In my last blog I said I would write a little bit about our work team and some of the pressures and problems they face. I think it might be useful to know about the daily life and problems of some of our dearest Armenians.
Some of you may have seen in the news (especially if you follow any Armenian news page) about the huge gas explosion that happened in the Nor Aresh, Erebuni area of Yerevan on Monday of this week (5th February). That explosion was just at the top of the road at the back of our building. The force of the explosion was such that it blew the window open in our warehouse and rattled the entire building. Sadly two houses were completely flattened and many neighbouring buildings were seriously damaged in their infrastructure. Tragically two people were killed, one seriously injured is fighting for his life and another older woman was pulled out of the ruins with minor injuries. That day I was sat doing accounts quietly in my office, on the ground floor of our headquarters. The noise of the explosion was such that at that moment for about 10 seconds I froze. I honestly thought that when I came out of our office I would find that our whole building had collapsed. Our children’s team (working on the 1st floor) thought that the kitchen had exploded and poor Anna (Gevork’s wife) was working in the basement was shaking in the driveway outside too frightened to come in. Everyone was in a terrible state. The men were out that morning doing container related errands so I gathered all the workforce together – some of them were shaking so bad I had to bring them myself to the kitchen and gave everyone tea (a good and reliable English remedy that I’ve taught them!!) and valerian tablets to calm their hearts.
I write this because that moment and their reaction showed me how very fearful they are and in what a state of constant tension they live. Once I ascertained we were all safe my body returned to normal pretty quickly but these dear friends of mine continued poorly all day. The two younger women upstairs (Armine and our accountant Azad) were so frightened they were in tears. Absolutely convinced that a bomb had fallen and we were under invasion, it took me a long time to persuade them that we were safe. It is difficult to convey to you our dear readers, but someone asked us recently “What is it like to live under the constant fear of war?” and I’m trying to give you a glimpse into the answer to that question. It is fearful, and fear leaves a terrible mark on your body. When Mike returned, I commented to him “If one explosion like that did so much damage to our team, what must falling bombs do.”
On that very same day our dear Marianna’s mother died. It turned out she had been very poorly but had not wanted to go to see the doctors. Older people in this country seldom go to the doctor as they know that that will drain the finances of the family – I mean, literally drain the finances. So poor “grandma” who we all knew well died a horrible death of pain and told no one that she was constantly losing blood in her urine. In the last few days she lost her speech and fell constantly. Marianna married a few years ago and had two children who attended our Bible clubs and were good friends with our children. Her son is now in the frontline as a conscripted soldier. Marianna’s husband was very abusive and left her which meant she had to return to her mother’s home. In Armenia a woman once married goes to her husband’s parental home, if he sends her away, she must either work and rent or go back to her parental home. The problem in Marianna’s case is that she has a brother. The parental home (now that both father and mother have died) belongs to him and he can throw her out of that home whenever he wants. Sadly, there is no love between the siblings as they hate the fact that Marianna has become a Christian. The last two days have been occupied with the “soul rest” of Marianna’s mum – where all her loved ones and all who knew her gather around her open casket and pay their respects. This was on Tuesday for two hours in the evening. And then the funeral which was on Wednesday in which once again we sat by the open casket for an hour and then the priest came to do the internment. I realised how much we at Armenian Ministries are Marianna’s family. At the end, around the open casket I stood with Marianna to hold her while she mourned and all of the AM family were the family that gathered around the casket. It was sad to see how alone she is now. She kept saying to anyone who came to comfort her – “I’m not alone, my Saviour is with me.” and even though a few times I felt she was passing out in my arms, nevertheless her faith stayed strong and she kept saying “I am at peace, I am not alone.”
In the trial of faith, and in the needy hour, may God always be with all of them, and all of us too, and give us the fortitude, faith and grace we need.