The holidays went by with a flurry of activity and snow, and I’m just now realizing that I have not written a blog post to end 2016. I had hoped to have more good news about my business venture but things have been slow going and so for this post I’ll just stick to the more enjoyable holiday news and local happenings.
In November I spent a delightfully restful 37th (gasp!) birthday weekend with my friend Kate and her family. I enjoyed escaping Ankara for the clean and organized ways of Zurich, and for a little gluten free eating/shopping. But best of all was meeting Reese and reconnecting with a dear friend. Kate, thank you for a peaceful weekend filled with love!
At the end of November and into December I went with my friend Cozby to Sarajevo for a Women’s Prayer Training, of sorts. It was really spiritually uplifting and we learned a lot. It was interesting to see how so much in the city still spoke of the war 10-years past. Bullet holes still riddle most of the buildings and there are many memorials documenting different aspects of the war. I appreciated that they are choosing not to forget, perhaps as a way to never repeat the tragedy. If anyone has read a good book on the war I’d be interested in reading it, I was woefully unprepared for the history that Sarajevo contains. Some places you visit and then you feel like you can cross them off your list and never go back, but I would happily visit Bosnia again.
December was a busy time! I survived another residence permit renewal process and just last week my new permit arrived in the mail. We also moved into a new apartment. We loved our old place but for several reasons needed to move. Our new place has already proven to be a blessing in many ways, which will become evident as this post continues. A short timeline should suffice:
December 22: Furniture for new apartment delivered. Hours of assembly ensued.
December 23: Officially transitioned to new apartment. Our first two guests (from Egypt and Mexico) arrive for the weekend.
December 24: Special Christmas program at church.
December 25: 36 friends (including a few random people we had never met) came over for a Christmas Dinner party. We were especially grateful for our Iranian friends who prepared the main course, significantly lightening our food preparation. It was a wonderful evening that could not have happened in our old smaller apartment!
But everything had been so crazy that after this point I had completely lost my voice and took a vacation day and a sick day. Of course due to all the company, I still have unpacking to finish!
December 30: Two good friends from Istanbul arrived (with their two friends from Canada/Armenia). An evening dinner and study with them and our Iranian friends, 12 total, was a fun way to start another busy weekend in our home.
December 31: Sabbath afternoon 26 friends came over to celebrate the New Year with dinner and games. I’m pretty sure that at this point my neighbors were wondering if there would ever be peace and quite in their building again!
Last weekend we had another house guest (from Guinea Bissau but studying in Ankara). And on Sunday evening my good friend Olga (Russian) and her husband (Turkish) came over for dinner and a movie. When we first moved to Turkey we never would have thought that our friends would be such an international group!
Although we only moved a block and a half down the street from our old apartment, the Lord has already richly blessed and changed our lives. I love how He provides just what we need in order to accomplish His will. This past year I started a bullet journal. I’ve always enjoyed intentionality and every year I also set goals and choose a new word that sums up what I want my new year to be. Last year my word was TIME and I focused on how I was spending my time. The year before that was REST which was just what I needed to do in many areas of my life in order to survive that year’s move to Turkey. This year I wasn’t going to pick a word, but a word has clearly chosen me and it’s so appropriate to the Middle Eastern culture that I’m slowly adopting. HOSPITALITY. In 2017 hospitality has already played an increased role in my everyday life. This is requiring new skills that I’m starting to learn. Last week one of my Iranian friends taught me how to make a traditional Iranian meal, and one of my Turkish friends showed me how a Turkish handicraft was made. She also represents the epitome of Turkish hospitality and I love learning from and spending time with her.
In 2017 I also plan to read more books (last year’s 33 fell short of my goal), dive back in to Turkish language learning, and Lord-willing will have my business open in a few months. I don’t know what else the new year will bring but I can’t wait to find out!