Thursday, June 26, 2008

Work Projects update

We just completed the second week of work projects with 10 volunteers
the first week and 15 the second week, a very full and rewarding two
weeks. We worked on our two neighbors houses, filling rocks and sand
into kitchens and bathrooms to raise them up to match the floor grade,
and then mixing and pouring concrete all via bucket brigade. The job
that never seemed to end was lifting dirt up to the attic of one of
the houses to be used as insulation. All of our volunteers had great
attitudes and all did great work, even our parents! We are now in
Yerevan to spend the last few days with the group before they head
back, then it will be back to the village for more work. We are still
without internet there, but hope to have it in July sometime. We
enjoy your emails and comments, and will try to fill in some blogs
with the great stories we have of village life.

Tsavet Danem

"Tsavet danem" literally means, "I take your pain." Although the
modern usage of this phrase has drifted much from the original
meaning, it is easier to see this phrase lived out in the lives of the
people of Armenia. As neighbor helps neighbor, as burdens are shared
and bared, and labor is taken up together.
Although I was not here for the earthquake in 1988, I do remember
exactly where I was when I heard about it. Fourteen years old serving
as a candle holder in St. Gregory Church in Fowler, Father George
Arakelian announced that an 8.9 earthquake struck near the town of
Spitak in Northern Armenia. I had no idea then that I would be
rebuilding those very homes that were destroyed, and to live and
witness the devastation day after day 20 years later. I had no idea I
would be so enmeshed in lives of these people struggling to survive.
I have come to understand what it means to say tsavet danem as I work
hand in hand with my own neighbors rebuilding their homes and
encouraging them to persevere.
Story after story, live after live, changed in a moment forever.
Homes destroyed, children losing parents, parents losing children,
husbands, wives, loss of limbs, loss of purpose, never to be the
same. It is almost to much to comprehend such tragedy, living in
tents through the winter, then shipping containers, and still. This
burden was taken up by the world, as country after country came to
little Armenia to rebuild and yet the pain is still there. Then homes
are still not complete, families are broken, and the people bear the
scars of this tragedy. We say tsavet danem as we lift them up and
bear their burden with them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Update on village life

We have survived the first week in the village, and one of the next
families has already begun work on their house. The next couple
families will be soon to follow. The kids are cycling trough colds,
fevers, and various allergic reactions to the plants and food. It is
a very cold and wet environment and our house is even more humid from
all of the construction work. If you could please pray that we all
get and stay well, especially the kids who are particularly sensitive.
Things have been pretty busy settling in to the house, meeting our new
neighbors, and helping on their home construction. We hope to have
more blogs soon!

Friday, June 6, 2008

We've moved to the Village!

We have moved to the village. We have a flushing toilet a shower and
hot water, but as of yet no internet. You can call us via
international calling card (specific Armenia cards can be found at
armenian delis and grocery stores) 37425560308. We receive voice
messages on our Fresno phone number via our email. Our postal address
is Kalem Kazarian, Lusaghbyur Village, Lori Region, Armenia,
094652088. We hope to continue to update the blog site as we make
trips into town, and of course we love getting emails and comments
from you. Our email addresses are our (first name)@(our last
name).net and we hope to find a way to get internet here, until then
there will be delays between our blog posts and replies to emails. We
have plenty of new and even better stories so keep checking. We
welcome our first volunteer Linda Shekerjian who will be helping for
the month of June, and are expecting our family and friends for
touring and working in the middle of June.