Monday, November 24, 2014

Funeral Reflections

Today we attended a funeral service which caused me to think much today.

This sweet woman, originally from Eastern Turkey, had a Bible in her home growing up, which was forbidden. Therefore, the family hid it in the bread dough bowl in the oven, should anyone ever come in demanding answers. All these years, she shone her light brightly in a very dark place. And now her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren all walk with the Lord, serving in several different ministries in very difficult places.

CC has attended a funeral here for an unbeliever. He continues to say that it was one of the saddest occasions of his life. This was different all together.

As we entered, we were given a small picture of her and a straight pin so that we could wear her picture for the day to honor her. I thought it was a very respectful gesture.

Directly in front of me were two rows of covered women, her neighbors of 45 years. Her grandson, a pastor, officiated. He told these neighbors, in a church for the first time, that "A" Teyze (auntie) had faithfully, weekly brought their needs before the church congregation for prayer. Behind them, I could see each one pull down her head scarf further and wipe her eyes. It was very moving. This godly woman had lived a life of truth and faith in front of them all these years. Now, even in her death, her light shone, as these women heard the message of faith with their own ears. Some believe in only building relationships and showing our walk with Jesus. Some believe words should always be spoken. What touched me today is that from her, even from her grave, they have received both.

We drove far outside of town for her burial. There is a new gravesite being dug with only a small row for Christians. She was the fourth Christian grave in a year (in a city of 6 million). A grave near her was for a baby boy, less than a year old. While she was buried, I held the arm of one of her neighbors, as the path up was uneven and rocky. I prayed for her as we stood together. We looked out to the mountain behind us, covered with the first snow of the season. How fitting. The day was cold, but not rainy. "Whiter than snow" came to my mind.

And as I process this tonight, realizing that I have been in this country long enough now to know people who are passing from death (here) to life (heaven), I am reminded of so many things.

Death has no sting.

Life is but a vapor.

I told CC on the way home to please not talk on and on at my funeral about what I've done here on Earth. Teaching, mothering, all that. Just share the Gospel, I told him, in every language present at my funeral.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Halloween 2014

We did staff house trick-or-treating again this year. It is SO fun for our kids to think of a costume and get to surprise their teachers with it!

CC is always in charge of Big Ben's costume. We have perfect slip-on, all-parts-included Batman and Spiderman costumes, but he wanted to be Indiana Jones.

I squeeze those cheeks everyday. Just try and stop me.

I suggested that Sweet Cheeks could dress as her American Girl doll. The doll dress was a gift from Mimi. Then one day we were given this beautiful dress as a hand-me-down and realized it was the exact dress as the doll's!

I loved Twinkle's costume. She was a Starbucks to-go cup. She even wrote that she was a Tall Caffeinated. Agreed!

Firstborn and Miss Middler went as the Sesame Street aliens. I LOVED their costumes and laughed every time I looked at them. BRRRRRiing!

Here's all our cute staff kids, including S and M's twins, who were back in town for one final day before flying back to Moscow.

Full bags of candy (including sweet homemade treats and smuggled in American treats) from thoughtful staff members made these staff kids feel loved!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: More Hiking

We took them to Rose Valley. As you can see, the hike can be....strenuous!

M quickly learned that a head scarf can be very useful. Blocks the wind, blocks the sun.

S was very adventurous. He wound through the paths and caves, wanting to capture it all on his camera. It's pretty much impossible to capture the full effect.

Though we only had a short 36 hours with them in Cappadocia, we made the most of it and had a great time. Soon, we would leave them there, ready to fly out to Antalya the next morn. We said goodbye, thankful we'd get to see them for one last overnight after their vacation week. Then, we drove back home, ready to start a work week.
I am so thankful my good friend got to see a glimpse of my life.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Visitor's View of Cappadocia: Greeting a New Day with Old Friends

Breakfast is my favorite in Cappadocia. Everyone sleeps well in the deep, dark caves. Then we awake and enjoy a Turkish breakfast together. The weather was gorgeous. Our guests had been up to witness the dozens of hot air balloons overhead, early that morning.

My beautiful girl.

Beautiful breakfast: fresh fruit, honey on the comb, bread, tomatoes and cucumbers, olives, nuts. All locally grown.

After breakfast and some good conversation, we loaded up and drove to our launch point for our second hike.

