Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Name is JONELLE!!

When I was born some 38 years ago my parents were shocked!  They thought for sure I was going to be a BOY and my name was going to be JOHN, named after my paternal-grandfather!  Thus the dilemma of what to name Garo girl #3.  The story goes that during my mom's WEEK LONG (are you kidding me...managed care 24 hours and you are out on your ear!), stay in the hospital the nurses were urging her to name her baby...they needed to write something besides Baby Garo on my birth certificate!  One version of the "Name" is that the woman sharing my mom's hospital room said, "Why don't you name her Jonelle, it is the feminine form of John in French!"  The other version, told by my Dad, is HE is the one who came up with my name.  Which ever version you chose is your preference, but my name is still JONELLE.  I didn't like my name much growing up...There were NO bicycle license plates, mugs,pencils, key chains, stickers, etc. with my name on them.  The closest I ever came was a mug that simply read, "SUE" (this was the closest anyone ever got...since my MIDDLE name is SUZANNE!) Invariable the first day of school the teacher would call roll and say, "Suzanne?, Suzanne? SUZANNE? (of course I was ignoring this), or they would butcher my name so badly that I would just stare at them in disbelief.  But as I got older I realized that my name was SO is totally unique.  I had never met ANYONE ELSE with my name. (until 1984 when the short-lived, night drama, BERINGERS came out and there was an actress named JONELLE!, oh, and one of the check-out girls at the Meat Market...) other than that, I was special!  The problem was that EVERYONE, besides my family, either couldn't read my name, say my name or remember my name.  And the problem was wide-spread!  People at EVERY church I attended, professors at schools, people I babysat for, bosses, co-workers, Jane Seymour, etc...The day I was ordained, channel 24 came out to video the service and interview people in the congregation about how they felt about me becoming a Badveli (that's pastor in Armenian).   I watched the news clip in horror as the congregant who was interviewed was going on and on about how much he and the others loved and respected, JANELLE!!!  This has gone on my whole life and some of the variations are quite comical: Janelle & Jonette (both of which are beautiful names and the names of beautiful women in my Bible Study Fellowship group in Fresno, I love and miss you and all the GALS so much!!!), JOEnelle, Jonlynn, Jonlee, one good friend's mom called me JOELENE after the Dolly Parton song (she was from TN and just couldn't shake it!).  Of course these names have not only caused great frustraion for me but tremendous entertainment for my family.  Phil still calls me Joelene and those who really want to torment me (you KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!) call me Janelle.  So why am I airing all my issues with people not knowing my name?  It is NOT because I don't have a therapist here!  It IS because I have found that ARMENIANS DON'T know my name EITHER!!!  The Jonelle name problem is PANDEMIC!!!  It usually goes something like this, "Ko anunit inch es?" (what is your name?) then I reply, "JOHN-L", "INCH?" (what?) "Jonelle", "Jana?" "Che" (No) "Jonelle, Hovanessoohee" (that literally is the feminine form of John), They laugh or look confused.  On the phone it is hysterical.  My one friend who calls at least once every two weeks.  She is (I'm guessing) about 70 years old.  Ring, Ring, I pick up and say, "Ah-Low", She says, "Ah-Low", "O-va?" (Hello, who is this?), "Yes, Jonelle em" (It's Jonelle), Louder, "O-va?!" "Yes, Jonelle em!"  Yelling, "O-VA?!"  "JONELLE!"  Then I wait and she says, "Ah-LOW?!"  As if she wants to start over and I will somehow Magically NOT be who I am.  Some of my NEW names are Jana, Chanelle & Chano, but my favorite one has to be what my cousin Ashot called my by accident.  Usually family and friends add Jan to the end of your name as a term of endearment.  So Kalem is Kalem-jan, Nana is Nan-jan, and I usually am Jonelle-jan.  But one day Ash called me Jon-Jan...and I told him...finally a Wrong name I actually like!  So if you are reading this and you are one of the 10's of thousands who calls me JANELLE...this is your final warning.  When you see me again Remember, MY NAME IS JONELLE or you can call me JON-JAN!  : ) 

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Way It Is...

Last night I tried to make Madzoon for the second time.  The reason I even tried to make it was because our cousin, Nana, said it was so easy and they always make theirs.  She was teaching me one of her wonderful dessert creations when she pulled out a one-liter Rubbermaid container with the creamy white yogurt.  I thought she said she added a small amount, "Achkee Chap" (that is literally measuring or sizing with your EYE!) of starter (which is just some yogurt or pre-made madzoon) to one liter of milk and put it in the fridge.  Of course I tried to do this...and it was SO easy...and so WRONG!  Then I went to the internet and read that you need to BOIL the milk first (yeah, yeah, so maybe you're smarter than me...) When I told her Saturday that my madzoon didn't come out she looked at me and said, "Jonelle-jan why don't you just buy it from the store it's so much easier?!"  

Or the time when our gas water heater went out and Mrs. Serob and her handyman were in our bathroom and kitchen for about 30 minutes (I thought I was going to eyes darting around the room to see if anything was out of place...of course her eyes were darting just as fast and her questions didn't stop from the time she entered until she's a good thing it takes me a long time to formulate my responses...cuts down on the total number of possible questions!!!)  Yet again, I digress!  So they told me the heater went out because we weren't opening the small window between the shower and the heater.  If we had only left the window open the heater wouldn't have broken.  Two days ago Serob's dad found Kalem and told him that we forgot to close the small window in the bathroom and that we should never leave it open!
Or two weeks ago when I threw on my derby to pick up the kids from hair was especially crazy that day!  When I got to the school Teacher Ida inquired as to why I was wearing a hat in Spring?  I replied, "Eye-sore, shad vat maz or!" (Today, very bad hair day!)  Ida, Jana-Moraqueet, and Serpoog didn't understand my reference and said, "Oh, hevant es?!" (your sick?) Then the three went on to discuss how it is very important to wear a hat when you are sick.   When I finally got their attention, I told them again about my bad hair, but this time with more facial expression and wild hand gestures (I find that I resort to this type of communication is too bad Armenia's national language is not SIGN LANGUAGE!!!  I would be a viking!).  Today when I walked out into the warm brightness of this sunny day, loving being in a short sleeved shirt and longing for shorts...I was met by none other than my, swollen-with-child, light-of-my-life, judger-of-all-things, MRS. SEROB...and what does she say to me?..."Why aren't you wearing a hat?  The sun is too bright, it's not good for your HAIR!!!!"
I will stop with only one more example, but I could go on for days!!!!  When we got our LADA NIVA...4x4 Mini SUV of course it had no seat belts.  When Kalem asked his cousin Ashot, the mechanic, to get us some, Ash laughed and said..."Nobody wears seat belts in Armenia!"  But Kalem persisted and we got two for the driver and front passenger seats.  Of course we didn't wear them...I mean the cultural pressure is intense here, not to mention that our three precious children are sans car-seats and seat belts, just bouncing, rolling, falling to the floor mats every bump and pothole.  So of course one of the several times Kalem gets stopped by the police...he gets a ticket..."FOR NOT WEARING HIS SEATBELT!"  
It can be frustrating at times living like this but you have to Armenia, that's just the way it is!  jonelle;)

Sunday, April 27, 2008



Friday, April 25, 2008

Let Kalem GO!

