Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Flight That Wasn't Meant To Be

We started our summer journey to America with very high hopes. I made the plan to fly alone with the kids, as CC had to finish closing out school and I needed to get the kids back to start swim lesson week. I have flown with the 5 before, and we've always made our connections.

The kids are getting older and flying is getting easier.
 Before we ever left Ankara, these two found a play area at the airport.
 Firstborn made me laugh with her headset....I thought she looked like our pilot!
 When we arrived in Istanbul, our gate was just a very long line. An older couple was in line in front of us, hauling their plastic bag carry-ons. I felt for them. It was a long slow line. I spotted some chairs, so I encouraged Sweet Cheeks to go sit down. She hesitated until our new friend offered to sit down with her, as well. They quickly made friends.
 We completed the long flight across the ocean (this leg alone was 12 hours) and then discovered our flight out of Chicago was cancelled due to weather. The airline could not offer us a hotel or even a meal voucher. At that point, we'd been in transit about 20 hours. All the hotels in town were booked up due to a sporting event. The transport vans could not take us to the Chicago suburbs, where the only hotels were available. The plan was to put us on 2 more flights the next day instead of the 1 flight we were originally on. There was no guarantee we would get out the next day or that we would not get stuck in another city.  I had no phone. I had no sleep. I used the airline counter phone and called my dad, who made the offer to me to come pick us up. I declined. It was then that I began to realize we might not even be able to get a taxi that could take all 6 of us to a hotel. I called Dad back, and he said he'd be happy to come get us. So, just before Father's Day, my dad, mom and brother drove 9 hours to Chicago from Nashville to pick us up. I really appreciated knowing they were on the way. I am still not sure I made the best decision, but I was very tired and feeling very alone and responsible for my kids.
 The kids slept a little while we waited the 9 hours for our ride. There were so many angry people at the airport. Very soon into our wait, I saw a man whose leg had been amputated. He was in a wheelchair and had his coffee in his hand. Someone was asking him if he was ok. He said, "I have my bag. I have my coffee. I'm ok." And then moments later I saw a army vet with a beautiful young wife at his side. He had lost his leg and had a robotic leg as a replacement. The Lord really touched my heart and reminded me that I had MUCH to be thankful for. We were delayed, but we were all safe and together. As people began discussing their individual situation and frustrations, I explained to them what the Lord had showed me earlier. I pray I was a blessing to others.

The only place open in the entire airport was a Starbucks, so after the kids woke up, I bought 3 coffee shakes and divided them. It gave them the energy to make it the rest of the wait. I perhaps overestimated those drinks! Miss Middler entertained me with cartwheels in the airport.

We did have some down moments, too.
 But in the end, the kids pulled together, and we survived our night in the airport. I am so thankful for my family willing to sacrifice time and gas money and sleep to come get us!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Happy 10th in Turkey

I have been unsuccessfully trying to load a picture of this to show you, but I'll proceed with the story so I can finish up school news and launch summer blogging!

On the last night before summer break started, we had a lovely graduation ceremony. CC began the ceremony, then was surprised when a school parent was called up to speak, not listed in the program. This parent was here when we first arrived in Turkey, 10 years ago this month. His two wonderful daughters graduated from our school.

He mentioned that a group of parents wanted to recognize our 10 years of service and the sacrifices we had made to start the school. Of course, we were just there back in 2003, it was all God's doing, but we were touched that someone remembered and honored us in that way.

Some of the art students created a mural for us to hang. It's really beautiful. I'll get that picture posted once someone can help me do it!

We are so thankful to God for leading us to Turkey and seeing us through some rough early years. His mercies and constant Presence have been what has sustained us!

And now, let summer begin!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Finishing Up School!

The last couple of days of school are always so fun! I had my grades done and was well into closing up my classroom by this time, knowing my 5 children and I would board a plane the morning after school finished. We generally finish school on a Tuesday, so the Monday before is Field Day for the elementary.

Here Sweet Cheeks is working with her team to get across Lava Lava Island! (Our indoor PE room became hot lava with only exercise mats to get across it!)

I've always loved how we create the teams...Pre-K up to grade 6 are all mixed on teams. The sixth graders take care of the little ones on their team. I just can't believe Twinkle Toes has officially finished elementary school!

Miss Middler had Sweet Cheeks' teacher as her team leader.

Here's Big Ben's team. He said his favorite game was hitting the ball down the basketball court with the pool noodle.

And I was the team leader for this team. We named ourselves the Fruit Ninjas and won second place for Sportsmanship. We had a super team! We built a pyramid for our cheer and had some darling little attempts at cartwheels as part of our display.

Big Ben's team cheer involved spelling out the word Vultures, and he called out his "E" with a loud voice!

And then school let out, we came home, and got packed up for the start of our summer break.

On the final day of school, we had the Awards Ceremony. I snapped this picture of Firstborn getting her Honor Roll certificate. She was also nominated for the Character Award, which did not surprise me in the least.
Then we headed out to graduation that night, and CC and I had the surprise of our lives...which I'll post about tomorrow! (It's time to finish school on this blog and get to summer!)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Flower Child

Couldn't resist this picture after she made this wreath for herself....cherries are in season, she just had to tie some into her headpiece.

