The Memories of Home ( My True Story )

Source


...


...


...

When I was 5 years old, my parents made the decision to go overseas to become missionaries in the Republic of Georgia. The 4 years that followed were the most real, vivid, and incredible moments of my life. Though I haven’t been back there in about 14 years now, I still remember it so clearly, and miss it so much.


The scenery, the rich, unique culture, and the hospitable, loving people. I have been to many countries and places, none of which could ever compare to the special, unique feel and vibe of this place. This land has taken so many beatings over the years. Ravaged by multiple wars, yet somehow holding onto unrivaled beauty.

Source

   The primary form of travel there, for us, was by foot, though there were paved roads in many places, and plenty of alternate forms of travel such as buses, electric trolleys, taxi vans, and private taxis. The streets were always flooded with pedestrians, vendors, beggars, and market stalls.


   Everywhere you looked, you would find salesmen of all kinds on the street corners, calling out to you for your business. There were sellers of magazines, candy, sunflower seeds, pastries, even stickers, in every direction.


   Aside from all that, there was the main Tbilisi Market, where you could find stalls set up, lining the streets, selling every imaginable thing. Knives, guns, food, spices, shoes, clothes, books...it was ALL there in this HUGE marketplace.


Source
Source

It wasn't uncommon to see young children walking around playing with butterfly knives, doing tricks and showing off. There were no age requirements for smoking or drinking there, so the youth was always up to "no good".


As Americans in a third world country, we were treated like royalty by the general population. All we had to do was say "I'm American", to be welcomed with open arms, and a kiss on each cheek ( the custom Georgian greeting ).

My family was invited to endless feasts, to be guests of honor. The Georgian men would always insist that me and my brother have a glass of vodka, as alcohol was the absolute centerpiece of any Georgian dinner table. My parents tried to deny us the drinks, but there was simply no getting around it. When they would look away, the Georgians would pour more vodka, koniak, or champagne into my glass, with a mischievous smile.

I remember a time when I was about 8, when my parents decided to go on a little vacation to other side of the country, a region called Svaneti. The trip there was taken by bus, through beaten mountain paths, barely wider than a car. The trip, alone, was by far the most hazardous and life-threatening 8 hours of any of our lives.

At one point, the path between the mountain and a straight drop off cliff became so thin and sloped, that our bus began to fall over the edge, forcing every passenger to rush to the opposite side of the bus to tilt it back on all wheels.

Even more horrifying still, near the end of our long, rigorous journey, machine gun fire was opened on our bus from atop a nearby hill. It may have been muggers trying to take out the wheels, or perhaps they simply wanted to kill us. Bullets impacted many sections of the bus, as the Georgians on board threw me and my family to the floor, leaping on top us as human shields. Our lives, to them, were more important than their own.


Svaneti, Georgia
Svaneti, Georgia | Source

  I know, this is beginning to sound more like fiction, isn't it? I would like to say that this was the end of our turmoils, but the greatest challenge was yet to come, within the ravishing beauty of Svaneti, Georgia. 


   A few days after we finally arrived there in one piece, my brother became very sick. The medical facilities in this isolated region were greatly lacking in technology, sanitation, and staff. My brother, Justin, was diagnosed with appendicitis, and was told it had to be removed immediately to avoid probable death. The operation was to begin immediately, in the one and only hospital within hundreds of miles. 


   I wasn't in the room, but I was able to hear his agonizing screams from down the hall, as the anesthetic given to him had worn off, mid-operation. He had awoke to find himself laying there, cut open, as the surgeon frantically tried to find the anesthesiologist to give him another dose. Though he survived and recovered, I can only imagine the fear and pain he must have endured. 


Vake Park. Tbilisi, Georgia
Vake Park. Tbilisi, Georgia | Source
Vake Park.
Vake Park. | Source

   After all the hardships and crazy experiences we had in that place, I can still say it is the only place I ever felt real. I can still focus on thoughts of it, and begin to smell it, feel it, taste it. 


   I find myself feeling like a zombie now, compared to the life and passion of Georgia. Here in the States, we follow patterns, rituals, routines, rarely looking death in the face, and rarely witnessing true kindness and sacrifice. The Georgian people had such a powerful, genuine culture, that stands out from anywhere else in the world. 