When we first began discussing our possible move to Armenia, many
family members and friends would make comments like, "Gee, do you
really want to move out of your house, store your belongings and move
to Armenia?" or "Why don't you just visit there and see if you really
would like to move there for a longer period of time." But the best
lines always came from my mom, Elaine and Kalem's Grandma Gertie!
They would say things like, "Why don't you and the kids stay here and
let Kalem go to Armenia, settle himself and then come get you?" or
"If Kalem loves Armenia so much let him go and you stay here with the
kids?" One time my mom got so crazy as to say, "You and Kalem go and
the kids can stay with me and Papa Phil!" I know everyone was
expressing their sadness at the thought of us leaving for such a long
period of time and the idea that the grandkids would be so far away
was/is pretty much unbearable at times. And yet we followed God's
call to come to Armenia to live and work and share His love with those
we meet. So now we find ourselves just getting settled into our house
(no thanks to Mrs. Serob : ), our neighborhood, life near our
relatives, school for the kids and now we are preparing to move into
the village (which will probably be June 1st now due to all the
delays). The thought of moving to the village brings excitement as
Kalem and the crews will begin the wonderful projects of making homes
livable for families in the area, but it also brings feelings of
sadness as we have to move from the place we were beginning to call
'home'. The teachers and staff at the Mangabardez love Jude, Pete, &
Franko so much that they have started a campaign to get us to stay
until June 15th when they will have a big party and celebrate all the
kids who are moving on to Tahbrotz (that's real school which beings in
1st grade). Every couple of days they ask/tell me that it is Judi's
graduation and she should be here to preform and celebrate with her
class. Each time the pressure is increased and each time I default by
saying, "I will talk with Kalem, but I'm pretty sure we will be in the
village by then." A few days ago went to pick up the kids and I sat
down with Jana-Moraqueet, Teacher Ida, and Serpoog. We had our usual
conversations about Frankies progress in the 'pampers' arena, Peter &
Judi's advancement with understanding and reciting the vast number of
poems in the Armenian arsenal, and how my day was. Of course we got
around to June 15 and the chorus began, "Judi has to
stay.......Finally Jana-Moraqueet said, "Chanelle-jan (oh, I will blog
soon about my many names....) Kalem quooghk gnah! Translation, "Let
KALEM GO!!!! It seems there is a repeating pattern in every
country...any thoughts on this? I'd love to hear them all! Geesher
Baree! (Good Night) Jonelle;)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April 24th

Today we remember 1.5 million Armenians who were systematically annihilated by the Ottoman Empire.  This picture is of the Tsitsernakabert, The Genocide Memorial.  This is a must for anyone who ever visits Armenia and for Armenian's around the world it is a symbol of mourning, death, sadness and loss.  But it also clearly represents life, survival, and endurance.  I have been to the Tsitsernakabert three times...the 1st was in 1991 when a few of us from our Vacation Bible School work group stole away at night and in silence made our way up the walk.  The movement of the eternal flame on the 12 'pillars'; dancing and moving brought even more focus to the orange and yellow fire.  You do not feel alone when you stand inside the monument especially on April 24th when thousands upon thousands of locals, odars (if you don't know what this word means you probably are means foreigner or non-Armenian), and Diasporan Armenians make their way to pay homage to the lives that were cut off.  They come in groups and buy roses, tulips, carnations, lilacs, and other colorful stems to lay around the circle inside the monument.  Stacking of long stemmed flowers creates a floral wall of remembrance and honor.  The blooms are laid by men and women, young and old.  Some make the sign of the Cross after they deposit their flower, others pray, the soldiers salute, and others shed tears.  In the United States there is much political controversy about the Genocide and who supports memorandums and such.  In Azerbijan, today there was yet another article about the "So-Called-Armenian-Genocide"...there are many who believe it is all a lie.  Of course this saddens me because our heritage has proclaimed with their blood the truth and wether or not the Turks ever admit their culpability will not change the facts.  
The second time I went to Tsitsernakabert was with Mariel Howsepian Rodriguez on her Easter week visit to Yerevan.  When you take a tour you first go to the museum that is actually underground (so that the vista of the monument is not spoiled) and you see horrible photos of the hangings, death marches, and starvation.  You read actual letters and documents from Missionaries, Diplomats, Soldiers, and people from outside of Armenia who witnessed the brutality and tried to make it stop.  Soil from six different providences are preserved to remember the land of which the most devastation occurred and status reports of numbers of people, churches and land size are listed from before and after the Genocide.  But the most moving aspect of the museum is an outdoor "courtyard"; it is actually a half-circle with 12 panels of stone (similar to the pitched walls of the monument) on these stone walls are quotes from non-Armenian eye-witnesses to the genocide.  The docent says, "There were thousands of eye-witnesses to the atrocities of the Genocide there are 12 here who stand as a jury.  They have brought in their verdict of "Guilty" but YOU ARE THE JUDGE!"  with that she leaves you alone to walk outside, to ponder her words, to actually judge.  For me it is not a question of believing or disbelieving...the facts are clear; we know the truth.  Usually for believing Christians the question is more, "Why do we keep "Remembering" this awful part of our history?" or "If we are Christians aren't we supposed to forgive and forget?"  To this I say we always REMEMBER.  We have FORGIVEN but we don't FORGET.  Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper and He said, "Do this in Remembrance of Me!  And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11, as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  We REMEMBER Jesus death...he bore our sins on the cross, he gave his life as a ransom for ours.  We must remember Jesus death because it reminds us of WHO WE ARE.  I think of the Genocide a similar way; we remember not to hate the Turks or to wallow in our pain and suffering.  We REMEMBER the Genocide because it reminds us of WHO WE ARE.  It reminds us that our ancestors would rather be driven out of their homes, starved, and killed then to renounce Christ.  I remember because our forebarrers DIED for their faith in JESUS CHRIST and some days I can't even LIVE properly for Him.  I remember because it keeps in my mind how sinful we ALL are and in DESPERATE need of a SAVIOR.  I remember because I am a Christian because of CHRIST'S suffering and dying 1st and foremost and because my great-grand parents, grand parents, and parents faithfulness to Jesus and His message of salvation.  Today is April 24th; a day to remember.  Blessings Jonelle;)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Judi Is In Love!

