The first five days here in Armenia have been such a blessing so far. We were nervous on the flight here not knowing exactly what to expect from Armenia but as we came in to land, the beautiful peaks of Ararat came into view!
The first day we arrived at the airport and we had already noticed a difference, as Zvarnots Airport was much different than any airports we’d seen in America. As we got on our bus to the AMAA Offices in Yerevan, we started to look out the window. Immediately, we noticed how different the atmosphere was.
The first night we went out into the heart of Yerevan. Walking around at night in downtown Yerevan was such an interesting experience. So many people were out just enjoying life. It was such an amazing atmosphere. Knowing that so many Armenians in the city struggle financially made it hard to believe that the crowd could be so energetic. It seemed like people were able to simply forget about all their daily struggles and just go out and have a great time.
The second day we went and visited a beautiful school that the AMAA built for kids in one of Yerevan’s poorest districts. After that we visited some of the children at the daycare center, where they help hundreds of kids who have various disabilities. Hearing about how poor most of the kids that attend the school were really touched me. And yet, when I saw the kids they seemed like they where full of joy and having the time of there lives! Spending time with the kids and playing with them was a life changing experience. It put a lot of my every day complaints and concerns into perspective.
The next few days we went sight seeing and saw some of Armenia’s historic landmarks. We visited several churches that have been around for hundreds of years. As beautiful as some places are in America, the sights in Armenia are just on another level. Overall being in Armenia has been such a blessing. It’s definitely much different from America as they don’t have most of the luxuries we have there. After everything I have seen so far on this trip, I feel truly blessed and thankful for the opportunity to be on this team.
George Safrian and Sevag Khanjian
Being that it was my second time returning to Armenia, I was extremely excited to come back with the AMAA. One of the first stops on our trip was Yeraploor, a memorial for the fallen soldiers that fought in the Karabagh war. Many of us were shocked to see that most of the soldiers that fought during the war were very young, some as young as 18. It was nice that we were able to visit the memorial and honor those who had fallen during the battle.
After stopping at Yeraploor we headed to Tsitsernanakaberd to see the Armenian Genocide Memorial in Yerevan. Visiting the Memorial was emotional and hard for most of us. Although I was familiar with what happened during the Genocide, it was a life-changing experience to be at the memorial to honor those who passed. I could feel God’s presence as we walked through the museum reading the horrific summary of events. Although the memorial was a place filled with anger and sadness, it was also a place that filled me with pride and perseverance. In those moments I felt honored to be an Armenian and determined to keep my heritage and culture alive.
Visiting Yeraploor and Tsitsernanakaberd surrounded by fellow Armenians who I now consider family, was a day I will never forget.
Thursday was our first full day together in Armenia and it has already been an incredible experience. During our initial orientation in Paramus, New Jersey, we communicated the underlying aims of these annual internships. During this internship program, our aim is to encounter, discover and explore. We are here to encounter the important work the AMAA is doing for God’s Kingdom in Armenia; discover our rich ancient Armenian Christian heritage; and explore some of the ways God is moving here in our homeland.
On Thursday, we began the day by meeting with the AMAA Staff in Armenia. We toured the offices and presentations from both Harout Nercessian (AMAA Armenia representative) and Rev. Mgrdich Melkonian (Evangelical Church of Armenia, Senior Pastor). Afterwards, the interns had the opportunity to encounter some of the AMAA’s important programs here in Yerevan. The first was the Avedisyan School and the second was the Shogh Day Care Center.
We were especially touched by the powerful work accomplished at the Shogh Day Care Center. Shogh provides afterschool activities for young students at risk of falling into unhealthy life patterns. In the summers, they hold a special summer school. We were blessed to sit in on some of the art classes and to watch a performance from their dance group! At the Shogh Center, children who have experienced immense trauma are given hope and are encouraged to dream again. God is doing great work there through a group of faithful, patient staff that love and nurture our next generation.
We cannot wait to see what else God is up to here in Armenia! Stay tuned…
Rev. Jeremy Tovmassian
“Every good thing comes to an end.” So did the AMAA 2016 Internship Program (July 5-19), as we said our “good byes” and made our good wishes to each other the night of Monday, July 18 and in the very early hours of Tuesday, July 19. However, as the apostle Paul is “confident that he who began a good work in (us) will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6 NIV). We share the apostle’s “confidence” and that’ why look forward to cherish every opportunity which God provides us to continue the good work that He began in our lives.
I praise God and thank Him for His traveling mercies. I pray and hope that those who stayed in Armenia (with dance groups, Christian camps and relatives) will also make it safe home soon.
What a wonderful Internship experience this was to each and everyone of us! Let’s hold it dear, and also share it with our family, friends and church family, and stay connected to one another.
I offer my gratitude and thanks to God, the parents, our two wonderful leaders, and to the leaders of the AMAA and Evangelical Churches of Armenia (of Paramus, New Jersey and of Yerevan, Armenia), and to all who helped in planning and organization of this year’s Internship. May God continue to touch and bless our lives so we also touch other people’s lives with God’s grace, love and mercy.
“Interns! Please, remember. “Christianity is a two-way street.” We give, because we have received!”
Rev. Dr. Avedis Boynerian
We saw God’s breathtaking creation as we saw Mount Ararat and connected further with our motherland.
This morning after breakfast, we headed to Khor Virab and learned the history of St. Gregory. We learned that he was a missionary. He was thrown into a pit by King Drtad III and miraculously survived until the king summoned him to cure him of his madness. Since Gregory succeeded, the king decide to change the state religion to Christianity. We had a chance to climb down into the pit and see where Gregory was held for 13 years. After climbing down to the pit, we hiked to the edge of the Armenian/Turkish border.
Afterwards, we headed to the Ardashad church where the members had prepared a delicious lunch for us. After lunch, we had an opportunity to sing worship songs with the VBS kids and we headed back to the AMAA.
We had a lot of free time today, therefore some of us went to Grand Candy, a popular candy store in Yerevan.
We had a wonderfully prepared dinner with the kids of some of the local pastors. Afterwards, the pastors’ kids of our group had a meeting with the others. They talked about how their lives differ from those who aren’t pastors’ kids, in both good and bad ways.
We ended our day by climbing Cascade and seeing Yerevan’s sparkling lights and of course, taking lots of pictures! (We can’t forget to mention our baghbaghag… we had that too.)
Stefan Balakji and Nareen Babaian