Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kizer Visit: Olympos

We took the cousins to Olympos, a weird mountain that perpetually burns a natural gas out of the rock.
It's quite a hike up there, but fun to sit by a fire that God started and just keeps burning.

Everytime we go someone gets a lift on the way up. One of these days, I guess they'll all be walking on their own, but that's going to be a sad day!

Nothing like snuggling up to a fire with your hub after a sweaty, 2 mile hike straight up!

Twinkle Toes begged....we said no.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Kizer Visit: Treehouse Lunch

After fellowship with others, M took us to a beautiful part of Antalya I had never seen....we drove a winding, steep mountain path to some restaurant treehouses. They are literally built into trees (with no codes, I am sure). A stairway is built into them, and we climbed to the top for lunch. There was one little make-shift elevator, but only for food to be sent up.

We all curled our legs up under us, shoes by the door, and sat on the Turkish cushions.

Our visiting family loved the gozleme, a flat fried bread with stuffings like spinach, cheese, and potato inside.


I am sorry to say our delightful lunch turned into a nightmare. The treehouse proprietor offered us hot Turkish tea. He brought it up in the traditional double teapot, then set it on the small round table. When he reached over to clear plates, he knocked the teapot off....2 full pots of boiling water and tea. Our new friend M reacted quickly and shoved Sweet Cheeks onto her dad, then took the full 2 pots on his barefeet. Third degree burns. It was awful. Sometimes codes can be helpful. We got back to the hotel (where he is currently living while yacht building), helped him get some burn medicines, then continued to check on him. He reports via Facebook that he is doing ok. Thanks for taking the hit for my kid, M. I'll forever be grateful. He says he plans to be culturally insensitive from now on and keep his shoes on!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Kizer Visit: St. Paul's Community Center

We were blessed while in Antalya to get to worship with the Saint Paul's Community Center, a wonderful community of believers down at the coast.
We met a new friend at our hotel who invited us and let us follow him there. Believe this or not, M is a yacht captain and builder. He is building a yacht for one of the richest Americans. He's building it in Turkey because the labor will save millions. We learned much about yachts. The toys alone on this yacht (scuba gear, jet ski, etc.) are worth 4 millions. Wow. M loves the Lord, and we are glad to have made a new friend.

This was a beautiful church with a fun coffee house on the bottom floor called, "Paul's Place." (We know Paul docked near here at one point.)

Upon leaving, we ran into Santa. He's quite far from the North Pole.

Here's where Paul docked. This was downtown, old town Antalya. I had never been there before. The misty light rain made it a perfect day to see the harbor.

Papa treated us to Turkish ice cream, complete with a trickster who served us. We finally got our ice cream scoops!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kizer Visit: Lost and Found

I just uploaded my comments and MK made me laugh! She says she has been a faithful reader and wants the story now! I suppose the real reason I delayed yesterday was that it is a hard one to write.

As we walked through Phaselis, we stayed upon a path. We passed through the old town center. I simply can't describe to you how wonderfully refreshing and old Turkey seems! All the Earth was created in 7 days at the same time, but some places show their oldness more, I guess. We saw monuments dedicated to wrestlers from the 2nd century AD. We went into the theater, where we found "foot rests" on the rock pews. Amazing. This sweet girl, sometimes in another world, but almost always immersed in creative, intelligent thought when she's in that other world, found a pitcher plant. She was thrilled. We'd read about insect-eating plants, and she found it on her own and recognized it.

We came out of the town square and followed the path along the coast. There's just something I love about rocky, rugged coastlines with no tourists! We found this abandoned boat and the kids hopped on for a picture while I hummed the Gilligan's Island theme song.

Right after that, Twinkle Toes found a starfish! It was our first ever. We oohed and aahed over it and tried to decide whether to keep it or let it stay in the ocean, finally deciding it was not living anyway. Some of us stopped there to look at the starfish and seashells, and some found the end of the path, which appeared to dead end. The path did continue, but not along the coastline. It wound up to a cliff. The path was treacherous. CC and Uncle D and a few kids had already gone up. We followed later. It was almost comical. K and I were grabbing vines and relying on a skinny teenager to pull us up.

We got to the top, and this is what we found. It was one of the most beautiful sites I've ever seen. I took this panorama shot which does not do it justice.

Twinkle Toes and I stopped short of the dense brush and just took some pictures there. We started to hear some of the kids, making their way back through bushes, vines, overgrown woods. I could hear CC. I'd been wondering how he gotten Sweet Cheeks through all of that. So I called out, "Do you have Eva?" He said, "No, she didn't come with me." I wondered if she'd made her way back down with some of the kids, and I just hadn't seen her. She would certainly need help getting down, we all did. I called down to Firstborn. She could not hear me over the waves. I raised my voice over and over until one of my nieces heard me. She asked Firstborn. She confirmed Sweet Cheeks was not with her. Then I knew. We'd lost her.

The path that took me a very long time to go up took me no time to get down. I did not care if I rolled or fell or slid, I was not going to waste a second. As soon as I scaled back down the side of the cliff, I began to run. CC wisely stopped me and got me a phone, and I took off. Some of our teachers run 5K races and marathons in Istanbul. I would never resemble them, except for this day. I came upon an old man fishing. I asked about my little girl. He told me, in Turkish, "Yes, she was running up and down here like this...calling Mama, Mama." She was lost, she was looking for us. Meanwhile, another group including Uncle D, CC, and Twinkle Toes scaled back up that cliff to see if she had gotten lost up there. Aunt K prayed with the other kids. Twinkle Toes went back up that cliff like a mountain goat, I heard. The worst fear came, of course, right before peering over the edge of the cliff, Uncle D said. It's interesting, though, that a fear that she had been injured never crossed my mind. I know my daughter, and a risk-taker she is not. Unless something happened totally out of her control, she would not be there.

