Friday, July 5, 2019

Istanbul by Night

Dave finished up his teaching this afternoon on the Early Church study tour that we've been on for the past 12 days.

He ended with "The Gospel and Your Witness", starting from the first chapter of Acts, where Jesus challenged his disciples, and us, to be his witnesses.

What is a witness? Simply someone who talks about what they've seen, heard and experienced!

He then took us to the end of that book, chapter 28, where it talks about proclaiming the Kingdom of God and gave us four ways to be a good witness for Jesus: be bold and don't skip talking about Jesus; be gentle and always prepared with an answer; be respectful and honor the person you're sharing with; and keep a clear conscience, not hiding what you really want to talk about!

What a great note to end on as we prepare to go our separate ways, back to the places God has called each of us to be witnesses in!

For Polly, that's back to Jackson, Wyoming where she is the headmaster for a classical Christian school in a challenging environment. They have faced many difficulties over the past five years, but God continues to pave the way for them to "cultivate within their students the wisdom and virtue necessary to discover their God-given potential and contribute to a flourishing and free society." She does an amazing job at standing firm in faith for her faculty and students!

It's been so special for Dave and I to get to be on this trip with Claire! She'll head back to her JV ministry with the JV Kids, preparing for their upcoming annual kid's camp in August.

This brother and sister will soon be reunited with their younger brother and sister as the family meets up together to finish vacation all together.

I pray they'll take what they've learned on this trip and begin to integrate it into their lives as they live out their faith in Jesus.

It's been a joy to have this much time with our dear friend, Manjola. Originally from Albania, we share a special bond with her as sisters in Christ, and because Caleb, our son/brother and his family, live and serve in her country!

For an hour, our group sailed down the Bosphorus, also known as the strait of Istanbul, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. It's an important waterway, with some beauty and interesting sights on its shores.

I don't know if there is any significance to the red color, but it adorns many houses along the water's edge, as do fancy buildings from years gone by.

As we've been in Turkey for the past week, I've noticed that they seem to fly their flag more than any other country I've been to, with the exception of the US!

Ginger caught this photo of Claire and I, back to back to support each other, commenting on and taking in all the different sights, houses, buildings and boats along the way!

What a pleasant way to begin our last evening together!

We made our way to the Kumkapı district, an area famous for its many fish restaurants, which is where we're dining for our final time.

The temperature was just about perfect this evening, making it possible to sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere of this quarter of the city.

We ate at Capari Restaurant, which I wanted to take note of because it was so good!

In most other places I took pictures of food to remember what exactly we had; but not tonight!

For one, there were so many different things that I'd have way too many photos to share (we had a lot of bites of different things, instead of huge portions - I loved that!). And for another reason, it was so much fun taking in all the sights, sounds, tastes and smells that I didn't think to take those photos of food.

But I did get other pictures! Oh how I love doing life with this man!!

Dena is a new friend from this trip, who was most enjoyable! I'll look forward to seeing her when we're back in Jackson sometime.

At the end of our meal, Aydin brought out special baklava that he'd gone to pick up earlier in the day; he said it was the best, and he was right!

Here he's giving us a lesson on how to properly eat, and enjoy, baklava!

Turkish musicians (really good ones!) came and serenaded us at the table, even coaxing one of our gals to get up and dance with them!

Next door was a famous ice cream spot, so we stopped there after dinner.

One of the guys in our group was given the chance to work with this unusually sticky ice cream to see if he could manage it as well as the owner.

As you can imagine, it's more difficult for novices!

We got back on the bus for one last ride ride through the city.

As the driver wound through the city, each person in our group, as well as our guide, had a chance to get on the mic and share what had been significant about the trip.

And we got to say some thank you's to those who made this trip possible: Steve and Polly, and Aydin, our guide!

Before we knew it we were back at the hotel, having to say our good-byes to part of the group who are leaving at 1 AM for the airport.

They won't get much sleep tonight! But for sure, none of wanted to miss one second of our last day together on this amazing trip together.

There are trips that mark you, and change the way you see life. This has been one of them. I'm grateful, so grateful, for the opportunity to spend these past days learning, growing and experiencing so many amazing sights, sounds, smells and tastes in Turkey and Greece.

Again Steve and Polly, thank you for the privilege of bringing Dave, Claire and I along with you. It was a joy and honor to share in these weeks with you and your team!

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