Frankly, I do not have much–a small house, draped with the loving embrace of my deceased father; a devoted mother, who has worked tirelessly for years to support two children on her own; and quite a brilliant sister, who has already left her mark upon high school and continues to do similarly in college. I may not have a great deal, but there are people with far less.
Though I have not had a permanent residence outside my home here in the Bay, my family and I visit my grandparents in Armenia nearly every summer. Upon my stay, my own perceptions of life have strikingly evolved.
During my visits to Armenia, I find elderly women who have no one and nothing–no family, no money, no help. I see children anxiously awaiting the arrival of their parents so that they may have some bread upon their table. I witness men struggling to overcome their disabilities imparted on them from the recent years of war. My eyes behold the destruction of one village after another. I watch as impoverished hospitals struggle to save the lives of innocent people who too soon befall the reaper’s embrace.
I recall, quite specifically, one man who would come to my house every day asking for food. He would stand outside and call my grandfather’s name. Instead, my grandmother would walk out and hand him a portion of our supper. The man would thank her a thousand times before returning the next day and calling out once again.
Yet, in the midst of tragedy, one thing persists–the resilient hope of indomitable souls. Through all the despair I observe, I find love and passion and faith and devotion.
Although my grandparents live in the city, we often visit small villages as a family. The one part of our village trips I will never forget? Riding a donkey. Needless to say, it is one of the most bizarrely amusing experiences.
I remember a village boy pushing a five-year-old me towards the apparently ravaging beast despite my utmost look of panic (I’m not much of an animal person). My arms clung around the donkey’s neck and my fearful eyes scanned the scene around me as I tried not to let out a tear. But in a matter of minutes, I began to laugh along with the folks around me.
That’s what I loved most–not the donkey in particular, but the warm, encouraging smiles of the villagers around me. They didn’t have much and still they did all they could to make me, but a visitor in their home, have as much of an enjoyable experience as I could.
At times, I simply lay at night thanking God for all he has bestowed upon me–not all he has given me materially, but what he has allowed me to witness. A seemingly broken people who are as whole as could ever be. That, to me, is genuinely the most beautiful gift I could ever ask for.
Originally published on Harker Aquila.