Sunday, May 15, 2022

5 years later

 After my latest weird dream sequence, I found my mind wandering to an alternate scenario where our church never split up.

I did the math and realized that it has been about 5 years since it all started. At the time, Sophia was a baby and I wasn't able to be involved much in the discussions that followed. It was painful to feel cut off at such a crucial time! 

If you read my blog a long time ago, you probably remember that Andrei and I both were involved a lot in our church even before we were married and had kids. And the church played a big role in our courtship and wedding.

I look at the kids now and imagine that in our old church, they would have both been attending Sunday school by now, and I would have probably been involved with music again or been attending a small group.

If we had all stayed in the same church, I had imagined the kids growing up with "church friends," who would possibly become friends for life. The year I had David, 4 other families were expecting babies. They were girls, but still could have been playmates for him.

-One family emigrated to Germany on a heritage visa, after their second child was tragically born at 24 weeks and passed away in the NICU here.

-One family emigrated to Canada, after years stuck in a cycle of poverty here.

-One family went back to the church the wife had attended before they married.

-And the other family started attending a more modern church with an impressive children's program, as that was something important to them.

If the church split had happened 3 years later, the pandemic would have been starting, and church would have been online. The arguments about music and lighting and coffee hour wouldn't have happened. But...maybe we would have argued about masks and whether or not to meet in person. In fact, I'm pretty sure the large group who broke away did in fact keep meeting, and gave each other Covid.

If the church split happened now, 5 years later, the kids would be old enough to entertain themselves as we attended the discussion sessions. I'd probably get too emotionally involved...even more than I was when it actually happened. 

Sadly, the church split probably would have happened over Ukraine if it hadn't happened already by then. I think that there was already some disagreement over the Crimea, not enough to really cause great offense, but I think that it would be hard to worship together while sharing different views on what is happening today.

It's probably good that people went their separate ways, but I always wonder if there's a way to address disagreements in a timely manner so as to prevent church splits. Or is it inevitable that churches eventually have a big conflict? Or should churches do some "pruning" periodically? Or just plan to split into smaller groups once they get to a certain size? For example, outgrow the space? Instead of looking for a new building, just split up?

Do you ever think about how life would be different if something happened in a different year?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

Border Trips in the time of Covid, Part 3 (Armenia)

 I noticed that I often neglect to write about our interesting travels. A certain amount of time passes and then the initial impressions are lost. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting the photos off whichever device...

It's been 6 months and everything has changed again. This started out as a commentary on travel with coronavirus restrictions, and now there are many other restrictions. If Covid math for the past 2 years has involved PCR test processing and validity along with quarantine length, we now have to worry about closed airspace and places where we aren't welcome as a family.

But, back to November 2021 when it was still Covid but pre-conflict. 

...after our night in the hotel in Yerevan, we woke up for a day of tourism before heading to the airport. We enjoyed a full hotel breakfast buffet in the style that I've grown to love. None of that toast and jam here...try some hot porridge of your preferred type, make your own sandwich with a variety of cold cuts, or fix a plate of steamed hot dogs (David's favorite) with your choice of pasta dish or potato casserole. And then come back for more! I will admit that I like Scandinavian breakfasts a tiny bit more because there is usually some yummy smoked or salted fish. But any filling, savory breakfast is fine with me.

After breakfast, we had an hour to "get organized," which for me is always a pretty important/focused chore. I had also planned to map out our itinerary, figure out airport transportation, etc.

Then Andrei was looking at his phone and his bank had been reporting dozens of charges, leaving his balance almost at zero. Neither of us likes to handle these issues, but I also had to focus on packing everything up, so it really wasn't good timing. 

I mentioned in the last post that we were having trouble keeping track of the exchange rate, and as we rushed to make calculations, the numbers seemed way too high for having withdrawn a little cash and eaten dinner. Armenia is fairly cheap, in general. So that didn't make sense. Meanwhile, we got a call from the front desk reminding us of the checkout time, which was fair, but didn't help the overall mood.

Our time was up, so we headed down to check out and get directions into the downtown area. Did I mention Yerevan is rather hilly and the streets are sort of on top of each other? We went the way we were told, down a hill by an abandoned amusement park that we hadn't seen in the dark the previous evening. Then we were supposed to get to town via a pedestrian tunnel. That tunnel....I'm glad we weren't walking through it at night, because we couldn't get out of there fast enough! At first, the end wasn't even in sight. Lots of graffiti, trash, etc. We emerged to see a cluster of dilapidated Soviet buildings. A few steps further and we were at a lovely park with fountains that would have been turned on if it weren't November. But some adorable fuzzy green sculptures made up for that. It reminded me of seeing cow sculptures in Budapest. It was really warm, by the way, probably in the 50s. 

June 2022

So, we are 4 months into what's happening in our part of the world...though, of course, we live pretty far from the border!   Currently:...