The Stream

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Morning before school:

Becket: "Is what Gretchen is wearing modest mom?"

Me: "Well, yes, because it isn't spaghetti straps, nor straps for that matter.  I don't have a problem with it."

Micah: "What's modesty?"

Me: " It's where you cover up your body so you're not showing so much skin"

2 hrs later in Target.......

Micah: "I just love my new hiking shoes.  Uh, Mom, I have to tell you something." She gets real quiet. "How do I say this, it's kind of embarrassing....but your shoes are really immodest." I glance at my sandals.  " They are showing a lot of skin!"

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Human Connections

Friday was our last day in Armenia.  Our mission took us to the orphanage and a medical eye clinic about 40mins south of Yerevan.

At the orphanage, we met kids with all sorts of disabilities. If you remember from my earlier post, disabilities and handicaps are frowned upon in Armenia.  I think the Armenian people have so many hardships, that having a disability in the family would be the straw that broke the camels back. That's why this orphanage has provided for these children, at least until they're 18.

We traveled with a gal from LA, Debra,  and Christina and her daughter, from Provo, but originally from Armenia.  They had made blankets to take to the kids. Suzie was also there in the long dress, she was our interpreter. The outside of the building looks a tad rough, but the inside was in good shape.





Our church provided materials for the gazebo in the picture. That was installed 2yrs ago to give the wheel chair bound kids a place to enjoy the outdoors.




Look how happy she is to have a bit of Mat's attention.




These girls were so sweet.  They just looked at you with bright smiles that wouldn't go away.




Later on, we found the older kids at a party singing some serious karaoke.  They we're loving life and wanted us to come dance. I regret not always loving life this enthusiastically, as these kids do.


We continued on further south to visit the southern eye clinic.  I forgot the doctor's name, but her dad was the mayor of the county and he was able to build his daughter, the ophthalmologist, this clinic. It was a nice clinic.  The church also donated some equipment that was supposed to be there for Mat to train her on, but the equipment is probably taking a nap in some airport waiting to be delivered.  However, Mat was able to help her with a child patient she didn't know how to diagnose. She wanted Mat to operate on him right then and there, but without heavy anesthesia, it would be rather traumatizing for the child.



As custom would have it,  the doctor always likes to set up a nice thank you.  This time she had local apricot nectar, fresh strawberries, chocolates and pastries. Oh my! The strawberries had tasted like they had just been picked. Also, she and her staff didn't have any patients that day, but they ALL came in, scrubs ironed, ready to greet us.


Afterwards, Erik dropped off the Stones and took Mat and I to the genicide memorial.  This is where Turkey took over Armenia for fear they were getting to strong and educated.  They killed millions. I know there are books out about it, I'll have to read them (if I dare).


Erik told us that the flowers encircle this area all year long, but on April 25th, you'll find them stacked up to human size. That is the day they remember their ancestors who were killed in the attacks.



The view of Yerevan from the memorial


After the memorial, Erik told us he would take us wherever we wanted to go. No plans.  He then asked us where we were going for dinner that night and I joked and said, "Your house." After I said his house, he quickly replied, "Okay." I back pedaled quickly into explaining that was another one of my jokes Erik, total American humor!  He looked at me and said, "I'm serEous." in his Armenian accent. (The senior missionaries bragged about his mom's cooking on many occasions   They also told us if you ever ask Erik where the best place to eat in Yerevan is, he always answers, "My moms." )

Off we went to Erik's home, a 2 bedroom apartment home.  When we got there, the women (Erik's mom, her sister, and daughter) were all busy cooking.  Erik and his dad moved the kitchen table into the middle of the living room to have more seating. I felt this embarrassing feeling come over me, seeing all the trouble they had gone to to make us comfortable.

And here is this beautiful meal sitting in front of me.  Lavash bread, another flat bread, apricot nectar   refreshing cherry juice, pickled vegetables, cheeses, 3 cold salads and 2 hot dishes. I wanted to cry. I didn't deserve the fuss.


After dinner, Erik's father shared his beautiful testimony about belonging to the church. He also told us how he had sacrificed his good job in Russia as a painter, to move back to Armenia.  Members were encouraged to return back to their roots and build up the church there, so that's what his father did.  He earns way less, but he says he is happy.


