Sunday, September 29, 2019

Finishing Up the Year

I already knew at this point that I would be teaching one less subject next year. Because of some other demands to come (which I will blog about soon!), I needed to drop to 4 classes from 5. A new middle school administrator would be coming and could take the Bible class. I felt good about developing curriculum and getting the class ready for the next person, but also sad. I love teaching the Bible freely. And I love these kids. Even the ones not smiling. Even the ones acting crazy. They are the apples of my eye. I pray that something at some point will stay with them, and they will desire Jesus more and more. Here's a picture I took with them during my last class period.

My son will likely not know I posted this right now. One day he will be a man with a beard and a beautiful wife by his side. And she will be glad I took a picture of this secret admirer note and posted it here. Do you like me? yes ___ no ___ because you are so nice with your braces. p.s. you complete me

And this one. I have liked you for 4 years now. And I still do. (She just struggles to spell his name still.) These were both wadded up in his locker destined for the trash. But I smoothed them out and took a picture, like any good mom would do.

Right now he only has eyes for Gus the Great, to be honest.

I found myself snapping more and more pictures of my sweet babies. Two birds about to fly....let me freeze life, please.

Graduation Party for Twinkle Toes

We hosted an after church luncheon for Twinkle's graduation. We decided to serve one of her all time favorites...Turkish breakfast. I got the great idea to ask our Turkish friend if he "knew a guy," which of course, he "knows guys" for everything. We hired a man to just come and make as-you-want-it omelettes for our guests. He brought his own country eggs and chopped up ingredients. It turned out to be the perfect idea, as I only needed to prep the fresh and cold menu items. It was a big help to this working mama. I'm 100% certain I will hire him again.

I had sent some emails to far away friends and family, who mailed some sweet graduation cards to Twinkle. I clipped them all on this 1950's bike we somehow inherited. (I was told it was provided to Turkish laborers who needed transportation to the flour factories outside of town.) It seemed the perfect theme for our little girl who would soon ride away.

Gus the Great found a nice perch that morning on Twinkle's letter jacket.

And my good friend came early to help me get set up. She's not afraid to roll up her sleeves!

We took many lovely pictures that day of the people who love Twinkle and came to wish her congratulations. Just before the end of the party, I thought to ask someone to take a family picture of us.

Her last day of school!

Senior trip to the spot where the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas meet!

She has spent all her years from Pre-Kindergarten to her senior year at this wonderful school called Oasis. We are so proud of all she has accomplished....from youth group leadership, worship leader, captain of soccer/basketball/volleyball, The Queen of Hearts in the school play, (and a munchkin when she was little!), teacher's assistant, honor roll, and a graduate with high honors (which at Oasis, involves community service, passing AP exams, and good grades). But all of that matters less to me than her heart. She genuinely loves Jesus and loves others. I could not be more proud of this second daughter of mine who came to Turkey at 2 and 3/4 years old, never having had a haircut even. Go with God, sweet girl! We are behind you all the way!

Staff Banquet 2019

Our student body grew by 100 students this year. Have I mentioned that? We got up to 400 kids! So we also, by God's grace, increased our staff. This year our normal staff banquet venues just could not hold us all. So, we went to a fancy-shmancy hotel and had a lovely time! Our teachers are (clearly) not in this for the money, so we truly enjoy a once-a-year splurge on a nice meal out, compliments of the school. Here are some pictures of many of my buddies!

Here are all of my hall buddies. In this group are represented teachers in NILD, guidance counselor, high school English, Social Studies, Spanish, and ESL.

And here we are putting on as the middle floor police. Which we are.

These are our wonderful friends Pam and Jarrod. Pam is my Puerto Rican mama buddy, who teaches right beside me.

What a joy to have a picture made with our long time and precious Turkish friends Esmer, Nuray, and Serdar. They are like family to me.

It's such a fun night to get all dressed up, eat a meal together, and tell each other what a joy it has been to all work together this school year.

Don't these gals make me look good??? Our Turkish front desk gals. They are the first face everyone sees, and they are beautiful ones!
 My Tennessee BFF, who has been with me through thick and thin and is like an "aunt" to my kids. What would I do without Lori?

 This gal I have known since the first year the school opened. She opened her heart to my friendship, and the last 15 years has been a friend of friends.

I'm sad to post this picture, as my Danish friend, who didn't know at this time she would be leaving Turkey, has moved away. I miss her so much in Bible study!

This sweet gal encourages me so much! She is new this year, but she always has a word of encouragement and love for me.

And then there's this guy who I would follow anywhere in the world!

