A day full of blessings

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July 23rd 2008
Published: July 23rd 2008
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birthday presentbirthday presentbirthday present

Izzy's birthday present from a villager, of a soccer ball with 2 doves on top
Hi All, Gayle here posting for the first time.

Today was yet another extraordinary day full of adventure and amazement.

We began by going to Levon's chambers of wonders, in a nearby village outside of Yerevan. Levon has spent the last 23 years digging, what was supposed to be a root cellar beneath his house, but has turned into an inspired response to visions sent to him in his dreams. He now spends (20 hours a day till recently) 12 hours a day digging tunnels and chambers through rock and tufa (the local pumice stone). It most resembles a subterranean grotto -- and it is quite a feat! According to our sources he has only left the site to attend his 4 daughters weddings.

Levon says that he is to dig for 27 more years, until he's 94, and then he will die, with the project completed, when he's 96. Each of us had the opportunity to use his chisel and hammer to give it a go, but were unable to make more than a dent in the rock! Need I say that we were not asked to become his apprentices? Actually, he only does this work by
in the cavein the cavein the cave

Descending into the inspired wonderland

Later in the day we once again piled into our large van, picked up the priest, and were driven back to Kor Virap (the village we were working in) to attend a house blessing for a recently completed Fuller Center home. We put great trust in our driver, Melik, who seems to be able to swerve at the last moment in order to avoid collisions. Upon arriving at the family's home, we were seated and treated to an Armenian feast, consisting of 20 or so different dishes. We were told that a lamb had been sacrificed for the celebration, and all of the best parts (organs of course!) were displayed for our nourishment. My favorite was the incredibly fresh, smoked chicken, which is barbequed (baked) in the same oven where lavash is cooked.

Countless toasts were made, followed by a shot of vodka. The owner and his father thanked everyone and both men toasted the women volunteers, saying that they were greatful and surprised by the way the women worked so hard along side the men. The priest and others spoke to the importance of the cultural exchange that happens when people from different parts of the world come together to do this kind of work, even if they would normally perceive themselves to be the other's enemy.

Additional photos below
Photos: 11, Displayed: 11


group shot with levongroup shot with levon
group shot with levon

Group shot with Levon in his beautiful garden made of rock from below
Armenian Priest Giving Toast at HouseArmenian Priest Giving Toast at House
Armenian Priest Giving Toast at House

Originally from the U.S. and decided to come to Armenia to help rejuvinate the church after retiring at 65.
piled up platespiled up plates
piled up plates

So much food was served that one course was simply piled on top of the other. We left after the fruit. Our hosts will continue late into the evening.
sheep skinsheep skin
sheep skin

The sheep skin from our dinner.

23rd July 2008

Way to blog Gayle!
Thanks for taking a crack at blogging. It's good to get your take and a picture of Izzy with his present: the sports-peace-ball in minituare. The full size version must be in Cullman somewhere. Anyway, I'm not surprised your entry tells the story of the Armenian tunnel-diggin-grotto man. And he's still not tired of digging. I bet it's amazing. Is it cool down there, too? He should be made an honorary citizen of Alabama, or given the key to Gordo. Anyway, I can't wait to welcome you back home; but make sure to enjoy your last few days in Armenia. Looks like the trip has been just wonderful. Thanks to all for the blog. It's been fun to read the entries and the comments.
23rd July 2008

Happy Birthday!
Happy Birthday Izzy! I don't know if it is your 16th birthday, but if so, maybe you can take over the driving from Melik (just don't bring his driving habits home) -- Ann (Wren and Anna's Auntie)
23rd July 2008

I think I'm being inspired by Levon to carve out a basement in WV-land, limestone is pretty soft, right? I have almost 50 years until I'm 94 after all -- Ann

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