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.