|After literally hours of sleep (like 3 or 4), we all woke about 9 a.m. feeling pretty refreshed. Didn't last, of course, but I'll take a welcome morning. We found fruit and cereal as well as Wendy's homemade banana bread for breakfast. We weren't too hungry, but good to have something to eat. Then, got a great icy-cold shower. Hot water is off for some reason. I was proud of Samari and Michael. Neither of them screamed like a little girl when they felt the cold water.
Keith and Wendy picked us up with their awesome teenage son, Charlie--OK, no, Charlie is not his real name, but what would I call him if not Charlie? They spent some time giving us a bit of orientation to Armenia. Wendy laughed and said, I normally give teams a schedule, but you are going to camp on Monday and I have no idea what the schedule will be like. Apparently they'll decide that when we get there. I asked about what day camp would end. Hm. Still don't know. I love Armenia!
Lunch was Armenian "pizza." It's flatbread with...um, stuff. We got three kinds--one with seeds and spices we couldn't identify. Tasted good. The second was cheese, Michael's favorite. The third was Lahma Joe. OK, I think it is actually Lahmajoon, but it always sounded like they said Lama Joe when they said it. I have no idea what it was, but we ate it. Charlie is a big fan of Lama Joe. Buys it by the wagon full for his normal lunch.
We strolled around downtown for a while, taking in the sites of Yerevan. At times, Yerevan feels very old school Soviet. At other times, it has sort of a Middle Eastern feel. Then, it seems very European to me at times. I mentioned this to Keith. He agreed and said, "That kind of describes Armenian culture as well."
Wendy was feeling a little down in the back and grabbed a taxi to head home. Samari and Michael fell in with Charlie immediately. They talked way too much about various super heroes. I reminded them that they aren't real. None of them seemed to care. Oh well.
Back at the SUV, we headed to the Armenian Genocide Memorial. It was a painful experience. The short answer to a question about the Armenian Genocide is that the Ottoman's who had aligned themselves with the Germans and Austro-Hungarians in World War 1 slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Armenians living in Turkey in 1915. Why? Because the Ottoman's wanted a Muslim country and the Armenians were Christian. The museum made it clear that the genocide started almost two decades before and the genocide continued for almost another decade after. We saw pictures of hundreds of thousands of orphans living in converted buildings. Many younger children were taken to Muslim countries where they were deprived of their own heritate and reassigned Muslim names. The barbarity takes your breath away.
I think in America we have a very short memory, but for the Armenians, these issues are very raw, very much a part of their sense of identity today. In fact, the red stripe at the top of the Armenian flag symbolizes the blood of the Armenian holocaust.
Samari was a big hit. People here act like they have never seen a black person. Wendy said that is possible. Every where we go, people stare at him. At first, this made him a little uncomfortable, but people started coming up to him asking to get a picture with him. He just smiles and says OK. So, people all over Armenia will be changing their facebook profile pictures to be shots with of them with Samari, their new black friend. Too funny. I couldn't stop laughing.
Keith and Charlie took us for hamburgers tonight. Not McDonalds, but not exactly traditional Armenian cuisine. We are just getting oriented, but we are having a great time. I'm preaching tomorrow at the Golgotha Church. Say a prayer for me. Always a challenge to speak cross-culturally and using a translator.