You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2011.

11/28/11  Chuck and I are having an amazing experience learning about Muslims.  We have only been in Turkey two months and I doubt that other Islamic countries are as warm-hearted as Turkey. The Muslim people of Turkey have put the Quran to good use.  They routinely without hesitation extend their hands to the poor, the disadvantaged, their neighbor, and the foreigner.  They are huge lovers of people and uniformly give priority to hospitality and care of others over their own selfish interests.   We have experienced this kindness from Istanbul down the west coast cities of the Mediteranian Sea through their southern provinces all the way to the eastern border near Syria and Iran. Here in Van where they have been devastated by earthquakes, the city of 800,000 is dotted with tents for any and all possible victims of the earthquake.  We have spent two days with officials of the general directorate of civil defence at their crisis center as well as their military as they politely investigate us to determine whether we are of good reputation and acceptable to help their people. The kind consideration they extend to us is unlike what we have experienced before.   We are more familiar with a polite, efficient brushoff such as leave your name and number at the front desk and we’ll get back to you. Here we receive friendly discussions with numerous individuals whether we are walking down a street, riding a minibus, or purchasing a ticket; they are always helpful and alert for the opportunity to help someone out whether they are asked or not.  This is a picture of one of their tent cities complete with recreation center, beauty salon, kindergarten, meeting rooms and mosque.  Many surrounding nations have sent them supplies for their tent cities.  They will be building a small city very near Van for the victims of the earthquakes within the year. Tomorrow Chuck and I will be meeting again with the general directorate of the civil defense for the crisis center.  He has offered us Kurdish and Turkish translators and transportation to and from the tent cities so that we may help tramatized children.  If this actually happens we will need your prayers to be effective in helping these children and their families.  Love, Claire

11/22  We settled in Mardin, Turkey a city known as a melting pot of  many different cultures and religions. We found a pension in the center of town and looked for the nearest historical church. Upon exploring it, Claire opens one of the church doors and wakes up a young man who politely tries to show us around  but the door into the sanctuary is locked. He wanted to take us to a monastary in which he stayed for a month so we all get on a minibus and head out of town. He says the walk is merely 20 min. from the drop off point but it turns into over an hour. The landscape is beautiful and the black longhaired goats are adorable. We arrive just before closing but since he knows the monks, we get to be in their service which consists of 2 groups of boys singing  back and forth to each other under the leadership of the monks. The Holy Spirit was moving powerfully in Claire and myself and we were at such peace when we left. It was quite late so one of his friends calls a taxi and we escape the long cold walk back to the minibus  pickup point. We had dinner with him and learn that he is a Coptic refuge from Egypt. We all were looking forward to having Thanksgiving with him but he got the opportunity to return to Istanbul and be united with his luggage. As  we often find out we had a close friend in common that we had met in Istanbul during ,our stay. Its both a large and small body in Christ. One of my best birthdays.  Chuck

11/20  We are staying in the old city comprised of narrow winding streets and with a people who are veryproud of their city, the supposed birth place of Abram and Job. They have a tradition of belief that Abram was thrown in a fire and the Archangel Michael protected him resulting in  King Nimrud requiring his people to turn from their idols and worshipping Abram’s God. We were standing near a mosque when the call for prayer sounded and nearly every male on the street respected the friday call to prayer. This surprised us as never had we seen such a demonstration of faith in Turkey. We search the internet under the word kilesesi (church) wherever we go and still the only functioning churches we’ve seen have been in Izmir and Istanbul. That well-covered women in the foreground is Claire in her camouflaged muslim garb. She along with all the other Turkish tourists are watching the honored carp feeding. It’s getting more difficult to communicate as we proceed eastward towards Van as hardly anyone speaks English and we’ve only acquired enough Turkish to say hello and goodbye and allowing us more and more time to be in the Word and worship.  Chuck   

 

11/10  Goreme is a town where early Christians escaped persecution from emperor Diocletus and lived in caves and underground cities. Later these dwellings also gave some protection from Muslim invaders but eventually the whole region became Islamic and these dwellings now serve as homes for local residents and tourists like ourselves. This room has become the closest thing to a home since it is very comfortable and we are getting more direction from the Lord.  We have a wonderfully warm room which shelters us from the freezing cold days and nights and the Lord has been filling us with His Word and song. Yesterday we spent half the day worshipping Him and the rest of the day walking amongst the acres of old churches hidden in the surrounding valleys and hills. Chuck   

 Imagine hiding from your persecutors for years even a lifetime in these dwellings carved into the hills.  The homes were actually built 20-40 feet off the ground and we cannot see any way to get to the entrances unless they scale the walls like Spiderman or are wall climbers! The churches, and there were many, were built on the ground level.  Today we will learn more about the underground cities the Christians built to escape certain death in 300 A.D.

