Sunday, January 31, 2016

Meeting New Folks

We have been welcomed to this neighborhood in an overwhelming way! The neighbors all around immediately came to meet the new (big!) family moving into the mint green house. We began exchanging baked goods (when you give a plate of food, it is returned with food on it, according to custom here). We got a snow early on, so I sent the kids over to shovel the walk for the elderly couple next door. She crept out and offered us tea and told us she was so happy the kids were doing it because she was sick. I got to have coffee with the neighbor behind us, and she offered to take me to a place to buy fresh dairy products. I just can't tell you what this did to our spirits. We left our comfort zone, a little fearfully, but God met us here with several reminders that He goes before and behind us. Then on New Year's Eve, we were invited to the neighbor's house for a party. Of course, we went! I took a cheese ball and crackers. Goodness, I am American. I had no idea what to take. It was a wonderful little gathering of all the neighbors on the street. We hadn't even been there a week and got to go to a block party! Sweet Cheeks quickly made friends with these sweet girls her age. They used google translate to talk to each other! We look forward to new friendships in our neighborhood. 

And this beautiful guy wandered up to our gate. The closer he got, the more I realized he is part wolf. He had light yellow eyes. I named him "Kurt." (wolf, in Turkish) I wanted to, I really did, but I didn't have the guts to ask CC if I could have a pet wolf. 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sun Room Terrace

The top floor (attached to our little loft room) is a terrace balcony. It has been enclosed with glass. But there's no one across from us, just an empty field. So I am not planning to put any curtains up. I love my little room. Coffee, my Bible, and I am all set each morning. I took these pictures soon after we moved in. I realize it's not the mountains of Tennessee. But to this girl who has lived in an apartment, jammed up next to another building, for the last 19 years, it's heaven to me! 

This is the field across from us. The little black dot is CC! 

CC took this panorama photo on his phone. I love the other-worldly look it gives! 

I was still unpacking. But I'd work for 2-3 hours, then come escape here for 10 minutes! 

Here's my little spot. When you are on my prayer list, this is where I pray for you! 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Move Day

CC sent the kids and me on out to the new house. We had a lot of time to kill because the movers' plan was to pack it all onto 2 trucks, then move it here all at once, then unload. We explored our neighborhood a little. And waited. And waited. We met these 2 cute fellas next door. They are the most darling pair, each climbing on top of the other to get the best spot to see us. There is a sign that says "Guard Dog." What a joke. Their whole bodies wag when we come talk to them. 

I called CC, dying of curiosity. How's it going? What are they doing? He replied, "Well. They've packed some of the house. Now they are sitting on a giant tarp on the den floor, drinking tea and eating an enormous breakfast." He offered them the table. They said they'd never get the old man back up if he sat there. Such is life in Turkey! 

CC called and asked me to come back to the old house. He needed to get our water and electricity hook ups in his name, so he wanted me to keep an eye on the movers. I didn't say much. I just huddled by the heater with my phone, since the couches and chairs were all loaded. Then I heard them say something about going ahead with 1 truck now. I called CC and just let him know. Back and forth the conversation went. Then I heard them say, "Watch out. That lady understands Turkish." ha ha. Just enough to be dangerous, I assure you.

Here's all my household goods going down this box elevator to the truck. This was so much better than the old way, which involved carrying everything down the stairs and elevator. 

Meanwhile, at the new homestead, our sweet friends D and T showed up to help. They took down all our bannisters, knowing the movers would not be able to navigate the small staircases with the furniture. Let's just say...this couple is so talented, and cute, they seriously could put any home fix-it show to shame. 

They worked late into the night. We fed them lunch, and also offered to order them dinner. They opted to keep working and asked us to give the money towards their tip. They worked very hard. By the time we went to bed, all the beds were set up, and we crashed.

The next morning, CC went outside, and I took this from my upstairs terrace to have a memory of all the boxes! 