As I was running, a very real and deep peace washed over me. I really can't explain it. I kept thinking, "God knows exactly where she is. And I can trust Him." Then I began to tell Him that. After running back through the town center, I came to the exit, determining that I would lie in the street before I'd let anyone drive out of that park with her.

And then there she was, holding the hands of a little family of three. It was when she heard my desperate call of her name and saw my tears that she began to cry. She did not realize the severity of it until she saw me, I don't think. She explained that she didn't see us (we must have been around a turn on the path, looking at the starfish), thought we must have gone back the opposite way (since there was a visible dead end on the path), so she walked back along the coastline. When she didn't see us, she began to call for me, which is when the fisherman saw her. Then a family saw her. She (interestingly) spoke Turkish to them, asking for me. They were German, but spoke a little English. Sweet Cheeks took the hand of their little girl and walked back to the entrance to wait. I think part of my fear was that this is unfamiliar territory to all of us, I could not see long range as the path winds in places, and I had no idea how long she'd been missing.

But there she was. And God knew where she was all the time. I profusely thanked the family through my tears. The mom said, "It's ok, next time." I do pray that someone will bless her next time as she blessed me by staying with my little girl.

And as I've processed this over the days since then, I think there were some deep truths God wanted to show me. This path, life, can be dangerous. But to find the end of the path, life in Him, is glorious. The beauty at the top is almost indescribable. And still, the beauty is marred when we find it, but sometimes those we love are not there with us. We call to them, but sometimes the call to find them or even urge them to come can not be heard over the noise of other things. At times, others relay the message, then join the search. My run to find her was without any regard to the cost or pain to me. Is my run to find others and ask them to come always like that? Am I that desperate to find them and help bring them to this beautiful place they are missing? Sometimes those lost don't really even feel as lost as they really are. But at some point, once they are found, they will realize (in time) just how lost they were. I'm still realizing it.

And the other heart lesson I had that day was that God really is protecting our children, even when we either can't or have failed. I felt I failed her that day. Yes, there were circumstances that contributed, but I still feel I did. I kept thinking how absolutely awful it would be to lose a child and not have a hope in God who sees all. How can people live without hope?

And so, my baby was ok. I can't count how many times I hugged her that day and the days to come. It reveals what is really important in life. I assured her that I would have slept on that rocky ground overnight if I had to, if I had not yet found her.

And so Phaselis is a place where I have a little "heart  monument" to God's faithfulness to my family. And I hope He changed me some that day and opened my eyes to more of Him.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Kizer Visit: Phaselis

We took the Kizers to Phaselis, an ancient Greek seaport city. It is an absolutely beautiful place. The water laps right up to the rocky coast. It's nearly impossible to take a bad picture here. We haven't been there in years. When I think of Phaselis, I think of 3 little girls and a baby girl begging for a kitty that was begging for a family. I think of a sweet husband who finally agreed to let them take that kitty home. I think of Firstborn announcing, "Now we have a boy in our family! A boy kitty!" Little did I know 6 weeks later, I'd be falling asleep at our 7:30PM family devotions and sick every morning...a son on the way. Phaselis will forever be a place of promise for me. Only God knew of the son yet to come at that point. And little did I know that this year's visit to Phaselis would hold yet another day of promise for me.

My kids enjoyed showing the cousins the beautiful terrain of Turkey.

It's funny how kids find the funniest things to do. The coast had miniature seashells. Everyone wanted a handful. But to find them, you had to get down on the ground and dig a little.

The color of the sea was beautiful...a true sea-green blue!

Of course, Miss Middler found a tree to climb....

but I have to show you where the tree was! This almost looks photo-shopped to me! I must say, before I get tsk-tsked on this, the way down from the tree was ground below. She was not entirely over water. Still....

Firstborn wanted her picture made with her dad. I like that she wants pictures with her dad. I like that she has curls/waves in the coast's humidity.

My sweet boy slept well every night after days of hiking.
My post is getting too long, so I'll save my "Promise" story for tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kizer Visit: Perge

On our second day down south, we hit Perge. It is well preserved and holds Biblical history, as well.

These girls sure had fun together tromping around the ruins.

I had to post this picture. Big Ben noticed Aunt K had a nice camera, and that she took alot of pictures. He crawled up by this rock ruin and called, "Oh, Aunt Boo!" (her nickname) and wanted his picture made.

We found this fun "M" and had to get Firstborn's picture by it. (She is Mary Erin.)

By far, my favorite spot is the ancient game board in the town square. Experts still haven't figured out how the game was played, but it looks very much like games we play today. Only made of rock!

Some folks hiked back to see the church ruins, set apart from the city. This church would have been established after the Biblical passage where Paul split from John Mark.

I waited back with the little 'uns, who were getting a little tired.

The church explorers came across goats and sheep.

And I found a cross.

Goodbye to Perge, until next time.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kizer Visit: Termessos

On our first day in Antalya, we hit the ancient city of Termessos. It was a LONG hike up. In fact, Alexander the Great passed this city by, calling it "The Eagle's Nest" and deciding it would not be easy enough to conquer. Thankfully, there is a path now.

Here are the beautiful Campbell grandkids, all together.
Maybe Alex the Great didn't have a big sis to help him.

Big Ben had fun rough-housing with Uncle D. It's so funny to me that he begs to be flipped upside down. I have another kid, nameless, who screamed for her life. We all learned quickly NOT to flip her!
Deep through the brush you can find tombs, empty and raided.
We enjoyed some time in the theater. The benches are still intact.
And the ruins are piled at the bottom. Can you spot Sweet Cheeks?
Kizer family
Campbell family
It was a great day of exploring and togetherness.

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