Time for Twinkle to Fly

Spring grew closer and closer to summer. Sweet Cheeks had her end-of-the-year band concert. She performed with her flute, and we enjoyed hearing her well-practiced performance.

The days grew closer and closer to graduation. I could not believe that the two year mark had come. I felt like I just launched Firstborn. Twinkle and I gathered pictures and her art work and all her million pins for sports (I told her she looked like a 5 star general!) We created a pallet board to display at a graduation luncheon I would soon host, then to later use at graduation night on her table.

She spoke at church on senior Sunday and shared where she would be attending university, and most importantly thanked our local church for their impact on her life since age 3 when she arrived.

I found myself wanting to capture little snaps of life here. We have a tiny (lovely) yard. And my kids are some of the most grateful and resourceful people I know. Here they have stretched garden hoses to make a four square spot. Their childhood reminds me of how we used to make things work before we had so much.

I found myself looking at pictures like these back before all her adult teeth were in.
And then as she was cleaning out her room, she found an old journal. We wrote in it from the time she was about 5 until she turned 10. In fact, the last entry was her 10th birthday. She would write a note to me and secretly leave it by my bed. Then I would write a note to her and secretly leave it by her bed. I'm not sure why we stopped. I suppose we both knew she had outgrown our little communication network. But I wrote to her one last time on her 10th birthday. Then she kept it, for a very long time. So just a few days before she was set to leave on her senior trip, she wrote back to me and left it by my bed. I suppose I had almost forgotten we once wrote to each other like that. When I read what she wrote to me, I cried like I had not cried in a long time. So much time. So fast. So much joy. So much change ahead. So much gratitude. So thankful to the Lord. She is walking with Him, and I believe she always will. And my job is done. I thought my heart would explode. I told her that no matter what I had to leave behind in Turkey one day, that journal would be in my carry on bag.

A Field Trip to Antioch in Pisidia

We have so much Biblical history in Turkey. As I have taught Bible for a few years, I have always wanted to take the kids to see some sort of Biblical site. This year since a new Bible teacher joined us for grades 9-10, I asked him if he wanted to try a joint field trip to Antioch in Pisidia, which is about a 4 hour trip away. He readily agreed. I told him I would take care of all of the logisitics of getting our 40 plus kids there if he would just be the tour guide once we got there.

The drive down, even with a full bus of kids ages 12-16, was fabulous! The views were so beautiful, the kids were sweet and excited to get to take a field trip, and we were happy to be on the road.

Here are a couple of my students.

This is the whole gang, once we got to the site!

The ruins are in the town of Yalvac. They are a little off the beaten path, and thankfully, they have been fenced off for protection. There were plenty of rocks to climb and places to explore. We were fairly laid back about letting the kids turn into mountain goats.

I was especially happy that when I finally got to take this field trip, my Sweet Cheeks was with me!

This is about the point at which I said, "Ok, get down! We don't want any broken bones."

Another bonus (and to be honest, I planned the timing as such), was that Mason got to go with us. He plans to attend seminary, so I really wanted him to get to see a Biblical site in his one week here. These guys were troopers and really helped us watch the kids.

To be honest, our kids are just super grateful. They really didn't care where we went or what we did, they were just so happy to get to go. And take mid-air jumping pictures then run to my phone to see what they looked like.

The special part for me was that there was indeed a church established here by St. Paul. It was here that he came to preach in the synagogue and was run out of town. (Acts 13)

 By far, the most special moment of all was when my colleague took all of us to the church ruins. He preached the same message that Paul preached, only he inserted their names. We then went inside the church and sang a hymn together. I was moved to tears at the privilege of experiencing it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

A Taste of Cappadocia...With a Friend 2

We only had a very quick weekend in Cappadocia with Mason, so Firstborn suggested he might really like to try the ATV riding, since he grew up riding them. The kids all doubled up and off they went to explore the paths and hills and valleys of this beautiful landscape.

Afterwards, the ATV guys airbrushed the kids off!

The final spot we took Mason was one that my dad and CC discovered many years ago when they came to visit us. Back off the beaten path is an ancient Christian church. We knew where we wanted to worship the Lord on Sunday morning.

I love this picture because it shows CC doing what he does best, which is lead our family in the Lord. He read Scripture to us, and we sang beautiful praises in the echoing cavern of this old church. I always wonder...who worshipped there before us? We know that people at Pentecost came from this region.

It was really special to share this place we love so much with Firstborn's dear friend Mason! (Note the ancient crosses carved in the rock behind them.)

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