Tuesday, November 30, 2010
All righty folks. I was inspired by my friend Lisa's post on Facebook to spend November remembering what I am thankful for. I will be updating this post every day in November with one thing I am thankful for. As I update it, I will change the date so that it stays on the top of the page.
Who will join me? Will you try to comment on this post every day as well? If you are up for the challenge with me, you'll be commenting on my post 30 times! :) If I can get 34 people to join me in this challenge, that would put me at 1,000 comments on one post!
Your thanks can be one word, two words, just a few words.
In addition, I am going to come up with my bits of thanks outside of God and family and friends which are, of course, at the top of my list.
So, here we go. Please join me by adding a comment every day in November. Let's see how close to 1,000 comments we can get! My blog gets about 300 hits per day. I have 135 followers. I only need about one-fourth of you to participate to make this happen.
November 1: Family time (JB's fantastic hours and no deployment.)
November 2: Technology (I have no idea how I would survive living across the world without Skype, airplanes, email, and the Internet.)
November 3: Real Estate Agents (It appears ours may have sold our condo! We signed the paperwork today. PRAY!)
November 4: Innocence (How wonderful it is to get to witness children laughing and playing without a care on their minds.)
November 5: "Friends" that fill in for the families that we miss so much.
November 6: Unique talents. Attended a Turkish ballet tonight. How awesome our God is to give people different talents so we can all bless each other.
November 7: Communication. An uninterrupted hour talking to my husband.
November 8: Our health. How often we take for granted being well.
November 9: A husband who cooks. Enough said.
November 10: Hugs from my boys.
November 11: Veterans. People willing to die for freedom. Not sure I could do that.
November 12: Chocolate. Food in general. God didn't have to create us with a need to eat but I think he did because it is such a social event for us. Good friends, good food, and good times. Even better if it is chocolate.
November 13: Our bodies ability to heal. For the first time since I did the triathlon with Kristy last year, my feet finally feel "right" again. I am running the best I have in a long time.
November 14: Our church. I am so blessed to worship with other believers on Base, just as we are.
November 15: Mail. What would be do without the "pony express." Seriously though. Doesn't it amaze you that someone is organized enough to get things across the world in just a matter of weeks, and if you pay enough, DAYS?
November 16: Encouragement. I needed it today.
November 17: Friends willing to babysit. Thanks Shane and Linda!
November 18: Sleep. A good night of it can really change your perspective in the morning.
November 19: Miracles. We do serve an amazing God, don't we?
November 20: My housekeeper. She took a week off to celebrate the Muslim holiday. I knew she was good but not having her for two weeks makes me really realize how blessed I am to enjoy that luxury.
November 21: Doctors and medicine.I had to take JB to the ER last night for a migraine. How blessed we are to have medicine to help allieve pain.
November 22: Friends for my boys. Click here to see Elijah's best pal.
November 23: Our Chaplain and his wife. They will be returning back to the States next week, at least a year earlier than they had planned. Yet despite not understanding why life is going the way it is, they are praising Him. Amen.
November 24: Our country. While we don't live in the USA now and there are many "issues" with our country, the United States is surely a wonderful place.
November 25: Transportation. How changed our world is by the ability to move from place to place!
November 26: Touching my children. Holding their hands as we cross the street, having them sit on my lap to read a story, feeling them stroke my arm as we watch a movie together. What amazing power love is.
November 27: My husband. I know I said I wasn't going to include a thank you for an individual person, but I just have to. He is such a fantastic man. He manages the many roles he must play with incredible patience and kindness. I would be lost without him.
November 28: Unconditional love. The love we have from Christ is without boundaries. I understand that love through the way I love my children. Despite their sin and days that cause me to want to go crazy, I love them. I will always love them. NOTHING they could do would ever change my love for them. That's how Christ loves us. Amazing.
November 29: Surprises. Sometimes life goes differently than we had hoped! And aren't we glad they happened?
November 30: Neighbors. It is such a blessing to feel like I can call on someone at anytime.
KEEP THE COMMENTS COMING FOLKS! ONE FOR EACH DAY IN NOVEMBER!
In other news:
- Today is Tuesday. Hatice is cleaning today. I love Tuesdays.
- We are dog-sitting for Nick and Kristy's pups until they return from the States. We are anxious to FINALLY have Kristy back on Base after the delivery of her little Jonah back in the U.S.
- The weather here is still quite warm. The evenings and early mornings drop into the 60's, but in the middle of the day, shorts are still on the agenda. I thought the weather would be more like northern Florida here but so far, it's definitely more on-par with Southern Florida. We are also (supposedly) in the rainy season right now. There has been no rain to speak of. I miss the rain!
- Stebbins and her fam has been DOWN AND OUT with the stomach bug. We thank the Lord that (1) they are better and (2) we didn't get it!
Sunday, November 28, 2010
There are Christians in Turkey. Not many. But a few. The country is approximately 99% Muslim. However, when you say that, it's like saying that most of America is Christian. While that is true, people run the gamut on that spectrum. Some are devout. Some go to church twice a year. Some have no idea what the religion they claim actually means.
Our friend Rana is a Turkish Christian. She was born and raised in a Christian community in Turkey. She met and married a Christian American named Jake. We met Rana through Tristan and Shannon -- our friends from Eglin who were stationed here at incirlik the two years before we came. Tristan and Shannon connected us with each other, and what a blessing that has been.
Rana's first language is Turkish, but she speaks nearly perfect English. Jake's first language is Turkish, but he speaks nearly perfect Turkish. They have two young children -- a boy Aksel who a few months older than Isaac and a daughter, Mia, who is nearly one. They are a very down-to-earth and peaceful family. Sitting with them makes me feel that we've been friends for a very long time.
This morning we met our new friends for breakfast at a delightful Turkish weekend buffet. There was a playground for the kids to play at and more tables than I imagine could ever be filled which meant that you are allowed to stay as long as you want (in comparison to having to leave the restaurant as soon as you are done eating in America as Rana pointed out.) We got there at close to 9 which is early for Turkish standards. Their communities really start moving closer to eleven. We lounged and ate breakfast and lunch over the course of two hours while the kids ran and played to their heart's content.
