Praise the Lord for such a beautiful city as Istanbul!! The first couple days of VBS have been wonderful and challenging all at the same time. Things are definitely coming together as each day continues. We are getting used to the kids, and they are getting used to us. After a few schedule glitches, we’ve hit our stride and each day it’s a true joy and pleasure to get to know the children’s hearts a bit more.
Our days begin at 8 AM where we have team time and some good corporate time in the Word. We then take a ferry across the Bosphorous (a strait that connects the Black Sea and the sea of Marmara). That time is the best time for our team to meet local Turks and make connections with them for later in the evenings. Joe, Chris and Bret have met a few young Turkish men that they have connected with at least once while we have been here. Additionally, Beth has met a few Turkish women, one with whom she and Katie have been able to meet and even visit a Mosque. We are all learning a great deal about Islam and the culture here as we meet locals, as well as refugees.
Our hosts, Jen and Armando, are gracious and have been wonderful to have us during our time here. The local Turks we have met are also very hospitable and inviting. This part of Istanbul is definitely different than Chicago in that people are freely inviting strangers into their homes and lives for dinner, tea, and to share life. It’s been a blessing to be here.
The call to prayer goes off five times a day. It can be heard through loud speakers all throughout the city. It has broken the hearts of our team to hear others calling to a god that isn’t the Redeemer. Yet, it’s made me wonder if my heart is as broken when I “call to” things other than God.
Thank you for all of your notes, prayers and letters. It has been a great encouragement to our team and the prayers are deeply felt and acknowledged. Please continue to pray for the children attending VBS. Pray that the truths that they are hearing daily with the songs, crafts, and teaching would sink into their hearts. Pray that our love for them will translate and last well beyond our time here in Turkey. Please also pray for the local men and women that members of our team are meeting with. Pray that we wouldn’t be hesitant to share truth and love on them, despite some differences in thought process.
A friend recently shared Ephesians 2:10 to me which has been very encouraging, and I would like to share that with you: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for Good Works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Praise the Lord that this has been true of our trip so far, and pray it will continue to be.