Anyway, as I sit on my bed and listen to the rain patter against my window (at a much calmer rhythm) I'm remembering all that I have done in the last several days. Sunday was a wonderful day, spent with my family touring several churches near Samtredia. It was a great surprise to wake up and hear that my mama wanted to take us! He works so, so much that when he's home, it's really special and he likes to spend quality time with his family. Anyway, we visited 4 churches, one built in the 6th century in honor of Jesus Christ, a second built in the 7th century in honor of Saint George (the patron saint of Georgia), another built in honor of Saint Maria and a fourth women's monastery. All of these churches were so beautiful and it was amazing to hear the many historical stories that Cici, my host sister shared with me. The whole day was quite emotional for me because church has always been a place where I've felt at home, while I'm away from home. It was so special to be able to share the experience with my host family and listen to their stories. I could go on and on sharing some of these stories, but I've decided to just share 1 in particular. At the second church we went to, the one built in honor of Saint George, there is an old tradition of saying special prayers to Saint George at this particular church. Why? Because Saint George's ear is buried here, among several other of his body parts. Because Saint George is so important to this country, when he died, his body was cut up into many pieces and buried in many churches all over Georgia. But here, in this particular church, because his ear is buried there, Saint George will be able to hear your prayer or wish and it will come true! So, when we visited this church, my mama (father, remember, not my mother) gave us all candles to place in the altars around the church. Each altar was placed next to some sort of icon. One particular altar was very meaningful as it was a place to remember those who have lived and died before us. I immediately thought of my grandma who passed away the week before I moved here. It was very special to be able to light a candle in her honor and pray for my grandpa to Saint George. Cici also told me stories about her own family and their connection to each church we visited. I felt so honored to be a part of it all!
Before we visited the last church, a women's monastery, we happened to drive by the police station where my mama works. He asked if I wanted to see it and I replied, of course!! It was so cute watching him show me where he works. He was so proud. I was impressed too! The police stations over her are incredibly beautiful. Much nicer than in the states. He is 2nd in command at the station and is in line for police chief (which explains the incredibly long hours he puts in). It was hilarious meeting the other members of the force as they were all excited to show me their cubicles and their favorite room...the gun room. I wanted to take a picture, but mama wouldn't let me!! He did however let me hold one of his hand guns. I had never held a gun before...gotta say, I didn't really like the feeling! But it was fun, nonetheless.
Next, I learned that it pays to know people who work for the government. At the women's monastery, which was built on the top of a hill in a small town called Mtvali, I was almost able to meet the Patriarch of Samatgrelo (a region in Georgia near Imereti) who regularly prays and visits this monastery. Mama called his police chief who was going to arrange the meeting. Unfortunately the Patriarch was busy blessing a fellow American who is also a TLG volunteer, living in Samatgrelo. Don't worry though, he called the house later and said that he wants to meet me so that he can bless me, too!! So surreal...
Tonight, it seems as though sickness is plaguing my household. Cici, my sister has a terribly sore throat and Mama came home with an awful cold! I've been coughing, but I think it's just allergies and I'm already taking allergy meds. Hopefully Deda, Babua (mom and Grandpa) and I can avoid it! However, just to be safe, Mama asked if I would take a healthy shot of vodka. Apparently, in Georgia, vodka keeps you healthier! Who knew? We'll see if it helps!
First day of school tomorrow...I hope it goes well! I've met all of my English teachers, there are 3. They all seem really great and helpful. Plus, they all actually speak English! I've had several friends whose English teachers haven't spoken English...here in Georgia, everyone can read and write in English, but hardly any can speak it. Hence, the reason we are here. We attempted to make a schedule for me and I'm bouncing around every period between the 3 teachers. I'll mostly be teaching 5th-9th grade and then 2 1st grade verbal fluency lessons. As many of you know, I'm not used to working with 5-9th graders, I'm usually working with the 2nd and 3rd graders! It will be very different, but I think a great experience nonetheless! Yay for stepping outside my comfort zone!
Well, I'm off. Here's a picture of my family and I touring the churches. More will be on facebook later!