Today was our first day off in weeks. It felt great to sleep in, think about making pancakes, and finish the 500 page novel I had started on vacation back on July 7.
We've had a great and very busy last few weeks!
We had a team of Americans from Philadelphia, PA. They arrived with luggage full of tootsie rolls, suckers, toys, balloons, craft supplies AND everything you would need to put on camps for kids!
Here's a summary of their week:
They trained and worked along side a great team of Armenians.
They had to organize, teach and entertain as many as 300 children at a time WHILE using a translator (not easy).
They had to love on some kids who reside in the poorest area of Yerevan - Squatters' Village.
They had to sweat.
They had to get really dirty.
They had to play with kids and show them love that was communicated beyond the language barriers.
They taught the kids about the value they have in Christ - how He created them and they are safe in His hands.
One of the greatest memories I have is when I was watching the team at dinner one day and I noticed that one college-aged team member left her "comfort zone" and went and sat down with a group of Armenian leaders, smiled at them and ate her dinner with them.
It may seem like nothing; easy. But that takes guts. It takes thinking outside of yourself. It takes looking for opportunities to bring joy into someone's day. It takes being willing to just sit and smile and pretend you understand what they're saying. But, you are crossing over the barrier, and you are WITH them.
That's been what our last 7 years in Armenia have been about. I, personally, haven't always succeeded, but I can say that I've put my heart and soul into it.
I remember when we first arrived and I told Nick how I was uncomfortable with how the Armenian women hold hands with one another as they stroll the streets etc. I'm not an affectionate person, and I felt rigid. Nick's advice? "When they grab your hand, throw all caution to the wind, and grab back even harder."
This team of Americans who came and gave all they had for these Armenian kids - they grabbed back harder. And THAT makes all the difference.