This is Judi and her new love David, but if you remember your Eastern Armenian lesson it is pronounced DTAVIDT! Last week Judi came home from Mangabardez and was acting very shy and coy...COMPLETELY UNLIKE THE GIRL!!! She was smiling a lot and wanted paper to make something special for her "friend" at school. Of course, I am thrilled that she has friends at school since before she, Peter & Frank were exclusively calling their classmates, "The ARMENIAN Kids", didn't know anyone's name, and didn't want to learn them either. So she is smiling and now humming "EM YEREVAN" and then she stops and says, "You know Mom, Poker Nerses (that means little Nerses...which presumes there is a Medz Nerses...which there is and he looks like a miniture stocky truck driver with a crux-cut ...) and Dtavidt are really nice." "Yes Jude they are very seeroon (sweet)." "No Mom I mean REALLY Nice!" "Okay Jude, what makes them SOOO nice?" "They are just so....nice and very cute." Sweet Mother of Mary...the girl is 6 and she is telling me...nice and very cute about boys! I knew we should have stayed homeschooling.....but I contained myself..."Yes they are very cute too." "Mom, I'm not for sure but I think God is telling me that I am going to marry Dtavidt, and if not Poker Nerses." (I wonder if they really do get married will they be called Mr. & Mrs. Poker Nerses ....yan?)...she continued, "I mean maybe I am supposed to marry someone else, and I will if God tells me, but right now I am pretty sure God is saying it's gonna be Dtavidt!"
When Kalem came home for dinner that night I wanted Judi to share her "news" with him so like any good Armenian mother I prompted her by saying, "Hey Jude, tell Daddy about your Special friends at school." She was off and running and pretty much used the exact same verbiage to explain her revelation to Kalem. Kalem listened intently and then began to grin from ear to ear; his fingers drumming methodically together. Then in an almost sinister laugh he mumbled loudly, "It's all coming together just as I planned!"
Needless to say when I informed the teachers that Jude had a thing for Dtavidt they dismissed me saying, "Amen achcheegner!" (All the girls love him!)
Now I refer to Dtavidt as my Pesa (son-in-law) and when Judi behaves unkindly to her brothers or does some disgusting thing I say to her, "Now would Dtavidt like a girl who is not nice like he is?" or some such silliness. Yesterday one such instance occurred; Judi sneezed...a disgustingly gross, dripping mess of a sneeze of which she caught on her fingertips---Now the rest of this is not for the faint of heart or those easily disgusted so if you read on and then want to make some comment like, "How could Jonelle write that..." or some such thing...Just know I have forewarned you. Let it be written! Let it be done! So of course part of the drippy, snotty mess lands on her fingers and without so much as batting an eye the finger went straight into her mouth. "GROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSSSSS!" was all I could manage and then I had to keep down my own gag reflex. I was so icked out that all I could think to say was, "Jude, do you think Dtavidt would like a girl who eats her chugklink (snot)?" The question actually caused her to stop and ponder and no more was said.
Today when I picked Jude, Pete, and Franko up from Mangabardez Judi says, "Guess what Mom? You'll never guess! Today Dtavidt was sitting in the corner....EATING HIS BOOGERS!!!, so I guess he really WILL like me!"
Do you see what poor parenting renders?! Just pray that Dtavidt is not the one God is calling her to or THEY BOTH LEAVE THEIR NOSES ALONE! Laugh all you want...just keep YOUR noses clean! Blessings love jonelle;)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Construction has begun!

    Today construction officially started with the house we will be renting in the village.  There was a pretty big to-do about it and there were never less than about ten people around and usually only about two were working.  The greatest thing is that two brothers who I met on my first Habitat work project in 2006, were the ones doing the work for us!  This is great because it saves so much time in arguing, although we did do plenty of that we were able to compromise much quicker having mutual respect for each other.  Vahan and Vartan, are really great, not only do they work hard, have tons of experience, but they both have great personalities.  I enjoy working with them very much and am very excited to have such a team set the example for the work in Lusaghbyur. 
    Just a few highlights:
    - ice cream bars served at 11 AM followed immediately by coffee, then no other food for any one until 6pm!
    - six year old boys carrying 40 pound blocks!
    - grandma with the same scarf (same one from Jonelles blog entitled "She Said I Heard") wrapped around her head and her mouth all day!
    - same grandma carrying parts of the demolished wood framed wall with nails and splinters with bare hands in a dress!
    - every single visitor giving advice for what ever it was we were doing!
    - sweeping a room that we are going to work in
    - 5-10 minute argument with the electrical guy (PG&E equivalent) in which we ultimately lost.
    - A horse pulled cart driven by a 10 year old to move furniture.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our Teachers!!

