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Dear Parishioners and Friends,

I believe that centuries old proverbs are not only beautiful poems or statements, but rather condense wisdom for all ages.

There is a very familiar saying that “you cannot grasp the depth of pain until you experience it on your skin.” Upon witnessing any tragedy or learning of it, we may feel for the victims and try to help them. But we can’t feel the depth of pain, unless we ourselves go through the same situation.

Over the last year, since the blast at Beirut port, I’ve been in contact with officials and friends in Lebanon almost every day. I was absolutely sure that I fully identified with their suffering and deprivations, until ten days ago I and Bishop Torkom, the Prelate of Western Prelacy, visited Lebanon upon the invitation of His Holiness Catholicos Aram I. Among the many miseries we witnessed, I would like to share the following experience. I wished to send an article to Crossroads to share the news of the visit with our readers. I had just finished my article, but the power went off; the Internet was gone too. I called a friend of mine and was told that they would have electricity for one hour until 3:00 pm. It was 2:05 pm: I called a taxi company and was told that due to the shortage of fuel it could be available only in half an hour. I was overcome with frustration, anger, impotence. I had only 25 minutes to accomplish my humble mission. The cab arrived with a delay of another five minutes and I jumped in, asking the driver to do his utmost to get to my friend’s home. An incredible traffic jammed the streets because of the long lines outside gas stations, with sometimes more than 60 or 70 cars. After repeatedly pleading with the driver to find a short cut, we finally arrived at 2:56 pm. I rushed in, asked for the password and with trembling fingers I clicked the SEND button by 2:58pm. Only then I was able to identify myself with those who are experiencing unbearable miseries over more than one year.

As I address you today, my beloved brothers and sisters, I thank the Almighty Lord for enjoying His bounties, which we sometimes take for granted. I am grateful also to all those who are putting their love in action. As of today, our fundraising for Lebanon Relief has hit $64,680 and we transferred $ 50,000 to the Armenian Prelacy of Lebanon in Beirut.

May God grant us all health and success in our endeavors to outreach the needy, the brothers and sisters of our Lord, as described in Mt 25:40.