To say that I’m exhausted would be an understatement but it’s a good kind of exhaustion. We were up early today to start a two and a half hour drive to Jermuk – a little town northeast of Yerevan. We were tempted to catch up on our sleep during our drive but the countryside was so beautiful that we didn’t want to miss it. The mountains are peaked with snow, and we made some pretty tight hairpin turns as we weaved our way to our destination. We stopped once for water and I was trying to take a picture of the scenery when one of the merchants called for me to come into what appeared to be her apartment. I wasn’t quite sure why she wanted me to come in but I followed her knowing that the whole team was watching me and waiting for my return. (I put that part in for my mother – she worries.) When we got to the other side of her room I realized why she had beckoned me in. She had a deck in the back with a gorgeous view of the mountain and the river running right past her back door. I was so touched that she chose to share it with me.
Once we arrived in Jermuk we were told that the women here have never had any type of women’s conference before. They were so excited for our arrival and welcomed us in for tea, with more cookies and fruit than we could possibly eat. All of the women who served us were so very gracious.
When I walked into the worship center before we started I looked down and saw the handouts for my talk printed out in Armenian. I was so overwhelmed that God would use me to teach these women that I literally went in the bathroom and wept. (Well, I needed to use it anyway, so I figured I might as well get the weeping out of my system while I was there.)
Before we started the conference today I had a chance to go around the room, accompanied by my translator, and meet some of the participants. My husband always tells me that I can work a room like a politician but it was so much fun to meet the women. Armenians are a very kissy bunch and when they greet you they will usually kiss you on your cheek. At least the women do that; I’m not sure about the men. I think I was kissed more today than I’m generally kissed in a year. It would be impossible not to love them. What a sweet group of women. They all shared how grateful they are for us being here but, I knew even then that the blessing would be ours as much, if not more, than it would be theirs.
Two of us spoke this morning. Lisa spoke on Becoming a Woman of Destiny and I spoke on Hearing God’s Voice. During the break after our morning session we had the opportunity to spend some time ministering to the women. It was easy to see that Armenian women aren’t all that different from American women. Their hurts, concerns, fears, wishes, hopes and dreams are very much the same as the women I talk to back home. Women talked to me about how their children had walked away from God, or about how they wanted to be used by God in ministry, or their depression, or their marriages. I was so grateful that God gave me words when I didn’t have a clue what to say.
The day ended with Carol Lund, the director of Women’s Ministry for the Assemblies of God in Minnesota, speaking about the treasures that God puts in our lives followed by more time for prayer with the women. I feel beyond blessed as we head back to the Bed and Breakfast tonight. There is so much more I could share but I’m sure you’d get worn out reading it all and besides, these hairpin turns and pot holes are starting to affect my typing.
Tomorrow we head to Tsaghkadzor (just try to pronounce that) to start our retreat time there. If you are so led, I know our whole team would appreciate your prayers; especially Lisa, who is still waiting for her luggage to arrive.