>This is Jemma & Vram!!  They are two of our many Armenian Teachers here in Yerevan.  Vram's Maternal Grandma, Knar, and Kalem's Paternal Grandpa, Pete were sister and brother.  Knar was left in Armenia as a baby and raised here when the rest of the family moved out of Hyestan, and eventually to California, Los Angeles and then Papa Pete to Fowler, CA.  (This is a tremendous story that we will try to write for y'all sometime!)  So, Vram and Jemma...they may look sweet and nice with their twinkling eyes and full smiles, but underneath these happy expressions are COLD, HARD, DEMANDING, THREATENING, ARMENIAN LANGUAGE DRILL SERGEANTS!!!  Our first lesson started out so nicely, the table was spread with a typical morning meal of hard boiled eggs, breads, preserves, butter, tarragon, juice...(actually the 1st Armenian meal of the day consists of Armenian Soorj and a cigarette!) we enjoyed these wonderful foods and then, and then...the table was cleared and they were down to business!  Vram produced his "Lesson One" which was a booklet filled, page after page with numbers 1-1000, days of the week, the infinitive form of verbs, 1st & 2nd conjugations, the Present Continuous Tense, the Past Continuous Tense, personal pronouns, and 30 Homework sentences to memorize.  He said that we needed to know all the information in the Lesson BEFORE our next class which was supposed to be TWO DAYS LATER!!!  Needless to say this was a tad too much for me...Kalem, on the other hand had "STUDIED" with these teachers before and was used to their methods.  The second lesson we went over previous material and for some reason Kalem wanted to go over letter sounds...oh, how I wish their was a Letter Factory Video in Eastern Armenian...I think I will market this and make millions...wait, nobody do's my idea! Armenian, as in English, there are some letters that sound very similar when you say can only recall a phone conversation with a credit card company or a phone order where you had to spell your name or address and the like.  It is not uncommon to say, "Bill, B-as in boy, I, L-as in lion...and so on.  The difference I have noticed in Hyestan, is when you are asking for a letter people respond with the sound instead, ex. CAR, If I asked how to spell this I would want C-A-R, but I get Kh, AAH, RRRR....The problem is there are about 6 different SOUNDS that all SOUND THE SAME TO ME!!!  For example they have 3 sounds for G, gh, gk, kg or for D, dt, td, ta...but in the spoken word it is so slight that unless your ear is well trained a lot of the sounds don't sound different at all.  The best is when we try to say words and people look at us as if we are speaking...English or something..."Dram...which is money, is pronounced TDRAM and if you just said Dram THEY WOULD HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE SAYING...then you try to add another word to help clarify like, POGHK and then they say, "OH, TDRAM!"  I don't think I will ever tire of feeling like an idiot when I try to speak!  Back to our lesson, Kalem wants to study his letters, so FROUGH JEMMA would give us a word and we would try to spell it...which would be followed by a cacophony of "TSK, TSK, TSK!!" from Jemma and then the exaggerated sounding out between the two VERY different letters, "Rruh, NOT Ruh!!!!"  At one point she even had her ruler out and was whacking his knuckles! (I spotted the ruler in lesson one and subconsciously decided NEVER to sit close to Jemma lest I learn from my bruises and not my studying!)  Good grief!  But I will toil on because I do not want to live the old way of Armenian learning..."If you can't learn with your head you will learn with your backs and shoulders!"  So enjoy your day, talk to many people and for GOODNESS SAKE....ENUNCIATE!  Love Jonelle;) 

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Spring in Armenia: Top Ten List

10. Trees and flowers blooming everywhere.
9. The smell of lilacs wafting through the open window!
8. Judi & Peter reciting poems about Garoon (Springtime).
7. Not so much long underwear!
6. Seeing Mt. Ararat in all it's majestic glory (one day!)
5. Lettuce Salads!!!! (Ga-bye Cabbage!!!)
4. "Grass" growing's really weeds that don't ever get mowed, but humor me!
3. Anticipation of Futbol! (That's soccer to those of you who are confused!)
2. The kids get to play outside at school.

1. It's April...which means I get to take a shower!!!!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


We were so excited to get the call. We had a care-package waiting for us at the Post Office! Here mail is not delivered to your house. The Post Office in your district telephones you and tells you to come and get your mail! This would sure cut down on all the junk mail we receive in the States! Perhaps we should lobby Congress for this "Pick-Up-Your-Own-Mail-Bill!"...I will start drafting this document very soon! Again, forgive the digression! This wonderful package came only 12 days after it was sent. As you can see it was filled with a wonderful assortment of useful and fun items for everyone in our family! And the best part is it came from BETTY GALLENDER! The coolest thing is that we Kazarian's, don't even know Betty! She is a friend of my dad's 2nd cousin Rowena Bowman. Apparently Rowena and Betty worked together at Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach! That's Long Beach, MISSISSIPPI!!!! We were blown away by her note..."Rowena sent me your blog and I have enjoyed reading about your experiences in Armenia...Upon reading your 1st blog I was moved to sent (the care package)...God Bless You and Keep You, Betty Gallender" We couldn't believe our Armenia blog was being read all the way in MS and then we thought about how cool it would be if we knew all the different places our blog is being read around the world. So, if you have figured out how to make a comment on the blog go ahead and leave your location! Your comments are awesome for feels like we are having a dialogue with y'all! Besides that, I have decided that when our Armenia BOOK comes out...all your comments will be footnotes! So again we thank you BETTY for the WONDERFUL CARE PACKAGE...we have used and enjoyed it ALL!! We are so blessed by you and everyone of you who loves us, prays for us, emails, calls, and reads our blog!!! We love you! Jonelle;)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Judi's Best Lunch of ALL Time!

One Saturday we went to this wonderful "Swap Meet" type market place that went on and on and on. It is called Malateesah and it is open 24 hours a day, everyday! Apparently if you go in the middle of the night the prices are even better. I am a bargain shopper but 2 am in these environs doesn't appeal to me. The spaces are filled with watches, belts, pantyhose, bedding, stoves, pipes, washers, curling irons, shoes, jewelry, are you getting the picture? They sell EVERYTHING here! And of course there is the food. Along many of the twists and turns of the huge marketplace there are small pits with hot ashes making delicious CHOROVADZ (BBQ and not in the Southern understanding of BBQ!) The sheeshes (skewers) are wrapped in highly seasoned ground meats or whole chunks of chicken (I'm pretty sure it's chicken : ) they are par-cooked and then heated through when a willing patron comes to eat. Along our winding walk through car parts, lingerie, and metal pipe we first smell the enticing odor that beckons us to come. With each whiff of the smoke acting as a odiferous invitation to dine. Each of the ramshackle restaurants claim the best eats around and chefs call you in as you saunter past. We have been told by many well-wishers and family NOT to eat "off the street" I guess you could take this literally and it would be wise council in ANY country. But the argument for abstaining from these roadside eateries is because they are not sanitary. Alas we threw caution to the wind and bellied up to the stand and boldly ordered one of each kind of chorovadz and one FantaÒ lemonade for the 4 of us to share. (Frankie was sound asleep in Kalem's arms). The cook on the right pointed to the "Dining Room" which consisted of a rickety picnic table with a well-worn vinyl table cloth. There were two bottles of ketchup (which, by the way, is EXTREMELY popular here in Hyestan and it is sold in varying degrees of gudzoones (spicy hotness), SALT (of course salt), and two or three “napkins”. Let me expand on the idea of napkins at this point. Usually, in outdoor eateries we have encountered these 3¼” squares of very thin paper; these or a box of Kleenex accompany a meal for the purposes of wiping ones mouth and fingers. Unfortunately for me I am such a messy eater that the napkins run out all too soon. Perhaps I will try using lavash instead since it is always in great abundance on every table and is much thicker and usually softer than the napkins…Hum, I will look into this…Back to the “dining room”, which was no bigger than the table plus a foot for a row of people to sit against the wall. The other side of the table had room for another bench but those sitting there were pretty much in the kitchen and would get hit by the refrigerator door whenever opened…which was quiet frequently!

