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.


  1. what a sweet story - and such a blessing that your son was with you! I have read a few of your posts and really enjoy your blog. What a great experience you're able to give your kids living abroad! Good luck with the lock down. I'll be adding you to my must read list!

  2. I love the story. I may share it with my kids. We are reading Carry on Mr. Bowditch. Her story has some similarities to his.