Here are 2 short videos about the 2008 Russian attacks on Tbilisi.

Where I once lived

Comments 45 comments

Mariam 2 years ago

Thanks for sharing the story of my country Georgia

I miss it so much.

Beautiful story, great job!


coffeegginmyrice profile image

coffeegginmyrice 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

It is nice of you to share your childhood story, Ben. And Georgia looks beautiful. Beautiful citizens and a beautiful family you have (parents who are missionaries). You and your family had passed the hardships when in Georgia. God blessed your family in so many ways including from the people who had welcomed your coming to their city and given their lives to protect you. Russia's visit to Georgia was another thing. Thank you for sharing this video too. It gives it more impact.

Awesome write, Ben!


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

thanks so much Nicky : ] I miss those days


Nicky Page profile image

Nicky Page 5 years ago from Indiana

Wow! I'm lost for words here. This story touched my every emotion.


Uriel profile image

Uriel 5 years ago from Lebanon

powerful words Ben, true and sincere! I had this feeling when i was a kid, and at the age of 12 it was taken away from me, so as Freaya Ceasare says" we are broken soliders on this chaotic battlefield called life"


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

thank you very much, la papillon


La Papillon profile image

La Papillon 5 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

Beautiful sentiments.

Beautifully written.

Beautiful place.

Beautiful memories.

Cheers, Louise ;)


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

cyncags - Thanks, it's been a while since this hub was commented. Good to see it's still being read

mikeq - I agree, great responses indeed. Ireland does seem very interesting, I always wanted to give it a whirl. Yeah, the life I live here is incredibly redundant. Thank you for the read and comment :]


mikeq107 5 years ago

Hi Benwritings ;0)

Such great responses above....I Grew up In Ireland at the Height of the troubles there...but yet inspite of it all I was surrounded by a passionate people...

I like what you stated

"Here in the States, we follow patterns, rituals, routines, rarely looking death in the face, and rarely witnessing true kindness and sacrifice. The Georgian people had such a powerful, genuine culture, that stands out from anywhere else in the world."

I have been here 24 years and I can relate to you...

great hub !!!

Mike :0)


cyncags profile image

cyncags 5 years ago

Excellent! I know what you mean about being a zombie in this country. Sad but true!


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 5 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

Wow, a very powerful story, and it brings the conflict of Georgia with Russia into focus. Amazing pictures too! Great hub, Ben!


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

jo - thank you very much

tbilisi is truly unique, as are many other places i'm sure

I don't find any place in the States to compare


jo miller profile image

jo miller 5 years ago from Tennessee

Ben, I saw a poem of yours while hub hoping and came here to see what else you had written. I like your writing and enjoyed this article. A few years ago my husband and I had a choice between visiting Tbilisi or Warsaw, Poland. We chose Warsaw and had a wonderful experience. But I've often wondered what we missed in Tbilisi. Sounds enchanting.

My hope now is that you can find some of that joie de vivre here in Tennessee. It, too, I think, can be a special place. Perhaps I'm biased.

My hope, also, is that you'll continue writing. You might be interested in the Conference on Southern Literature that is held every other year in Chattanooga. It can be inspirational.


Georgie98 profile image

Georgie98 5 years ago from UK

I wasn't sure to vote up or down, because what you wrote was great, but so sad as well. So I chose to just leave a nice comment! :)


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Doug - that comment meant a lot to me, thanks for that. I do pay close attention to language and spelling.

Caus noone wants to reed a hub lyke thiss. rite? ;]

Viet,crysolite,georgie - thanks for the read and comments, it's really nice to see people enjoying this.


Georgie98 profile image

Georgie98 5 years ago from UK

I agree about the grammar etc. Doug, everyone is entitled to the odd mistake here and there because we are only human. To continually do it is very frustrating, and can make it hard to read some literature.

That's why I want to study English Language and Linguistics at university. It is fascinating how it has come about, changed, how some people can understand it but others cannot grasp it at all.

You can only give a certain amount of constructive criticism before it comes across as arrogance and/or bullying.


crystolite profile image

crystolite 5 years ago from Houston TX

Very interesting story that really touched my heart.


vietnamvet68 profile image

vietnamvet68 5 years ago from New York State

a heartfelt story and very moving videos. Thanks for sharing your story.

