Saturday, August 05, 2006

Baptized in Shushi

Yesterday we baptized Arsen. Arsen is 6 years old and though only now being baptized, has been accompanying his mother and older sister to Church for many years.

When we returned from the Church, we found Lavrent’s brother in front of their house tending to the fire we barbequed the pork we purchased in Stepanagert earlier that day.

Lavrent’s brother asked Arsen a few questions about the baptism, one asking him if he was now Armenian? Arsen looked to his uncle and said in a sarcastic tone, “did you think I was a Turk before I was baptized? I’ve always been Armenian, I’m now a Christian.”

A discussion about religion and what is means to be a Christian went on as we barbequed. The issue of our recent visitors to Martuni and learning that the same people had stopped in Shushi, preaching to those that would listen while they passed out bibles, one boy saying they also passed out natural juices. One man commenting that the Armenians of Artsakh are like children when it comes to religion and if someone from the outside comes and preaches, they suck up what is being said.

We took our barbeque pork and made our way to Lavrent’s house where we had a feast to celebrate Arsen’s re-birth. One of our guests asked Arsen who was that person affixed to the cross he wore? Arsen looked at the cross and said it was Jesus babig. Babig in Armenian is grandfather and in the day of the Soviet, Lenin was known as “Lenin babig.”

After our meal with many toasts to Arsen, his family, friends and all those who are a part of his life, I departed for Martuni, leaving Arsen with a few words of wisdom as to how he should live his life as a good Christian. Everything good he does adds points to my record with God and anything bad he accidentally might do, God punishes me since I’m the one responsible for guiding him in being a good person. He assured me he would do his best.

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