There is a young girl in Vanadzor about 13 years old that is learning English in school. She is always asking the missionaries how to say things in English. In fact, she will call them when she is doing her homework to see how to say things. Since the alphabet and sounds are different, that really is quite impressive that she is able to do it as well as she can. When we went there to teach on Saturday, she was asking how to say, "What's up?" so I thought I would try it on you. She joined the church when she was 9 with her grandma. They were baptized together. That was five years ago. They have youth activities for them every Saturday after school. School is six days a week here. The youth here have it pretty hard and a lot of them start smoking and drinking when they are only 12 years old. The leaders feel like if they have an activity on Saturday and church on Sunday, it will help fortify them. I think of what her life might have been like without the church to help guide her to know she is a daughter of God of great worth. In the Christmas and New Year’s program, she danced an Armenian dance as she sang. She also taught her five year old nephew how to sing Jingle Bells in English for their duet at the Christmas Program. One of the 14 year old girls, who plays the piano like a professional, is teaching her how to play.
Music is really important to the Armenian people and you hear it everywhere. On the mar/shoot/knees, in the cabs, stores, coming out the doors of their homes and large speakers on the street playing the music. I am getting so I can even sing along a little to some songs because I have heard them so much. They also have a great beat that makes you want to move to the music. They play their favorites over and over again. In fact, we had a special blessing after 9:30 last night as we were waiting for a mar/shoot/knee to come in the cold. They usually quit for the night between nine and ten so we weren't sure if one would come. A cab pulled up in front of us and the door opened and it was our Branch President who drives a cab. We were on the other side of town from where we live, he lives in a different area and what would be the chances of him driving by as we were waiting for the mar/shoot/knee. There are angels among us helping us! He doesn't speak English so he motioned us to get in the cab. He had music playing, of course, and started to laugh as this 65 year old missionary was singing along saying "Chay, chay, chay" on the chorus, which is easy because chay means no.
We had just left one of my favorite families that are members to visit because we are laughing most of the time. It is a mom, daughter, son, and a father who had a stroke, but is always sleeping while we are there. I was telling the missionary who had never been there before to prepare himself for a fun time as we knocked on the door. I was right as I have never seen him laugh so much since he got here. One example of their humor happened when the mom were translating for me. The brother had a beard that he was growing out. I told him that my son had a beard and it looked really nice on him to encourage him to not give up because his was just getting a good start. The mother who doesn't like the beard told him that I said, "Why don't you shave your beard off because that beard doesn't look very good on you at all". The missionaries burst out laughing because they could understand both languages and what she had said to him. They translated to the son what I had said and everyone was laughing at the prank that she had pulled on him.