Sunday, July 1, 2012

Last blog we told you we would share with you our Senior Council trip to the country of Georgia.  We traveled there with the Mission President and his wife and all senior couples.  There is one senior couple who serve in Georgia so they hosted us.

The first day we got there we headed straight for McDonalds.  The only American food in all of our mission!  We were excited to eat American food, even though some of us didn't care much for McDonalds at home!  It did taste good, the french fries, a real shake and an apple or cherry pie!!  Wow! What we take for granted at home!

A little bit about Georgia - it was once a republic in the Soviet Union but became an independent nation in 1991.  Ethnic Georgians constitute a majority of the population.  The official language is Georgian, one of the oldest languages in the world.  Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia.  Everywhere you look on the landscape is a church.  Christianity was first preached by the apostles Simon and Andrew in the first century and became the state religion in 327, making Georgia the second oldest Christian country after Armenia.  Here is a sample of what the Georgian written language looks like:
IT IS DIFFICULT TO LEARN.  Our Georgian missionaries (10 of them) are exceptional young men.  We are proud of them.  We are also happy that a new area was just dedicated and opened up in Georgia!  The Book of Mormon has yet to be translated in Georgian (is in the process), but the missionary pamphlets have just been translated and so are in use there!

The Georgia senior couple then showed us around the city of Tbilisi where we were able to enjoy what they call the Tbilisi Stonehenge which has been under construction for many years.  When you see it, you will know why it has taken so long:

Here are all of us Senior Couples minus the one Elder who is taking the picture.  We are from left to right - office couple (us), Humanitarian couple, Mission Leadership Support, Area Auditor's wife because he is taking the picture, the Elder in the black coat in the middle back and his wife front right are the Georgia couple who are Humanitarian/Welfare, Area Employment, CES couple and Mission President and his wife.

I hope this helps to give perspective to the massive columns - which are about 65 feet high!  Each panel on all four sides of each column have 1inch thick copper plates that are moldings of a scene and then attached to the column.  Each scene is made up of several copper plates. They depict the life of Christ from the different biblical stories. It was really fun to try and figure out which biblical story was portrayed on each of the panels.

We will show four of them and you can figure out what the story is:

This is what they call Khinkali.  It is made with a dough that is pinched at the top and boiled.  Inside is either cheese, meat or potato.  It is a Georgian food.  You are supposed to pick it up with your fingers at the top pinched part, which you normally don't eat.  You take a bite and then suck out the juice without spilling even a drop on your plate.  Then eat the rest except the top part.  It is very good actually!  We like it.
In Georgia they have the best lemonade.  This happens to be made with pear.  It is very very good!

 Every morning we went walking and hiking for exercise.  Our host took us and showed us around.  The first morning we took off to see the mother of Georgia statue that overlooks the city of Tbilisi.  The next few pictures shows you some of what we saw on our walk.

 This shows some of the interesting ways they build in this city.  Makes you wonder how they got that car in there?  The pipe going across is a gas line.  You will often see it along the roadways from one house to another.
 On our way to the top I took this picture because it shows how they built this apartment right up next to the rock of the mountain.

These buildings with the domes are Turkish baths - said to have healing powers.  Larry thought it was interesting and it wasn't expensive but decided he didn't want to try one!

Here is the hiking crew (Joan taking the picture) and two of the wives walking down at the city level who didn't want to hike. From left the Area Auditor and wife, Georgia Senior Elder and host, MLS Senior Elder, CES Senior Elder, Elder Eyre.  We made it to the top where the statue of the Mother of Georgia is, overlooking the city of Tbilisi.

Here she is with a smile on her face.

This gives you perspective as to how tall she is!

 From the top looking down here is a partial view of the city in the early morning.  The Trinity Church in the distance.

Night view where you can see the Trinity Church lit up.  To the left of the church is the Capitol building and has glass dome.

This is looking down on another part of the city.  If you look closely you can see a man on top of a statue.  It is in front of the tree at the end of the cliff on the left.  To the right is the Metekhi Church.  
We were fascinated at how close to the edge they place these buildings on the cliff!

See the cliffs at night with the lights shining at the cliff rocks!

This is the dedication site where Georgia was dedicated on March 1999 by Elder Jeffrey Holland for the preaching of the gospel to the Georgian people.  He blessed the land and by June a missionary couple was sent to Georgia where they assisted the Georgian Women for Peace and Life organization to relieve the suffering through the donation of clothing, food and medical supplies. They also taught English.  Today there continues to be a Humanitarian couple there.