I love watching my boys play with Turkish children. Language is not a barrier for them. They can play together without worrying about not being able to understand each other. It's how the whole world should be.
The food was fabulous. Breakfast in Turkey is quite different than America but there are enough similarities to make me feel comfortable. Eggs are often included and usually some orange juice of some sort. The rest is usually a large variety of cheeses, breads, meets, olives, and various nuts and figs and such. There is much that I do not try and much I cannot imagine eating so early in the morning. But there are also many things that surprise me and feel semi-familiar. Rana helped me with many words and also informed me of one word I should not attempt to say. Saying it incorrectly would be the equivalent of the f-word. So better to not try at all.
After breakfast, we had the opportunity to attend church with Jake and Rana. Their church is small. Just a dozen or so people. Being a Christian in Turkey is not against the law. Leading someone to Christianity is not against the law. However while there are no political implications for changing faith, socially, for a Muslim to leave their faith and become a Christian, they would face tremendous obstacles. Conversion can mean an individual is ostracized from their family and community. It's not a simple decision. It's a life-changing moment.
There actually was a visitor other than myself at church today, and he began asking questions about the faith. That was quite powerful. I speak very little Turkish and that was the only language spoken. I could often infer what was being talked about via a combination of hand gestures, a phrase or two I recognized, or Rana's whispers of explanation.
JB, Jake, and the kids played in a courtyard off the tiny church which was really just a home converted to serve the function of worship. Because I can read the language, I was able to sing the songs and read their Bible with them even if I didn't know what most of the words meant. (I wish I would have brought my English Bible so I could have read along in English.) I did, however, recognize the tune to one song: There is Power in the Blood. I was able to sing this in English while they sang in Turkish. How awesome! Elijah happened to be with me for that song. He danced and clapped in the midst of Turkish people singing as loudly as they could to only a guitar.
I want to take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about this country we are living in whenever I can. Rana is wonderful for that. Often times, a Turk speaks English only fairly well. This makes it difficult to ask questions and get answers as to social norms and customs. But Rana speaks English nearly perfectly. This allows me to ask questions and learn fully. She is a beautiful person who laughs easily and shares readily.
Having the opportunity to worship with other Christians in this country is not something I will ever forget. I look forward to getting to know Jake and Rana better over our next two years here!
Friday, November 26, 2010
How ironic is it that today, November 26, 2010, I stumbled upon an entry from November 26, 2006?
We had just suffered another failed IVF. I don't even remember which number that one was. And I had just been forced, emotionally, to leave a church service that was especially painful. After sobbing in a Target parking lot with my husband helpless to stop my pain or his, I went home and read this passage from a tiny little book I had that comforted me during those days: Good Grief.
Back then, four years ago to the day, I was inspired by the preface of the book. Now I look back and compare what I read then to what I feel now, on the "other side" of that valley.
- We come out of our grief experience at a slightly higher level of maturity than before. Me? More mature! Absolutely. I am a better parent. I am a better wife. I am a more compassionate individual. I grew in leaps and bounds during that long and dark five years of my life. I wouldn't use the word "slightly." I grew incredibly. I will never look at life the same. I will never assume there is not someone hurting. I don't take my kids for granted. I understand the miracle that life is.
- We come out of our grief as deeper persons because we have been down in the depths of despair and know what it is like. Prior to dealing with infertility, I never understood why people questioned their faith. I struggled to recognize why someone could be mad at God. I didn't understand pain. I had a "just-world" mentality. Today I have a mentality that understands that sometimes life doesn't follow the path we thought it would. The question is: what do we plan to do with the course our life takes?
- We come out of it stronger, for we have had to learn how to use our spiritual muscles to climb the rugged mountain trails. You can't live through grief and not come out of it stronger. Not getting what you want forces you to truly rely on the Lord. I often say that while on our 2007 mission trip to Nigeria I became inspired to see how these people lived their faith. I realized that they lived their faith because faith was all they had to live. We, in America, take so much for granted. We have so much and we demand so much. When all you have is God by having what you want pulled out from under you, you became a stronger person. Spiritually e
- We come out of it better able to help others. We have walked through the valley of the shadow of grief. We can understand. In the midst of our infertility journey, I stood by a close friend during her divorce and realized that I could relate to her pain because I had experienced my own loss. I knew what the depths felt like and knew how to be in the depths with someone else.
And thank you those of you who stood along side me during those days of grief. For those of you who have been with me for the entirety of my journey, would you mind sharing what you learned watching me go through this journey in the comments? Or maybe just a memory from my journey? I'm sure it would minister to me and the people who read this entry with grief present at this moment.
We also had lamb, but since we don't live in lamb that isn't nearly as funny now is it?
Anyways, now that that order of business is over with, I'll state another obvious. Thanksgiving outside of America is different. The trash is still picked up. The grocery stores are open. People are at work. Kids are going to school.
But a tiny Base near Adana Turkey celebrated. Riding your bike around Base you could smell Turkey and pies with every pedal you pushed! Glorious. Kids were out of school. Many active duty personnel were given the day off.
Another reason why living on Base here is so wonderful.
We had a group of our dearest friends over to our house around 3pm Turkey-time. And, thanks to Linda, who is more determined than me, we did get some pretty good photos.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
All right. Everyone is always asking me what we wish we had here but can't find. I thought of another one. Vanilla beans. And by vanilla bean I don't mean white beans. I mean the actual vanilla bean. JB wanted it for his "apple quince pie" that he likes to make each Thanksgiving. None to be found in the Commissary.
So tonight we ventured to a Turkish grocery store. First, a side note. Turkish grocery carts. They are just not good. You wouldn't think fixed wheels in the back of the cart are very important until you try to push one of these. You end up pushing sideways the entire time. Not so easy to do. Another thing that you can't fully appreciate until you use something quite sub par.
Isaac offered to share with Elijah but as usual, Elijah has no interest in sweets outside of lollipops. He just doesn't wan it. Crazy huh?!
Please don't misunderstand this post. We are thrilled with the adventure of living in Turkey. We have no regrets. We like it here. We are enjoying learning a new culture and experiencing a new place. But sometimes, you just need a little taste of home to jump start you again. Tonight, that's what we got.
