I am starting to have great compassion for the people here who are trying to learn English. For example, if you were using the alphabet, how would you sound out plumber. The "b" could be very confusing. We are finding the same problems with the Armenian language. :)
We were very excited this morning to find our water was on except for one little problem. When I reached under the sink to get the Tide to do laundry, the pipe that goes to the drain in the sink was just lying there. We have a double sink about the size of ones in a small camper. When my sweetheart had checked it out, both had rusted out. Now, this is not like it is in America where you either get out the yellow pages and call a plumber or go to Home Depot and get the part. There are no yellow pages, only word of mouth. Our landlord lives in a city 2 hours away so basically we are on our own. There is only one place that we have ever seen plumbing parts. The plumbing part were on a table at the Shoe/kaw which is like a bunch of garage sales. They are usually not new but things that someone might have taken off old plumbing in buildings that are no longer being used. The Shoe/Kaw is about a 30 minute walk from our apartment. My sweetheart decided that he would try to see if there was any place that sold plumbing supplies closer to our area. My sweetheart found a store that sells new bathroom fixtures and tubs near our home. He didn't have parts to fit our sink but did have a new kit with all the plumbing you would need that would fit our sink. As my sweetheart looked at the bag, he was thinking it would be $30 or $40 at least and he would need two bags to have one for each side. Imagine his surprise when the man told him that it would be $1.70 a bag. That plumbing fit and our prayers were answered. My sweetheart has decided that his Leatherman tool is one of the best things that he has brought on his mission. He feels like any missionary going out anywhere in the world should be required to take a Leatherman tool with them. It has helped us several times.
With our morning being spent on plumbing, we ate a quick meal of bread and juice and started our walk to town of 30 minutes. We met the elders at a place that is like a bus station only it is for the Mar/shoot/knees (Vans). If you are going to leave the city of Gyumri where we live, you catch your bus here to go out to the villages. Most of the time they are very crowded when you start off, but as people get off you can usually get a seat. This is especially true of me since I am an older woman. The men here usually give their seats up to the women on the bus and us older ladies usually get offered one first by the men and young men and young women. When I get a seat, I hold the elders backpacks so they can balance easier. The ride is usually pretty bumpy and they dodge other cars along the way which causes a lot of movement on the bus. It takes about 30 minutes to get out to the village where we were teaching. The missionaries didn't get a seat this time, so they were really relieved to get off the mar/shoot/knee to be able to stand up straight since you have to bend over a little to stand. We have one elder who is about 6 foot 7 inches and this is really hard for him. However, he never complains and is always cheerful about giving up his seat.
The villages are like a subdivision made out of cement homes. They usually have a small school for the children to go to. It is rural and the people there have a little property for gardens and trees. Some even have animals like sheep. On the way out to the city, you are able to see lots of farmland. I haven't seen an stores just homes and a school but they might have a small one. I think that most of the time, they go to the city for shopping for the basics they don't have.
When we got to the village, we went to visit a couple who have been together for 5 years. Here it is a tradition that if I man goes to woman's home where she is living with her family and kidnaps her and takes her to his home and she doesn't come home back to her family that night, they are couple. It isn't a legal marriage but it works for them. They both have taken the lessons and want to be baptized into the church. The church has asked that everything should be done the legal way and so they have to go to the government building and get a marriage license and get married before they can get baptized. I think Ken had the same situation on his mission. When I met them at church a few weeks ago, they are just a bright and happy couple. They had a fight and I saw them both at church this last Sunday and they didn't have that glow about them at all. In fact, I had to look twice to see if that was her husband sitting in the back of the building because he didn't look the same. She looked so sad and gloomy.
On Tuesday, he went over to where she was staying and kidnapped her back. They had asked us to come and visit with them as missionaries. When we got there, they were a bright and happy couple again. They made us some herbal tea and gave us some bread. They told us that they wanted to be married because they love each other very much. They also want to know if they could be baptized. A marriage license is only $10 here but that is a lot of money. Life has been pretty hard on this young couple. They had a baby that died. His father was killed. His mother who saw his father killed in a horrible way lives with them because she has had a hard time emotionally since that time. We met her and she is a very kind, loving person. You can tell that she depends on them for help and they take care of her. There is a little stove in the middle of the room for heat and had some bread rising beside it. There was very little heat in the home. We went with them to town but she didn't have her passport. By the time, they got back to the government building, it was closed. They went the next day to apply for their license and will have to be married after January 6th due to the holidays. This is probably a blessing because he is working on a word of wisdom issue and this will give him the time he needs. They are reading the Book of Mormon which teaches Christ like principles and working together as a couple. Time is a wonderful thing to help us prepare for the future. I admire the people of this country and how they deal with their hardships. I have learned a lot.
All our love, your very own Senior Missionary Couple in Armenia