Day 1 – Visitations
My day started off with a bang. Literally! I was woken from
the dead a deep sleep by an annoying sound. The phone. I rolled out of bed and didn’t take into account how low the bed was, so I land on my behind. I scrambled to my feet and stumbled in the pitch black trying to remember where I’d seen the phone the night before. On the desk? Nope! On the night table? Nope! Oh wait, there was another night table on the other side of the bed and that’s where the phone is. Stubbed my toe on the bed in the process of lunging for the phone.
“Are you awake?”
Dad replies, “Well, you are now, you’re talking with me.”
Sigh… this is my doing I told him that I probably would be awake early since I am every other day. I didn’t take into account the change in time and that I would only fall asleep at 4 a.m. local time. So dad called at 7 a.m. to let me know that he was up and whenever I was ready we’d head for breakfast.
A quick shower and I was ready to face the day. Don’t let me fool you my brain was in a fog for the first half of the day.
Breakfast was very typical of Armenia – bread, local meats (yes, my favorite too – basterma), local cheeses and lots of fresh fruit. I’ve already picked up on the fact that women do not smile very readily. Dad tried to explain it by saying that they have horrible working and living conditions. I am on a mission. I will be kind and friendly to everyone I come into contact with. I want to make them feel special, make them feel loved. I started at breakfast by greeting one of the girls working in the dining room. She seemed surprised when I greeted her with “Paree louis” (good morning). As I sit in the lobby writing this entry the same girl is still working. I greet her, “Vonce ek?” (how are you in Eastern Armenian) she replies with a smile. I speak with her for a few minutes and find out that a typical day for her starts at 8 a.m. and finishes at 10 p.m., it’s 11:36 p.m. and she is still serving guests. She has stayed behind to look after a group of guests. This is a tough place to live. Long days and no days off.
After breakfast we met with Arayik, our local missionary, he is such a servant of the Lord. He has given his life to the Lord’s work. We chatted for a while catching up on local happenings and passing along your greetings. Arayik will be our guide during our stay. I am looking forward to getting to know him and his Armenia.
Our first stop was The Armenian Brotherhood Church of Yerevan to visit with Pastor Hovhaness Halladjian, Pastor Hovhaness started this church 13 years ago. Here is a pastor who knows what it means to be a servant and shepherd. He speaks Armenian, Greek, English and Turkish. If you understand Armenian you can listen to his sermons and his singing on his church website. Dad will be teaching at their Christian Leadership Center on Saturday, Sep 24 and will also be preaching on Sunday, Sep 25. We had great fellowship over a tasty meal of kebab.
|left to right: Arayik, dad and Hovhaness|
|left to right: dad, me, Hovhaness and Dadik (Grandma in Armenian)|
Unfortunately, we needed to leave but knowing we would be back made it easier. Our next stop was at the Bible Society office in Yerevan. Dad wanted bought New Testaments to give to all who are getting baptised on Saturday, Sep 17 in Spitak.
|left to right: Susannah the Bible Society representative in Yerevan, Arayik and dad|
It was 3 p.m. and Arayik’s wife Nellie was waiting for us. We quickly headed to the van and headed for their apartment. But no one had planned for a flat tire. We thank God it happened in the city today and not on Saturday while driving to Spitak. After the garage replaced the flat with the spare we were once again on our way to meet Nellie and the children.
|Getting our flat repaired|
Nellie is a woman filled with the holy spirit. She is true help-mate to Arayik. Together they visit and minister in villages. Nellie is someone I wish I could get to know better then our time permits. When she speaks I cannot look away from her. Her face reflects the peace in her heart. Her voice is soft almost a whisper yet when she speaks she commands your attention. Arayaik and Nellie have 3 grown children. Their only daughter is an accomplished singer who sang for us an Armenian ballad.
|left to right: Leia, dad, me, Arayik, Nellie|
We had to take our leave our family was expecting us at 7 p.m. After a quick stop at our hotel we went back to the center of Yerevan, to the apartment of my dad’s cousin Dikranouhi. Her apartment is steps away from Yerevan’s Opera House.
Food. Food. Food. Armenians are known for their hospitality. Within minutes of your arrival food and drink is placed in front of you. Dikranouhi was so excited to finally meet the little girl in the picture she has of me where I am sitting on my dad’s shoulders. Hey! I was a year old and at the time I could still sit on dad’s shoulders.
I could hear the table groaning under the weight of the food. I dared not look away without Dikranouhi putting some food on my plate. That is also very typical of Armenians here. Guests get their food served by the hostess, it’s an honor. And I was honored. Very honored. This hospitality is missing in North America. I want to bring that back with me. This is a tradition that I want to pass on to my children.
|left to right: Vahag, Dikranouhi, Marianne
Dikranouhi is my dad’s cousin and Vahag is her son and Marianne her daughter-in-law
|left to right: Sonia, Hovig, dad and me
Hovig is dad’s cousin (Dikranouhi’s sister) and Sonia is his youngest daughter
It was after 11 p.m. when our taxi finally dropped us off at our hotel. I look forward to Monday evening when all the Hovsepians will be getting together for dinner. There will be approximately 20 of us.
Tomorrow we will be meeting Arayik in the morning and continuing our visits.