*While calling someone a "Turk" still feels a bit awkward to me, it is what people in Turkey want to be called. For some reason it feels like a derogatory word. But it's not. It's what you call someone who is from Turkey. Just like we call ourselves Americans. Just want to clarify that in case someone thought differently of me while I was writing. Anyone want to admit that it feels derogatory?
Tackling the grocery store with two toddlers when there are no double carts is not in my best interest. It is not in the best interest of my boys. It is not in the best interest of other people we are shopping with.
And I intend to avoid it at all costs in the future.
I went today to try to get milk. Rumor had it that milk was now available. (The rumor was only partly true. There were a few half gallons of 1% and skim but no whole milk. Oh well. It'll have to do for now.)
Anyways, the carts. I've tried it many different ways:
- Allowing one boy to push one of the kiddie carts while I push the other boy in an adult cart. Doesn't work. Whichever boy doesn't get to push the cart gets upset. Very upset. Loud noises result. Random items make it into our cart. All around, poor idea.
- Allowing both boys to push a kiddie cart. This is, as you can imagine, is a total disaster. I have other people in the store tell me I'm courageous. It's not courage. I'm just desperate. Both boys push at different speeds. They run into different things. They run into the backs of my legs, each other's legs, and the legs of other people. It's hard to remain focused after a cart collision with your shin. Trust me on that one.
- Putting one in the belted part of the cart and the other one in the main part of the cart. Another failure. Whoever is sitting on the grated metal complains that "my bottom hurts." They keep wanting to switch spots. They try to stand up in the cart.
- Letting one boy walk. Noper. Whichever one walks wants in the cart. Whichever one is in the cart wants to walk. Screaming ensues. The Commissary is very small. More loud noises.
- Taking my double jogger. Works well (especially with lollipops included). The only problem is that I can't really fit many items in my stroller. This has to be for a small shop. I could try to push a grocery cart and the stroller but that just feels too difficult.
Anything I'm missing? Anyone? Are there any other options? Buy my own double grocery cart? Or do as I have planned, grocery shop when I have someone to watch one or both of the boys or after JB gets home from work?
P.S. Are you a blog follower? Make sure you add yourself to my list on the right side of the screen.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Love you Josh!
Monday, November 22, 2010
But I'm ten years older than that. Ten years! How did I go from 23 to 33 overnight?
I recently read the book Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen. The book was a great read but had some objectionable content that would prohibit me from wholeheartedly recommending it. That aside, I read a particular passage that really made sense to me and seemed to mimic exactly how I have been feeling about my age.
Here it is:
I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.
When you are five, you know your age down to the month. Even in your twenties you know how old you are. I'm twenty-three, you say, or maybe twenty-seven. But then in your thirties something strange starts to happen. It's a mere hiccup at first, an instant of hesitation. How old are you? Oh, I'm -- you start confidently but then you stop. You were going to say thirty-three, but you're not. You're thirty-five. And then you're bothered, because you wonder if this is the beginning of the end. It is, of course, but it's decades before you admit it.
JB has a saying. Old is thirty years older than whatever you are.
Now I have a question for you out there. Readers. What is old to you? Do you feel old? When did you start feeling old?
And also a Happy Birthday to Becky. We met at Eglin, and she is now living in DC and awaiting the arrival of her son thru the miracle of adoption.
Love you both!
A glance out of the side of his eyes and I knew he was sure.
I went next door and asked my neighbor's daughter, Elissa, if she could babysit. Her parents agreed to let her stay home from church. "If the doctor needs to go to the ER, he must be pretty sick," her mom told me.
Elissa came over, JB got in the van, and we headed to "Metro Park" in Adana.
To explain a bit how medicine here in Turkey and on incirlik works ...
There is a Clinic here on the Base. It is open from 8-5. This is where JB works. If you are sick after that, you call a special number which is answered by Ambulance Services. Ambulance Services then answers your question or puts you in touch with the doctor on call (who is sometimes JB). From there, that doctor decides whether you need to go to the ER, wait until the next workday, or have an incirlik ambulance take you to the ER.
The only ER available is off-Base. Adana. Thirty minutes away. There are two hospitals that we are given clearance to go to. Achibadem and Metro Park. Both of these hospitals are private hospitals and therefore cater to the foreigners and rich. While they are much smaller than an American hospital, they are clean and can provide all the basic medical care you could desire. Beside the fact that everyone is dressed in Turkish attire and does not speak English or have blonde hair or blue eyes, you wouldn't really realize that you weren't in America.
Of course JB skipped all the steps and just told me to take him straight to the ER. I have never driven off-Base at night before. That was a new thing. I also told him that I didn't know how to get to either of the hospitals. He told me that Metro Park was close to the M1. That I can do! So we opted for that hospital. John really couldn't speak on the way there. He was holding a bag, trying not to throw-up during the entire ride. He was able to help me with one turn before I pulled into the parking lot and he flew out the door to begin throwing up off to the side of the parking lot.
(Did I mention that Isaac had thrown up earlier that day from an egg reaction and Scrubby yesterday? Lots of barfola in our house recently.)
Anyways ... the biggest difference in the two hospitals is that Achibadem has more English-speaking-aide available. Metro Park has very little. I was so thankful for all the Turkish that I have been learning. I was able, somehow, to ask if anyone spoke English, find out they didn't, tell them that my Turkish was quite novice, communicate that JB had a migraine, nausea, and vomiting, and get him back to a room. I was then able to tell the doctor that my husband was a doctor. He knew what he needed. When she realized he just needed an IV with migraine and nausea medications, she gave me a high-5, obviously delighted to not have to navigate through a language barrier any further.
Within two hours we were on our way home. JB was much loopier but "iyi daha" (much better) in every way. While he didn't go to his mandatory work-out session this morning, he did make it in to work to see patients today.
Our adventures continue ...
Social life is also difficult because of language barriers. Even if you are the most interesting person in the world, you need to be able to carry on a good conversation to relate to people. Also people start to just you this way and that way, even before you have said a word. I also found it very difficult to communicate to the best of my ability when people made fun of me and my accent. This was especially very true in the early stages of learning English. To deal with problems like these I think it's best to not be shy. What worked for me was I got involved in sports. Once the students saw me run and play soccer, they started to be friendly and introudce me to their friends. Also, I found it best to be open-minded about other people instead of making assumptions about them or their character ...
