AMAA Kicks off 90th Anniversary Celebrations with a Trip to the Homeland

A group of more than 80 AMAA supporters from five countries assembled to board the tour buses for the first day of site-seeing on the Armenian Missionary Association of America’s commemorative 90th Anniversary Trip to Armenia in July. Over the course of eights days, the group traveled together around Armenia visiting AMAA projects and historical sites of Armenia. The robust itinerary offered everybody an opportunity to either reacquaint themselves with the motherland, or for others it was an introduction to Armenia. The first day of the trip included sightseeing stops in Yerevan such as Matenadaran: Depository of Ancient Manuscripts, National Gallery of Armenia, Museum of Armenian History and the Museum of the Armenian Genocide. A very touching moment took place when everyone held hands and circled the eternal flame at the Genocide Monument and the Executive Director prayed.

The following day, after going to Lake Sevan, the group visited the Sheen-Shoghik Camp in Hankavan where the Landes family, from California, donated baseball equipment, hats, visors and t-shirts. A special highlight of the afternoon was spent teaching the children at the camp the rules of baseball and an exciting impromptu baseball game ensued. The afternoon was capped off by a show which included a dance group from the AMAA community center in Gyumri and songs presented by the children at camp.

On Thursday, the group was brought to the new site of the AMAA Center and Church, where the new Seminary building was toured and everybody saw firsthand the progress of construction of the AMAA’s new headquarters. Afterward, the group was taken to the current AMAA Center and the Nerses and Arpine Aynilian Medical Clinic where a special presentation was made to Arpine Aynilian with her family in attendance.

Visiting the Khoren and Shoushanik Avedisian Elementary School in the afternoon was another distinctive highlight, where an assembly of students welcomed the group with songs. Edward and Pamela Avedisian, the School’s benefactors who were in attendance introduced the School’s Principal, Melanya Geghamyan, and mentioned that the School recently received the distinguished honor of being the best school in Armenia in 2005.

Later that evening, the group attended a very special concert at the Philharmonic which was dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the AMAA. Prior to the concert, Andy Torigian, AMAA Executive Director spoke in Armenian and English welcoming the dignitaries, guests and AMAA supporters and gave a brief history of the AMAA and thanked the Armenian Government for cooperating with the AMAA and allowing the AMAA to continue its mission. Rev. Ren? L?onian, AMAA representative in Armenia, also spoke and extended AMAA greetings. Aram Gharabekian, Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia presented a moving program. Following this memorable concert, 90 Years of Miracles was celebrated at Arma Restaurant high on a hill which overlooked Yerevan as the sun was setting.

Over the course of the next three days, the group visited historic churches in Oshakan and Ashtarak, St. Gregory the Illuminator Pit, Khor Virab, Etchimiadzin, Garni and Geghart and had an opportunity to bargain at the Vernissage market.

In the midst of visiting these sites, the group spent an afternoon at the AMAA Center and Church in Vana-tzor. This afforded the group the opportunity to meet up with the Internship Program attendees who were in Vanatzor. It was a wonderful afternoon where the group mingled with members from the AMAA Community Center and saw firsthand the great work the Internship Program students accomplished.

Toward the end of the tour, the group was offered the opportunity to hear a special performance by the Shoghig Choir at Sartarabad. Rev. Garush Antonyan, the Artistic Director of the choir and pastor of the Armavir Church presented an emotional evening filled with music and laughter.

Everyone is invited to join in the continued 90th anniversary celebrations. On October 18th the AMMA will hold its Annual Meeting at 9:00 am at the AMAA headquarters in Paramus, NJ followed by the Annual Banquet at 7:00 pm at the Hasbrouck Heights Hilton. The weekend’s festivities will conclude with a special worship service at the Armenian Presbyterian Church of Paramus on October 19th at 11:00 am. For more information, please contact Marie Viducich at (201) 265-2607 or amaa@amaa.org.

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