Thursday, February 14, 2013

Mud, Fish and Camels

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! Hope you felt loved today.

This holiday is double duty at my house because my husband was a Valentine's baby. He is one who doesn't like a lot of fuss. Three years ago I threw a surprise party for his 40th and I'm not sure he has recovered from the shock yet. Today I took him to lunch and recited the names of all the people he works with that I have seen in the last few days to whom I could've mentioned that his birthday was today but didn't.  He said that my restraint was the best present I could've given him. That's a good thing since Amazon has once again proved that prime doesn't apply to Turkey and the golf bag he picked out for his gift has not yet arrived.  And since the gate is still closed our romantic dinner out will be at the bowling alley. meh.

I spent most of today taking Rory to apply for his new tourist passport and then taking all the rest of the kids to apply for new residency permits which had expired when our military passports had. Its amazing how much paperwork is involved in living overseas! But as least I can check those important things off my hanging over my head to do list.

Today I wanted to post some pics of some of the crazy things they do here on base to keep us all from going well,  crazy.  I have to say that the base does a great job in providing family friendly activities.

This is the before picture.
This was the Dirty Dash. My 2nd and 3rd decided to participate and Delaney made their great T-shirts with cut out letters and a spray bottle of bleach.
The after picture!! They came in last but they finished!
The race turned out to be a bit more challenging than they realized but they both had a great time with the mud pits. They were a complete mess when they finished.
Here is a shot of some friends from our church group. The team on the left is the "Mormon Mafia" and the pretty girls in the middle are the "Dirty Dancers."
The Fall Festival was a great event as well. It included some great Turkish food, a camel ride -
or a ride on this contraption.  I almost lost my lunch just watching but Carson loved it.
Most recently, they filled the base pool with fresh water and brought in a bunch of trout. It's hard to see them in this photo but they are there, swimming in a tight circle in the deep end and mostly ignoring the corn and shrimp skewered on the hooks.
Here you can see the fish better. Brannick caught one but it flipped off the hook before he could haul it up over the side of the pool.

Delaney is the only one of my five who managed to get a fish all the way out of the pool. Here she is with her gutted and cleaned fish. She was pretty excited. Not excited enough to eat it though when we cooked it that night. She's not a fish fan.

So there you have it. Life on base can be a bit surreal - like that show with Jim Carrey where he's on a TV set and doesn't know it? Everything here is controlled and contained and very very small. Sometimes its nonsensical. Just this week they changed the speed limit from 40 kmh to 25kmh. That's a drop from 25mph to about 18. It kills me to drive that slow. And I can't really see how dropping from sloth pace to snail pace is going to save any lives. But there are a lot of good things. With people constantly leaving and arriving, the base expends great effort to create a sense of community here. As part of that community, I appreciate that.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In the details

May you live in interesting times. Ever heard that Chinese blessing/curse? Well, here in Turkey we are living in interesting times. Too much to talk about but the upshot is we are all safe and we are all restricted to base for the foreseeable future. Of course, that limits my ability to have Turkish travel adventures and share them with loved ones through this blog. But that's okay.  We are safe and have a great community here on base and everything we need.

When things get challenging its so easy to complain, isn't it? As a family I think we've been handling everything great but this morning I had an experience that I feel was a little tender mercy. It was very windy today so I offered to drive Delaney to school so her hair wouldn't get messed up. (She is singing the national anthem in an assembly today and wanted to look nice.) I needed to go to the commissary to get a bag of gumdrops to build molecule models anyway. Evan wanted to come along so he hopped in the back.  We dropped Delaney off, navigating the inconvenient construction road closures, and headed to the commissary. Just before we turned into the parking lot I saw an older Turkish woman sitting on a corner waiting for the shuttle bus. I had met her once before at my neighbor's house so I waved to her.  She came over to the car to say hello.  I asked if she needed a ride. She said she needed to go clean a house in Phantom housing, back near the school where we had just come from. But we weren't in a hurry and I hated for her to wait in the wind so I offered to drive her.

On the way I asked her how she had learned her very good English. From working on base she said. She also liked to watch the English news because they spoke proper English with no accent or slang. Then she began to tell me about her life. How she had worked since the age of 10. Before that age she cared for younger siblings while her mother worked. They were very very poor and she had never had the chance to go to school. She used to cry and ask God to allow her to attend school but she never was able to and felt embarrassed that she couldn't read and write.  She didn't tell it as a lament. None of the martyr 3 miles in the snow barefoot uphill both ways pathos. She was cheerful and happy as she spoke.

As an adult she would buy small candies and chocolate so the neighborhood children would come to her house to do their homework. Then she would learn along with them.  She eventually learned to read and write and was able to get her driver's license. She also taught herself Arabic so she could read the Koran. She kept saying how she wasn't very smart but was grateful to God to have the chance to learn to read and write.  As if a person who taught themselves Turkish, Arabic and English with no formal schooling or tutoring could ever be considered 'not smart'!

As she got out of the car she turned to Evan and told him to work hard in school. This is the child who complains if he has to write more than a sentence a day!! He had been listening attentively to her story and I had been silently thanking God that he was with me to hear it.

Remember I had only met this woman once. She had, in fact, mistaken me for someone else who drives a white mini-van which was the only reason she came over to the car.  The house cleaning appointment was for an inspection and she had a dead-line in the early afternoon. She said that she had been praying and wondering how she was going to get to the house in time to finish the cleaning. And then I drove up because God sent me to her.

God is there in the details of our lives. My son needed to hear her story. I needed to hear it. And God wanted to bless a faithful woman who has worked so hard to improve herself.  Remember that Geoge Strait song, "I saw God today"? Well, me too.