My time in Turkey has made me feel a kindred spirit with Meb in these words. So many times I sit right next to someone unable to say more than a few things. It is not that I am shy. It is not that I am rude. It's just that I can't say more. Language is a huge stumbling block and can change a person from the inside out.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
... freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.
There are fruit trees everywhere on Base. Oranges. Apples. Pomegranates. Persimmons. Bananas.
Yesterday we passed a grapefruit tree on our way home from a run. JB picked one of them up and took it home. It was delightful. So he went back and asked the occupantss of the house nearest the tree if he could pick more.
The guy laughed.
"I consider everything on Base government property. Take whatever you want."
Of course without insecticides, many of the grapefruits were bad. But many weren't. Delightful. We have about two dozen more sitting on the counter in the kitchen just waiting to be peeled and eaten or juiced.
Some things about living in Turkey are a bit difficult. Only being able to get the food that is in season has taken some getting used to. Missing blueberries is something I am still not over. But rounding corner after corner to find fruit to your heart's content is delightful and treasured.
Life here on Base truly does feel like America must have felt fifty years ago. My neighbor Barbara is in her mid-seventies. She admits that where she grew up in North Carolina no one locked their doors. Everyone knew their neighbors. You couldn't just drive to the next town when your town didn't have something.
Sorta like life here. It's different. But we like it.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
But not with the "indestructible" ball. It's too big for him to get his mouth around. Too hard to puncture it with a nail.
I think Scrubs likes it, but I am not really sure. I think it's more a combination of frustration and excitement all rolled into one. You have got to listen to him on this video. Poor dog is going out of his mind. We may have to only bring this out for special occasions. The whole neighborhood is effected by this toy.
And did you know a dog could bark with his mouth open? Now you do.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Please do not confuse my passion about this. I have many friends and family members who have had abortions in their past. I am not judging their decisions or loving them any differently. God's forgiveness is a very mighty thing.
I am a member of the SusanBAnthony list (thanks to my Tante Jan) which keeps me updated on how abortion is being supported or not supported in our government. Please read the letter below and consider signing this petition which is fighting to have abortion be something that we, as a people, do not fund.
Dear Family and Friends,
I am asking you to join me in an effort to end all federal funding of abortion.
Every single year, hundreds of millions of our hard-earned tax dollars are sent to abortion providers. In fact, over one billion dollars has gone to the abortion industry over the past eight years alone, according to the non-partisan Government Accountability Office.
And with the passage of the health care bill, even more of our hard-earned tax dollars are slated to be spent on subsidizing plans that cover abortion.
We can stop this, but only with your help.
I just signed a Stop Abortion Funding petition, started by the Susan B. Anthony List, urging members of the upcoming Congress to support two commonsense bills that would end all federal funding of abortion:
- The "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Reps. Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Dan Lipinski (D-IL), creates a government-wide statutory prohibition on abortion funding including problematic provisions in the health care bill.
- The "Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act" ensures that organizations, including Planned Parenthood, do not receive federal dollars under the Title X federal family planning assistance program.
The Susan B. Anthony List is a network of 280,000 pro-lifers across the country. They successfully worked around the clock to ensure major pro-life gains in the recent mid-term elections. Now, they are focusing their energy to ensure that our electoral gains are translated into legislative victories, like ending federal funding of abortion.
Please sign the petition by visiting here.
After you’ve signed the petition, make sure to forward this e-mail on to your friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.
Thank you for standing up for Life!
Anyways, throughout the entire errand-running adventure, Isaac kept waiting to see what we were going to buy. "Mommy, we are going to go buy some errands, right?" he would ask whenever we got back into the bike trailer. I tried to explain the difference between running errands and buying errands, but he wasn't getting it. I finally gave up.
Another fun language item comes from the chubbier of the two boys. (Side note: people around Base keep telling me they can't remember which one is Isaac and which one is Elijah. Someone told me that they remember because the letter E is chubbier than the letter I. That works. I'm sharing it with people who need a bit of a reminder.)
Anyways ... Elijah's infamous "ya!" when he wants to answer in the affirmative is now becoming a "yesssss" with the ending quite pronounced. (Similar to how he says "Buzzzzz" as in Buzz Lightyear.) Being as I am currently learning a new language, I can understand how difficult even the simplest sound can be and how easily you can get it mixed up. An example: when he first started saying "yessssss" he would say "sssss, ya!"
Speaking of learning to speak another lanugage, Isaac is now counting to ten in English and Turkish! Turkish counting can still require a little help geting between 4 and 6, but I amazed at how quickly kids learn things. I did not work with the boys on this directly. I just made a point when we were reading books and counting things to follow a count to 10 in English with one in Turkish. (More for my own practice than their learning it.) Even Elijah is saying the number 3, 5, and 10 in Turkish. How fun!
I am so glad that when I went to the store for the third day in a row and did not see any of our "organic" milk, I snagged a half gallon of regular whole milk. That half gallon will have to help us make it through the weekend.
Again, it isn't that we don't have access to certain somethings here. It's just that a certain something will be MIA for a certain period of time. Milk is not a good one to be running short on.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A travesty. That's what it is.
I ate it with ... (and notice my theme here) ... incredible intensity.
Thank you to my good friend who thought I needed some of that today. I did.
I have been having some hard "Mom" days as of late. Mainly this is due to the fact that the boys have been fighting with incredible intensity and finding things to get into with even more incredible intensity.
Just one example.
- The boys: eating yogurt.
- Me: need to change my clothes.
- Me: Runs upstairs. Seriously. Two minutes. I was only gone for two minutes. Yogurt is not a choking hazard. I can leave for two minutes. Right?
- Answer: Wrong.
- The boys: decide to throw yogurt all over the kitchen with incredible intensity. Their bowls are on the floor. Yogurt is in their hair. Scrubs is covered. They are covered. Blueberry everywhere.
- Scrubs: licking everything in sight with incredible intensity.
So not only did I have a friend bring me a Toblerone (yum yum yum!) but I had another friend offer to take one of my boys after naps. Just to separate them for a bit. Just to give me a little time to parent one child and stop the incredible intensity bubbling under the surface all day long.
