The Bittersweet Last Day

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!
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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, Ā 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.
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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!

Blessings,
Emma Newman

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Eternally Significant Service

Today marked our last day of hosting clinics in Stepanavan and Yerevan. After the Stepanavan team ate a few more hotdogs and sang worship, Sue Phillips challenged us to serve with every once of energy we had left, trusting that God gives us strength for each day. Allison Phillips in our devotional also reminded us that our mission field has eternal significance. Our team saw and prayed over nearly 70 patients today in Stepanavan and said our last goodbyes to our dear new 12 year old English speaking friends, Michael and Alexander. After playing soccer, badminton and spending time with them, they stopped by the church on our last day to deliver flowers and recruited their friends to help us carry boxes. The Yerevan team reported of seeing 120 patients with nearly a quarter of the team members, can you say power team?
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The Stepanavan team packed up the clinic then ate one last lunch prepared by the lovely church ladies before heading to Lake Sevan. On our way there, we made a pit stop and became more cultured as we tried out Arabian toilets. Then we toured the beautiful Sevanavank Monastery and ate dinner by the lake. Upon returning to Yerevan, our team that served in the Yerevan clinic was standing outside eager to greet us. In my opinion this is a perfect picture of what our team has become: a family. As we got off the bus, although it had only been a few days, our team hugged, embraced and began sharing stories with each other. We care for each other not only because of some the difficulties we’ve faced together, but because Christ first loved us and calls us to love one another. Tomorrow marks the last full day of our time in Armenia, and it has been such a blessing. Dr. Al and Sue Phillips and the people at the AMAA have done a phenomenal job in orchestrating this mission trip. Many sacrifices were made by many people in order for us to serve, so thank you to those who sacrificed! We are eternally grateful.
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Our Mission Field

This morning we enjoyed a delicious breakfast at our hotel that featured some hot dogs and pine jam. The lovely Allison Phillips lead worship once again, and in a lower key which many appreciated. We sang “Amazing Grace” along with two other worship songs that reminded us of the source of our life and love, Jesus Christ. In our devotional, Allison reminded us that our mission field follows us wherever we are, away or at home. Also, to embrace our everyday mission field.

The first day of the clinic at Stepanavan was a success as we loved on and treated 140 patients. We saw repeat patients who brought with them their old prescription baggies. A majority of these individuals rely on our clinic as the sole source of medical care for the entire year. Michelle joyfully recalls the feeling of witnessing improvement in multiple patients over the years, many of whom were no longer suffering from diabetes or hypertension. It has been so rewarding being able to create meaningful relationships with these individuals and we look forward to seeing them each year. This allows us to hold our patients accountable, saying things such as “when I see you next year, you’ll have stopped smoking.” Below is a decorated military official that returns annually to the clinic. During our midday church service, we were blown away by the beautiful voices of three women who lead worship. They swayed side to side, harmonized and captivated Dr. Bogosian so much that he would like to take them to Hollywood.

After dinner we saw the “Green Grand Canyon” of Armenia, the gorgeous Gorge (no pun intended). We took plenty of photos here as well, and George Zadigian dodged some drivers to take the best photos possible. After we returned to the hotel, some of the ladies on our trip had our hair done by stylists from Stepanavan. They even tamed Michelle’s Armenian curls and miraculously blow dried them straight. All in all, it was a joyful day. Nick Jaramishian even had his patients beaming as they dropped off their urine cups. We can’t believe tomorrow is out last day of clinic, our time has flown by. Thank you again for all your prayers!

Blessings,
Emma Newman & Michelle Phillips

Serving: A Privilege and a Responsibility

This morning marked our last day in the clinic in Vanadzor. Allison andĀ Michelle PhillipsĀ lead worship in their lovely soprano voices, and Dr. Bogosian kindly asked if we might sing in a lower key. Allison also read a devotional from Rick Warren’s “What On Earth Am I Here For?” We reflected on how Warren describes our mission as believers as both a privilege and responsibility. We were reminded that our mission is a continuation of Jesus’ mission on earth. With spiritual sustenance, we finished our half day at clinic. Dr. Al reported that we saw a total of 600 patients combined with physicians and dentists!

After we packed up the clinic, the women of the church served us one last delicious meal and shared their immense gratitude for our team. They presented the team with two beautiful pieces of artwork that children had painted. We of course returned their thanks, recognizing that without them our clinic would not have been possible! Lucy Huckabay said it best when she acknowledged that the women of the church sacrificed to help carry our burdens. No doubt they did more than sacrifice their time, resources and love, they exemplified humble and joyful servants of the Lord. It was a bittersweet departure. We were grateful for our time, but as Miss Sue Phillips noted it was hard to leave because “You can’t help but fall in love with these women”.
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Our team split ways as a small group lead by Dr. Al Phillips and Dr. David Essayan headed to Yerevan to set up another clinic. The rest of our group departed along a bumpy, but most enjoyable bus ride to Stepanavan. When we arrived at the church, the ministry team was ready to greet us. After we worked hard to set up the clinic, we played hard. A young boy named Michael practiced his English with us and we joined him in a soccer game in the street, and it got surprisingly competitive. Katelyn Lee suffered a soccer ball to the head, but no worries, she took it like a champ and is just “golden”.
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Later in the evening, some of our team went for a hike in the outskirts of the village and stumbled upon a field of flowers with a breathtaking view. We probably took too many photos, but if you saw the view you wouldn’t blame us. With pollen drifting in the air from silver dollar trees, the green mountain ranges in the distance, and beautiful daisies blanketing the fields, it’s as if we entered another world. We are nearly halfway done with our trip, and it has certainly flown by! But, there are still many more patients to see, more love to be shared and laughs to be had. Thank you all for your prayers and support!

