It's taking long to upload photos but I was finally able to update our Facebook photo album to include yesterday's photos. Please check again tomorrow for today's photos. In the meantime...
SO MUCH happened today that I could write pages and pages about it all. I'll try to keep it brief, though. In the morning, Pastor Tigran, his son Timothy and I went to see a lady from the Horom church who, along with her friend Suzanne, bakes fresh lavash (mainly for their families) in their own little production centre -- a room off Suzanne's home where the dough is prepared and then another building that houses a special fire pit for flash-baking the flat bread. It was fascinating to watch these women's hands working quickly and efficiently and to see this delicious bread made in such poor conditions. I was able to take video of the process and look forward to sharing that with you.
After being loaded up with lavash to take home with us, we got ready for a trip to Gyumri, the second-largest city in Armenia, one that was devastated by the 1988 earthquake. Among my photos are two buildings in particular that I want to share later -- one a half-collapsed commercial building with huge chunks of the structure dangling precariously with no barriers around it and another that used to be a five-star eleven-storey hotel. All that is left is the skeleton of the first five or so floors.
In Gyumri, we first visited the parents of Valya, Pastor Tigran's wife, and we had the pleasure of hearing the "duduk" (a small traditional Armenian flute) played by Vahe, the young man who drove us to Gyumri. I will later share a video of that, too!
Afterward, we visited a family of young people who had lost both their parents many years ago, when the eldest girl was just 12 and the youngest was just a few years old. Three siblings took care of each other, with some help from relatives and friends, but the little boy became sick and he continues to grow worse. He is 17 years old but looks no older than 10 because his little body, somewhat deformed, just can't grow. Sadly, the doctors give him only a few more years to live. It was heartbreaking to see the hardships these young people have endured but it was also heartwarming to see the selfless love and care they have for each other. The two elder siblings are both recently married and their spouses also help as a bigger family.
We explored Gyumri a little and then had a bite to eat before heading back to Horom. After a nap (I was so exhausted and overheated that I slept for well over an hour!) we paid a quick visit to Pastor Tigran's mother and his brother's family and then went to see a woman who is battling an illness that has caused a severe injury to her spine and left her alarmingly thin. I was honoured to be able to offer her (as well as the young siblings we'd seen earlier) a gift on behalf of Joseph Hovsepian Ministries.
We ended the day with a simple spaghetti dinner (a big relief after being served fruit throughout the day) and tea made from leaves from the Muradyan's garden (yum!) and I am ready to call it a day. Whew!
I have not been able to speak to Pastor Joseph since we split up yesterday so I'm not sure what his activities were today but we'll try to report on that soon.
THANK YOU all so much for your continued prayers. We are seeing the results everywhere we go here. And the people we've been able to reach out to in Armenia -- especially in Horom -- are very grateful for your support and prayers. Believe me when I say they are in no way taking any of it for granted. They are wonderful, humble people.
That's it for now. Thanks for reading!