Another friend offered to help me get a meal I had made for a friend to its indended destination. Small bits that make up a large whole.
I like living here. I like JB's hours. I like the culture. I like the experience. But despite all that liking, I do believe it would be impossible for me to do this life by myself. These friends I have made are a lifeline for me.
Truly, today, I felt like they were God in the flesh. They were His hands. I called to Him, and he comforted. In the form of human beings with hearts set on Him.
Thank you Lord.
Bless you friends.
Sigh ... so many languages. No wonder Babel couldn't get built.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Four months, and I have seen it rain ONE time. Once.
I miss the rain. That's all I want to say. I just miss smelling and seeing and sleeping through the rain.
Okay, well, actually, I wanted to say a few more things.
Turkey is very much like northern Florida as far as climate goes. No real fall to speak of but the leaves are falling and the temperature changing.
When it comes to daylight, it is very much like Minnesota. Gets dark way early this time of year. By 5pm you are inside for the night. In the summer the days are incredibly long. I am not sure why places like Turkey and Minnesota observe daylight savings time. Doesn't make much sense to me.
There. Turkey weather in a nutshell.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Are you kidding?! How do you run out of ice cream? Is everyone having the same day that we are having?
She ended up securing four drumsticks which definitely filled in nicely.
Outta ice cream! Inconceivable.
It's 2am in South Florida right now. Midnight at the home of my buddy Kristi in New Mexico. But here, right now, it is 9am. I wish my world was awake right now instead of the other way around.
I keep thinking that I'd like to email my Mom or someone and just ask them to pray for me. I need an extra bit of "umph" today. So I thought that while it is unlikely that any of my world back home is awake, maybe someone is. Not many people here have access to my blog. Since the Base is so small I've kept it on the down-low. JB will be the doctor for most people I know here. And I don't want them to all have access to the details of his life.The boys are in quiet a funk. Usually, only one of them is in a funk at a time. But today it is both of them. And Scrubs, while on his best behavior in fear of facing my wrath, is still under my feet. Oh and he threw up twice. Green gooey throw-up. What makes throw-up bright, slime ball green?
I'm outnumbered. I've prayed. I've begged. We have, and this is not an exaggeration, been in time-out so many times that I've lost count. I am also defaulted to putting one of them in the crib upstairs. Screaming. Fighting. Pushing. Whining. I served Isaac corn flakes as he requested. But then he didn't want corn flakes. He wanted yogurt. Someone asked for toast. But once it was popped it was no longer desired.
By the time my world wakes up I'm sure the day will be better. But right now, I feel better just getting this off my chest again.
Got to go. World War III has just broken out in the play room.
Monday, November 15, 2010
When I got back from my run (with Scrubby of course) I laid down on the rug in our formal living room/library. Isaac and Elijah laid down on either side of me.
Isaac: "What you doing Mommy?"
Wendi: "I'm doing sit-ups."
Isaac: "I do sit ups too."
Wendi: "Okay. Put your hands behind your head and then pull your head up."
Isaac: Imitates me as best he can. Pulls his head up two or three times. "I'm doing it Mommy." While this is going on, Elijah is on the other side of me lifting his legs into the air. Just eight months apart but worlds apart in understanding some times.
Wendi: "Yes you are."
Isaac: "I'm exercising."
Wendi: "Yes you are."
Isaac: "And now I'm sweaty."
After we do sit-ups then I bench press each of the boys. I always start with Elijah because he weighs more. I do ten bench presses with one hand under his chest and one under his legs. We all count together. Then it's Isaac's turn. He doesn't make it to ten. By six or seven he wants to get down which is totally okay by me after bench pressing his tank-like little brother first.
The other funny thing Isaac said to me this morning was a mix-up of words. Instead of saying: "all over everything" he said "all ovarything."
There are so many moments each day that I reminded how fortunate I am to be jarred awake at 5:30 every morning (although this morning it was 6:05! yippee!)
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Yesterday, Linda and I decided to do some shopping! Some of Shane & Linda's HHG have still not arrived! (Our's arrived in August -- just to give you some perspective.) Because they are way past due date, the moving company will now allow her to purchase a few things on the company's dime. Since it is getting cooler here, she needed a few fall-like outfits. So before lunch, we headed out to the M1 (Mbir) together.
After a quick stop at the Sunday market (Linda's first market experience since moving here), we got to the mall. While I have visited the mall in Turkey before, I had never really shopped with the Turkish people before. We'd bought a few things at the grocery store or "WalMart" but not clothing. First we had lunch at Popeyes! This was a nice taste of home. The chicken was delightful, and while I still am not sure what the sauces they gave me were or why the ketchup was so salty, it really felt nice to eat something a bit more "familiar."
Sunday is the Muslim family day. (In conrast to a Saturday in America.) I knew this but think I sort of forgot. It was also the last of the weekend before one of the biggest Muslim holiday's: Eid al-Adha (which is why Hatice is not working this week and I am having to clean my house!)
I say this because it was the crowds that taught me quite a bit about the culture. And not only did I learn a lot about Turkish culture, but I also learned a lot about American culture as well. I realized that there are many things that are socially unacceptable in American culture that are "unwritten." We may not even realize they are seen as acceptable or unacceptable in "our world." But they are. And you don't realize that until you see other people who do it totally different.
An example. Has anyone ever taught you the right and wrong way to look at clothes on the rack? I don't think my mother ever showed me these skills. But yet as I shopped around people raised differently than me, I realized that there is a way of doing things in the USA.
And this was not it.
Say there is a rack of sweaters. If I were in the U.S. and looking at the rack, it would be acceptable for someone to come and begin looking toward the back of the rack while I looked in the front. Acceptable, but many times the person will still wait until I am done with that rack before stepping in.
Out shopping yesterday, I was taken aback by the people who simply started looking at the same piece I was looking at. They would come right up next to me and share in my browsing. In fact, as I was holding up one shirt to look at it, a woman came by and began to turn it from side-to-side to get a better view for herself.