We looked at the table and saw three men, all sitting apart but in a fashion that would not allow the Kazarian gang to sit together. Seeing this the “sous chef” yells at one man, “Ackper, SHARJEH!” (Buddy/Brother MOVE!) Now I call that customer service! As we sat and waited the “executive chef” smoked two cigarettes OVER our cooking meat, and the gentleman next to me ordered a shot of vodka (which was in the refrigerator). The sous chef took a used shot glass that was left on the table, wiped it out with a handkerchief from his shirt pocket set it on the table and poured the fresh shot! We received our meal and ate with vigor. Kalem and I unfortunately added barbequed peppers to our lunch and our mouths were on fire! We finished our FantaÒ, ordered another and a Tan (yogurt drink like buttermilk without the butter) just to put out the fire on our tongues. My eyes were tearing from the pepper, we were choking on the BBQ and cigarette smoke, and thinking about how UNSANITARY this experience was when Judi announces, “This is the best food I have ever eaten in my entire life!” I couldn’t stop laughing! ; ) jonelle

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Vie Frankie: Part 1

Frankie's sparkling eyes and winning smile took Armenia by storm.  It actually started in the Moscow airport during our three hour layover.  Once we were admitted into our gate's waiting area, Frank had made three friends: #1 Leonah (who ended up giving Judi delicious Russian chocolates because it was her birthday) was a 28 year old rep for CATAPILLAR® and had just come back from Europe, #2 Medz Babig (a grandpa) who had Frankie on his lap and was singing to him, and #3 Medz Tatig (no relation to the old man but a few chairs down).  Within minutes Frankie had both of the octogenarian's cell phones and was dancing around with music they had programmed in their phones.  They were laughing and clapping with Frankie as the entire waiting area looked on.  Once we landed in Yerevan and got through the Passport checking station, which took quite awhile that once we were to baggage claim everyone was long gone.  Mind you, it is now 4:00am and 16+hours in planes, 3½+ hours in cars.  …So there we are with our 5 suitcases and 5 boxes, each weighing 50 pounds, packed strategically on the airport luggage carts (Hyestan has really cool ones that are way more substantial with little seats in front for kids to sit, like in grocery carts).  We have Peter sitting in one with Kalem pushing and Frankie in the other.  Of course, Frankie is in his standard tired pose, pointer & middle finger of right hand in mouth, left arm bent, inside of elbow to nose and sucking fingers vigorously.  One of the armed security guards in the baggage claim area came right up to Frankie and in Armenian said, "Take your fingers out of your mouth!"  (We learned very quickly; …as soon as we got into our AEROFLOT plane in Los Angeles, that finger sucking was a NO-NO…, you should have seen all the looks we got from the passengers in rows 21 and 23 and those in seats F & G!)  Then he started this game with Frankie and pretty soon another officer and a woman in lost baggage were all laughing and playing with Frankie!  The officers even tried to speak English to cajole Frank to remove his digits, but Frankie just laughed and smiled that anooshig smile that turns his eyes into half moons, and kept his fingers firmly in his mouth!  We waved goodbye and saw our relatives at the exit doors waiting for us to come out.  No sooner did we step out of the airport did, Sam, Vram, and Ashot all tell Frankie, "Get your fingers out of your mouth!"  

Fast forward to Easter Sunday.  Frankie is sitting on Kalem's lap in the 2 hour service and is getting into "nappy" mode.  The fingers go into mouth and the sucking begins.  A stocky, full-figured woman in her 60's with a long grey, knit one, purl two, sweater vest and curly salt & pepper hair turns around to stare at Frankie.  As she turned her head Frankie turned his and their eyes locked.  Now, I was sitting directly behind the woman so I can only relay Frankie's reactions to her.  Apparently she scowled at him and then I saw her shake her finger at him.  Frankie's eyebrows went up in surprise and then immediately fell and he pulled his wet digits out, holding them in mid air as if suspended in time.  She faced front again and Frank held his stare at the back of her head.  When he was relatively certain the danger had passed, the fingers were securely back in place.  Moments later the woman on "Finger-Patrol" turned around again and again Frankie's fingers came out as if she had a string connected to him that she pulled with her disapproving look.  This went on for about five minutes.  Sometimes Frankie didn't even get a chance to land his fingers inside before she looked and the hand went down.  At one point "Miss Grey Sweater Gestapo" turned and gave me the, 'I can't BELIEVE you let your child suck his fingers' look.  I was a bit annoyed and was feeling like I should tell her, "The service is going on in FRONT of you, Pay attention to Jesus NOT FRANKIE!, but of course, I refrained!  

Frankie still gets questioned, glared at, and man-handled but he goes right on sucking his fingers…; besides doesn't he look like he can hold his own with his "tough-guy" undershirt and crew-cut!  Vie Frankie!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I Finally Got One

I got my first ticket today! This would be the fourth time I have
been pulled over since we have been here (almost two months now). I
didn't even care any more, I gladly pulled over at what I have come to
know as the ammunitions check point entering the city. I drive by
these police almost every other day, because my cousin Vram lives just
past their stake out, and ever time he says slow down and gets
nervous, and every time I slow down, even this time. Often they
already have cars stopped and are busy already, but not today, they
actually looked pretty bored, maybe even a little hungry. Maybe they
needed some cigarette money, maybe I looked guilty, maybe my glasses,
maybe because I had a flannel shirt on and not my black sweater. What
ever the case today was the day I would be fined for not wearing my
My argument went something like this, "I didn't know, I am new here,"
that didn't work, so I tried, "some one told me I didn't have to wear
my seat belt in the city just out side of the city." That didn't work
either, and so he asked again, 5000 drams (about $16), he didn't care
about my international driving permit, or the fact that I spoke poor
Armenian, he wanted is 5000 drams. Maybe my Armenian is getting
better, maybe I am over confident with the police, who knows? Seeing
that was not getting anywhere with him I then asked, "Are you going to
write me a ticket then?" At this response he was a bit frustrated,
for this meant paper work, and I was slowing him down. Typically, the
driver barters a 5000 dram ticket price down to a 3000 dram bribe
which they quickly pay and are on their way again. Although this is
illegal now it is still a very much practiced way of dealing with the
situation. Since he was writing the ticket anyway, I had the option
to pay him now or at the police station, guess what he preferred?
So after an agonizing time of him trying to read the english spelling
of my some what Armenian name, he wrote the ticket, I signed, payed my
fine and was on my way again, with another great story.

