Sunday, May 13, 2018

New Do, Old Friends, and a Volleyball Tournament

I decided to get my hair cut, so there you go! I think I like this length and will keep it.

I had a wonderful surprise one afternoon just before last period of the day. A friend came and said, "You have to come. Come right now. You have to see this." I turned to my class and said, "Behave. I'll be right back!" I turned the corner and in front of me stood the first Turkish friend I ever made. I can't really even begin to list the experiences we shared together or how much she has meant to me. She adopted my little girl as her own, and they sat together morning after morning at the front desk, when I was working, and had Turkish breakfast. She even kept her for me when Big Ben was born. She's just got a spunk and a depth in her relationship with the Lord and is the kind of friend everyone needs to have. She and her Kenyan husband (who I also love and who taught for us) won the Green Card Lottery and immigrated to America. There her family of three grew to five, and she continues to serve the Lord mightily. I have not seen her since she left, which has been eight years. And I didn't know she was coming. I simple could not hold the tears back, nor could she. I kept thinking this is like heaven. So many reunions. So much joy. She turned to me and spoke a word from the Lord, from her perspective of being away for so long, that God had blessed us. Faithfulness when things were small and hard has turned to fruit and blessing. I will say this year has been very hard for me. Hard to have my family on two different continents. Hard to take on a teaching load (which I suggested! no blame!) in order to help the school, but which required so much of me. Hard to not know the future. But her timely words to me and seeing her sweet face was a gift. Her girls took to Sweet Cheeks like they were sisters. She's doing such a good job as a mama and raising them so well. 

Here she is with CC and her beautiful family. 

I had another wonderful quick visit from an old friend. She was flying into the country, just as I was leaving, but we had about a 1/2 a day that overlapped. She came out and had lunch with me at school. She lived in this country many years and has been an encouragement to me! 

Right smack dab in the middle of all of this was our Istanbul volleyball tournament. We had only just begun practices, because basketball ran a bit longer this year. But it was time to go, so we did our best to square things away at home and school and took them. I think we were not expected to do as well as we did, as these teams come from mega-schools and generally play the sport year round. But our girls played their hearts out and took 3rd place overall. We were super proud of them! Their attitudes and spirit and encouragement to each other stand out to other teams and coaches everywhere we go. 

We are hardly at our hotel at all, but we did manage to pull in one night just at sunset, so we walked over to the Sea of Marmara to let them walk on the beach.

And after three days of making sure everyone has uniforms and knee pads and charging cords and filled water bottles, it was time for the 6 hour bus ride back home. I snapped a stadium picture for Big Ben, of a national team. 

The bus ride doesn't bother me at all. It's beautiful scenery and this year I had my buddy with me, our school nurse.

And just after all this wonderful-ness, it would be time to travel AGAIN. I've never travelled as much as I have this year! But it was a special year! Circumstances such as not being able to get Firstborn into the country dictated some of former plans to change. This year happens to be a very special year for a special place. Our sister school in Singapore, where CC and I went as newlyweds and where our first three girls were born, is celebrating 25 years! They contacted us early in the year and asked to pay for us to fly to the celebration event and asked CC to speak about the history of the school and God's faithfulness. And so, we decided to accept their kind offer. I had not been back to Singapore since we left 14 years ago. And we have never left our kids in Turkey without one of us being here....but we decided to go for it! Singapore posts to follow.....

Friday, May 11, 2018

A Sad Goodbye to Cappy

Just after we arrived home, our sweet Cappadocia kitty Cappy was so excited to see us. Extra love, extra meows. She just wouldn't stop. It was as if she had something important to tell us. She begged to go out and ran right out and caught us a mouse and brought it to us. I snapped this picture of her at the window, so proud of her hunting skills. She finally stored her mouse away, so we would let her back inside. Then she evidently decided to run across to the field to catch another, but was hit by a car, in front of both Miss Middler and Twinkle. It was awful, just one hour after we came home. We live on a main street and don't have AC in our house, so windows stay open this time of year and our cats have always gone outside for part of the day. I suppose this was inevitable, but this was a devastating loss to all of us, as our sweet little kitty came at a time when we all needed a big dose of joy. She was by far the sweetest cat we've ever owned. She came to us pregnant, unbeknownst to us, and allowed my children to see the birth of an animal. It's actually been about a month since this happened, but every single morning when I curl up on the couch with my coffee, Bible, and computer, I miss my little friend still. I recently read a poem that a friend sent about grieving the loss of our little furry friends. It said that they live their short lives with intensity, and to not be sad, as we gave them all that love and care for the time they had here. And I think that summed up Cappy. She was so needy, sick, unhealthy, needing shots, and pregnant when she "adopted" us, which is basically how it happened. She targeted my kids for love every time we would pass her on the cobblestone street. She knew she needed a houseful of kids to love her as her babies came into the world. And she knew I needed her as a lovely distraction, as only a pregnant cat can be, to a mom about to let my first bird fly from the nest. The sadness has lingered, but all I can say is that we are so happy to have had this memory of her in our family.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Mid-Spring in the Mediterranean: Morning Walk and Goodbye

While the kids hit the beach one last time, CC and I took a morning walk, greeting the goats as we went!