Priority #1 for me was the kitchen. I spent the entire next day unpacking and sorting the kitchen goods. This kitchen is a slight downsize for me, so I determined to be organized and do it right the first time so I didn't have to re-organize later. 12 hours later, I had it done and snapped this picture. I didn't want to leave the kitchen because it was the only room in the house set up! 
I slept so well that night! And then the next morning, CC and I woke up and looked out the big picture window from our tiny bedroom and saw this beautiful sunrise! 

But we weren't the first ones up! 

After a few days of unpacking and sorting, Twinkle Toes asked me about the mall nearby. Realizing this move away from friends and familiarity (and the mall she could walk to!) was hardest for her, I took the morning off to go down the road and explore the closest mall. Such a city girl! She was ready to buy a bus card and travel down there alone after just one visit. 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Simitci Bey

I went one by one to my neighbors in my apartment to tell them we were moving. I was unexpectedly very emotional as I said goodbye. They have been so very good to our family. We've had tea, we've exchanged plates of food, and some have even come to our Christmas service when we invited them. They didn't want us to leave, said, "Oh, but I wanted you to teach me English!" and gave me their phone numbers to stay in touch.

Then the day before we left, I heard down on the street below, "Simitci!" (A "simit" is a round, sesame bread similar to a soft pretzel. The simit seller, called a "simitci," walks the streets selling the bread from a spinning tray on his head and calling this out to let you know he is coming.) I called down that we would like to buy some. He brought them in to our door. This simitci is no ordinary friend. He's been around all 12 years we've been here. In fact, he used to coo at this little girl when she was just a week old, sleeping in the crook of my arm. Since then, he's pinched her cheeks, greeted her by name, and brought her a flower he's picked for her on almost a daily basis. It was a gift to me that we could tell him personally that we would soon be moving. He said he would come out to our new part of town to sell us simits. 

I asked him for one last picture with his tray on his head, and he was proud to grant it. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Here's my new rental villa! Sweet Cheeks and I drove out to check on the painters and buy some tea a sugar cubes for them (a must for workers here!). It's mint green, 4 floors (each floor is small, but they build up to save land space). 

My little yard is tiny, but it's a yard! I've never had one! Someone asked me the other day what I love about our house. I said, "Everything!" These trees will bear fruit in the Spring. 

Here's my little "mud room." I've since organized all the shoes and kept it mopped and looking cute. CC keeps teasing me with, "Mama wants her MUD room to be cute." 

This sweet girl was my companion for the day, so I treated her to a hot chocolate. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Sweet Memories

These pictures hold some sweet memories for me. This was a different Christmas than I've ever had. We were packing boxes, lining up things in the new house, and contemplating the changes.  We were not traveling, not seeing the Mediterranean Coast, as we normally do. And yet, I think it was one of my favorites. We worked together, and strengthened each other in the knowledge that God would go with us in all the changes. We have lived in our little neighborhood for all 12 years that we've been in Turkey. It's hard to explain, but I loved this Christmas, even moving on December 26!

CC and I picked out some paint. The entire house (inside) was butter yellow. Gotta get me some color! There's always the language barrier, so we painted a small square on every wall so the painters would not get mixed up. It was hard for me to not paint it myself, but CC convinced me that getting workers here is dirt cheap, and he needed me doing things other than painting. 

Our new little villa didn't have a fireplace, which was my one disappointment. Goodness, it was a small thing. No big deal. But then CC took me to the hardware store and showed me this electric fireplace heater. My folks gave us some housewarming money, and CC added to it and got me this for Christmas. I love it! You can turn the fire background on with our without the heater blowing. It was perfect. I also loved that it was already made to look antique. 

My mother and father-in-law sent us gift too and said, 'Buy something now you might normally wait on." I got this pretty entry carpet. I fell in love with the colors! 

So, the painters began work. We went to our church's Christmas Eve service, then eagerly anticipated Christmas Day 2015, our very last day in this house. 

