We were treated to a tour of two Armenian monasteries, and a winery last Sunday.
( I am a little behind on posting updates, Jim and I have been
violently ill a little under the weather for the past couple of days. If we were in Haiti, I would have drug myself to the hospital convinced it was cholera, but alas it was merely a stomach virus. Ben was slightly confused, what happened to my fun new parents? Who are these lumps on the sofa?
Never fear, we have recovered, and are back to our usual spunky selves.)
Khor Virap (means "deep hole") monastery near the boarder of Turkey with a beautiful view of Mt Ararat in the background.
This monastery was built on the site of a pagan temple after St. Gregory the Illuminator was tortured and kept in a deep hole for 13 years. Gregory, whose given name at birth was Suren, was born to a Persian family living in Armenia. St. Gregory the Illuminator is credited for bringing Christianity to Armenia.
Sunday morning we woke up to no power in our apartment. This is us, not showered. :) Mt. Ararat is a sacred place to Armenians and to Christians around the world. It is said to be the site where the Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood. Currently Mt. Ararat is located in Turkish territory, but it continues to be one of the symbols of Armenia.
After leaving Khor Virap, we stopped at a restaurant (the pic above is not the restaurant!) in the mountains to place our lunch order before heading to the next monastery. Across the road, these women were making lavash (spelling it how it sounds, I think we spell it with a "w" in the states) to store for the winter. We were told it would keep for 6-9 months. Our favorite part was the oven in the floor. Two women were rolling out the dough, and the third was slapping it against the hot bricks on the side to bake. It was yummy.
Sarah, I see a future for us here if our families ever decide to kick us out! Do you want to roll dough, or run the oven?
Next, we headed up the mountain to a monastery called Noravank.
Me, at the top of the real stairway to heaven. Not sure why I came back down. Seriously, the steps were less than a foot wide.
The outdoor restaurant where we had lunch. It was beautiful. Deep in a crevasse with a river running right through it.
The winery was our last stop. We had a great day.
Ben continues to do well. He is sleeping better and better each night, and settling into a routine with us.
Today the sisters had a farewell party for him and the daughter of one of the other families traveling with us. It was very nice. The children sang songs, and said goodbye, good luck, we will miss you. I got chastised by an 8 year old for crying. I couldn't help it. Ben received a blessing by a priest from the Catholic Church of Armenia, using a relic from Mother Theresa. So I guess he received a blessing from Mother Theresa herself?
The sisters gave him a photo album of his first two years, which I know in the adoption world is huge! Most children from an orphanage do not receive this. We feel very blessed he has these treasures.
We also received his baptism certificate, yes Uncle Bob, he's Catholic!
They kept thanking us for taking him, one of the sisters pulled me aside and said, "God puts a call inside of us, and we can either say yes, or say no. Thank you for saying yes." I don't think she knew how significant that was to our story, and the current adoption campaign circulating about saying "yes." I'll never forget that moment.
We don't feel worthy of their praise, we are the one's who are grateful for our boy.