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03/01/2007

The Armenian Handshake

"Dick Funt, Shirley Funt, Alex Kocsis"

"Dick Funt, Shirley Funt, Alex Kocsis

We appreciated Bethel's support of the 2006 VIM Team to Armenia and wish to share our joy in this story.

Staying mainly in non-tourist areas of other countries, our experiences have always been very rewarding as we connected with the people in the communities. But our experiences as VIM Team members were some of the most rewarding, especially witnessing the amazement that we would be leaving money for the completion of the Gavar Special School project and the habitat house.

Our in-country UMCOR leader took the Team to the Cathedral and surrounding Armenian Church headquarters at Echmiadzin. The guide told about the many artifacts that lead back to Jesus' crucifixion. After visiting the Cathedral, our leader arranged a special tour of the buildings behind the closed gates. We walked through the garden planted in flowers, vineyards, and pomegranates, like many backyard garden plots in Armenia.

At the gate we were introduced to our Armenian guide and taken to a large building next to the home of the head of the Church. Here we viewed church artifacts, including clothing of previous popes, tapestries, and rugs, many of these items were over 200 years old. The guide explained that many people had stored and protected the artifacts during the difficult times of the Armenian genocide, World War II, and earthquakes. It is unfortunate that these items in relatively good condition are not preserved in display cases or climate-controlled rooms.

The guide was soft spoken, polite, and patient with our Team while we were in awe over the items in this museum. At the end of the tour we expressed our thanks for the inspiring time in the museum. One Team member hesitantly said to the guide, ""Excuse me, but I need to know why you have such a strong handshake. When I look at you, you're a small-sized man with large hands. Did you do manual work as a young person?""

He answered, ""No, I did not do unusual physical work, but my firm handshake is the power of God's spirit moving through my body into your body.""

We, too, were touched by the power of his handshake."


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