Another sweet memory I had was that I was meeting a friend for coffee who is struggling. She has been contemplating divorce. I went early to the mall to find her a small Christmas gift and was praying that God would give me wisdom to know what to say to her. You can imagine my surprise when I walked by this bedding set which had I Cor. 13 printed on it. In English! What a gift from the Lord to me to see that here. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Hoar Frost

The most beautiful thing happened over Christmas break. A massive fog rolled in and the temperature dropped. We had no snow, but the fog formed frost on all the vegetation in our city. It lasted for 5 days, as the temperature never got above freezing.

This last one was taken right outside my porch (in our new house) before we moved in. It speaks of life out of the dead to me. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Leftover Party

As many of you know, the Lord has graciously provided a new campus for our school, starting in June 2016. We are bursting at the seams and our rent was about to go sky-high. We are so excited about the move, but it is definitely going to change life here as we know it. For years, we all have lived in the same neighborhood...walking to school and walking to each other's homes. CC and I felt very certain that as Director of the school, we should be the ones to make the first move to the new area of the city. We want to be available to help others who want to move, and we want to be new home-adjusted before we need to be new-school adjusted. So, I had been looking for a home for us for several months, with many disappointments. Just before we got out for Christmas break, the Lord led me to the house.  It was just what we were looking for in just the right place. Quickly, Christmas break became all about "the move"! But one thing I knew, we had to have one last "Leftover Party" in our old home. This is the night where we invite all the staff and kids who are in the country over the break. We eat a meal and play games and watch a movie...just a big hangout with "family." Though the house was being boxed up, we were able to do it.

It's a highlight of the year for my kids!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Christmas Outreach Part III

The last two homes we visited are literally right behind the school. The buildings are old and broken down. The roof has been intentionally torn off to keep squatters out. But these two families moved in and put plastic in the windows. We see them day after day. We were thankful to get the ages of the children, though the ages we were given were so inconsistent with their sizes. They were all malnourished.

They were very grateful. I think the most fruitful thing that day was the fact that our school caretaker was able to tell them he will try to get the children in the local school. He is quite the networker. If anyone can do it, he can. Sadly many of these folks try to send their kids to school. But they are so visibly poor, the other kids make fun of them, and they don't want to go back.

It was below freezing that day. I couldn't stop looking at this boy's feet. I've seen him several times in hot pink Barbie rain boots...which came from my house! All I can imagine is that being cold is just a way of life for him. We did bring as many shoes as we could gather for these kids.

Our final gift to them was cash to buy a proper heater for their home. They had pieced together heater parts and were burning wood inside it. It looked very unsafe. They were very touched.

This baby never stopped smiling. I didn't either, though my heart was breaking.

I was proud of my kids, and proud of the school. It was a big step out of our comfort zone, but I hope the day will always make an impression.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Christmas Outreach Part II

The first house we went in was...honestly, indescribable. Not a stick of furniture, just a dirt floor. The windows were covered with plastic. There were no plates, no toilet, no chairs. The mama had put all her children in one room, which had a small fire in a metal can heater. She brought her darling baby out to see us as we handed her bag after bag of food and clothing.

I couldn't wait to get my hands on that baby. Loved that Granny cap they had for the baby.

As we left, the neighbors began to complain about why they didn't get packages. We explained that we had asked the town's office who was the most needy. This family was mentioned. The father is in prison; the mother has no work. We wished we could have helped them all.

We walked back through the streets.

I had to snap this picture. Our sweet Iraqi (refugee) babysitter, who just became a US citizen, lived here. Many, many nights I brought her home to this house.

The next home we went to was the home of some folks I've befriended. They are hard workers, sorting through the trash in the neighborhood each night to find the recyclable goods for a bit of money. In the home are several generations. They manage to keep their kids clean and healthy and send them to school, in spite of their difficult situation. We bought a gift for each of the 9 children in the home, including the 18 year old bride and mother and the 19 year old young daddy.

This little doll nearly came apart trying to get to her gift! For the giver, my student whose family is here on assignment by the US Embassy, it was the first time she'd done anything like this.

We were able to sing a Christmas song for them and just tell them we wanted to bless them in the name of Jesus.

The blessing was all ours.

Site Meter