On the hill is the ruins of Narikala - an impregnable fortress founded in the 4th century.  It was  destroyed by an earthquake in 1827. The surviving stone towers are silent witnesses of the ancient city's history.  The fortress contains St. Nicholas temple dated in the 12th century.  It was reconstructed in 1996.
Don't you love these cobblestone streets?  This is the walk to the next site - Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

 On the way we see this lady in an outside shop making Georgian bread in a very hot oven.  It is hot outside too!  She just throws the dough along the side until it is done, then it is taken out and put on the shelves for someone to buy.  See below.  It has a different shape than bread in Armenia.  It is good!

 Here we are in front of the old Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.  It is fascinating inside.
 Another view of this Cathedral.
 Nearby is a water closet (see the W)  Can you tell which is the men's and which is the women's?

In Georgia they have shepherd who are known for wearing hats like this. It looks very similar to the wigs we wore when I was a kid!   The men had to try it out.  You have to pay this guy who owns the shop to be able to put on his wares and take pictures.  See his shop below:
Here he is with our Mission President.  He was very kind.  We don't speak the language and nobody with us could either.  We are getting really good at charade's.  You can see the Georgian flag, the shepherd's vest & hats.  To the left are scarfs made out of cloth that is wool/felt like.  I will have to find out what it is called for sure.

We saw many other cathedrals, monastery's and church's but we will not include them here.  We will just show you a few interesting sites we saw:

This is typical of a market place for just about anything.  It is called a Bazaar.  This part is candy and pastry!  Everywhere you look!  It is a good thing I don't like hard candy!

 This is the section for bulk spices, herbs, grains etc.

 This is the meat market.

 This is the street market where you can find almost anything you want to buy. On the right is paintings.

 Here is the Mission President and the work crew taking a break.  You can't miss them in those colors!

Many shops have murals on the walls.

 Looking down one of the streets.  Georgia has many architectural wonders and much is reflective of French and Italian architecture.  It is a more modern city than we have in Armenia.

 At one of the parks they are building there are fun things to do like playing life-size chess.  Here are two Georgian boys playing chess.

 These are typical brooms in Armenia as well as in Georgia.  Larry thinks he wants to bring one home.  Can you just picture him in the airport begging to bring it on the plane because it doesn't fit in the suitcase?  The big one is nothing more than a weed tied up but it is tough.  It works!  The flat one is great for sweeping sidewalks.  They use the big one for street sweeping and we never saw it fall apart or bits and pieces break away.  It really does a job!

Larry and the Mission President trying to keep cool on a hot day at this Georgian park.

The highlight of the trip was the Senior Council Meeting where we ended with a testimony meeting after we saw the movie "Only a StoneCutter" the story of John Rowe Moyle - one man's sacrifice to build the House of the Lord.  We have watched it before but each time it really inspires us and I cry all the way through it.  Some who have sacrificed so much to serve the Lord is always motivating to watch.

In our testimony meeting each person bore their testimony and it was such a very spiritual meeting.  It was one of those meetings where the Spirit is strong and you feel so grateful to be a member of the Church where you can enjoy meetings where the Spirit touches you deeply.  We got to know each other in a very special way and where we all share testimonies of this work and the importance of loving and helping the people of these two great countries.

A further unspoken testimony is to see all of us senior couples who share such diverse backgrounds, locations and lives who come together as instant friends for we share a common love of the Savior and desire to be doing His work.  We had great fun together and now have this experience to carry with us the rest of our lives.  Throughout the days together, as we mixed and mingled, we shared bits of our personal lives with each other as you are wont to do as you see something that reminds you of a thing back home or with your family.  Through this way we got to know each other as if we were of the same family and in truth we really are as we are all His children.  What an experience this mission is to us as we have grown in more ways than we knew possible, given our calling as the office couple.

We have have come to know with more conviction that the Savior died for us and through the Atonement we can return to be with him and our Heavenly Father.  We hope that a little of this can be felt by each of you as you have gone on this journey with us if not by pictures only.  You are in our thoughts and prayers always.

We love you,
Elder & Sister Eyre

1 comment:

  1. Joan, thanks so much for sharing your mission. I really enjoy your fotos and comments. I'm still working on getting fotos into my blog posts. AND still trying to find time to write. Your posts are motivation for me to keep at it.