This was our walk back from the beach to where we stayed.

We packed up and loaded up, enjoying one last big breakfast after our four days at the beach.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Mid-Spring in the Mediterranean: Hike to Olympos PART 2

After climbing to the vantage point, we came back down and explored a little more, including an ancient Greek home with original tile...

and the aqueduct.

The frogs were so loud! Sweet Cheeks was thankful one didn't jump up her pants like in her third grade field trip!

It was time to hike back home...and hopefully hit the beach!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Mid-Spring in the Mediterranean: Hike to Olympos PART 1

We enjoyed a little morning time on the beach, which was very windy, then let CC lead us on a hike. We pretty much hike every time we vacation. It's his favorite thing to do.

We were not that far from the famous Olympos mountain, but our walk there was through the beach. Flip flops wouldn't do; we needed some shoes to dig into the long walk along the rocks of the beach.

We have been to Olympos many times, but we've always driven in. It was unique to "walk in" to this place that we have taken others before. Even though it was not all that far, it was hard to get there. The rocks sunk down with each step. A good workout!

We entered the ancient ruins and took a path upwards, upon which we had never been. It took us to some beautiful ruins we had never seen.

These pictures absolutely do not do it justice, but this was a high vantage point. One one side, you could turn to see mountains laden with stone walls and arches. On the other, the vast beautiful sea.

Our cabins would meet the path to the beach about where you stop seeing the sand in the distance.

If you look very, very closely, just under the tree branch, you can see some ruins. See how small they are? That's how high up we had climbed that day.

CC and the big girls decided climb up higher. I decided to stay and take selfies in front of ancient tombs, raided by pirates, with Sweet Cheeks! See the hole they punched out?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mid-Spring in the Mediterranean: Walk to Town

The second of our four nights there, we walked to town for dinner. "It's just down the road..." he said. We ended up hiking about 45 minutes to dinner and 45 minutes back. But a hike to build an appetite with four fun kids finding treasures and making me laugh along the way, I'll take it.

We found a restaurant just at the corner of the beach town and the road which took us to our more desolate spot. They served LOTS of bread, which is good for hungry kids to fill up.

I ordered the claypot chicken. It never disappoints, though it is made many different ways.

After our hike back, we found another cozy fire built for us.

And a gorgeous, massive, Anatolian shepherd who wanted to be our friend.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Spring Break: Afternoon on the Beach

We got back with just enough time to walk over to the beach. The beach was a mixture of rocks, tiny broken seashells, and sand. We were basically alone on the beach almost every day.

It has a rugged beauty that I have come to love as much as the white sand beaches.

And it. was. freezing. But these kiddos jump in. Every time.

Leave it to Sweet Cheeks, the nature girl, to find a turtle outside our cabin.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Mid-Spring in the Mediterranean: Easter Morn

We slept well and woke to the rooster! The absolute best part about staying at this place (which may have to become tradition!) was the breakfast. What a spread! There's no such thing as continental breakfast here. And all those jellies were homemade from the trees on their property (orange and quince). $30/night for the cabin and breakfast for 6. Anyone want to retire here with me?

Easter 2018

Easter was the only day we drove anywhere, but we wanted to worship with other believers. It took us about an hour and a half to get to town to the church.

It was located in downtown Antalya, very near where Scripture states St. Paul once docked.

Indeed it was a joy to be with other believers, including this friend who used to live in our city. Ironically, Firstborn had made an Easter weekend road trip with friends and was worshipping in this gal's hometown church in Alabama! Only the Lord.

Driving downtown was a little challenging, as we finally found the church, but also found a sign that they were meeting elsewhere for Easter. So, we navigated to the new spot, only after driving down this "road" which actually turned out to be a trolley track! I had to take this picture for Firstborn, to let her know some things haven't changed!

Streets of Antalya.

We enjoyed being in a worship service with other believers. After our day there, we headed back to our cabins.

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