Dear friends, 8/16
What of the ton of experiences in my last 2 1/2 weeks in Turkey should I share with you? At the top of the list would be getting my arms around sweet Heidi at the Antalya airport. I could feel jet lag flowing out of me and love and grace streaming in as we hugged. It was only joy from there on.
Cuddling little Hannah, grandchild #11, for the first time—so chubby and cute at 3 months was certainly one of my favorite moments. Even in the short time we were there she smiled and chuckled more. We joked that Hannah must be a pacifist because she loved her pacifier.
I had first met little Nathaniel as a preemie in California. Now at 2 years of age he was talkative and loved playing with his teddy bears, cars and puzzle mats. He and his Uncle Kurt hit it off as best friends. Nathaniel cannot pronounce the K sound at the beginning of words yet, so Kurt was known as Uncle Dirt.
Another highlight was meeting with Anthony and Heidi’s team Sunday morning and singing,
Who has numbered every grain of sand?
Kings and nations tremble at His voice;
All creation rises to rejoice.
Behold our God, seated on His throne.
Come let us adore Him…”
Perhaps you know this song. It was new to me and I was blessed by it, especially as an attempted coup d’état had taken place that week in Turkey. Thankfully we were far from the center of that activity and never felt unsafe, but it did give us a better understanding of how to pray for the country.
This vacation was an extra treat because of a special gift; Matthew and Dietlinde also traveled with me. We were overwhelmed by Anthony and Heidi’s hospitality and the conversations we had together. Heidi asked each of us to tell about our best experience from the last year. We were encouraged by a book written, progress in language learning, a step forward in a dissertation, overcoming fear in making friends, a strong confirmation of one’s work and other such blessings. Another discussion was: What is your goal or dream for the coming year? We came away assured that God was at work among us and that He would accomplish His will through us.
Our first week in Turkey Anthony had arranged for us to see several of the old ruins that Turkey is filled with. In the U.S. we are used to a history of 240 years but in Turkey it is common to see a stadium from the time of the Romans, a gladiator tomb, ruins going back to the first century, even tombs that predate the ancient Greeks! I had never touched things this old before in my whole life. To stand at the cliff overlooking the port into which the Apostle Paul sailed (Acts 13:13) was a a powerful moment. And visiting the tell (the hill, mound still not excavated) where the city of Colossae is, made the book of Colossians come alive. We stood in the same place as the people to which Paul had written that letter. Then we drove to another Biblical site, that of Laodikea. That would have been quite a walk for the believers at Colossae to go and share Paul’s letter with the Laodiceans. (Col. 4:16)
Our last week Heidi and I had time to complete a quilt for Hannah that Heidi had started. She had embroidered some flower designs on the squares and we were able to put it together. All that’s left is for Heidi to hand sew the binding. Isn’t it lovely? I also bought yarn there and crocheted a small afghan for Hannah.
Every culture has some unique food or drink, and Turkey is no exception. On this vacation I enjoyed drinking Turkish coffee, my very first time having it. In fact I liked it so much that I brought some home with me, along with the tiny cups they serve it in, so if you come by for a visit I will try my hand at making some for you. A warning, it is thick so they serve a small glass of water along with the coffee. A friend of Heidi and Anthony’s gave me a set of these special glasses the night before we left.
Anthony and Heidi are doing life together with their neighbors and new friends. People can see that their faith shines out through the way they care for each other, how they talk to the children and how they go about learning Turkish. I know in time people will see the special gift Heidi and Anthony hold inside themselves.
It was difficult saying goodbye but we leave them in good hands–His. And I felt in good hands also because my Bible reading the morning we left Istanbul was Psalm 139. Check out verses 1-10.
Here at home I will help Isaac (grandchild #1) and Lauren move to Massachusetts on August 13—as he begins studies at Gordon-Conwell. Matthew has attended the Christian writers’ conference in Philadelphia (August 3-6), and I will concentrate on writing another book this month. Dietlinde is busy laying out the German version of Outrageous Grace and getting the children’s version ready for printing. Thank you for covering these projects with your prayers.
I know this letter is already longer than usual but I cannot close without saying thank you for your gifts. God, I’m convinced, multiplies your gifts to grow His kingdom. This is very obvious from I Kings 17:8-16, Matthew 14:13-21 and Luke 21:1-4. I’m especially thankful for friends like you who pray for and give to my efforts. Like the fires at Chimera in Turkey, which have burned bright for thousands of years, your prayers help to light my way in His plan!
Your servant for Christ,