We have just finished Easter in Armenian. I found out, on Easter, the word Easter in Armenia means lady bug. It is one of the first bugs out and is a symbol of Spring. They were really surprised when I told them that we have chocolate bunnies instead of lady bugs in America. I was looking in the stores for candy for Easter to take to some of the children who call us "pop-eek and daw-teek/grandpa and grandma". I could only find some chocolate lady bugs in very small packages and bought them because I thought they were so cute. There were also a few very tiny fuzzy chickens, little cars with tiny candy bebe's in a inch tube attached and a few stickers. It was all on one shelf of about 2 feet. Wal-Mart would not be impressed!
At Vanadzor, they did have an Easter celebration on Sunday. On Saturday, they boiled eggs, They dye their eggs red as a tradition to think of Christ and the blood he spilled for us on the cross. On Sunday. they had Sacrament meeting and afterwards, a Easter fireside. After the fireside, they served everyone a plate that had some greens (looks like wide grass) with a couple of eggs on it. On the side was some raisins and lawvash (flour tortilla). They then play a game where two people each have an egg in their fist. You hit the two eggs together and the one that cracks has to be given it to the other person. This is great fun with everyone laughing (my egg won:)). Afterwards, they make sure everyone gets their eggs back because they peel their eggs and break them up. They put eggs, raisins, and greens on a lawvash, roll them up and eat them as a special Easter treat. They had a special Easter Cake for dessert with white frosting and sprinkles for Spring. Monday is a holiday and they all go to the cemetery to honor their dead and put flowers on their graves think about Christ’s resurrection.
With Easter, has come the warm weather. In a matter of three weeks, I have gone from flannels and long johns, to no long johns, to sleeping with the window open with the heat turned off. The weeds are turning green and the trees are thinking about joining them. The evenings are still cool enough to sometimes wear a light jacket, but most of the day it is just regular missionary clothes. Even the mud holes are drying up so I don't need my winter shoes ("boots" in America but here that word is not very nice I found out when I called them that) With the warm weather, has also come ICE CREAM!!! It is my favorite food and there are ice cream freezers full of different kinds of ice cream bars on the streets and in the stores. The freezers are about 5 feet by 4 feet so they are not like ours in America. Did I mention that the ice cream here is so creamy that it compares equally to Fat Boys and Casper’s?
In the middle of winter, we could only find a few containers once in a while. I found out why when I was telling the mission president’s wife how excited I was about the ice cream when she visited on Sunday. In Armenia, they really, really believe if you get cold, you get sick. Many people won't leave their homes in the winter, because they are afraid of getting sick. To me, that is a little strange because their homes are soooo cold that many times you can see your breathe as you teach. But they always have several layers of clothes on in their homes to stay warm. They always insist on taking our coats to be polite so we are a little colder than they are. Then they give us warm milk with sugar or fruit tea to warm us up:) They especially think you can get sick from a draft like an open window in a car or home. In fact, they took a missionary to the hospital with a kidney stone and the doctors told them that it was from the draft of an open window that caused it. I now understand why our cab driver keeps the car so warm on our trips in the winter to different cities. He thinks that he is helping us because he cares about us and him staying healthy while we are all dying of the heat. In fact, we started putting our coats in the trunk to endure the heat and soon so did he so also so he could keep the car warm for us and endure the heat. They believe that since ice cream is cold, you can get sick from it. Guess who is going to stock up on ice cream bars for the winter in the fall?
Well, I need to close and go make an apple pie. We are going to a members house for barbeque and they said I could come if I bring an apple pie and ice cream. They tried some of Elder Cooks’ birthday apple pie and loved it. They had never had pie before and now ice cream is in season-this is a special treat. We love you all, and I personally because I love each one of you, will eat an ice cream bar in your behalf this summer or maybe even this month:)
Your Armenian Senior Couple