God Bless


Doug Turner Jr. 5 years ago

Well this was definitely worth coming back to. You've done quite a bit of writing, and I base this not on your number of hubs, but on the structure and flow of your words. The prose doesn't lie; it's like DNA. You fully grasp your skill level and this is truly a great story as everyone here has stated, but what stood out to me the most was your attention to grammar and spelling. Laziness in those areas is a huge peeve of mine and unfortunately it is something that occurs all too often here at the beloved hub.

Again, good story. Loved how the Georgians snuck you booze. Cheers.


Georgie98 profile image

Georgie98 5 years ago from UK

Like Nellie said you must be fortunate to have such fond memories of the area, but also be fortunate that you were not there when Russia attacked.

You should be grateful for both things and appreciate them too.

I know what it is like to live in a country with such beauty too, the U.K. Sadly I am stuck in London until I go to university...far from major cities!

I like the beauty of the nature, and cannot understand the beauty of architecture. That itself is a mini war to all nearby.

What makes it even worse in the videos though, is the soldiers are smiling, that's dispicable.


Nikkij504gurl profile image

Nikkij504gurl 5 years ago from Louisiana

im not big on geography or history, so i know nothing about this, and the only georgia i know is one of the 50 states...but sounds like a great adventure, both a good and bad experience. and at such young an age. maybe you can go back there one day, and see how things have changed.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Its back up now.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

I have really enjoyed sharing myself, and sharing in others' writings, including yours :]


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

It does -- shows immeasurably more of your being. I suppose we are all like the proverbial elephant. Describing ourselves or being described depends on which part!


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Randy - thank you :]

Mentalist - that was kind, I liked it, thanks

Twilight - I really appreciate that, after your comment on my art lol. I am glad it struck you, thanks :]

Genna - I really appreciate all that, and yes, I will return with my brother, one day.

Vakho - Glad you read it man.

Nellie - Yes I am fortunate to have such wonderful/exciting memories of that place. I am REALLY glad you read and liked this. I wanted it to show more of who I am


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

I feel that immense nostalgia for a country where I once lived - the United States.

The things you see about you now were not the way it was then, just as your beloved Georgia is no longer the same place-and for many of the same reasons: greed, power, violence, insufferable feelings in some of having a right to do as they wish, wherever they wish to do it and to whomever they wish to do it. It matters whether they arise from within the group or from without it - but when they arise, the effects are equally as destructive.

It is monstrous, but, in truth, it is not the whole fault of the West. It is a sickness in the hearts of people everywhere. The Russians behind those horrors are not exempt. But looking at the faces of the young men who wore the fatigues and carried the arms, I cannot help but observe that they were doing what they were trained and instructed to do, getting nothing out of it for themselves, more like human robots. They surely were sickened by the consequences of their actions, the faces and maimed bodies of the victims. It was not what they had wanted for themselves, and it will surely haunt them for the rest of their lives. Those in power who planned all that horror may sleep quietly. That is the monstrosity of it. NO ONE wins in war.

But you are so fortunate to have those peaceful pleasant memories of your childhood there. Yes. It was a different world there - while here, when you returned here, it was already succumbing to some horrid force which weakened wills and diluted feelings of the citizens to allow such things. No country or group of people can honestly claim no blemishes on its history, but as long as the people are real and decent, there is hope. It is when that begins to crumble that it looks so bleak. Many years ago I looked around my land and realized that the next "war" would be for the minds and hearts of the people and that it would work from within like cancer, not from exterior like the plague. And it seems too near.

But so long as there are young folks here like you - there is hope. Perhaps your own personal mission is quite a different kind, Ben. And perhaps it is already underway.

This is a magnificent hub. Thank you.


Vakho 5 years ago

Hits home. Im glad to have shared.those memories.wwith you. I have to say I even miss the georgia of 14 years ago...it was probably at one of the lowest and poorest state but filled.with love and warmth of people


Genna East profile image

Genna East 5 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

“I find myself feeling like a zombie now, compared to the life and passion of Georgia. Here in the States, we follow patterns, rituals, routines, rarely looking death in the face, and rarely witnessing true kindness and sacrifice. The Georgian people had such a powerful, genuine culture, that stands out from anywhere else in the world.”