Blessings,

Emma Newman

A Day Filled With Special Moments

Today, we had a very successful second day of clinic in Vanadzor at the Evangelical Church. We excitedly loaded the bus at 7:45am and headed to the church in anticipation of a productive day of service. Our hearty breakfast consisted of Armeniaā€™s version of French toast, or what the wonderful cooks at the church called ā€œomelets with bread.ā€ These amazing women always provide us with the adequate nourishment that we need to serve all those we encounter. We would not be able to do what we do without their help, as well as the other volunteers from the church.
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After breakfast, our hearts and minds were prepared for the day by a wonderful worship service and devotional lead by Allison Phillips. She encouraged the group to take moments to stop and reflect on the blessings we have been given and allowing us to return the blessings to others. I have found that it is so easy to lose sight of our ultimate goal of the mission amongst the hustle and commotion of the clinic. This was a beautiful reminder to remain present and grounded in Christ throughout the clinic day.

Today was filled with many special moments, where we physically and spiritually met the needs of over 200 individuals. God has been visibly working in and through us on the mission thus far. Many of the members spent time praying with patients and their families as they made their way through the various stations of the clinic. These moments were filled with tears, warm embraces, and ā€œbacheegsā€ that we will carry with us forever.
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During the afternoon church service, Dr. David Essayan and Katelyn Lee shared their testimonies of how they came to Christ, further reminding us about the miracles and joy that can occur when we put our hope fully in Jesus. Although we encountered multiple patients with terminal illnesses, we were able to offer them not only with medication for their physical illnesses, but also medication for their soul. In this way, we know that our Earthly bodies will fail, but have hope in the promise of a pain-free eternity with Jesus. Oh what a hope, indeed!

We are excited and equipped to continue serving Jesus the rest of the week and are thankful for the ways that God is using us thus far as a Body of Christ inside and outside the clinic. Thank you for your endless prayers and we cannot wait to see how He will continue to do so in the coming days.

In Christ,
Michelle Phillips

Surrender and Serve

This morning we embarked on a bumpy but humorous ride in old Russian buses on our way to the clinic. Team worship was lead by the beautiful voices and guitar skills of Allison Phillips,Ā Michelle Phillips, Sabrina Agbabian and Dr. David Essayan before we opened the clinic doors. After worship, Allison shared a recent story about meeting an autistic boy and his father in Armenia. His father asked Allison if she had any medicine the boy could have to fix his condition. Allison’s heart broke as she knew that she had no medicine to provide the cure that the father asked for. She also recognized however, that in this moment God was calling her to surrender her inability and trust in His abilities. Although she could not meet all of the boy’s physical needs she was not useless in God’s eyes. She shared with our team this morning that there may be moments where we feel inadequate, that the scope of our healthcare or abilities may not be enough for some patients. In this moment, however, she challenged us to surrender our inadequacies to the Lord, surrendering our patients into His mighty hands and trusting that He will meet all their needs.

Once the doors opened, each team member manned their stations and patients began to flood in. Beginning at check in, patients maneuvered their way from the vitals station, to the urine station, to the triage area, possibly received and EKG, headed to a doctor’s office and finally reached the pharmacy as their last stop. The patients were guided by our phenomenal crowd control volunteers, who loved on and lead patients exactly where they needed to go. Our team saw a total of 180 patients, and Dr. Al congratulated us for working out kinks as we went, and for working as a true team. A church service was held midday where Armenian songs were sung and swayed to, a powerful message was delivered, and Adam Patenaude and myself shared our testimonies of how Christ has transformed our lives.

After dinner, our team had the pleasure of heading down to a corner store, eating ice cream and listening to an incredibly talented 13 year old boy play his duduk, an Armenian woodwind instrument. His father stood by beaming, very proud of his son who aspires to be a professional musician. It was the cherry on top to an already incredible day. Quick shout out and thank you to Dr. Al for purchasing the yummy ice cream! Also, thank you for your continued prayers and support!

Blessings,
Emma Newman

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Why We Serve

This morning the jet lag didn’t slow us down as 18 people from our group woke up extra early to walk, jog and run the famous Cascade! We climbed the seemingly never ending steps to a beautiful and well worth the exercise view of Yerevan.

We also attended the Evangelical Church of Armenia that is located at the AMAA Headquarters in Yerevan. During the service Dr. Al Phillips introduced our team and spoke about the purpose of the Medical Mission. Focusing on Ephesians 2:8 and James 2:14, Dr. Al explained that we are saved not by good works but by grace. Good works are the natural results of salvation, as Christ loves and cares for people. As Christians we are instructed to be like Jesus. Dr. Al reminded and challenged us to be a living example of God’s love in our lives. We are to be rivers and not reservoirs of the love that God has graciously bestowed upon us.

Today we also visited the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide Memorial. Sue Phillips spoke before our team laid carnations around the flame in the center of the memorial. It was a somber moment, as Sue reflected on the meaning of the memorial and asked us, “What would we do for our faith?” Visiting the memorial was a humbling reminder of the bravery and perseverance of faith of the Armenian people.

After two incredible reminders of who and why we are serving, we traveled to Vanadzor and set up our first clinic. We spent a few hours transforming a church to now a functioning medical mission clinic complete with a pharmacy, doctors’ offices and a dental room packed with hundreds of highly anticipated dental goody bags. The doors are ready to open early tomorrow morning at 9am. The women of the church were eagerly expecting us, ready and willing to serve us delicious food with the most humble hearts. Our team is ready to serve, with the help of some soorj (coffee) and love the patients that will come into our clinic. Again, thank you for your prayers!

Blessings,
Emma Newman
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