I interrupt this blog...normally one about my kids and their antics, the interesting culture in which I live, the school in which we work, or any other topic that pops into my head, to tell you that last night we had a house fire.
But God is good all the time.
Our power went out just as I finished the dough for some homemade pizza. I kept on working with one daughter holding a flashlight over me while I grated cheese and spread pizza sauce. Finally at 6:30pm we gave up hope that the power would come back on in time to cook the pizzas and left to try a new kebab place just in the next neighborhood. We had a lovely meal, made a new friend with the owner and his son, then had an extra cup of tea with them by the fire they had built in the restaurant.
When Campbell Clansman opened the door for us to go in our house, smoke billowed out. We quickly ushered the kids down the hall, and he ran back in to find the cause of the smoke. I ran to the electric box and switched off the main switch (after all, I am my father's daughter...he was an insurance investigator for many years and prepared me for the many emergencies he had witnessed). So, CC continued to search in the dark. He found the fire in our office, blazing on top of our wardrobe. He ran back out, grabbed the hallway fire extinguisher and put out the fire. I ran to the neighbor, asked her husband to come, and asked her to keep the kids in her house.
The fire department came and checked to be sure it was properly put out. They asked us our names, they asked us our landlord's name, but did not solve the cause of the fire. There was a halogen lamp there, but the bulb was intact and the wall socket was not burned, so it must not have exploded from a power surge. After an hour or so, the smoke had cleared enough that we decided to sleep in our own home, so I put the kids to bed. Then it hit me. I knew the cause of the fire. There was a box on top of that wardrobe. Perhaps when the electricity came back on, it had gotten shoved onto the halogen lamp next to the wardrobe and caught fire. Did Phaselis the Great (kitty) move it? We'll never know. I asked him, and he is not talking. The box must have lit up, which caused the ceiling to smolder, the wall to char, and the wardrobe to start burning. Then when the box got light enough, it must have fallen to the floor and burned there, which left the big black hole in the hardwood.
What is even more a mystery than solving the cause of the fire (living my 7 year old dream of being a firefighter..back when they were just called firemen), is the supernatural peace that God gave both of us. Our voices and our reactions would have reminded you of how we might have interacted when taking our children to the park. This can only be explained by God. Immediately we recognized how much God had protected us. We discovered the power came back on only about 20 minutes before we returned home, which meant it only blazed for 20 mintues rather than the full 1.5 hours we were gone. It happened on a Monday night, not last Friday night when my children were home alone. Each paper or fabric that might have caught flame was not near enough to the fire. Fire extinguishers were mounted in our building. There is so so much for which we can be thankful. All I could think was to tell my neighbors how thankful I was. I told them over and over, and I pray they saw something in us that might set us apart.
Now, to the cultural tidbits. After all, I want you to laugh sometimes when you read my blog. All my neighbors came. They stood and comforted us and kept saying, in Turkish, "Gecmis Olsen" which means, "May it pass quickly for you." I thanked them all, even my meany neighbor who lives below. He came and told us about why we should not be using halogen lamps. Thanks. I was struck that the firemen really made no diagnosis of how the fire started. They were really nice and said nice things to us, but basically just came and watched and chatted just like our neighbors were doing. Our good friend Serdar came and helped Ross start the clean up. My neighbor across the hall just kept insisting that I just stay with her, not go in, not look. That was SO contrary to my nature. I wanted to help. I wanted to figure out how the thing started. But before I knew it, she had a big tray with tea service and snacks laid out and just told me, "Come, rest yourself. Drink tea." Precious. It was what she knew might calm her, I guess. She also fed Big Ben sugar cubes to keep him happy. He sat and watched a German gameshow on tv and stuffed himself with her sugar cubes.
So, I just interrupt this blog to give you a slice of my yesterday and to tell those that read this that I am so thankful God forces every calamity to be sifted through His hands first. As I put on my facebook status, I have my husband, I have my babies, I have God. Nothing else matters to me! Merry Christmas!