I can imagine how you must feel in comparison. Sometimes – perhaps too often for some - we Americans do not grasp life in its fullest form to understand how each day is both a treasure and a celebrated gift…we often take this for granted if an aloof and self-absorbed, digitized world. These people are wonderfully generous and real, and I thank you for sharing them with us as well as your fascinating story.


Twilight Lawns profile image

Twilight Lawns 5 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

I can remember the Russian invasion and looking at the pictures of Georgia and remembering having been in the Ukraine a few years before. The similarities are astounding, the poverty, the poor housing, everything... but then to have that destroyed, by bombs and fire and rockets. Things that they must have saved and cherished for years; gone in an instant... and what for?

A wonderful hub, Ben, I had tears in my eyes throughout the videos. You must return, there will be McDonalds and all the trappings of "western Culture2, but their unique culture will not be removed, Live where your heart is, if you can... if only for a short while.


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

Beauty in truly real colors that is usually mis-interpreted as weakness and to be pitied without realizing Georgia's Valor.;)


Randy Behavior profile image

Randy Behavior 5 years ago from Near the Ocean

Thank you for sharing this journey. Truly.


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

Perhaps not. Maybe we will each have to make our own beautiful spaces and teach our truths to our children and grandchildren.


zesha profile image

zesha 5 years ago

good work great job keep it up.good work great job keep it up.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Well, with the path the world seems to be on, and the inescapable clutch of a World Government...I doubt that such beautiful cultures will exist for long.

Thanks for the interest :]


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

I can understand the longing of wanting to return to a place and time of something that is no more, something that nothing else in your live has compared to or ever could. I have just never felt that way about a country, a people. I'm very sorry this has all changed yet very happy for you that you got to experience something so magnificent you have something to gauge your expectations upon. It could cause a lot of inner turmoil though, I'd imagine. Maybe you will travel again and find another country you can fall in love with. I hope so.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Every detail of my memory of that place is breathtaking. Staggering beauty in every form.

I know if I returned, it would only be a remnant of what I remember. Western civilization ( mcdonalds, KFC, etc. ) has most likely flooded it by now, and taken away some of its uniqueness. it makes me sick

yes, they were more in tune because of DEEP rooted, rich culture, poverty, and less exposure to the WEST I keep speaking of.


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

I have never had the privilege of traveling abroad but the market places, the interaction of family and friends on such festive occasions must be incredible. The land is beautiful. Is it your wish to return there someday, to live? Do you think the people there are more in tune to the important things of life because of the poorer economy? I just have a million questions now, forgive me but you've peeked my interest.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Phoenix - no they don't do missionary work anymore. I have lived in Tennessee for 13-14 years now and I still miss the REALITY of Georgia. This country is so methodical, so dull, so dead...in my opinion

thanks for the read, very much appreciated


Poohgranma profile image

Poohgranma 5 years ago from On the edge

I just did a very brief study of Georgia to find out why the Russians were there and learned of a Civil War (what a name for any war). The music on the video is hauntingly beautiful and the pictures told stories no one could have written.

Does your family still do missionary work?

You must have had a complete culture shock upon returning to the States. What a beautiful land and the treatment your family received there was incredible. This was very interesting and gives such insight to your life then, and now. Such huge differences.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Honestly, I don't want to say that anyone was a monster in that conflict between Russia and Georgia. All I know is, the city I lived in suffered casualties, and places I grew up in were destroyed.

I don't necessarily agree completely with the very end of that 2nd video.

Thanks Elizabeth :]


Elizabeth99 profile image

Elizabeth99 5 years ago from Milwaukee, WI

Wow, that is awful. I don't know how people can do things like that. It makes me sick to think people can be such monsters. I'm glad you shared this.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Willstarr - thank you very much for that. And I hope you watched the videos at the end. I appreciate you reading this.


BenWritings profile image

BenWritings 5 years ago from Save me from, Tennessee Author

Thank you SimeyC. Yes, Americans were admired, loved, and cherished by the Georgian people back then. Now, not so much, as Western society has driven itself into the country.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Outstanding Hub!

Your best yet.

Up and awesome!


SimeyC profile image

SimeyC 5 years ago from NJ, USA

Thank you for sharing this story - I was particularly touched by the fact that strangers protected you when you were under fire simply because you were visitors to their wonderful country - very humbling...

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working