Dec 19, 2008 the waiting (Midwinter ~ Warm Hearth)...

Dear friends,

The year is coming to a close. The days are getting shorter. But, Sunday is Winter Solstice and there will be the reversal of these lengthening nights. Then the days will become longer and longer still. Sol means "sun." And sistere means "to stand still." Let us stand still and watch and wait and hope as the sun stands still, at the farthest point from our place on earth, knowing that it will come back around. And there will be light.

T.S. Eliot, in "East Coker," he has this beautiful verse which I have been reading over and over lately.

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.

The faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting. Advent is a time of waiting and the whole earth feels it, whether or not one celebrates the Christian calendar. Winter is a stripping time. It is a time where the earth, in our hemisphere, rests and waits and is stripped down. It is a time of emptiness. And we rest. And we sit still. Solstice. We sit still so that we know what to plant, when it is that time again. We sit still, on this stripped land, so that we know what should fill us, when it is time.

Time. It is almost January of 2009. To me this is significant because it was in January of 2009 that I was supposed to hand over all Warm Hearth responsibilities. It has been three years (almost) that we have been open. And before we even opened, I thought this was a good amount of time to allow for sustainable hand over the reigns before Warm Hearth became over-reliant on any of us here. And before I became over-reliant on holding the reigns. To me, sustainability is another word for justice. So, handing over Warm Hearth was and is a way to create more justice in the world. But it is hard, as a dear friend said recently, "to begin something unsustainably and then coax it in this direction."

Our route changed along the way when we decided that in the long run it would be better for our residents if we stepped away from our former implementing arm (Mission Armenia) and began our own Armenian nonprofit. I still think this was the best idea, but it calls for a few more years of the same kind of support, from our end here. From Friends of Warm Hearth. From many of you. So, January of 2009 does not mean stepping back in the same way I thought it would. I am still stepping back as more and more of the decisions are made by our Armenian directors. It is good. It is right. But it does feel strange to become the one "sitting on the bench," as my dad put it the other day. The world needs bench-warmers, though. And that is my place these days, to be there when I am needed. To cheer from the sidelines. And to continue to find the financial resources needed to allow our new nonprofit time to be strengthened.

I don't know how all of these thoughts come together: Winter Solstice and the turning of the earth, the coming of more sun; Advent, and the arrival of hope; the disarray of the world around us, even still; the turning of time; the waiting that we abide within which is the faith and the hope and the love; and Warm Hearth's journey toward sustainability, and hopefully long-lasting justice. Maybe it is that it is ok to not know in this turning of the seasons. This is a dark time when we know not how it will all unfold, or what will arrive.

I don't know. But there is yet faith and hope and love in the waiting. I hope you can find it too. I hope you can sit still along with the sun this weekend. And know that you are not alone, as you wait.

May you be blessed as you celebrate this Christmas season. Today, somewhere halfway across the world, our dear residents are having a party. They are singing, reciting poems and conducting a play for guests. They are creating much joy! Somehow, that celebration is also ours.

With love and gratitude, Natalie

-- Natalie Bryant Rizzieri Founder, Executive Director Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.

Nov 13, 2008

we never dreamed...

November 13th, 2008

Dear friends and family,

We have five new residents at Warm Hearth. That makes thirteen. We have eleven people living full time in our home, and two in clinics whom we remain committed to through weekly visits. Our residents were thrilled to welcome these new people into their home and to share meals with them, bedrooms, and bathroom sinks. They already had them in their hearts, at least some of them. On the day that four of the new residents visited for the first time, Yulia gasped with joy. Alya said that she was "too-too happy" because she was reunited with a long lost friend, someone who had cared for her in another orphanage, a sister of her heart. They are together now, living again under the same roof, picking up, it seems, where they had left off. We never dreamed…

One of my favorite photographs from the first day that the new residents were with us was one of about four of them gathered in the bathroom, brushing their teeth at night (see the photo below). I thought of my siblings and those evening rituals and what it means to share life with a myriad of people both different and similar to you. There is something so organic and natural about sharing a bathroom sink with someone you live with and it made me happy to think that we were finding a way to sustain and nurture a home-like environment while adding to our numbers.

Within a little more than a week of coming to our home, Agapy (who is also Yulia's long lost friend) began to feel unwell. Our staff took her to the hospital to discover that she needed to have her appendix removed immediately. Thankfully the staff acted quickly and Agapy's healthy & life were saved. She will stay in the hospital for a week to recover and then come home. In the meantime, we are struggling to finagle with the hospital because she is without a birth certificate or papers of any kind. That is typical for an orphan, but my goodness!

It is hard for me to be so far from all of these quick strides of growth…but it is as it should be in the sense that Warm Hearth is well cared for by those who will be able to carry it on far far into the future, farther than I could (or should) ever carry it being non-Armenian. I am more than satisfied with how our staff envisions Warm Hearth and creates such a loving home. We who hold this end up, still have our part, and it is not small. Rather, it would be impossible without you…without generosity and prayer and everyday help. But it would also be impossible without our staff, our residents, our directors in Armenia who have made such beauty possible. Let us never forget to thank them as well, even if it is just in our hearts.

With love,


Oct 22, 2008

Autumn Newsletter - New Residents & Renovations

Dear friends & family,

It is with tremendous joy that I introduce a few of our new residents to you through this autumn newsletter. In addition, we've finished our renovations and are enjoying this season of fullness that mirrors the season of autumn. I am partial to the season of autumn, to the changing leaves, to the crisp air (which we have too little of in the Arizona desert). But even here in Arizona, we can feel the tilt of the earth, the coming of winter. And most definitely, the coming of winter is felt in Armenia! Thankfully, this year, we will have a full and warm house where our residents (new and old) can experience what it is to love and be loved.

Thank you for making so much beauty possible in this small corner of the world....

Enjoy the newsletter, and as always, feel free to write or call if you have thoughts or questions.

With gratitude, -- Natalie Bryant Rizzieri Founder, Executive Director Friends of Warm Hearth, Inc.

Tel. (480) 921-1181 Armenian Tel. (374) (10) 39-81-50 Address: P.O. Box 1037; Tempe, AZ 85280 <>

Providing Holistic Care for Orphans with Disabilities in Armenia


Compared to my heart's desire the sea is a drop.

-Adelia Prado

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