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    September 18, 2013

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One of our team guidelines is that we should do our best to avoid complaining. This, if you have ever attempted it is a bit more difficult than it would seem. Especially when you are outside your normal routine and being pushed beyond your comfort zone, the tendency to give voice to the things that are bothersome to us becomes pretty natural. And, as we have noticed, the longer we are out and the more tired we get, the more frequent these complaints become. So, since we are trying to avoid this natural tendency, and since “complaining” is such a negative term, we have affectionately adopted the habit of “making observations” as Avo coined it. For example, “I observe that this bag of food is very heavy, and likely to give me a back ache,” or “I’d like to observe that this plan did not go even close to how I had pictured it.”

Tonight, we gathered at the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood church in Yerevan equipped with songs, testimonies, and the 180 bags of goods we had prepared yesterday.  With these things, we hoped to bring just a glimpse of hope to people who have more “observations” to make than most people in the world. As we performed songs, spoke, handed out or carried heavy bags of food and blankets, I think several of us realized how very insignificant our own concerns have been.

We heard a few stories from some of these Syrian refugees about having everything in their lives ripped from them and having to start from nothing in a country with an already weak economy and few jobs. One woman shyly approached Vivian, one of our team members, and asked if she was staying in the Panorama Resort. She recognized us, because she was actually the maid who has been cleaning our rooms. She went on to share with us that she used to live in Aleppo in a very well to do part of town (the Villas) until her home was bombed and destroyed. She, her husband, and their 3 children were forced to move to Armenia and since her husband was not able to find a job, she has had to support their family of 5 on her meager income from cleaning.  She spoke of her fear of embarrassment of being found out as a maid by people who might have known her in Syria. Within a few short months she went from a life of plenty to barely making enough money to survive.

There was another family who came and had not registered for the evening. After they heard that they had needed to register and could not come, they became desperate and told the pastor that they have 7 children, no food, and no place to live. They told him that if we could not help them, they would literally not have anything.

At the end of the evening, the host pastor to these Syrian Armenian refugees explained to us that there are many, many families in Yerevan who are in extreme need. They receive calls about new families with needs all the time. There are ministries in Armenia who are trying to do what they can to help, but the need is great. ARDA, for example, sponsors a program for these families in need for less per month than most our us pay for our cell phone bill.

We are eager to come back and share photos and stories with our congregation at ACF. How great would it be to be the life-line to these families who have recently lost everything? Some of these families have no food and shelter with a bitter winter fast approaching. It’s one thing to have been poor your whole life, for at least you have the experience of dealing with poverty and know how to survive. It’s another thing to have lost all and not know how to deal with it.  In light of these immense hardships, may our own “observations” diminish, and our drive to support, encourage, and share the hope of an eternal future with people like these increase.

Next week, our team intends to go out to find Syrian Armenian families that need support. We hope to see with our eyes their living conditions and how we could be of help…how you could be of help.

Photos to come soon.

Written by Jen and Avo

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