Sunday, July 30th
Yesterday Geoffrey and I went out with Dr. Nieburg. He gave us a tour of the base, which really is pretty small. Then we drove off base, through the village of Incirlik. The name is pronounced In-Jer-Lick by the Turkish. The 'c' is pronounced as a 'j'. The village is right outside the gates of the base and is supported by the military shopping and dining. The two or three streets of shops are called 'The Alley'.
He then drove us to Adana, the city near the base. We got to experience a little of how the Turks drive. Not aggressive per se but they don't pay attention to lanes at all and use their horn liberally. I think I will glad to have my big beast as it will force the Turks to see me and get out of my way, I think. The city has a gorgeous mosque that I want to go tour soon, a beautiful riverside park surrounding it, and further up a large lake formed by damming the river. We only saw a few women in headscarves and none in full burkas. Many of the Turks were lighter skinned that I had imagined (based on what?) and several could be mistaken for Anglo Americans. I especially loved to see the older men with their olive skin and pure white hair. Its such a striking look.
On the way back through the Alley we stopped to meet the man who is going to get us a rental car. We will have to deal with a 6 passenger car as it is a third of the price of a 7 passenger car and there are no seatbelt or car seat laws here, either on base or off. So Rory and Evan will just have to double up if we want to drive somewhere altogether. He didn't have the car that day but was hopeful he would have it on Monday.
We stopped for some lunch then. It was 2pm and neither Geoffrey or I had eaten since about 5am. The Turks are observing Ramadan (called Ramazan here) right now so we weren't sure that the restaurants would be serving but we found one that was. It had a lovely picture menu with English titles. Some humorous almost-American ones like Meat and Cheese Bread (pizza), Gordon Bleu (Chicken Cordon Bleu), and The Joe Montana (Chicken breast, mushrooms and cheese, I have no idea why). They brought us really good flat bread with some amazing sauce spreads including this minced garlic in butter which was delicious! Then a salad with fresh mint leaves which was so good, and our entrees. French fries are cips here. If the 'c' has a little comma hanging off it, it becomes the 'ch' sound. I had a Home Make Kebab, which was a roll of flat bread stuffed with spiced meat. Sooo yummy! No ice in the sodas, tiny glasses. Geoffrey had the Joe Montana.
Then we went back on base and stopped by the outdoor rec to rent three sorry looking bicycles with even sorrier helmets to use to get around. We left them there to come back with the boys and pick up and went to the commissary/BX to get some groceries and other necessities. I haven't shopped in a commissary for quite a long time. Its very small but will be adequate, I'm sure. Quite a change from my super HEB though. My best discovery there? Cherries grown here in Turkey are $1.35 a pound! And they are so big and so sweet. And they have this Turkish Greek Yogurt that is divine!! Oh, and they only sell milk in half gallons. So that is a lot of milk containers for our family.
I managed to get a few days worth of groceries and then met Geoffrey and Dr. Nieburg, who had gone to the BX, at the car. We went home, dropped off our purchases, and then Dr. Nieburg drove Brannick, Carson, and I back to Outdoor Rec so we could ride the bikes home.
In the evening it had cooled off so the whole family walked to the BX to get a few more things we had thought of and we told the kids about what we had seen that day. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the BX. While there we caught some of the Olympic men's gymnastics on the big TVs in the back. We discovered that the foodcourt has a Taco Bell, a Burger King, a Pizza Hut and a Baskin Robbins. So if we get a junk food craving, we won't die. I wish I could trade them all in for a Wendy's, a Firehouse Subs, a Sonic and an Orange Leaf. But you can't have everything. On the way home we stopped at one of several small playgrounds in the housing area and let the kids play on the teeter totters.
Geoffrey determined that in order to get back on schedule we all needed to stay up late that night so we could sleep all through the night. So after we ate and cleaned up dinner, we played cribbage. And got completely giddy. Well, Geoffrey didn't. But the rest of us were pretty bad. I got the giggles so badly that I could hardly breathe. We kept begging to go to bed but we stayed firm and kept playing until midnight, at which point Geoffrey said we could all go to bed. Strangely enough, at that point we didn't feel all that tired. But with the help of a sleeping pill, I slept all night and woke up feeling pretty good at about 8am. Geoffrey and Carson had gotten up earlier, about 6, and gone on a bike ride. The mornings and evenings really aren't too bad here temperature wise.
