Light a candle, plant a tree

Post Summary: 

After the World Vision Bloggers' first day in Armenia—visiting Etchmiatsin Cathedral and the genocide memorial—Addie Zierman reflects on the ways in which we bear witness to tragedy and poverty, and how we can respond to suffering.

***

This morning, I lit candles in the Church of St. Etchmiatsin—the mother church of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The oldest cathedral (according to Wikipedia) in the world.

The sanctuary was under construction. The whole place smelled of sawdust and paint, and men climbed on high ladders, banging around in the ancient rafters of this old place of worship. At the altar, a large tapestry hung heavy with the scene of Gregory the Illuminator receiving a vision: Christ descending from the clouds with a golden hammer, telling him where to build the church.

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    Looking for rainbows amid suffering, genocide, and other mysteries of God

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    The World Vision Bloggers are in Armenia!

    Author, speaker, and blogger Matthew Paul Turner kicks us off with a reflection on the story of Noah's Ark, Armenia's long and complex history, and his hopes for this trip.

    ***

    As a child, my father loved telling me Bible stories before bedtime. Animated and full of belief, Dad told the stories of God and God’s people with such rich enthusiasm that me and my sister, Elisabeth, would plead every single night for another story. The stories of the Bible played such an integral part of my childhood. The narratives of people like Moses, King David, Esther, and Daniel were potent echoes of hope, faith, and devotion for me, sometimes inspiring my curiosity to know God and sometimes haunting my imagination like ghost stories.

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      Five reasons why I’m excited to go to Armenia

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      Our Armenia Bloggers Trip starts this week!

      Join us on our journey to the land of Noah and of second chances as we explore how World Vision tackles the root causes of poverty in this ancient Christian nation … and during the cold, bitter winter.

      ***

      Tomorrow, seven World Vision Bloggers and I will depart our various home airports across the United States for Paris, where we will meet—many of us for the first time in person—and fly together to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.

      In past roles and now with World Vision, I’ve had the opportunity to lead dozens of trips covering 19 countries on five continents, but I’ve never been more excited for a trip abroad than for this one! Here are five reasons why …

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        The power of a grandmother’s love

        Post Summary: 

        Elizabeth in Zambia is the matriarch of her family. But this grandmother's primary role isn't only to love and dote on them … she's their provider. And for the past few years, she has struggled.

        Through her church and a variety of World Vision programs, Elizabeth can now show her love to her family through food, education, health, and a life transformed out of poverty!

        ***

        At 65, Elizabeth Petulu is a widow, mother to seven children, and grandmother to 24. None of her children have completed their education and, worse still, none of them have entered formal employment.

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          When Moses got milk

          Post Summary: 

          Our writer/photographer team Kari and Jon are in Rwanda this week! On Tuesday, they met 11-year-old Moses, an orphan who was brought back from the brink of death by milk.

          See how cows and a pay-it-forward spirit are helping to transform Rwandan communities and young lives.

          ***

          On Tuesday, I met the most incredible boy, a boy who shouldn’t be alive to tell his story. His name is Moses.

          Moses lives in southern Rwanda, in a place with the highest level of malnutrition in the entire country. 

          Nearly half—45 percent of all children who live here—are stunted.

          Moses was hungry—so hungry that he did the unthinkable: He tried to suckle the milk from goats.

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            A second chance at Christmas

            Post Summary: 

            Today is Christmas in Armenia!

            The land where Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood in Genesis, Armenia has long been a land of second chances. See how today, Armenia is getting a second chance after the fall of communism, and how World Vision is helping through child sponsorship and more.

            ***

            Merry Christmas!

            It’s Christmas Day in Armenia today. In the fourth century, the Catholic Church established December 25 as Christmas, but the Armenian Apostolic and Evangelical Churches adhere to an older Christmas Day.

            I will be joining my Armenian friends by celebrating Christmas in my heart today along with them. Why not celebrate a second time? Especially as Armenia is truly a land of second chances.

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              Day 20: The twelve smiles of Christmas

              Post Summary: 

              Twelve of our favorite smiles from children around the world for the twelve days of Christmas!

              Which one is your favorite?

              ***

              "Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." –Mother Teresa

               

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                Day 18: A child worker becomes an artist

                Post Summary: 

                "When I see a child crying, that affects me.” Joel, 22, is pursuing his big dream of being a painter in Peru.

                Having been a child worker, Joel understands that life better than most. That's why his college thesis is a series of paintings depicting child workers.

                See how his life transformed from a laborer to an artist!

                ***

                The first of Joel's drawings I saw was a tree. He'd sketched it in pencil on the back of his notebook, the roots almost as big as the trunk and branches. Even under the harsh glare of fluorescent light, I knew it was special. Over the next few days as I spent more time with him, I realized Joel was a lot like that tree—flourishing vibrantly thanks to deep roots.

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                  Day 17: What I didn’t wish for

                  Post Summary: 

                  Jane Sutton-Redner, the editorial director of our World Vision Magazine, first met Jhon in Peru – the "singer of his neighborhood" – when he was 6, back in 1997. She quickly arranged to sponsor him.

                  Jhon is 24 now, and Jane had the opportunity to visit him again last month! See the difference her relationship has made in his life, and the dream that came true for him that she hadn't even wished for.

                  ***

                  Adults tend to graft their own dreams onto their children. For example, I hope that my 8-year-old son will be a famous writer someday. 

                  Day 18: What I didn’t wish for | World Vision Blog
                  Jhon at the age of 8.
                  (Photo: 1999 Jane Sutton-Redner)
                   

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                    Day 16: Aurora Popp's big dream

                    Post Summary: 

                    Love, loss, and healing in Romania: how 20 years of friendship, 25 years of recovery after communism, and healing after loss are leading these two friends – Aurora and Kari – to find loving sponsors for 500 Romanian children.

                    Join them today!

                    ***

                    I met Aurora Popp in 1997 in Bucharest, Romania. It was my second overseas trip for World Vision and I was traveling to cover stories about World Vision’s incredible work in the orphanages and with young, unmarried mothers who had decided to keep their babies.

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