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)