Apologies to those who have been faithfully reading about our days in Armenia. Day 3 – Saturday, Sep 17 was a blessed but long day. I don’t want another day to go by without writing a few words and once we are back home I will continue to post about our experiences.
Saturday had been reserved for our trip to Spitak for a baptismal service. Our trip to Spitak was an adventure it self. Dad and I had the impression that the baptismal service was scheduled for 1 p.m. but we forgot that we were dealing with missions in Armenia. Nothing is organized in the sense that we know in Canada. Rather then heading to Spitak first thing in the morning we instead drove around picking up last minute things for the day. Our first stop was to pick up a video camera from a friend of Arayik’s who’s been very successful by Armenian standards as a mime and children’s entertainer. From there we picked up Arayik’s family where we found out that two of his three children and his niece were to be baptised. This is truly a blessing.
Once we were on the way we stopped by a large grocery which is comparable to large American grocery chain stores. I was amazed at the bounty they have unfortunately few can afford the luxuries. Many borrow money to buy food to serve us but there is no way we can refuse what is put in front of us. Armenian’s are very hospitable and refusing to drink or eat is an insult. We bought enough chicken to feed everyone that was to be part of the baptismal service.
The road to Spitak is very mountainous and the fields are dry due to the lack of rain this summer. The countryside is quiet similar to what you would see in North America except for the fact that the history behind the churches and areas are so much older and more significant then anything that we have. On the way we had one more stop and that way to get petrol, that in itself is an adventure. It took almost 30 minutes to fill that tank. Yup, you heard correctly 30 minutes.
Once again we were on our way it has been such a blessing getting to know Arayik’s family. His wife and children are warm and loving. They are filled with God’s love. The 2 hour trip passed quickly as we laughed, shared stories and compared languages.
In Spitak we stopped at sister Sveta’s home (sister and brother as used for all believers here) while Arayik continued to Stephanavan to pick up a van full of believers. The round trip to Stephanavan is 2 houts. Sister Sveta is originally from Georgia, her husband was a missionary as well who died years ago in a work related accident. She raised two young boys on her own. She is a beautiful woman filled with the Holy Spirit.
|left: Nellie (Arayik’s wife) and Sister Sveta from Spitak|
While Arayik was picking up people in Stepanavan a van that would never make it out of a junk yard came to pick us up. When the doors opened the van was filled and yet they made room for 5 more. There were 19 of us in a 12 passenger van. There were a couple standing and a few sitting on each other.
But as before there was laughter during the trip to the baptismal site. Everyone was excited and chatting away. We drove up and down one strip of ‘highway’ looking for the right place to stop by the river.
Most of the villages including Spitak have lost their men to large cities and to Russia, these men are looking for work. The men that have remained are young boys, men who have just finished their military service and very old men. There is a very obvious gap. Young men here are so much more mature then men their age in North America. They have a maturity that comes with responsibility.
The young men finally found a spot by the river that had a picnic table and a clearing that would allow them to build a fire to cook the chicken. We unloaded the van and the men started to collect wood for the fire while the women prepared things for the baptismal service. It was another one hour before Arayik arrived with the rest of the group from Stepanavan. By this time is was almost 5ish. My poor dad. For those who know him you must be chuckling. Can’t you just see him glancing at his watch and pacing. I had to keep reminding him that we were in Armenia and things were just different here.
The time passed quickly as dad and I were embraced by the community of believers that were gathered for the baptismal service. I was blessed by their generosity and love.
I need to close now as they are waiting for me to get going my solemn word that no matter what time I arrive tonight I will catch up with my posts.
To be continued…