I quickly realized that what she was doing was not wrong. What I was thinking was not wrong. It was just different. I also realized that somehow I had learned a way to do things. Who taught me? Did I learn by observing? Did I do it wrong and get a stern look? I am not sure. But somehow I learned it.
And now I needed to unlearn it. Temporarily at least.
Another difference is lines. In general, lines are much more "foggy" here in Turkey than they are in our culture. When Americans make a line, we make it a fairly concrete line. The Turks just kind of wander in and out of the line and forward and backward. There is a general line but it is not concrete. I am not sure how they would react to someone actually "cutting" but I got the impression it wouldn't really bother them. It was almost expected that you wait in line with the plan to get a turn close to the spot you got in at.
In addition, if there were seven dressing room "stalls" in a women's dressing room and there was a line to use them, wouldn't it make sense to have one line and the next person goes to the next available stall? At least that's how I've always done it. The same thing is true in bathrooms. At least that's how I've always done it. But not here. I continued to observe both at cash registers, in dressing rooms, and in bathrooms, people waiting in their own line. It took Linda and I a bit to figure out how this would work. We had to pick a dressing room and "claim it." A bathroom stall and "claim it." We then had to wait for that particular person to get done. If they took a long time, that was our bad luck. Surprisingly, the Turkish women did not seem bothered that Linda was trying on multiple things. They seemed to have a lot of patience.
Another thing that is different for Americans.
In a bathroom, it is the same. I would walk into the bathroom and stand off to the side. A stall would open up. There are two other women in the bathroom. I nod my head at the door as if to ask them if they are going to go inside. They nod their head back at me to go inside. I guess the stall is mine. I was nearest it. They have claimed their own stall. I think this puts a lot of pressure on the person in the stall you are waiting for.
We finished off the day with some Turkish ice cream. It tastes like American ice cream but has the consistency of taffy. Very yummy. I have had it one or two other times. A small cultural difference here was the scoop amount. Linda asked for a cone with one scoop. One scoop was a very small scoop. We both were almost shocked when the man started to hand her the cone with the one scoop on top. Since I am the Turkish speaker between the two of us, she turned to me and asked me to request two scoops instead. Even two scoops was smaller than an American scoop but Linda stopped there.
Loved hanging out with Linda. Loved learning more about the culture. Loved practicing my Turkish. And loved eating the ice cream on the way home.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Today it was fish.
There are things about maneuvering amongst another culture that are difficult. I have been attempting, with as much effort as I can muster, to eliminate one of the main difficulties: the language barrier.
For instance, today, we headed to little kids' arcade in Adana with Dan & Angelica and their two kiddos and Stebbins and William. Stebbins wanted to know if she could get tokens with a credit card. I was able to ask the teenager behind the desk if we could. In Turkish. "Evet," was the reply! Hurrah! She understand me! Yippeee! Stebbins decided she didn't need more tokens, but I didn't care. I asked a question. I got an answer.
A small miracle.
After our little outing which included lunch at the McDonalds (which Isaac has been calling "Old McDonalds") upstairs, Dan & Angelica headed back to base while Stebbins joined our crew for a trip to "Metro" (the Turkish equivalent of a Sam's Club.) While this was not the place that I had unknowingly spent $15 on frozen blueberries during one of my first weeks in Turkey, our error today definitely rivaled my past purchase.
JB wanted to buy some fish. Since I am the sort-of-Turkish-speaker in our relationship, I attempted to help him figure out what would be a good fish to grill. I asked one of the workers if anyone spoke English. I found someone who spoke a little. Between his "biraz" English and my "biraz" Turkish we were able to ascertain a fish that fit JB's requirements.
We thought that the fish was 32 TL per kilo. We got three of them. Upon checkout, JB saw on his receipt that we had spent 90 TL on the fish (roughly $60 USD). I was proud of myself. I was able to speak to the cashier in Turkish and figure out that the fish were not 32 TL per kilo but 32 TL per fish. Yay for me in figuring this out. But it meant diddly. We were still faced with the fact that the guy at the fish section of the store had spent a considerable amount of time cleaning and preparing the fish for us. We felt it would be a very unwelcome thing to reject the fish after having them cleaned and paid for.
(Side note: when the man helping me with the fish told me he would clean it and get it ready for us, he told me, in English, to come back in 14 minutes. I guess this was the only number he knew. It was quite funny. Who tells someone to come back in 14 minutes? I asked him if "on besh" was adequate which is 15 in Turkish just to make sure we were on the same page. He said that was perfect.)
Anyways, we took our $60 worth of fish and went home. I would like to say that the fish was fantastic. But it wasn't. It was decent. JB did the best he could with it. But we definitely spent $60 on only semi-decent fish. Nick helped us eat it. He ate $20 worth of fish.
There are some things about living in another culture that you just can't prevent. Misunderstandings are one of them. I am trying to learn the language. I can now count to the thousands in Turkish which is encouraging. I know most of the money-related terms. But still. I failed to properly ask whether the price was "tanesi" (each) instead of "kilosu" (per kilo) and it cost us.
Live and learn, right?
We are very intensely looking to buy some land in Washington State and have been holding off in wait for the sale of our condo in Minnesota. For those of you who don't know, we are planning on making Washington our "forever" home when JB severs ties with the military. (I'll have to have JB write a long and detailed post about why we chose Washington at some other point in the future.) We are looking into a place of approximately 20-30 acres to have a hobby farm. If the Lord brings my dreams into fruition, we are hopeful that this home will one day include many children who need a forever family.
Much more to come in the future but for now, your prayers that this sale will go through are much appreciated.
Friday, November 12, 2010
"'Because games like Tetris use the parts of the brain responsible for visual attention and visual memory, which also contribute to flashbacks, they may reduce flashbacks', she said."
"But verbal games, which compete with the resources in the brain that remember the contextual meaning of the trauma, may reinforce visual memories in the perceptual channel, the researchers said."
Okay so truthfully, I don't play Tetris anymore. Two babies and a dog sorta put a dart through that. But I did used to play Tetris quite a bit. It started with Tetris for regular Nintendo. You know, the one that looks like this:
This was only a one player game, but my Dad, brother, and myself used to play it all the time. We'd try to set a record for points and we'd try to set the record for lines. I believe I held both records for quite some time. I know that 212 was my line record. I really believe it's impossible to hit 220 because the computer begins running faster than you can respond. I don't remember my points total but it was ahead of my brother and Dad. That I do know.
