Today was our day to visit Horom and it was unforgettable. As I'd mentioned before, I'll be staying here for three nights but Pastor Joseph is back in Yerevan. He'll do two days of ministry with Arayik and then return to Horom with a group on Wednesday, not only to pick me up but for us to enjoy an outing and fellowship with a few dozen villagers. Of course, I'll be able to give more detailed reports about my time in Horom than what's happening in Yerevan but I'll try to get updates from Dad somehow and fill you in.
In the meantime, a brief report on today's activities...
After the two-hour drive from Yerevan to Horom, we started the day with worship in the newly renovated church. The contrast between the ramshackle building we saw last year and where we worshiped today is truly remarkable. And the church members are nearly giddy with joy over this miracle they have experienced. They prayed for 12 years for someone to come along and help them--no doubt learning about trust and patience in the process--and then, without even the subtlest of hints from the church's pastor or members, our team decided to take on the project. What an honour to share in these people's joy!
I should mention that today was the first day I sat in church and listened to a cow mooing outside. There was one tied behind the next-door store. I can only assume the store sells fresh milk! :)
After the service, we all drove about 10 minutes to reach the site for the baptismal service. Five had asked for baptism but two had to cancel (one had a sick baby and the other was ready to go into labour). Interestingly enough, two others who had recently made commitments to follow Christ took their place. There were three young men and two women who were baptized. But this was no ordinary baptism...
Someone in town who has a small pool in their backyard agreed to let the church use the yard for the baptismal service. Now, we're not talking about your typical North American pool. This cement pool, dug right into the ground, was probably not more than 10 x 15 feet and only about waist or chest deep. Rather than have those being baptized enter and leave the pool one by one, Pastor Joseph had them all stand in the pool together and then step out as they took turns being baptized.
After the baptisms, as some of us stood around talking, an elderly lady approached Pastor Joseph and challenged him with a question, stating that she was an atheist. By the end of their conversation, she seemed much less cynical and even suggested that she might become a believer yet -- perhaps she was a lost sheep (her words).
On our way back to the church, where we were going to have communion, Pastor Tigran asked if we could stop to visit a family in need of encouragement. When we walked through the metal gates (the homes here are generally walled and gated), my mouth nearly fell open. Instead of a house, there were two metal, rusty trailers. In fact, one wasn't even a trailer. It was basically a container with a door and a couple of windows. In this container lives a lovely single mother and her three preteens. They have almost nothing in their home, which is basically one room and a bit of a nook when you first walk in. And yet this threadbare home was immaculately clean and tidy, the children were scrubbed and groomed (and so charming!) and the mother was unassuming and soft-spoken. We were able to offer her a donation and I'm pretty sure I noticed one of her daughters rubbing tears out of her eyes.
When we exited the trailer/container, I couldn't take it anymore and started to cry. This dear woman, whose husband left her several years ago, used to receive help from her father but he is now ill and can't help. She is alone and in dire straits and yet she simply smiled graciously and didn't complain about her lot. Please pray for this woman and her children.
After the communion service, we regrouped at Pastor Tigran's home for supper and fellowship, after which the Yerevan group returned to the city. I've been taking it easy this evening and visiting with Pastor Tigran's family, slowly opening up and definitely practicing my Armenian! The window in my room opens up to the side garden where there are five new beehives. Now and then I can hear them busily buzzing. Earlier in the evening I heard another cow lowing and a rooster give a half-hearted cock-a-doodle. It's so interesting to hear country noises!
We have a few tentative plans for the next couple of days but I'll know more in the morning. Stay tuned for more news from Armenia! Those of you who are enthusiastically following our posts: THANK YOU! I can't begin to tell you how much it means to us that so many people care. God bless you!
I really wanted to share some photos from today but I'm having trouble uploading them. I will try again tomorrow or else post them after I'm back in Yerevan. Thanks for understanding! I'm just glad I have a wifi thingy so I can get online and post this update. :)