Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Strange Day

May 1st is Labor Day in Armenia and other parts of the world, it fell
on a Thursday this year, so government offices, banks, and some stores
were closed. Even on Friday some stores and shops were closed and the
traffic was lighter. Then came Saturday, was probably the most
normal, with some kids returning to school (school is normal here on
Saturdays) but it was still a little strange as this holiday feeling
lingered. Then came Sunday, I was anxious to see what would happen as
I had heard that government offices would be open, and students would
be expected at school. Sure enough church attendance was a fraction
of what it is regularly and the city activity was more like a weekday
than a Sunday. In the evening traffic was a little lighter than usual
(only holidays and Sundays), as it seemed people tried to regain their
lost Sunday. All this crazy schedule changing to honor the workers by
making them work on Sunday! Needless to say it was the very topic of
the sermon. Making it the strangest of the four days.
We attended the an Armenian service in the morning and were told
about an English service that evening, so we went to both. The kids
receive grades for their behavior in church, 5 in Armenia is
equivalent to a A, and 4 is a B etc... The family average is about
2.5 usually. For some reason Peter pulled out a 5 this morning at the
Armenian service and we couldn't believe it (3 has been the family
high), then at the English service in the evening he managed a 0, with
shouts of "is it over yet," "this is too long," and "can we go
please!" during the sermon and prayer time. This English speaking
church service was also very strange with med students from India, and
other students from Asia and Africa, Non-Governmental Organization
(NGO) workers from all over the world, and a few locals. It was the
most multicultural church we have been to in a long time, and it felt
strangely familiar and comfortable to be amidst this mix of people all
speaking English.
The evening topper was getting a frozen pizza from the supermarket
for dinner and upon opening it finding hot dog chucks as the featured
meat! At least it wasn't coated in Mayonnaise as most other pizzas
are. The kids didn't get to bed until 10 (2 hours past their 8 p.m.
bedtime), celebrated with fireworks over the city for who know what?
Although these things may or may not seem strange to you, we continue
in the cultural daze that we call life here, with glimpses of
normality on occasion. Leaving us asking ourselves over and over
again, "really what is normal?"

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