As for me and Chuck, we ‘re learning daily through reading the Qu ran, other books, and talking to Muslims about the Islamic faith and differences of life style.  The primary thing we’ve learned in a nut shell is that their faith as a whole and their love for God is very strong.  Their stories that we’ve heard so far are taken from Genesis such as stories of Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jacob, etc. They have tremendous, positive regard for Jesus who they believe is a  powerful prophet and is coming again. Their fasting holiday of Ramadan is concluded with a sacrifice of sheep in their homes.  Chuck had an opportunitylast night  to describe to a learned man that Jesus is the final sacrifice to cleanse us of our sins which does away with the need for other sacrifices. We will be meeting with this man again.  Thank you for your prayers.    Love, Claire

11/10  Transferred buses in Anatolya and arrived after dark in Konya without a place to stay and both cell phones out of power!!  Great time to consult the Lord and depend on His providence! We found an internet service in the bus station, booked and located a  hotel in the  old city center; the Lord fully answering our prayers. We awoke refreshed, booked a bus to Goreme,  had an interesting conversation with a Dutch businessman and Sufi enthusiast, who informed us of the practices of the Sufis, Rumi and Shams. We visited this museum, a mecca  and historical site for Sufis world-wide, which furthered our understanding of  the divergent religious sects amongst muslims.  Chuck

11/8  We arrived at the Olympus Lycean ruins  after dark, again, waited  for a dolmus/minibus 40 min in the cold and  missed  seeing the area on the 8 km. drive down into the gourge. We met our landlady who had our dinner waiting since we had again booked our stay on Hostelbookers earlier in the day on route in the bus. The meals were great. Here is is a shot of our cabin upon waking up and beginning our exploration of the Lycean ruins on the walk to the beach a few km. away. We became good friends with our landlady Medal and were refueled to begin our 2 day and 2 leg journey to Cappadocia.  Our best time besides enjoying the errie beauty  of the ruins was playing  worship on the beach.  Chuck

 11/7  Hi, we got caught up in a tourist mode and unfortunately ignored the Lord. We felt His absence so needed to change gears so we could get back in touch with Him. Kas is a very beautiful village on the Mediterranean Sea so it was unfortunate that we needed to leave our new friends and this place early to get to Cappadocia where we hoped to regain some time with our Father.   Claire

11/5 On the right are our new friends Chris and Kurt who we got to know in Pummakale and then a couple of days later we were privaleged to meet his cousin Kent and his girlfriend Susie. We stayed at the Ani Pension and took an  all-day kayaking trip in the Agean Sea to some Lycean ruins. We talked about our travel experiences and shared about our life experiences back home.  We parted company as they wanted to stay and do some scuba diving and we wanted to break up our long 3 day trip to Cappadocia in parts instead of moving in one long journey. Even though they loved the thrills of life more than we, we did find alot of common ground in our appreciation for the land of Turkey and her kind people!    Chuck

11/2 Moved to Pammukale and visited the famous travertine pools and Acropolis ruins above our wonderful stay at the Allgau Pension. What you see in the background is not snow but Calcium deposits from the water flowing into the cities water system below. We did not need to take our Calcium vitamins that day. We met some new friends on the train that day and both stayed in the same pension and saw the ruins together. Paragliders jumped from the cliffs above even the high ruins that overlooked Pammukale and landed in the ruins we were viewing. Our new friends, Kurt and Chris, lived and worked in Utah and in the next week of traveling together, we came to know them as our adrenaline junkies for their interest in climbing, avalanche skiing and diving.   Chuck

10/31 Pete, Stephanie and Ruby with Claire: The Ephesians ruins were outstanding, stoking our imaginations on how it must have been for Paul to speak against the idoltrous worhip at the Temple of Diana during Roman rule. We were able to give our biblical slant on the ruins about us and Chuck got to worship in the amphitheatre where Paul gave his admonishment to the Ephesians. We had a wonderful dinner together and first started feeling the disappointment in leaving the friends we make  along the way. Just as we remember those we have left at home, we must believe that distance can’t seperate us as we move along in our life journeys.  Chuck