Monday, February 7, 2011

Visit to Armenia

So, where in the world do you think the photo below was taken? About a year ago, I went to Promontory Point to watch a rocket test firing at Thiokol, and this is what it looked like when looking back at the mountains to the east of Tremonton. When we woke up in Yerevan, Armenia, it was hazy with some snow in the higher elevations. It reminded us of northern Utah with the valleys and mountains. We went to see Mt. Ararat to see if we could help locate Noah's ark, but had no luck.

This is what it is supposed to look like most of the year. The climate is not too different from Albuquerque, but it hardly ever snows in the valleys of Armenia. Armenia is located just east of Turkey. It borders Turkey, Iran, Georgia and Azerbijan. The borders are generally closed except with Georgia, which borders Russia. In addition to Noah's ark tourism, Armenia is famous for great fruit (apricots, peaches, apples, pomogranits, grapes, etc.). Their most famous export is wine.

We stayed at the Marriott Hotel in the center of Yerevan, thanks to Jeromy's discout he got for us. It is the best hotel in Armenia and we enjoyed our stay there. It is located on Republic Square, which is a very modern and beautiful area with a great big round-about.

Our hosts were Margarit and Sergus. They took us around for a day to see many of the interesting sites around Yerevan, including the genocide memorial that pays tribute to the 1915 massacre by the Turks of Armenians. This needle statue is located by an eternal flame. The Armenians still do not get along with the Turks, so that is why the border is still closed. The Turks also took land away from Armenia in 1915, which included Mt. Ararat. They still remember it well.

The Armenian Christian Church is the big player throughout Armenia. We went into a few churches and museums to see what they were like. The Apostle Bartholomew carried out part of his ministry in Armenia, so it has a very long tradition of Christianity, since the 1st century AD. Below is a photo of a bible that was hand scribed in Armenian. There are 36 letters in their alphabet, and we could not read a single letter. It has some resemblence to Thai so maybe Britt and James could decipher some of it. There is a single mission that covers both Armenia and Georgia. The two languages are totally different, but the common language that many speak is Russian.

We went to a monastary up in the mountains that was built into and from the rocks in the mountainside. As you can see from the photo, we were in snow at this elevation. It rained in the valley and snowed in the mountains most of the time we were there. We need to go back during apricot season, and hopefully get a better view of Ararat.

Armenia suffers from many people leaving for better living conditions. There are more Armenians in Claifronia than there are in Armenia. Many go to Russia to find jobs, but many do not return as they prefer to not live in Armenia again. It is quite sad, but hopefully things will pick up in the future.

We cannot leave without a picture of the Kyiv temple, and how it looks in January. Our winter has been quite mild, with a little snow and cold. We do not mind it at all. We have been a lot warmer than the temperatures back home.

We need to go to Bulgaria and the Baltics in the next couple of months. We look forward to the adventures. It is hard to believe that we are nearly half way through our mission.

Bye for now.

Tom and Shauna

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