Monday, April 7, 2008



What vodka can't fix CANDY can

The first day of kindergarden the kids were a mess, crying clinging, etc, and every teacher wanted to be the one to win the kids over with candy, especially little Frankie.  He clung the longest and took three pieces of candy, and an extra hour to separate. Weeks later after the kids had adjusted with who know how much candy they were given while we weren't there, they caught a cold.  The teachers said we weren't dressing them warm enough, and that we were probably giving them too much candy.  I didn't even know about the community drinking cup policy at that time (don't worry the "Americans" kids now each have their own cups, but little Frankie often forgets about this).  Upon the kids return the teachers started with the candy again to win the reluctant kids over.  
When visiting or having guests, candy is the standard host gift, chocolate to be exact, and it is often opened before the meal even begins.  It is set out immediately after the meal is finished and replenished later when coffee is served.  If children are cranky or embarrassed, candy is the solution, local children usually don't have any limits or boundaries placed on their candy consumption.  Because of this young children have to have rotten baby teeth pulled out, or capped, and their permeant teeth are damaged before they come in.  
Tooth brushing is not standard practice, nor are dental visits except of course for the extraction or filling.  One of the kindergarden teacher has been suffering for over three weeks now with a rotten tooth, she is so fearful of the dentist that she would rather suffer a fever and the constant pain.  Long term affects of this are seen in grandparents with gold teeth or missing more teeth than they have.  As far as candy goes the consequence are not thought out too well. 
In the supermarkets there is usually twice as much space devoted to candy as there is to vodka.  There is a company called Grand Candy, that pretty much has a corner on the market, and everything from the wrappers, to the stores, is bright and festive.  Often candy is not enough it has to be Grand Candy, to be real candy.  It is hard for the kids because they want it so much, and it is offered to them so much, and everyone else is doing it, that they often fall into the societal trap.
We have until now kept our candy dish up high and hidden from the children, but now it is the center piece of our daily table.  Not that we might consume it but that the children would begin to learn self discipline around the tasty treat.  Judi and Peter, are beginning to understand this discipline, but little Frankie has yet to grasp the idea of boundaries in his candy consumption. He has actually developed into quite a fast consumer of the sweet stuff, in less than one minute that we were away from him at a friends house, he had six empty wrappers piled next to the bowl, one unwrapped in one hand and one unwrapped in the other hand.  
We have been through three series of colds all started by our own little Frankie, so as crazy as this candy situation is, please pray for us and little Frankie that we are able to protect both our teeth and our health!  

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Different Kind of Classroom

So, as you know we have been working diligently on our language
skills, Jonelle is learning through the shopping arena, and I through
toasts. Toasts in Armenia are more like toasts at weddings that last
5-10 minutes each, and can be the soul purpose for getting together.
They are more conversations, and detailed remembrances of the past,
than general well wishing we typically think of as toast at casual
gatherings. People drink in groups here and empty their glasses at
the same time, and there is always something said, the length of which
greatly depends on the amount of alcohol consumed. By alcohol I mean
Vodka, is there any thing else? Supermarkets have complete isles
dedicated to vodka, and small grocery stores ALL have vodka if nothing
else, $2-$3 for cheep average stuff, and the prices just go up from
Glasses are fill almost immediately after they are emptied, A typical
toast would be, "This toast is for our (children, wives, relatives,
country, lives, etc)," then a further description of the topic,
clinking of glasses, then some one interrupting to either toast the
toaster, or tell some story. After which glasses are clinked together
again, and the toaster continues with his own story or commentary.
Finally, glasses are clinked again, and if the toaster is satisfied he
will drink followed by everyone else. Some major errors, all of which
I have made in the past, are drinking with out toasting, drinking
before the toast is actually finished, not drinking to a toast,
toasting before the senior member or host, swallowing improperly, not
finishing the entire shot, or not eating the customary bread sausage
or cheese immediately after the toast.
Toasts are generally hard for me to understand since they are
sketches of history that I am not always familiar with, compared to
practical conversations revolving around buying something, working on
a building project, or communicating some tangible piece of
information. I listen intently and try to make out as many words as
possible and weave together the meaning. As the toast wear on they
become simpler, and my comprehension improves, even before the end
when men are kissing each other and embracing. This along with broken
shot glasses, spilled bottles, and frequent calls from the wives,
usually signal the end of the evening.

Saturday, April 5, 2008


I was a bit hesitant when I first received the invitation to play
basketball in Armenia: a) I didn't really expect to have opportunity
to play, b) I didn't bring the proper shoes, c) a very unscheduled
life for the first several weeks, d) the late hour (9-11 pm) e)
possible language barrier issues f) fear of re-injuring my knee (MCL
surgery '93 - rollerblades vs car, and then small piece of floating
meniscus '05 - basketball).
So, with a newly implemented family schedule, borrowed shoes, I
sucked up my language fears, and vowed to play carefully to protect my
knee. To my surprise, it was very similar to games with Jay
Khushigian at FAPC, with out the Bible study. English was the
predominate language used for the game, although there was a
surprising amount of Arabic, along with Western Armenian, Eastern
Armenian, and Russian.
Four on four half court, with evenly matched teams, was very fun,
although there were probably more fouls called than points scored.
Everyone was often reminded that it was supposed to be a "friendly
game." I tried to stay away from fouling and tried not to call any
fouls if I could help it. I did call foul, when someone's knee found
my rib cage and left me laid out gasping for air under the basket.
Some of my favorite statements from the game were: Directed at me,
"You're our best player, and our worst player (for not calling
fouls)." Then from my host to the 6'4" 250 pound player I was
guarding after discussing the 3 second rule in the key, "We will call
you Mashutka (public transportation van) number 45, and that (the key,
under the basket) is your parking spot.
So now two days later, every muscle in my body is completely sore, I
have blisters on my feet from oversized shoes, my ribs are bruised,
and I can't wait to go back next Thursday.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mrs. Serob: The Last Battle

