Our last day of the trip consisted of sightseeing and “see you soon’s,” as we did not want to say “goodbye.”
Our first stop of the morning was Khor Virap, where a few team members braved the crowds and climbed down into “the pit” where St. Gregory was imprisoned. Afterwards we visited the Echmiadzin, and thanks to Dr. John Garry’s old friend Archbishop Paren Avedikian, we were able to have a very special tour. We witnessed the rich history of church’s planting in Armenia and even spotted The Catholicos! We want to say a special thank you to Dr. Garry and to the Archbishop for this opportunity!
After lunch, we had time to shop at the vernissage, a market right near republic square with hundreds of vendors. It was tempting to buy more than could fit in our suitcase, which happened to a few of us, but we managed to make room amongst ourselves. Paintings were purchased, knick knacks were collected and bargains were made. I stayed close to Lucy Huckabay and learned the art of bargaining, although Simon Nahigian is quite good at it as well.
We got all dressed up for our final dinner together. It was held at a restaurant/zoo/outdoor amphitheater and it was great! After our appetizers, we casually strolled over the see three bears in a cage that reside on this restaurant property. After enjoying a delicious meal, what better way to settle your stomach than to get up and dance? We danced to classic Armenian music, laughed at those of us who cannot dance well, learned the art of the dance move “screwing in the lightbulb” and overall had a great time together. Large circles and pinkies were connected to dance the “shourt bar” often lead by Karen Jaramishian, who has fantastic footwork. After our dancing wound down, Dr. Al and Sue Phillips presented our translators with gifts of gratitude, recognizing that this medical mission would be impossible without them! So thank you to our translators who volunteered their time, loved on us and the patients. Our team also took the time to thank the dynamic duo, Dr. Al and Sue Phillips for their extraordinary efforts in crafting, organizing and leading this medical mission trip for the 9th consecutive year. We also want to thank Harout Nercessian from the AMAA for his tireless efforts for this mission, without whom this trip also would not have been possible.
On our bus ride back to the hotel, team members had the chance to wobble towards the front of the bus, use the microphone and share reflections from the trip. Dr. David Essayan shared a story from the clinic about a four year old boy with a condition that could not be treated with the resources at our clinic. Typically at the end of seeing each patient, the doctor and their team took the time to pray over their patient. In this special moment Dr. Essayan said before he had the chance to pray, the young boy began to recite the Lord’s Prayer over them and they all joined in. Simon Nahigian also shared and read Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, reflecting on the impressive teamwork he witnessed within our team. He was grateful that the patients were able to witness our love for them, for the Lord and for each other. Caitlin Sarian and George Zadigian reminded us that the Lord is with us wherever we may go, and to trust in him as we seek to glorify Him in our lives.
I forgot to mention that Dr. Jeff Bogosian and his daughter Audrey Bogosian shared their testimonies at the church service held in Stepanavan. Thank you to both of you for your willingness to share about God’s unique work in your lives!
Dr. Al Phillips reported that we saw nearly 1000 patients in our four days worth of clinics, praise the Lord! This trip was not only a blessing to those who were treated but to our team as well. God gave us the strength each day to joyfully serve, provided for us daily and encouraged us daily. We had a team full of remarkable individuals, who served humbly and had a blast doing so. For all the lives that were healed and touched during our time, all the glory goes to the Lord! Thank you (readers) for supporting and praying for our team. Until next time!