Campaign News 2015
Shikahogh, Armenia - Our last week in Shikahogh village was action-packed, full of heavy duty work and festive farewell gatherings.
We completed a fun "demolition project," using sledge hammers to tear down a bathroom made of stones and cement that was haphazardly annexed onto the rear of Soorp Stepanos Church a few decades ago. We also finished stacking hundreds of clay tiles on top of the church roof, through many days of passing them in an assembly line and lifting them to the roof with a pully system. We are proud that we accomplished a great deal, in that the roof was tiled in just a few short weeks with our assistance!
Shikahogh, Armenia - When we haven't been working or enjoying the village lifestyle, we've gone on excursions to nearby sites including famous historical churches and monasteries, small churches restored by LCO volunteers over the past several decades, and natural settings in the southern Armenian countryside.
Shikahogh, Armenia - Living in Shikahogh village as LCO volunteers has been humbling, slow-paced, and amazingly eye-opening. Every day after working on the church, we enjoy a hearty lunch of green beans, salad, bread, cheese, and a different entrée, followed by a few hours of free time. During this time we hand wash our clothes, take an outdoor shower, play games, do arts and crafts, read, or just watch livestock wander in and out of our yard. But best of all is hanging out with our new friends in the village!
Shikahogh, Armenia - Our work day began at 8:30am with a healthy breakfast of hard boiled eggs, bread, jam, butter, cheese, coffee and tea. Wearing our bright orange LCO volunteer t-shirts and hats, we walked for fifteen minutes uphill along a rocky, gravelly, sheep-trodden trail to Soorp Stepanos Church. There we met with the small team of men who have worked on the church since LCO initiated the project three years ago: the subcontractor Stepan, local villagers Armen and Grish, and a few others whose names we're still learning. After receiving our marching orders, we sprang into action removing the top layer of stones from the church alter, to be reinforced later. The heavier stones weigh up 20-50 pounds, but surprisingly, it was incredibly fun and rewarding work!
Shikahogh, Armenia - We're happy to report that we safely arrived in Shikahogh village yesterday, after eight hours driving in a bumpy bus from Yerevan! It was amazing to watch the landscape change dramatically as we drove, from attractive urban center, to rolling pastoral meadows, to high mountain steppes, to lush green forests.
Along the way, we were able to stop at Khor Virab. We learned that it was the place Saint Gregory was imprisoned in a snake-infested pit for 14 years, before he "illuminated" King Tiridates and ultimately was responsible for Armenia becoming the first Christian nation in 301 AD. Apart from appreciating stunning views of Mount Ararat, we got to descend into the pit itself. Never had we had this critical moment in Armenian history become more real and tangible for us!