In fact, we eventually recruited my Mom into the world of Tetris. I can remember going to play miniature golf on vacation. Included in the purchase of one game of golf was ten free video tokens each. My Dad, brother, and I were thrilled. My Mom, not so much. But my Dad "forced" her to sit in front of the Tetris game and give it a try. By the end of it, she was begging us for more coins.
We'd created an addict.
Years later, a new Tetris would emerge on Nintendo 2. We actually have this at our house. My Dad found it on Ebay. JB and I will still get in the mood to play this now and then, but again, our little boys have sorta nixed that kind of free time. When we could call our home, I would, and find that my parents were too busy to talk to me. They'd be right in the middle of a Tetris game. When I would go home to South Florida, I'd get addicted all over again. I eventually became second-best in my family to this new Tetris, shown below. Keith, Mom, and JB were left in my dust, but my Dad, not so much.
Nintendo 2's Tetris 2 offered the opportunity to play against someone or even the computer. You could handicap yourself to make it fair too. This one worked on colors instead of lines, and in my opinion was much "funner" than the original.
Not sure where this post came from. One article on yahoo just jumped me back down memory lane. Sweet times.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
More good news today. The CCAM is still the same size, but the baby has gained almost a half a pound. I am 28 weeks, 2 days and she is measuring 30 weeks 5 days thanks to the Huisman genes. They hooked me up to a stress test (adding another 45 minutes to the appt) and the baby did great, no stress. The new routine will be appointments every two weeks with a 30+ minute ultrasound and 30+ minute stress test which somehow ends up being 2.5 - 3 hours from walk-in to walk-out. They took more 4D pictures, we'll post them tomorrow. Thanks for your prayers. We serve a mighty God.
Deborah (pronounced Deb-or-uh) is a charasmatic and lively woman. She's blonde and fit and beautiful. She has a six year old daughter and is herself only in her 40's. She's one of these women that can make an entire room full of women feel as though they are her very best friend. She ended up in the emergency room this weekend due to stomach issues. The doctors came back from the surgery with the news that her condition was"grave."
Chaplain Crumpton spoke tonight at the prayer vigil held in Deborah's honor at the Chapel. As is often the case, God's amazing strength was obviously holding him up. He spoke with grace and charisma. He made us laugh. He made us cry. He told us to remember that while we pray for Deborah, we also need to praise for Deborah. She is already recovering from the surgery faster than the doctors thought might be possible. She is living.
She has a long road ahead of her. Nine months of intense treatment with no promise at the end of her future. But Ch. Crumpton reminded us Deborah has been promised a future. She's been promised an eternity in a healed body praising her Lord.
What they and we are even more saddened by is that the Crumptons will be leaving us in just a few weeks. Better care in the U.S. means they are going there. They were planning to extend and stay with us for an additional 2.5 years. I was thrilled with this since it would perfectly match our DEROS (departure date.) It was talking of leaving that choked him up more than anything.
Gathered in the chapel this evening were people of every denomination you can imagine. There were new Christians mixed with people who have known the Lord their entire life. We are Catholics and Charasmatics. We are Baptist and Church of Christ. It's such an amazing thing to witness. To be a part of a place where all we have is our small body of fellow believers. You picture the early church and I feel like, here at Incirlik, we get a small taste of what that would have been like. All we have in common is Christ. And that is enough.
Tonight, six individuals stood and read six scriptures. And then they prayed. One "younger" Christian introduced herself to the Lord as she began. One person said the Lord's prayer. One prayed in only the way a Gospel minister would pray. We are a wounded community. Our other Chaplain is back in the U.S. on leave. The Air Force is sending a "back-up" Chaplain in to help this community face its pain.
But we are united in one thing: we plan to play for Deborah.
I don't pretend to know everything about God. But here's what I do know. I know that He answers prayers. I know that I spent five years on my knees begging the Lord for a child. Pleading. Screaming. In agony. Just one thing. A child.
(I have two.)
I know there are women who have prayed longer and harder and more than me who don't have a child now. I don't know why. I don't understand. That's okay. I can still pray.
I remember not having a vehicle right before we got married. We prayed. We told the Lord we had no money. We had no car. But we needed transportation.
Someone gave us a car.
Miracles DO happen. They do. I don't know why they do sometimes and why they don't sometimes, but I am tired of trying to figure that out. All I know is that I am going to pray for Deborah. Our community is going to pray. We aren't going to conjecture and grieve. We are going to petition and celebrate.
Together. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
P.S. If you are interested, here are the six scriptures that were read tonight for Deborah. I plan to pray them every day.
1 Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
19 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
19 “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
I John 5:14-15
14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
The six of us (and Angelica who was out of town) have formed a little co-op group. We met on Monday to discuss how the first two trial months went and to make any changes that we thought might be necessary.
On Mondays and every other Thursday (opposite of MOPs weeks) we watch each other's kids. Two women host the event. The other five have the day off. Kids can be dropped off between 9-12 if you want to utilize the service. If you don't, no problem. You just don't bring your kids. There are ten children total between the seven of us but due to some being in preschool, only 9 that might utilize the service on a given day.
The vote at brunch was to keep the co-op going. We shortened the time and switched a day but otherwise, we're continuing onward ... the Sara/h's, Tina, Angelica and me.
Stebbins and I decided that we needed to do something today. Not just something little. Something big.
There has been some sad news amongst our church family on Base this week. While we don't have all the details, we have enough to know that our Chaplain's wife, Deborah, (pronounced Deb-or-uh), went in for emergency surgery to find the source of pain in her abdomen and found out she has cancer. We've all been hit hard by this news. On a Base so small, you have an incredible sense of community. Ch C. is an amazing man. His wife is fantastic. Their daughter celebrated her 6th birthday yesterday. Please keep this family in your prayers.
And while praying, we decided we needed a distraction.
How 'bout the M1?
The M1 is the big mall in Adana. I have only driven off Base a handful of times. And the farthest I have driven is the Sunday and Monday markets. This is much farther.
