Akhpradzor, Armenia--Nanor Balabanian
In this village, almost every thing that people own, eat, or use is hand made, usually by their own hands.
I am sitting on my bed. My mattress, pillow and blanket are all hand made by the woman who runs this house.
She had to shave her own sheep, clean the wool by whipping it with a special stick, wash and dry it , then sow it in the cloth. After which she carefully had sown a satin piece of cloth and gave the comforter a special design. Yesterday, she told me she wants to send one to me with my name stitched on the comforter when I get married
Starting at age 3, every villager works very hard to help their family survive. From a very young age, the children are sent to the fields with their parents to pick grass, help graze the sheep, milk the cows, etc.
At 15, every girl already knows how to cook for the family, get up early in the morning to milk the cows, and prepare cheese, do all the housework (iron the sheets, etc...), and on top of it study for school.
Yesterday, we got our share of their chores! The girls and I really wanted to see the cows and sheep graze the fields, so we went with a bunch of people to the mountains. It was about a 2 hour hike and we finally got to the top of the mountain where the view was inexplicable. We found an old Khachkar there, as well as a very old ruined city from Lengtimour's time.
After our hike, I came home on a horse (it's funny to hear myself say that). It was an amazing feeling!
Meanwhile, Azad and the girls enjoyed holding eagles with their bare hands. Azad felt that he was in Hogwarts.
Next the children wanted me to try real pure honey so they took me on this hill where the village's famous honey-maker's lives :)
He had about 20-30 beehives which terrified me at first because we had to walk so close to them... When we went to his house, he held his bees with his bare hands, showed us how he makes his honey, and what the conditions should be to do. After which I got to try THE BEST honey I've ever had in my life... made entirely by this man's hands. (I think i now better understand the verse "your love is sweeter than honey"... cause if there is anything sweeter than THAT honey it must be really really special!) :)
After our visit at the honey-makers house, I actually milked a cow!!! Astkhik, Alex and I all really wanted to learn, so we got to milk two different cows!!
Tomorrow we will learn to make cheese too.
Maybe one day I'll sew a mattress and blanket too.
On another note, our HRI camp began yesterday and we had 64 kids register!! We really were not expecting this many kids so at first it seemed overwhelming. But our four classes went well overall. The children LOVE Mrs Nune's Arts and Crafts, Astkhik's and Alex's Science/First Aid/English class, Azad's Sports class, and computer class.
As I learned from NSLC, all the students got name tags that they had to wear every day :)
We get a variety of students that come to our computer classes. Some have experience already, but some others have never touched one before in their lives. Everyone loves paint, pinball, and card games!
Every villager here is an inspiration to me.
Their hard work, determination, persistence, love for family and community, humility and simplicity are qualities that I will always remembers and try to take home with me. My wish is for every person to have this kind of experience...
I encourage you today to get out of your comfort zone... go somewhere where you feel called... and experience a lifestyle that is completely different than yours... yes, it's not always comfortable or easy... but the lessons you will learn from your experiences will stay with you for the rest of your life! Just do it! :D
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