Switzerland, Armenia and the Republic of Georgia...via Poland and Turkey
Marty and I just returned from a very long trip to Zurich and Thun Switzerland,
Yerevan and Stepanavan, Armenia and the yearly camp for kids at risk
at the Black Sea in The Republic of Georgia.
A view of the Interlaken Mountain Range
We were invited to a three day conference on persecuted Christians sponsored by ICR, a 50 year old nonprofit organization, founded by Richard Wurmbrand. It was gripping to hear about the things that are really going on in places like Yemen, Nigeria, Syria and other far-flung countries
where whole populations are being systematically tortured and killed. We have personally been
to places where persecution, poverty and war are rampant but even we were stunned with what is clearly absent on the news and the media, but is clearly happening on a daily basis.
We left the city with heads and hearts full of information that increases our world view even further. Switzerland seemed like a million miles away from such horrors and atrocities with its gorgeous green hillsides and cows with tinkling bells around their necks. While we were there, Europe was having an unprecedented heat wave. The above photo is a shot from our guest house, overlooking snow on the Interlaken Mountains. It looks so pristine and refreshing, but truth be told, it was at least 97 degrees Fahrenheit that day!
While in Stepanavan, Armenia, I was able to make a presentation of art to the Mayor of the city during a planning meeting. The children in the artwork are from Stepanavan and attended last year's camp. We (Mercy Projects and Global Impact) are in talks about potentially doing a school or group home for the most vulnerable children in the city. The Mayor has a great heart for the children and has done so much to make sure the most vulnerable have clothing, transportation and opportunities.
There is such profound poverty and need in this city and a large fraction of the adults
have to go to Russia for employment.
In terms of a school type project in Stepanavan, we will have to see if it is a viable idea
and could be sustainable in the future. This takes a lot of groundwork, planning and money!
The Mayor of Stepanavan, Mikayel Gharakeshishyan
For the second year, I was blessed to be a part of the camp at the Black Sea for Armenian youth from Stepanavan and the surrounding areas. Marty was able to join me and it made it that much more special. I did art projects as I had last year and was able to reunite with my sweet friends again from Armenia and from the United States.
This year has been so fulfilling thus far. I have been working at a local Domestic Violence shelter and in the schools teaching empathy, compassion and gratitude. I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with the homeless population, with a group of families with Down syndrome and recently will be starting an art program with young men with Traumatic Brain Injury...
Who could ask for more?