Armenian church, devasted by earthquake, helps Haiti

The following is a very cool story…like they could  make a movie about it.  I’ve reprinted it with permission from Chad Isenhart, who was a Convoy of Hope intern when we went to Armenia in the fall of 2008. He lives there now on assignment, helping with various Convoy of Hope projects. Quite moving…here goes!

From Chad…

mrchadThis last weekend we attended one of our new church plant services in the village of Spitak. Here in December 7, 1988 at 11:41am a massive earthquake that struck Armenia on was epicentered in Spitak, taking at least 25,000 lives. 500,000 people whose homes, built in apparent violation of seismic safety standards, were destroyed by two powerful tremors that rocked much of Armenia’s territory 20 years ago.

Measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale, many poorly constructed Soviet buildings across the region sustained heavy damage or collapsed.

The small city of Spitak was destroyed, while the nearby cities of Leninakan (later renamed to Gyumri) and Kirovakan (later renamed to Vanadzor) sustained a lot of damage as well. The tremor also caused damage to many surrounding villages.

Since most of the hospitals in the area were destroyed, and due to freezing winter temperatures, officials at all levels were not ready for a disaster of this scale and the relief effort was insufficient. The Soviet Union allowed foreign aid workers to help with the recovery in the earthquake’s aftermath.  This was one of the first cases when rescue and relief workers from other countries were allowed to take part in relief works in the Soviet Union.

We attended this service, and unknown to us, they had planned on taking an offering for response to the earthquake in Haiti. This small, year old church, meeting in a living room of a members home with about 50 in the congregation prayed for the people of Haiti, and gave their widows mite. Many in the village living on less than 3 dollars a day. They gave sacrificially with an offering of $180.00. They have asked us to get it to COH.earthquake

…end quote

Thanks for sharing Chad. Great story.

 

By the way, here’s some of the earthquake housing (think FEMA trailers) that’s still being used after these 25 years…

Coffee is better than cow poop

In Armenia just over a year ago, we worked with some wonderful people in the plateaus of the Caucasus Mountains. These Yezide Kurds are amongst the poorest people groups of the region. Those we met are hard working, wonderful people who earn very, very little money. We felt bad knowing they heat their homes and cook their food with bricks made of dried cow poop.  This photo shows a mound of hay which the animals can eat during the winter and mounds of cow poop to use in cooking/heating.

pilesopoop

Their region provides very little wood for fires and they use the resources available to them.

A pastor with whom we worked said if he and the people of his church could help their neighbors utilize something besides the norm for their fuel it would make a huge difference.

Chad, one of Convoy of Hope’s former interns, is in Armenia right now. Among his various projects, he’s helping these Yezide Kurds use something much better than cow poop to use as fuel. Coffee.

armeniachad

Java Logs are bricks made of coffee ground.  They’re not a new thing, but they are in the plateaus of the Caucas Mountains. Chad’s using local resources, including coffee grounds from area hotels and restaurants to test java logs with these great people.

He’s still working on the best local resource for the wax that helps keep the java logs together, but from what I’ve heard from him, overall things are going well.  Pray for the right wax combination and source so the project can spread across the area…

I love innovation.

What are some innovative things you’ve seen to help people where you live or around the world?

More wall photos…

When I was at Book of Hope, I remember working with Leah to try and go back and get photos of all of the former interns…never got it done. Too many to track down. When I came to Convoy of Hope to work towards starting this intern program, I thought it would be fun to start from day 1.

So…in the back of the intern training area we have a wall full of photos. We started two years ago with just one…Josh…


He was the lone team member that went with the field guy, Sean Kelly. We added his photo the first day of the 2nd term. Then, on the first full day of the 3rd term, we added 8 photos from our summer team. It continued. Today was the first day of the 6th term. We added 12 photos from the fall team from last year. There are now 57 photos on the wall.

I’ve always been a nostalgic guy, as a shelf in my room from growing up would prove, but the wall helps me remember to pray for those people, to see what’s up with them and their lives and to even check in on occassion. Of course, facebook helps with that too…(it turns out Noah was indeed having fun with his status change to “married).

Anyways, it was fun hanging the photos (actually Jorel did). We’ll hang more on June 19…

I look forward to seeing the wall a decade from now with knowlege of where some of those people have gone…great days are not only behind but ahead for them…

wall

What would you want?

So I’m on the road again, meeting up with the team soon in Armenia. I’m looking forward to blogging more about that…

I told the team when I last saw them to let me know what they wanted, and I’d try and bring it to them when I meet up with them later this week.

Here’s the list of what they requested:

  • Dove Dark Chocolate Promises
  • Tazo Green Tea
  • Burts Bees Chapstick (the regular kind, either comes in a tin or a tube)
  • Dove Milk Chocolate Promises (in the bag)
  • Excedrin Migrain
  • Diet Mountain Dew
  • A coat left in the boys room in the intern house
  • Reduced Fat Skippy Peanut Butter
  • Guitar Strings (I guess Chad needs more strings)

  • Tortilla Chips and Salsa

Some of those things are for individuals, and some are for the whole team. Don’t tell them (or do they read this? we’ll see…) but I also brought some pumpkin pie filling and stove top stuffing…they’ll celebrate Thanksgiving in this part of the world, gotta have some taste of home.

If you were in a place like Moldova or something for a month, what would you want from home?

Hoping to get water to the Yezide Kurds

Yezide Kurds are scattered around the northern mountains of Armenia and other places. In this village, where missionary Nick Puccini has made some great connections, they struggle to find clean water.
We’re strategizing the best response of not only getting them water but helping them filter it, which would help keep them well, etc. This is their only consistent water source, and it’s over 1 km from the village.

 

The area was absolutely beautiful, looking more like Ireland than what I pictured Armenia looking like…at least before it starts snowing here again. It’s hard to imagine we’re only 450 miles from Baghdad.
Here, you see Nick explaining a bit of the situation. I’ll let you know what role our interns will be able to play in helping these great people.

An island of Christianity in a sea of chaos

That’s similar to a phrase used in a missions video I saw on Armenia back in ’03. I first learned of this tiny country on that day and have been excited about possibilities since.

I’m here now.

This country is full of history (saw a 1600 year old monastery today),

Beauty (I see Mt. Arrarat each morning…it’s where they believe Noah’s ark is),

Strategy (I was in some rooms where pastors go over some courageous strategy…and I won’t say more about that on the web),

and Need (I saw a group of people hoping with all in them to receive a home so they can move out of the container…much like a shipping container…that their families have lived in since a massive earthquake 20 years ago that killed 25,000 people).

 

I also see opportunity. Here’s a short word from our missionary host, Nick Puccini.