As I expected, it is the cusp of spring here in Armenia. Rain is falling gently outside. There is occasional thunder. And I'm on my way back to my room after a full day at Warm Hearth. How do I even begin?
Well, as you know, we have six new residents, who welcomed me like they had always known me, who are at peace, it seems, and living well with the others. I was shown every nook and cranny of our renovated 3rd floor....which is homey and warm and freshly painted. The garden ground was recently plowed and the trees there will soon break. Agappy, a new resident, was especially proud of the garden.
Oh, there is too much to tell.
All of our residents had displayed the best of their artwork and handicrafts around the house and I spent hours looking through sketchbooks, and fingering ceramics, and seeing what
they have creatively done with the packing-styrofoam. The two work-rooms look like small art halls and the time and love spent in those rooms is evident.
I listened as the residents said a prayer before their meal. I smelled fresh khachapoori (an Armenian cheese pastry) and watched a community-assistant pull it out of the oven and serve it to the residents. I took all the shy smiles that Yulia gave me across the room, the chorus of "eat, eat" from each of the residents, coffee that Sargis (another new resident) made for me and proceeded to force me to drink it alone so that I could have a moment of peace, he said. :)
We ate together and laughed together. And had an afternoon dance-party in the living room after each resident had sung as many songs as they could conjure up, and recited as many poems as possible... You should have seen Davit dance, our newest resident who came to live with us off the street after his mother recently died. He would just jump up and down in one place, clapping his hands, beaming, and saying “opa” in a sing-songy voice Precious.
In the afternoon, there is a rest hour and each resident goes to his or her room. I took the opportunity to lay down upstairs as well to ward off some of the jet lag. As I fell asleep, I could hear the residents in the next room singing a soft lullaby (I learned later that they had sung it for me). I laid in such a warm bed, with a quilt made by one of you, surrounded, as it were, by you there and those I love here...and rested in the beauty of what we have done together.
I wish you could have been there. My hands are sticky from so much holding. Yours would be, too.
With love and gratitude,
Natalie (for us all)