Is it possible to start to slowly become Armenian in just 5 short months? I have learned that serving refreshments when people come to visit and sending some home with them is Armenian. An investigator told me on Monday that I was truly becoming Armenian as I sent him home with a bag a refreshment to share with his family. When some senior couples came to visit us in our apartment and I told them welcome in Armenian and welcomed the women with a hug and kiss on the cheek without even thinking about it. They told me I was becoming Armenian. The senior couples in Yerevan are the only Americans we usually see and that has only happened every other month for 4 or 6 hours. I can ride in a cab, mar/shoot/knee, shop, go to the beauty shop for a haircut, visit a member friend, buy bread and eggs for breakfast and paying for all these things, ask them how they are doing, telling them thank you and good bye in Armenian. I can even go up to our apartment, look out the window and think it is nice to be back home after a long day.
However, yesterday I really felt like an Armenian as I reflected back on it this morning. We had been invited to a concert at the music hall. We walked about 30 minutes to get to it as it was such a beautiful day. I love walking as the people are so friendly and will respond to me sometimes when I say hello to them in Armenian. The children and youth are especially fun when I speak English to them as they are learning it in school. We are both so proud of ourselves for knowing the other one's language. There aren't very many young children under 5 so it is always really fun for me to get to see them out with their parents as well. The parents beam when I tell them how cute their kids are and they are.
When we got there, it was 2:45 and the concert started at 3:00. We went just before 3:00 because everything starts late in Armenia. The doors to the theater were locked with people just waiting outside to get in. To us this seemed normal so we just patiently waited. Another sign of becoming Armenian. They finally let us in about 4:00. The music/theater hall is about the size of a smaller high school theater. However, the stage was normal size and the sound system was like ours. The program was different people singing like a concert. The music was wonderful and very well performed. I found myself clapping with everyone, dancing with my hands and singing along. I can remember thinking that I've just got to get some of this music and take it home with us when we leave. Then I remember that I really didn't care for that kind of music before I got here. I realize it was true, I am starting to become Armenian. This is probably a good idea since we will be here for another 13 months. Bloom where you are planted:)
Afterwards, we took 6 of our Armenian members out to eat that were with us at the program. Can you imagine going out to eat at a restaurant with 8 people and it only costing $36.00. We ordered 3 of their largest pizzas, 8 salads, 8 sodas, 6 ice creams and 2 cakes. Food is cheap to eat out. Hardly anyone does it though because it is so much cheaper to eat at home. We put the other people in cabs to go home ($1.35) and we walked home because of the nice weather and we wanted to shop on the way home. We have found out that if you don't have a car, making several small trips to the store is easier to carry home than larger ones. We have to carry them up 4 flights when we get here. Guess how we found that out?:)
The week started off by going with the mission president to Vanadzor to inspect a building that the church is thinking about buying there. Right now, we are meeting in a bank that has been converted over to a church. It is part of a strip of buildings. We were supposed to meet the man who owns the building at 4:30 and he finally arrived at 5:30. Did I mention that this is just the normal time clock here? It would be a perfect building for a church. It is two story with a basement. This was to supposed to be someone's home, and they ran out of money. It became a building supply store and didn't make it. In the unfinished basement, they even have a cement swimming pool. We were teasing about how the area grows fast enough that we could even baptize 20 people at a time:) It will be interesting to see what happens. I think we will be spending more time in Vanadzor if they decide to go with the project for Brother Griffiths help with talk with Salt Lake and the mission president on what they want to happen.
The sad news this week was that 7 of our missionaries that we have grown to love have been transferred to other areas. You become so attached to them that they are almost like your own sons and daughters. We know that they have other areas they need to go to but it sure is hard. The great news this week is that we had a baptism of a sister in Gyumri on Friday. When I first came to Gyumri, a sister with a beautiful smile came up and gave me a huge hug and kiss on the cheek on my first Sunday. I found out later that she wasn't a member. She has been coming for 3 years. She is really afraid of water. Well, our sister missionaries worked with her patiently and determined to help her overcome her fears. Her whole family came to the baptism even though on the mother was a member. They were all so excited for her. She was just beaming. I had the opportunity of giving my first baptismal talk with an interrupter. And, of course, we all celebrated with cookies, cakes the mom had made, and juice. I am going to be the chubby senior missionary when I get home by just being polite:)
We love you and miss you all so much. Your Armenian Senior Couple