The first time I ever met Mrs. Serob was one week after we arrived in Yerevan.  We were hosting our first dinner for our relatives and Kalem asked her if we could borrow some chairs and possibly a table for the festivities (this is totally normal and not rude in any way shape or form).  She came over with her brother who carried the table and he and Kalem brought the chairs back and forth.  I was unaware of all that was transpiring because I was in the kitchen, of course, preparing the food.  My hands were dirty and the counter was full of bowls and dishes of my latest creations.  Kalem seemed to be carrying on a lengthy conversation and finally called to me, "Jonelle, I want you to meet Serob's wife and her brother."  I washed up and came out to meet them.  Mrs. Serob eyed me up and down and asked the standard, "Hyeren haskanoom es?" and "Hyeren chosoom es?" Do you understand Armenian and Do you speak Armenian?  I replied my standard, "Me Keech" (a little), we smiled and then the conversation shifted to her brother who wanted to know if I was a Christian and if I spoke in tongues.  (Apparently he had already interrogated Kalem)  God is so good since I had just learned the word for gift "Noover" earlier that day.  I said, "Voch.  Lezoonera em noover che, bites em noover hospitality."  Translation, "No.  Speaking in tongues is not my gift, but hospitality is."  He looked at me with a half-cocked head and an air of disapproval.  So I quickly got my Bible and read, in English of course, 1 Corinthians 12.  The whole while Mrs. Serob was rolling her eyes and trying to get her brother leave.
            The second interaction with Mrs. Serob was the night she came to tell us to turn our computers off and lock our doors when we left (since she had been inside of our house for some reason or another snooping around), but when I heard her coming I hid in the bathroom with the kids!  So the next time I actually saw her was the night she had come over to tell us that the kids were quieter.  She came into the kitchen and asked me, in a very leading way, "Don't you like Armenia SOOOO much better than the US?"  She followed up with, "Our food tastes so much better here too."  "My sister lives in LA and she says the fruit looks good but it tastes like nothing and everyone is fat in the States."  Of course this was all in Armenian but between Kalem and myself, we GOT what she was saying.  Of course, I got defensive and made some joke about how I really didn't know how good the fruits and veggies were in Armenia since I had been eating only CABBAGE, BEETS, POTATOES, and more CABBAGE (since it was winter) and I would get back to her once the tomatoes, cucumbers and other fruits were in season.  I did agree that we have a lot of overweight people in the States due to poor eating habits, and all the preservatives in our food BUT the thing I just couldn't get over was…was…was.  Well, you see I have never really described Mrs. Serob's physical attributes; she is about 5' 3", black hair long to her shoulders and bangs, and, and, and she weighs about 170lbs.  Now, I would not consider her huge but she is a bit plump so I couldn't see where she got off talking about Fat Americans.
            You have read all the other interactions with Mrs. Serob and some of you have "weighed" in on your feelings about her.  She's mean, crabby, annoyed, cranky, scary, and angry.  Others feel sorry for her since she has to put up with the KAZARIAN'S for the past 6 weeks.  You maybe wondering why this story is coming after all of the other sparing matches I have had with the woman, but this piece had to be put in place before this contest could produce a victor.  Being the sensitive, caring, compassionate, intuitive, therapist, pastor, and friend that I am I usually can figure out what is going on with a person pretty readily.  But something about Mrs. Serob eluded me.  So I decided to look at all the pieces in order:
  1. She is cranky
  2. She sleeps until noon
  3. She doesn't want to hear kids making noise
  4. She's fat but doesn't seem think so
  5. She's annoyed
I guess she might have a self-esteem problem, or not like Americans, or reverse anorexic imaging disorder (I made that up) but after I pondered and pondered and pondered the answer came to me like a clear voice…Actually it was Sam's (the way late coffee drinker) voice saying, "Jonelle-jan, she baby is going to have!"  EEAHHHHHHH.  I am soooooo lame.  I mean I move to another country and I totally loose my mind as well as all my gifts??!!  I'd better look into speaking in tongues!  Mrs. Serob if you ever read this, "I AM SO SORRY!"  GAME OVER you won!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Khanoot

My lesson for today from Herr Detweiler Kazarian was to go to the Khanoot (small grocery shop) on the next street up from our house.  He wanted me to make a list of things we were lacking, take my drams (money) and buy what we needed BY MYSELF!; using only my Armenian language skills!  Kalem believes in full-emersion baptism (but to me it feels more like the-hold-you-under-water-until-you're-about-to-drown-method).  The only other name I could give his technique would be, "Fear Factor"!

At about 12:30pm Kalem booms, "Jonelle, You REALLY Need To Go To The Store, now…SHNELL!"  I think this is a common Kazarian tactic of throwing your loved ones into situations "to help them" or "for their own good" (am I correct Ron?)…it gets lost in the translation for me…I genteelly tried to explain the teaching method that is most beneficial to my learning.  1. Show me how to do it.  2. Do it but allow me to help.  3. Let me do it but help me if I need it. And FINALLY 4. I will do it on my own.  Praise God Kalem heard my request and he benevolently backed up from Stage 4 all the way to Stage 3! 

            So, at 1pm we made our way to the khanoot.  As Kalem and I stolled up Pagotz Dasna Meg (street #11) we greeted a few people and smiled (like only AMERICANS do).  When we got to the store the plump lady store owner was sitting outside with a nice arrangement of Gananchee (greens including tarragon, parsley, cilantro, green onions, radishes), Gazar or Sabgheen (carrots), Bazook (beets), Kartofil (potatoes), Chunsor (apples), Nareenj (oranges), Banan, Soghk (onions), and Khegamb (cabbage).  She was outside due to the "remodeling" going on inside on half of the store.  We greeted her with a, "Barev tsez" and went inside.  EXCELLENT!  There was only one other customer in the store and she was asking about Chameech (raisins).  The store owner (who has been to Fresno) started yelling, "Gayane…GAYANE, GAYANNEE, CHAMEECH, CHAMEECH OOZOOM EM!!!"  Then he turned to me.  I was ready.  List in hand.  No pressure.  I'm no good under pressure (well, not in Armenian anyway!)  As I was about to speak another woman walked in front of me and asked about the man's chickens?  Kalem yelled from the corner of the store, "Speak UP, Get In There!"  So I started.  I rattled off the list in my best Armenian and was doing okay, Dzu, Hatz, Madzoon…when I felt an uneasy feeling.  I turned for a moment and there in the khanoot were 10 people all looking at me!  They were looking at me because I was wearing my Nike tennis shoes.  There were looking at me because I was NOT wearing my Hottie Hyastansi Jeans.  They were looking at me because of the absolute clarity that I was speaking like a 2 year old not a 38 year old Armenian Woman.  They were looking at me because I was buying so much stuff!  Remember this is not a "store" where you get your own items.  Khanoots are much like deli's but EVERYTHING is behind the glass!  I started to panic.  My list was a bit blurry.  I didn't remember if I already asked for my Garak (butter) or not.  I was trying to hurry when I heard the Chameech Lady say to the Grocery.  "Who is this?  Is she trying to learn Armenian?"  With that said and the fact that I understood, I retorted.  "I owe, yev, na eem oosooceech!"  (Yes and he is my teacher!"  I don't know why I feel like I have do defend myself or that maybe they are looking down on me, but whatever the reason I came up swinging.  (As I type this I am abundantly aware that I sound like a very combative person…perhaps I need to look deeper into this…does anyone know a good therapist? : )  The clerk and the woman laughed and I felt the weight lifted.  I bought Zetoons (olives) and Apple Cider Vinegar and moved to the deli meat section.  "Uta sausleges." 8 Hot Dogs.  He grabbed a handful (they are all connected by the thin plastic wrap that coats the dogs then is twisted and attached to the next and so on) and noticed that they were in sets of three.  To this he stated, "No 8.  9!"  The same happens with kilos and ½ kilos of olives, cheese, beets…just make it even and easy!  I finished my "ordering" and paid the man.  The others were happy to see me go (especially the Chameech lady who was still waiting for someone to find the blasted things!  I told her to go to Circle K if she really wanted the best raisins!)  They were finally able to purchase their 200grams of butter, an ice cream cone or a loaf of bread!  No express lanes here (unless you cut in line!).  Inside was done now we made our way outside to the plump woman with the veggies.  She asked if I was Kalem's sister and then said she loved Judi and had a Tornig the same age as Jude, living in Beruit.  We made small talk while I actually got to select my own carrots and beets…well, sort of…I put the amount I wanted but I still ended up with more of both than I wanted…"just to make it even".  I paid her and we were off.  Kalem was uncharacteristically full of praise for my job at the khanoot and when I thanked him he said, "But you have to just buy a few things every other day or so…that's how they do it here!" EEAH!!!!!  If I wasn't in Armenia, and I wasn't so SUBMISSIVE and didn't have arms full of groceries I would have knocked him out!  (Yes, I see it again…latent maniacal tendencies!!)  Good eating and enjoy grocery shopping this week!  Love Jonelle