My Sweet Class

I really had the sweetest class this year. For our end of the year party, some of the moms got us US hot dogs and chips. We walked to the park behind the school and enjoyed some down time together.

And here we all are...
I am not sure why I always strike this pose on the "funny picture"'s what seems to happen every time. This was a wonderful class, and I'll miss them next year!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Firstborn's Letters

Firstborn is racking up on the letters and pins for her high school jacket! She got a pin for volleyball and basketball this year! Here she is at the Sports Banquet with friends.

And once I get caught up on all the end of the year stuff, I'll tell you about my "Perfect Flight" home this week!

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Beautiful Meal with Beautiful People

This past week we had a dinner invitation to a school family's home. They wanted to honor one of our leaving staff members. We were so honored to be included. This family is from Iraq, but they have lived all over the world. She fixed us Iraqi food...and a lot of it! I can't even describe how beautiful her home and the food table was. The dish to the right was a cold cucumber and garlic appetizer. The beautiful green was a salad with the finely chopped parsley!

There was also humus and a pomegranate relish, served as a side, much like we would serve cranberry relish.

It just want on and on...stuffed vegetables like peppers, onions, eggplant. There was roasted chicken. There were meatballs. There was eggplant. My personal favorite was the Iraqi was made with green spices which turned it light green and had roasted nuts in it.

 The meal was wonderful, the conversation lively. The husband had his photo made with George W. Bush and another with the current Prime Minister of Turkey, Erdogan. But what touched us the most was that we were presented with a very unique gift. Though they are not of our faith, they secured a copy of an Assyrian Bible for us. It is from an ancient language, a derivative of Aramaic. It is illegal to remove a relic such as this from the country, but she was able to (legally) procure a photocopy of it for us and have it bound into a book. The gesture was precious for us.

Here we are pictured with her children, Oasis graduates and students.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Bright Spots in Hard Times

Have you ever been in a really rough spot and just wondered how much more you can have happen before you crack? That's how I've felt lately. My husband is wonderful, my kids are doing great, my class is super. It's just....other stuff. And I am not going to turn this blog into a venting machine, nor will I on facebook. But in the midst of this rough time, the Lord has been so very dear to me. And I can't resist posting about that.

Each morning since it's been warmer (that's relative...I'm still in my winter robe in the AM!) I've been up early, with a quick cup of coffee made by my little French press. (Thanks to Nancie, for opening me up to the world of a French pressed cup of coffee...until she told me I could do it, I might never have tried!) I go out to our balcony and spend time with the Lord. With teaching 23 kids, raising 5 of my own, and surviving very busy days, I've found that spending a 1/2 hour with the Lord before it all kicks in is the absolute most enjoyable part of my day. I can't function without it. I used to do this after the kids left for school, and wondered how it would all work this year, but I am wide awake and ready to meet Him early.

There's that. It helps me survive. But there have been other things, too. I taught a sweet little girl this year, and within the first few weeks of school, I suspected she had a learning disability. I recommended her for testing, she's been getting the extra help she needs, and I just learned she tested 2 grade levels above where she did when we she started the year. I am so happy for her! The family is moving away, and her mom sent out an email about house items for sale. I remembered seeing a beautiful stained glass hanging at her house and that she bought it at an estate sale. So, I emailed and asked about it. She said many people had asked to buy it, but she wanted to give it to me as a way of saying thanks. I was so blown away. In my mom's childhood house, there was just one little bright spot in her country home...stained glass around the doorway. When they tore the old house down, mom saved the glass pieces. They sat in our attic for years until my dad and I took them to a friend who put them into a framed piece and added a beautiful magnolia to the center. It now hangs in mom's picture window. So, the gift meant the world to me, but only God could have known what stained glass means to me.

I've had other bright spots. A school mom wrote me one of the dearest letters I've ever received...letting me know how our small contribution really impacts the larger contribution here in Turkey. I'm saving it.

A man came up to me last night and said one of my kids stood up to some other kids at the park. Evidently they were in the middle of a game and some Turkish kids wanted to play. The initial reaction was not to include them, but my girl took the kids to task and asked them why their families came to this country anyway! I hope she was gentle, knowing her, she was. But the story, as told to me, was a soothing ointment on my soul right now.

Finally, I felt the Lord smile at me one day as I walked home from school. A couple of girl teens were lying on the grass in the park studying. I thought the girls were so cute and that it was such a fun idea, I gave them a big smile. They were taken back by my smile and got up to come greet me. They ran through the grass and just wanted to say hello, ask me my name, comment on my blue eyes. But I was so touched by their friendly response, it served as a reminder to me to love others and trust God for the outcomes.

I dislike cryptic posts and emails, so I hope this has not frustrated my readers. But I just want to give God glory for showing me a few rainbows lately in the middle of my storms.

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