I wish you were here to walk beside me in these villages. Perhaps you would scold me for wearing open-toed sandals out here in the dirt. You would point out every single grapevine and smile knowing you had one growing in your yard also.
You should have seen the spread of food at the Evangelical church in Ardashad. Their dolma tasted almost as good as yours. There was a woman there that reminded me of you. When we prayed she started to cry, and as we said “Amen,” she told me she was all alone. I didn’t understand how she described her family as my Armenian isn’t very strong, but I could imagine her story. Perhaps her children had grown and the house was empty. But I knew she wasn’t truly alone in the way she talked; God was with her. I thought of your sacrifices to raise me. I felt your hug in her embrace and could feel you smiling as she rested her head on my shoulder. If you were here you would have been working in the kitchen alongside the other women. You would have helped them prepare the spread that was too large for the table. You would have arranged the desserts just as they had with the bowls of fruit sitting out first as decoration until you moved them to the table for us to enjoy. George and I enjoyed some sourj just as you and Auntie Alice do; please tell her hello. You should also know I ate an apricot in your honor and grapes in honor of Grandpa.
Today I saw the Turkish border, and though I could not cross, I saw the land of your birthplace. From every edge of this country, I carry you with me. I cannot look at anything without thinking of you. These vines are the vines in your yard. The trees of fruit are your citrus trees. I taste the cilantro and basil in the salads and only think of the mint we watered in the garden in May. The buildings in the villages look just like your back shed. I can see you standing in it now fidgeting with something. You should see their shoes, for they are just like yours. If you were here you would stand at the Khor-Virab and praise God for bringing Grandma Betty-Ann in your life and for bringing you to the U.S. If you were here, we would hold hands as we walked around the grounds of the monastery staring at Mount Ararat. You would remind me of Noah’s faithfulness and obedience. You would tell me stories of Armenian history. You would remind me that this mountain has stood firmly though the bustling region around it grows and changes. You would tell me that God is like this mountain, steadfast and consistent. This mountain looms in the horizon of this country and everywhere we go it is visible. Papa, I pray that God’s presence is always fixed in the horizon of our lives and of the lives of the people who see this mountain.
Grandma Armine and Grandpa Simon,
The people here live in homes with their extended families just as you had. The farms are smaller than yours in Kingsburg but the farmers work just as hard. Their passion is their fruit, their priority is their family and their prayer is for God’s will to be done. If you were here, you would tell me the stories my father could only retell to me and my siblings. We would eat the grapes directly from the vine. Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” I walk this land and pray that I may eat from this fruit also.
“May the God of hope fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in him, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
I love you and I am thinking of you always.