There has definetely been a resounding theme from God in my life these last 6 years I've lived in Turkey. Over and over again I've heard it. I realize the theme might not be understood by others; most likely they wouldn't even recognize it if they stumbled over it.
But here it is: God is here.
Over and over again, I sense Him saying that to me. Of course, this example would mean nothing to anyone else, but here is one instance...last Spring, I was ready to go 'home' (meaning America). I had an 8 month old baby neither of our families had ever met. The end of the school year was near. I was ready to check out of this country for awhile. I accompanied Firstborn on her field trip to the mausoleum. On the tomb of the hero of this country, there was one enormous wreath, only one. It was from Singapore, of all the places in the world. It was from Singapore. It's the place where I first lived away from "home" and had to trust God in that. My first three daughters were born there. There we saw our school, near to shutting down, be saved in the nick of time. I whispered to Firstborn, "Go stand beside it, I want to take a picture. I want to remember this. I feel like God is reminding me He is here, Mary Erin. God sent us to Singapore, and He sent us here. He's been with us all the time."
Friday night, it happened again. But it was by far the most poignant example of all to me. I just looked up "poignant." It is the perfect word.
Etymology: Middle English poynaunt, from Anglo-French poinant, poignant: to prick, sting, from Latin pungere —Date: 14th century
(1) : painfully affecting the feelings : piercing (2) : deeply affecting : touching b : designed to make an impression : cutting
Yes, it's exactly what I want to say.
So, Thursday afternoon, Campbell Clansman got an email saying the Turkish American Association was hosting a Christmas Concert. He called to make a reservation for us for Friday night. When we arrived, he went up to pay for our tickets. The lady said, "There is no charge for you, sir." We have no idea why. It was a little strange, and I assumed that they assumed we were some type of dignitary. Later I realized it was part of God's message to me that night. We entered, then we heard a man speak to introduce the concert. He was Turkish, but had lived his formative years in America. He returned to Turkey for a short 6-month stay, but met his wife (the soloist at the concert). So, he stayed. He has written books and one of the goals of his life is to help Turks understand how they have misunderstood America and Americans, specifically in regards to religion. He mentioned that Turkey has one of the highest anti-American sentiments in the world. He said, "After all, Turkey is where all religions met. Why is it so difficult for us to open ourselves to others?" My mouth was on the floor. I've never heard a Turk, especially a non-Christian, say anything like this. So, one of his goals was being accomplished Friday night. He organized a group of very talented musicians, along with his wife (who is a famous singer on the Turkish public media system) to play and sing Christian Christmas carols, with a Turkish musical interpretation.
I was spellbound. I have never been so enraptured at a concert. Ok, I'll just be honest here. I choked down tears all night. To hear my precious carols (MINE!), with truth in the words, sung in my language, by Turks, with their style of music? It almost seemed surreal to me.
The soloist did not speak English, so she had to memorize all the lyrics in a foreign (to her) language. I thought of the verse, (Mt. 19:20) "And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out." I remember our first year in Singapore wandering through a night market with a booming "Jesus Christ is born today..." above us as we walked. CC and I looked at each other and said, "He will be praised. Everywhere." At one point Friday night, the soloist was singing, "A King Is Born" and turned to the instrumentalists behind her and they called out, "Hallelujah." I've never heard that said here before. I drank it in like water to a thirsty soul.
And once again, I heard the message. "I am here." I hear you, Lord.
I have uploaded 2 videos of the night. One I included because it is such a perfect example of Turkish culture. It just sounds SO Turkish. It could be one of the street weddings I've seen. Even the way the soloist dances... it is so Turkish. The other I included so you can hear her sing Silent Night.
I realize there is no way I can communicate in this blog what this night meant to me. It was like I was in prison, and then got to spend the day out, just to remember there was a real world outside with beauty and light. It was important to me to write it down, which is why I attempted to share this in my blog. It did my soul good, and it was something I won't forget. I hear you, Lord.