Monday, August 15, 2011

First Days in Armenia--A Letter and Pictures

Hello from Armenia!

This has to be the craziest place I've been in my life. It is really, an entirely different world. 

Our flight was laid over in Chicago, but we ran (in less that 5 minutes) to our next flight in Germany, and just barely made the flight. They were calling our names over the intercom as we were passing through customs. But everything else was great.

We spent the first few days in the mission presidents house, which was nice, to start to get used to Armenia. But then on Thursday, we met our companions and moved in.

I've learned, work is really a blessing. A lot of people in this country don't have it. Most in fact. 

Anyways, my companion is really cool. Elder Lush is hilarious and he's awesome to have as a mentor. I'm really glad. He's from Texas, but his family moved to Virginia while he was on his mission.  

The first week was nuts. We went out to a small suburb of Yerevan to teach this one lady, Sussana and her daughter Alah. They are both just about ready for baptism. Their interview will be this Saturday. Anyways, the city is the same one in the second picture I sent you. She and her daughter are so ready. Their faith is immovable, even when it comes to tithing. She works 2 jobs,... and she is more than willing, and happy to obey the law of tithing. It is really something else. 

About our area, we both got white washed into a suburb of Armenia called Malatsia (couldn't find that on Google maps but perhaps its Malatis-Sebastia which is on the map). It's very interesting, but quite nice. You can see soviet influence everywhere. Concrete buildings (in a cookie cutter pattern) line most of the streets around where I live. We live only about a half mile from the branch building.

We have a nice branch of about 20 people. They all seem really dedicated and faithful. 

My district is small. It includes the two zone leaders, and two sisters (one of which is Sister Tolman), both companionships work in Ajapniac, a town just north of us.

The language is insane, I catch about 10-20 % most of the time. Which everyone says is good....They say I won't hold a conversation until about 5 months in. sighhhh... oh well.

Our apartment is in a giant concrete living building, pretty run down, but that's cool. It's so exciting living here, where it really is a different world. We had to clean out the fridge from the last Elders living here. NAsty. The pineapple was black. bleaghhh. But besides that, I included a picture.

My favorite food would have to be something called a Sharma, which is meat and veggies wrapped in a tortilla like thing and a sauce poured inside. The food is....different. And very salty. We work with this one member named Hyke. He's so enthusiastic about the church and always goes out to help the missionaries teach (he's 19) He'll be getting the Melchizedek priesthood soon and we'll all happy for him. But one day we went to his house and he served us this thing called Pilaf, and it was packed with salt, but oh well :) We cook most of the time, stuff like pilaf (less saltier), grilled cheese, pancakes, etc. We eat well.

The shopping market is actually not too bad. It was funny, I was looking in it and I was like, ehhh it's alright. And Elder Lush was practically crying. He was like "they have sliced bread!" and then we found the chocolate milk and he was like "this is the best thing since the sliced bread" He also freaked out about the running water in our apartment. Apparently most other places don't have that. They only get it for an hour in the morning. 

We ride marshutinees everywhere, which are like vans with more separate seating. They hold about 10 people but they usually stuff around 20 in there. It is amazing.

The weather is hot. Bleagh, without air conditioning. But It's starting to cool down, so that's good.

I do play piano for my branch. That's pretty nice. They were actually praying for someone who could play the piano, and now Elder Lush and I both play.

Anyways, I gotta run. We have to go shopping and I still need to write the branch president. But I love you all and know I'm doing great! 

Love, Elder Hammer

Our last day as a district
Us at the airport drinking Jamba Juice for the first time in 3 months and the last time for 2 years
This is called Mayer Hayastan (Mother Armenia) Built just after they tore down the statue of Stalin.
Typical view outside of Yerevan
This is our apartment.

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