People have told me that life speeds up after college, and it seems overseas that is true as well. These past few weeks I’ve had many new thoughts, challenges, realizations, and experiences. Many of these have had to do with language, as that is my full time job for the time being. I am in class a few days a week and supplement that with self-study and language practice with Turkish people. Studying and learning a new language has really made me examine my own. I have realized how so much of my communication is conveyed through idioms, slang, and expressions, and it makes me wonder how long it takes someone to learn those in a second language. I guess we will find out soon. It also gives me a much greater respect for the men and women who have translated the scriptures, as they had to translate ideas and meaning, not just grammar.
Something else I never thought I would do is to celebrate my birthday (November 15th) overseas with people I barely know. For how that sounds, I think it might have been one of my favorites. When your team leader makes a homemade cake and you get to eat it for a second breakfast, how can the day go wrong? Earlier that week I was finally able to visit some tourist spots when a college friend came in town for a couple days. Walking inside buildings five times older than my country was a surreal experience, not to mention seeing golden mosaics of Jesus that are 20 feet tall and just as old. On October 29th I witnessed the Turkish version of July 4th, which celebrates when Turkey was declared a republic. Picture gigantic fireworks over the Bosporus, more flags than people in the streets, and an almost palpable national pride.
Living with guys already in the ministry phase gives me a front row seat to what my team is doing. In the beginning of the summer my roommates started teaching English at a boys shelter. Over the course of time relationships formed and spiritual conversations began. A group of the boys were interested in learning more about Jesus, but they had many questions. This week my roommates, team leader, and a believing translator shared with them for a few hours. At the end of the night the group prayed and six young men made a decision to follow Christ! Praise our Father who is gracious and powerful. Please remember this group in your prayers as discipleship is beginning.
On the other side, I am also being exposed to the extreme hardship of refugees. One man, Mahmoud*, that some of my team has been visiting is hopefully awaiting his acceptance for permanent residency. He needs this to get surgery on his badly injured leg that was shot by the Taliban years ago. He has been moved to another city to wait for his permit, but there have been many complications. Please pray for Mahmoud, his wife, and his children, that their application is accepted, the surgery is successfully performed and the logistical problems are removed.
During the summer I asked God to lead me to a passage that would serve as fixed truth to encourage me in tough times and remind me of my calling here. He led me to Isaiah 55:6-12.
“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace.” -Isaiah 55:6-12
God is constantly teaching me more about himself and about myself. He has been so faithful, loving and patient with me. Thank you Father for your steadfast love.
All the best,
*Name has been changed for security purposes.