We flew out the following morning at 4AM. What an experience.  This whole week, my thoughts have drifted back to Yerevan; walking down my flights of stairs in my house vs their flights of stairs to get up to their apartment, eating my waxy vegetable vs their fresh ones, making my bread in an oven vs their bread in a fire pit, my stressful over scheduled comfortable convenient American soil vs their simple, family centered, survival cigarette Armenian soil.  Yerevan was a good reset for me, something I believe I should do a couple times a year.

(Thank you Bob and Andrea for taking the kids for a week and Aunt Tiff and Uncle Casey for taking them on the weekend. Also, my mom and Dannielle for housing them for a bit. We couldn't have done it without you)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Military Holiday X 2 Ancient Attractions X2 Donkeys X 2 Gelato X 2

There are many holidays in Armenia to honor all of the history their people have gone through. There are almost holidays every week because the Armenians seem to turn the Christian cheek and not fight back. I think this particular holiday we were here for is when Turkey started to invade Armenia again during World War II.

Because they were having a holiday, we decided to take our own holiday. If there was one thing I wanted to see during my stay in Armenia it was the monastery at Geghard.  It is architechually carved out of the adjacent mountain.  Love it! Just looking at the pictures online, I couldn't imagine what it would be like in person. Here are some pictures from our drive up.



Upon our arrival to Geghard or any destination, you will always find the women selling their dried fruits, breads and something they call the American snickers, except healthier (dried grape juice over walnuts).


There were also three men to welcome us on their musical instruments.  Welcome us as in, do you have a tip? And, we did.


On to Geghard....


Mat and Erik laughing about something.  He was pretty fun to joke and hang around with.  The van rides were the best, because of his cute accent and crazy driving.  I enjoyed giving him a hard time.




It had many rooms for the priests to pray in.  Some of the monastery was carved out of the mountain and the other half was man made.




Beehives sit just above us in this picture.




A room where you can sing and acoustics will carry it.  The Readings sounded like a whole choir was singing.








Pomegranates and grapes are carved into the structure just above the door. These fruits are plentiful in their country.





A tree for making wishes, even though the sign on the tree says to clearly not do it. The people come and tie bits of cloth onto the branches and dream.


Again, a place to sacrifice the animals.




Pretty rushing river that only adds to beauty of this place.


On our way out we grabbed some of this goodness from heaven.  It's bread with a layer of butter and sugar slabbed in the middle.  Oh. My.

Amazing bread

Just down the road is the Garni temple. Garni Temple dates back to the 1st century, if not earlier--so far back, in fact, that it predatesArmenia's conversion to Christianity. The temple was originally dedicated to Helios, the God of the sun. Its first modern excavation took place in the early 20th century. 

Garni Temple



Hopefully I have my story straight, but they originally had this christian church (below) and when it fell down and they started to rebuild, that's when they discovered the Garni temple.



Notice the shear, cracky cliffs! Those were breath taking.


We stopped and admired them for quite sometime.


I may have admired him too! The younger one. Geez.


On the same site, they also discovered ancient Roman bathhouses. The Armenians basically got a two for one deal here when they started to excavate.



I stopped to play the world known game of peek-a-boo with a little gal who was all dressed up for her outing. This was the only way we could communicate.



A favorite snack is the bitter, unripe, plums and apricots.  I think I mentioned it before.  Erik, was helping himself and also picked one for me to try.  Queue Armenian accent: "Don't bite into the seed, it's bitter. Just eat around it, like this," he explained.




I just smiled an told Erik that I'd give it the summer and then have another try.


Everyone needs a wolf skin.


Sister Reading packed a nice picnic lunch of salad, chips, made out of the lavish bread, salsa and pumpkin chocolate cookies. Chocolate chips were a sacrifice in their eyes because they have to be special ordered from America.



Notice the place where we're sitting.  It's a pull off to change the oil or fix your car. Maybe you can't see it from way down there.


We watched the donkeys and the cars go by




Later that night, we ate at this Georgian restaurant that was likened to the 3 stooges in America. You can see them in the painting behind Mat.


We also got these strange looking donkeys and cowboys, I guess?, for the girls.  We believe this one compares to Napoleon Dynomite.


I had fun setting them up while I waited for my dinner.


We topped our bellies off with some gelato and walked back to our hotel.