We brought some fresh grass to a horse, awaiting his riders for his daily tour.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Getting Us All Fed

After a full day of travel and hiking in the hills and caves of Cappadocia, we took them to the spot for dinner we've grown to love. The owner remembered us and welcomed us in. This simple place to eat offers good food at fair prices. And the all-you-can-eat oven baked bread fills up hungry kids! This oven is ancient, leftover from an original cave home from long ago. The new restaurant was built around it. I thought of the many families whose meal it served.

I made my kids order their own food in Turkish. I think I am going to do that from now on.

CC ordered Moussaka, an eggplant dish originally made in the Ottoman times.

Sweet Cheeks got manti. It was good, but not as good as Dostlar's manti back home in Ankara, she said.

S, M, and I all ordered the stew dish contained in a clay pot. The only way to open it is to break the pot.

They bring it hot out of the oven, then light it on fire for you before cracking it open.

After a long day of riding, hiking, and eating... was time to crawl in our caves for a good night's sleep.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Cappadocia

We set off on our first hike to show them the wonders of Cappadocia. I mentioned that I always try to photograph crosses that we find, in hopes to create a photo display of them one day. S asked if he could copy my idea, I said I would be honored.

They were enthralled. Literally.

Going up is by far easier than going down. The ground is almost slippery. This is why people are so easily able to carve homes into the rock. Sometimes the only way to get down is on your rump.
It was really fun to explore with folks who love adventure like we do!

Friday, November 14, 2014

A Visitor's View of Turkey: Oasis Fall Carnival and A Little Help from Daddy, the FBI, and a Turkish Uncle

After our fun day in Ulus, we were able to take our guests to our Fall Carnival. It was fun to let them have a glimpse of the place that is home-away-from-home for Here's Big Ben with one of the sets of twins in his class. One twin is always in a princess dress. One is always in her Spidey costume. She's from Jordan.

What I love is that the kids just go! They run, play games, have fun...until they drop. Then it is time to go home.

We got back in after the Carnival and got all 7 kids tucked in. Early (EARLY!) the next morning, CC did something we have never done before, which was to let our two oldest girls ride a public city-to-city bus alone to Cappadocia. We knew we did not have enough room in our van for everyone, and renting a car was pricey, so I suggested letting them try it. Serdar Bey, our Turkish "everything" man who helps us at school, offered to get them to the bus station early the next morning. CC said, "No, I'm going to do it." Dad wanted to be the one, this was a bit monumental for us. As they were walking out the door, S offered them a "killer pen" to keep with them in the event that they got into danger. Sharp-pointed on the tip (he says it could break glass) and with a cap that could even injure, they thought they were hot stuff with an FBI killer pen. I just reminded them not to try it on each other! By the way, this is, by far, one of my favorite stories of all time. Bear with me.

So, CC got them on the bus, front row, where no one could sit by them, armed with a killer pen. He gave them last minute advice and kissed them goodbye. Having a male presence around you in this country carries some weight (which is why he wanted everyone on that bus to know Daddy would be waiting for them to arrive safely).

CC got off the bus. Then, Firstborn said, "Wait for it...5...4....3...2..." and CC got BACK on the bus. Ha ha! He had forgotten to pray for them. He finally left, satisfied that they were in God's hands.

And then, Uncle Serdar Bey was worried, as well. So, he got the bus driver's number and personally called him all along the journey. "Are those white girls ok? Any problems?" He told me the driver finally said,  "Enough already! They are fine! I'll get them to the next bus safely!" Ha!

And so the big girls, taking a bus across country for the first time, alone, had a Daddy making sure everyone knew they were his, a killer pen from FBI agent Uncle S, and a Turkish uncle calling the driver the whole way. Just in case you were wondering, they were ok!

They were taken on a second bus to the little town where we would stay, and just like a boss they carried their luggage and walked right up to the cave hotel we've grown to love so much! And they didn't even get a marriage proposal on the way, whew!

And so we would begin a very quick 30 hours with our friends in this place we love, Cappadocia. The kids curled up on the big Turkish rug pillows and started playing with rainbow looms.

Hot apple tea at the cave is always my favorite. It was surreal to be there with M.

We just let the kids go. I love that.

Soon, we would take them on their first hike in this surreal topography!

Site Meter