close as families and wonderful to get to know!
Have a great week. We are happy and healthy and enjoying serving the Lord in this part of the world!
We love you.
Elder and Sister Eyre