As we thought about Paul’s journeys, we reflected on our individual journeys, and wondered how Turkey had changed us, and how we would bring those changes forward into our “ordinary” lives. This time was definitely a gift from above.
Our time in Istanbul was spent taking in the sights and sounds of this culturally-rich city.
To me, it felt partly like Europe,
(The Topkapi Palace)
(The Flower Market)
...partly like San Francisco,
...and partly something uniquely it’s own.
Inside the Spice Market
Tim Fearer, former pastor at Westminster Presbyterian, but currently living in Istanbul, was our excellent tour guide, and gave us great insight into his work and the city. He knew great places to eat and told us stories of Hemingway, attacks on the Russian embassy, and showed us where the Orient Express ended its fateful journey. He shared some of his frustration in going from giving complex and interesting sermons, commanding the attention of congregations each Sunday, to conversing at the level of a five year old. He’s obviously brilliant, well-versed in Turkish history, and a joy to be around. He is connected with the Bible Society, and his passion is educating and training Turkish Christians.
We also met with Sue Simms who is working with refugees in Turkey. People come to her tiny office from all over the world (Mongolia, Eritrea, Tanzania, Costa Rica, and wherever). Many pay human smugglers to get to Turkey, mistakenly thinking that they can get a job and work once there. Because these immigrants can’t obtain a work permit, they become stranded, not able to return home, and not able to afford food and housing in Turkey. They have no passport, no papers, and in many cases, no hope. Some arrive pregnant, creating a range of new problems. Sue provides a life raft for these dear, struggling people.
We had time for team discussions about all that God had accomplished in us and through us. These were precious times for me. I was able to see how my team mates had grown and how He had been with us on the journey.
We are especially grateful to Ken Vodraska and Jim Peters, our heroes on the home front, who spent time on the phone in the wee morning hours to get us good seats on the flight home.
Susan happily reading Turkey, Forgotten Land of the Bible