Dr. Nieburg came by about 10 and was greeted at the door by me in my red polka dot Pjs with the pink ruffles. Classy, huh? But what can you do? I invited him in and went to get Geoffrey, who had gone back to sleep. They took off to go tour the Med Group building so Geoffrey could get his bearings while the building was empty.
Meanwhile I started in on all the ironing that needed to be done. Normally I don't iron. I don't like ironing and I'm not as good at it as Geoffrey is. But he was off with Dr. Nieburg and all the Sunday clothes had been in suitcases so they had to be ironed.
We got ready for our 2 pm church service and walked to 5 minutes to the base chapel. I wore my blue/green/black skirt that is wrinkly on purpose and my never fail dress barn white jacket, which Geoffrey ironed while I wasn't looking. And my hair looked amazing, which is important when you go someplace new, so you can stop worrying about how you look.
The chapel is very Catholic looking, which I love. It has those fold down padded kneeler benches under each pew. No stand up front, just a raised dias. And there is a drum set in the corner. (That's not Catholic, Brannick says that is Hippie Church). Apparently there were quite a few families on vacation because our family made up about a third of the congregation today. The Elders Quorum President blessed the sacrament – one bread tray and one water tray. Carson passed. He was a little nervous because he forgot to pass to the Branch President first, forgot the pianist altogether and forgot to let the EQ president pass the sacrament to him. But by the water, he had gotten it all figured out.
Sacrament meeting had one speaker and then the primary kids went off to one CTR class (junior primary) and one Valiant class (senior primary). Rory fell asleep right after the sacrament and stayed asleep through the rest of church. For the adults (and the youth today) Sunday School was combined and so was the third hour. We had a great Sunday School lesson and then the Branch President, who is about 26, read some comments from a Conference address about the scriptures and then asked each of us to share a favorite passage. It was a nice way to hear from each person and nice that my three kids participated and were treated like adults.
There was one other new family who has been here about 3 weeks. They have a 16 year old son named Ryan. He and Brannick said about 2 words total to each other (of course) but I talked to him and asked if he had though about going on any of the upcoming teen trips and if he would like to go with my kids so he would know someone. (Sneaky mom, right? Stick two boys who vaguely know each other on a trip with a lot of strangers and they might actually get to know each other.) I spoke to Ryan's mom on our walk home and she liked the plan. She also had a 10 year old son whom she is going to sign up for the Vacation Bible School coming up. I had already planned on signing up Rory and Evan for that as well. So some good things. All in all, church was interesting. Both familiar and totally different. But full of good people and the same gospel. I think we will like the branch.
Brother Bowen walked us home and talked with my two older boys. He is the Young Mens President and promised to come by and get them for Scouts this week. He has a 17 year old daughter (his youngest) who is in Germany at girls camp right now. After our dinner he called and invited us over to play games and have dessert. It was just him at home – his wife is in Germany also – so it was very kind of him to have us over. He taught us a couple of fun games, Cat and Mouse which is a dice game played with corks on strings and a large pot lid. And Pounce, which is a partner version of Nertz and very fun. The kids decided that they all liked it better than Nertz. He showed us the carpets he has bought here and many other fun treasures from places he has traveled.
We reluctantly left about 10:30 and walked across the park to our backyard. Brother Bowen happens to live on Commander's Circle and is a big muckity muck here on the base. He has been in the military for 22 years now. But he's just 'Brother Bowen' and as humble as can be. I love how the church culture disregards the accolades of the world and equalizes everybody. Our branch president is only on his second active duty assignment and looks green as can be but everyone calls him 'President' and accepts him as the man God wants to lead this branch. On the walk home the kids decided that Brother Bowen will be their surrogate uncle here. The many crayon pictures on his frig attest to the fact that we are not the only family in the branch who feel that way about him.
Well, it is 1:30 in the morning and I'm not sleepy. Should have taken another sleeping pill I guess. I am hopeful that we will be able to get internet soon so I can start up a blog and actually post these ramblings so you can read them! The kids want to check out the library, the teen center, the pool and the free mini golf. I am so glad that we won't be stuck at home all day without a car. I wonder now if we really will need to buy that mini van.