All-Armenian Evangelical Youth Conference: Day 3… Aug. 4, 2018

Armenian, Eurasian, Middle Eastern, European and North American youth, gathered as one (4 Aug. 2018)

Most of the day was spent on the road, beginning with an early morning trip to one of the most significant sites of Armenian Christianity, Khor Virab. There the group got their first (mostly) clear views of Mt. Ararat, and saw just how close the Armenia-Turkey border is. A few were actually able to descend into St. Gregory’s Pit, while the rest took in the moment.

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In front of the St. Gregory Pit at Khor Virab, with Mt. Ararat ever-present in the background (4 Aug. 2018)

One of the older youth remarked, “I’ve traveled a lot of other places on business, but this is my first time in Armenia. I don’t know what it is, but it jumped into my heart.” The young leaders from Armenia and the youth themselves help infect the group with their love for who and what they are. That even extends to dancing in the aisle of the bus!

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The bus driver put Armenian music on the radio, and instantly a line dance formed! (4 Aug. 2018)

In these seventeen hours of travel today we also headed south from Khor Virab to the Datev monastery. It is a combination of unparalleled natural beauty, with forested ravines and majestic architectural gems. To reach the monastery we had to go in small groups on the aerial tramway, so the first group was already returning by the time the last group was making its way through the air to the monastery.

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At the portal of the monastery, still being renovated (4 Aug. 2018)

Some of their impressions: “I loved seeing the monastery, even though I’ve been here before.” “The scenery is just amazing.” “There’s so much to see, we didn’t have enough time.” “I wish we had more information about it.” Not even the light rain and thunder dampened their enthusiasm at seeing how their ancestors carved their faith in stone.

Some of the group who do not know much – or any – Armenian are rising to the challenge of learning some words, whether counting, or greetings, or even snappy comebacks! One of them suggested that I lead an Armenian language course tour of Armenia. Another young person suggested that we organize a similar conference in Lebanon, in order to get to know not just the heritage, but the actual life of the Armenian community there, too.

Clearly, they are connecting not just with the hills and ruins of Armenia, but with a living, growing and changing people. And realizing that they are an integral part of that people.

Rev. Nishan Bakalian

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A ride in the aerial tram, revealing cultural and historic treasures from the heights (4 Aug. 2018)