I have learned many things since I have been here in Armenia. However, one thing that I experience every day that I never thought about is human nature. I can remember reading about someone interviewing Pres. Hinckley when some people reenacted the pioneers coming across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley. In the interview, one reporter said to him that it was not the same thing since they had modern day things that the pioneers didn't have. He commented that that was true but it was the same in other ways because human nature is the same. I would like to share just a couple of those experiences with you.
1) It was getting pretty cold here and my sweetheart was worried about me not having a hat to keep warm when it really gets cold. His human nature has been to protect me since we have been here since he has lived in so many different places and climates. I was worried about it messing up my hair being my human nature. Finally, I decided if I got a scarf, I could tie it loosely and not mess up my hair. We went to the market and I bought a scarf at a little shop. She was very kind and showed me how to wear it. My sweetheart offered her 2,000 for it but she shook her head and said 3,000. We agreed and she went to get a bag to put it in. I know that plastic bags are important here so I motioned no that I would put it in my bag I already had. She was happy and smiled. It has gotten a lot colder here as my sweetheart said it would so again I used my human nature to apologize for not listening. I folded my scarf around my head tightly after I have doubled it for extra warm. I no longer worry about my hair only staying warm. Spring will come and then I can be vain again or will my human nature have changed a little? Now, let me tell you the best part of this human nature story. A couple of weeks later, we are walking in the (shoe/kaw) market and pass her shop. She comes running out after us with a little box. Our human nature is that she got in a new scarf and wants to show it to us. She opens the box and there are my glasses that I had dropped in her store when she was showing me how to wear the scarf. She had very carefully put them in a box (boxes are a real premium here-you hardly ever see them) and watched for us to come by her shop. We don't go by that way very often so she was very patient.
2) When we first got here, we would ride to some of our appointments with the elders to get familiar with the different areas. We would usually ride in a cab to go home at night since we didn't know the area we lived in very well either. We finally realized that there is a great marker just across the street from us that is a large square light in from of the building supply store. It is perfect for when we ride home in a cab to tell the cab driver when to stoop (how you say stop). It also shine a little light in our bedroom window at night so we can see a little when we turn our lights out. It doesn't get light here until about 8:00 so it is very helpful in the morning. Right now, they have Christmas lights up that flash a little that also add to the excitement of rising up in the morning.
On one of these car rides home at the first of our mission, my sweetheart left one of his gloves in the cab and didn't realize it until the cab had driven off. He didn't want to use his extra pair of gloves since they were really good ones and he was afraid he might lose one of those. So for the next couple of weeks, he would wear one glove to hold his scriptures with and the other hand he would stick in his pocket. Finally we found some cloth gloves we liked at the shoe/kaw and we bought four pair. I have doubled mine to help keep warm and stick by hands in the pocket of my coat. I have also found that if my hands are still freezing, if I will slip my fingers out of finger part of the gloves and curl them up in a ball in my double gloves, they are warmer that way and it helps a lot. Hope this idea helps if your gloves aren't working. I have watched your weather and I know you are freezing too.
Last week after an appointment, we met the elders on the other side of town. It was the longest mar/shoot/knee ride we have ever taken in town. It was 40 minutes. When we got off, we started walking what we thought was the right direction for about two blocks. As we were walking, a cab driver got out of his cab. We thought he was going to see if we needed a cab. He started waving a glove at us with great excitement. He was trying to tell us that it was the glove that my sweetheart had left in his cab. Dad tried to pay him for it but he would take no money. I really wished that we needed a cab at that moment so we could have used him. The elders then called on the phone and we found out we were going the wrong way. If we had gone the right way, we wouldn't have run in the cab driver. I thought of the cab driver saving my sweethearts glove on the off chance of him running into us somewhere. The place we were was way out of town. His human nature really impressed me.
3) It was a sunny day here in Gyumri, so my sweetheart decided to take some pictures of what it looks like here since that is the only thing we can really give any of you for Christmas over here. We took pictures of where we live, our route to town, some of the historic sights and the shoe/kaw (market). We thought you might like to see how things are sold in the open air markets. There were a lot of people out since it was a pretty day and close to New Years. I was watching as my sweetheart took the pictures. He would kind of hide the camera and hold it down low so no one would be offended especially in the shoe/kaw.
We were on our way home and decided to stop at the Georgian Bakery. There is a glass window between the store part and where they bake the bread so you can watch them bake the bread. My sweetheart was very carefully taking a picture through the window to show you how they bake the bread as not to offend the people working. The man saw him taking a picture and put his hand up to stop my sweetheart from taking the picture. He quickly took his apron off and got himself in the best form so that he would look good for the camera. He then motioned that he was ready to have his picture taken. He grabbed some dough and threw it up in the air like in all the pizza dough movies hoping that my sweetheart could catch a picture of the dough up in the air. He then took the dough over the kelm (oven) in front of the window and almost fell into it putting on a show for us. He really gave me a feeling that this is his human nature is to really love life and all the experiences in it. It takes the bread five minutes to cook so while we waited, I had him take pictures of the lady behind the counter and the lady that takes the money for the bread. They were thrilled to have their pictures taken also. It was so fun to watch their reactions as they saw their pictures. The hot bread when it comes out of the oven is good. We ate half of it on our walk home. I shared some of it with a stray dog looking for food while my sweetheart took a picture of the bridge we cross.
I thought of the couple that we came over with and toured Vienna with. Sister Ayers was taking lots of pictures and our camera was packed in our luggage. She wanted us to be in many of the pictures and have us take pictures of her and her sweetheart. Having my picture taken so much was a little intimidating to me since when I see my picture I am shocked at how old I look since I feel much younger than I look. But as I reflect back on the experience, it was really nice of her to make us included and wanted in her pictures. As I have gotten to know her, this is her human nature and a great example to me.
All our love, your very own Senior Missionary Couple in Armenia