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


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Pretty Woman

One of my favorite movies of all time is the well-known-but-totally-UNBELIEVABLE-tale called Pretty Woman.  There are countless quotable lines from the film and classic scenes but I, Jonelle Suzanne Garo Kazarian, got to live one of them this past week!!!  No!  I did not become a "Hye"-class call-girl in the Yerevan Garmeer Luz District, but I did get to go on a "Shopping Spree", of sorts.  Recall the 1990 film when Julia Roberts tries to go out  on Rodeo Drive with a fist full of money to buy some decent clothes?  Well, since I am the conservative-pastor-missionary-(and don't forget) SUBMISSIVE wife; I packed pretty much as if I was going to a village in Armenia circa 1991! (note...this was the last time I was in Armenia and I was here for a missionary project!)  This time around, if you recall, I was studying for my MFT exam and then deathly ill the two weeks prior to leaving the States.  Needless to say my packing was LACKING!!!  Obviously the saying is true, hind sight is 20/20 but I was batting a 20/200 in the suitcase department (note: this is the cutoff for legal blindness in the United States...that would be 6/60 in metric...but again I digress!)  My clothes are tastefully baggie in the pants, overly loose and very plain in the tops, and my shoes are, well missionary-esk.  PROBLEM GA!  The women of Armenia, specifically HYASTAN are proverbial HOTTIES!!!  The pants are oh-so-form fitting, the tops are BLING, and the Shoes...don't even get me started.  Just picture 4 inch spike heels attached to any shoe, boot, sandal, etc...So plainly I REALLY stick out with my habit and sensible Aerosoles.  So since I don't fit in and Kalem, aka Richard Gere wanted me to practice speaking Armenian to actual Armenian people instead of my computer screen; he took me to the "Iranian Faire".  This is an "open-air-market" and I used OPEN-AIR extremely Loosely!!!!  There is nothing open to this market, they are tightly jammed stalls winding up a slight grade for about 1/2 a mile with blue plastic tarp covering every access to the sky.  The walkway is no more than 4 feet at it's widest point and the Iranian's don't even own the stalls anymore, but it is STILL called the Iranian Open Air Market...just work with me here.  As we came to the street Kalem says to me, "Are you ready?"  I looked and got the feeling of holding my breath as I jumped off the high-dive platform of an olympic pool!  I mean it is all the excitement of the bartering challenges of Tijuana or Cabo without the needed attitude nor language skills!  I loved making my way through the masses of people crammed in this serpentine highway of commerce.  I watched ample sales women stuffing their celophane cash drawers INTO their bras, toothless peddlers of black-saltless sunflower seeds (which is crazy to me since even the coffee has SALT!! it really doesn't), and golden toothed smooth men offering their wares as the best on the pogotz (street).  It was all well and good until Richard, I mean Kalem wanted me to talk!  He taught me this phrase, "Ench Cahn Arjee?" How much does this cost?  I was supposed to saunter up to these vendors ask how much something cost and then buy it for our household.  Easy enough right?!  WRONG!!  Terribly WRONG!!  It went something like this, "Nerets ek, Baron Ench Cahn Arjeh?" to which the man would look me up and down and THEN give me a price that was mumbled under his breath.  I scrambled to try to hear the numbers and THEN to try to remember what number was in fact assigned to those verbal utterances....3 minutes later I am still standing there trying to cipher, he is staring at me like I have mental problems, and I end up saying, "Uh, Shanoragalootoon" and walking away.  Richard was not happy with me!  So he pushed me into a nice stall with women's jeans.  A woman in her 50's and a young man about 19 were ready for us.  I inquired about the jeans, she responded in ENGLISH!!!  Do you see how I am not pulling of this-oh-yeah-I'm-a-local-thing?!  We asked her to only speak Armenian and the fun began.  I tried on 3 different pairs of jeans and with each one I came out to model, the 19 year old clad in black and Chips sunglasses would lean back in his chair and pitch his head over his left shoulder to offer his opinion.  This was starting to be a good time.  I liked one pair and the 19 year old another;  Richard didn't care either way but the sales team was so approving of this new style for me that I was wrapped up in their spell...{Jeana is this what you do at Macy's?}  So we bought the jeans promised to return when I needed another pair and were on our way.  Just for fun and practice I asked another vendor how much her jeans were...THEY WERE LOWER!!!!  You know how I love a bargain and you know crazy this made me, but Richard was loving my Armenian lesson of the day!  And in case you are jeans are so HOT!!! (especially for a MISSIONARY!)  I am beginning to fit least from the waist down...TOMORROW I BUY SHOES!!!!!