Like I said: big. Any trip off Base in Turkey is big.
If you saw the roads in Turkey, the drivers in Turkey, the directions in Turkey, you would agree that this is big too. Real big.
So after spending an hour socializing with Hatice, I packed the boys up in the van and picked up Sarah and William at her house. So glad we have our van as they easily fit on Board!
This was a day littered with accomplishments and disappointments. The first accomplishment was actually getting all three boys in their car seats and on the way. But the first disappointment was missing the exit to the M1. This means going miles and miles and miles out of the way. In Turkey, the entire highway is lined with a guardrail which means you can't turn around (unless you find a rare spot where there is no rail and you break the law and make a u-turn.) Exits are few and far between. And just because there is an exit on the right side does NOT mean there is an entrance on the other side.
If I had a dollar for every Turk I have seen backing up down an on ramp, I'd be able to redo the roads in Turkey. And after driving in Turkey, I don't blame them. I'd do it too. Try getting off a highway in the middle of nowhere and not being able to get back on and not knowing where you are. That would be bad.
So as we realized we passed the exit, Stebbins and I were determined not to let that happen. As long as we were on the Interstate, we would know where we were. We wouldn't be technically lost. Just a bit misplaced.
We finally spotted a service plaza on the right hand side of the road. We stopped. Stebs rolled down her window and in only the way Stebs can, informed me that I would do the talking. Stebs jokes about the time she tried to ask a Turkish person to practice Turkish with her and after hearing her start they just shook his head and said, "Please. Don't." Since then, Stebs has decided I will be her default Turkish voice.
Here is where another accomplishment came in to play. I successfully spoke to the gas station pumper guy in Turkish. I remembered to first tell him that I do not speak very much Turkish. I have found that it helps to start a conversation this way. Jumping right into what I wants makes them jump in even faster and leaves me completely spinning in circles as I attempt to tell them I have no idea what they are talking about. After telling him my Turkish was limited, I asked him where the M1 was. He didn't know what I was talking about. Finally we realized that in Turkish the M1 would be the Mbir. Okay. A look of understanding filled his eyes.
For the next minute he gave me directions, in Turkish. By watching his hand gestures and paying attention to the moments he said right and left, I was able to actually figure out what he was telling me! I followed his Turkish words right to the M1. Okay so we had to make one more u-turn. But still! Success!
Once at the M1, Stebs and I decided to visit this toy castle which is actually in the building next to the mall. We found a special gem. Okay so the castle is basically a glorified toy store. But it also included some cars and bikes that the boys could climb on (they still don't know that you can put money in these) as well as an outdoor cafe complete with a playground and small zoo. There were ducks, monkeys, quail (we think), and rabbits.
Here is where one of the disappointing moments crept in again. Isaac and especially Elijah wanted to play with the rabbits. It is so hard to remember that Turkey doesn't have safety precautions like we do in America. Just because it appears to be safe to pet the rabbits doesn't mean it is. As they giggle and squealed and put their fingers in with the rabbits and felt the rabbits tickling their fingers, I felt that familiar check in my spirit. I turned to Sarah. Should I allow them to continue? It's so hard. They are laughing and just in a total state of innocence. You know you should stop them. But you don't.
And Elijah gets bit.
Suddenly he's screaming and his finger is stuck in a rabbit's mouth, and I am trying to pull it away and he is bleeding. He doesn't scream for too long and Stebs and I start conferencing. We know that dog and cat bites or scratches in Turkey are an instant series of rabies shots.
With no cell phone, I can't call JB and ask him if I have just made a small boo-boo or a very large boo-boo, so we continue on with our day, the rabbit bite nestled at the forefront of my thoughts. We head over to the actual Mbir and go to McDonalds. This is the first time I have eaten at McDonalds since we left the USA, and I enjoy my double cheeseburger immensely. It's a crazy lunch, as you would expect a lunch with three toddlers to be, but Stebs and I continue to gloat about our successful day -- coming to the mall by ourselves! Who would have thought?!
Sad side note. Stebs accidentally got an ARYAN drink when she wanted milk. Oh folks these things are just hideous. It is salty yogurt water. That's the only way I know how to explain it. The Turks love them. The Americans hate them. Blah. But Stebs did practice asking for a burger with no pickle (love my Turkish phrase book) and the boys got balloons and all was well with the world.
In the midst of gloating about our success, we missed the exit on the way back too. You might think we weren't paying attention, but we definitely were. It is just so hard to read signs and figure out which way is which. The time it was probably 20km until we could find a turn around. We saw one exit ramp but we wisely skipped out on going off of it. There was no return entrance ramp to the highway in sight!
We made it home right at nap time and even managed to keep all three boys from falling asleep in the car (thanks to a myriad of songs -- who knew that Stebbins and I both had the same fairly poor voice abilities that when put together don't sound absolutely horrid) and ruining naptime. Stebs had a stellar day. In fact, most of the times we messed up on were because I failed to listen to what she was suggesting. But I did come through with my Turkish! So at least I contributed in some ways to the festivities of the day.
As for the rabbits, a call to JB when I got back to Base left me nearly in tears. He was pretty sure that Elijah was going to have to come in, today, for the first of a five day series of shots in his nail bed, arm, and leg. I felt terrible! But after JB double-checked with public health, we found out that in fact rabbits are not "on the list" and we were free to escape the shots. Praise the Lord!
The only other semi-funny thing to report from the day was that while I was changing both the boys diapers in the women's tuvalet, Elijah handed Isaac a clean diaper. Isaac, thinking he was helping, threw it away in a bathroom stall. I couldn't go grab it since Elijah was laying on the changing table and by the time I could, a woman had used that bathroom and thrown stuff on top of the clean diaper. Oh well.
In addition, as soon as we got home, Elijah walked in, picked up Hatice's duster and stuck it in her bucket of water and then twirled it around getting water all over. While that was occurring, Isaac decided to unpack Hatice's folded laundry.
... and then it was off to naps! I have moved Elijah into the crib in the "office" during naps. There is just too much playing going on at nap time (despite removing all toys from their room.) So bedtime is in the room together and nap time in the office. It's a good arrangement and one that helps keep me sane instead of spending two hours trying to get them go to sleep and stop playing.