“My Easter didn’t turn out how I expected, but I did pray in the Catholic church, attend a service at the protestant church, listen to a podcast sermon, worship, walk through a park twice, and I got a great gift from the Lord, too! On my way to the meeting point to find the driver, I came across an adorable little boy who was running to his mum and she spoke English! So I ‘casually’ stopped to spy on them (it felt refreshing to hear English after struggling to communicate with hotel staff and the driver all day). She spotted me right away and struck up a conversation. She and her husband and little guy have been missionaries here for 3 years, pentecostal/apostolic, she’s traveled and ministered all over the middle east and the husband grew up a missionary kid in south pacific, but they both have a slight southern american accent. I can’t even express in words the joy and hope it brings me! I will see them later this week. They are an answer to many prayers! Praise God!”
Happy Easter, from Antioch/Antakya, Hatay Province, Turkey, where Christians started to form their own identity and gained a name!
I am here working for an international humanitarian aid organization as Environmental Health Manager focusing on hygiene promotion and community mobilization in the Syrian crisis, at least til the end of 2014. My first day at work is tomorrow!
My first few days here have felt like a rollercoaster, but I’m trying to keep myself level.
I wrote the following this morning in response to a friend:
“I am feeling out of place. I’m just in an awkward phase when I am not yet integrated. I’ve met 3/22 expats on the team. I am staying in a hotel. I think they wanted me to rest well and adjust to the time zone but when you’re alone in a new city in a hotel room, it’s amazing how much time there is and how loneliness creeps in. I am venturing out to the local Protestant church today for Easter on my own. Well the staff driver will take me there. To me it seems Christianity is so absent here. The receptionist didn’t know about Easter. Maybe I feel like Peter did when he first went out to share the gospel. The weird thing is, this is where it started to gain an identity, spread, and grow. And how sad that it is so lost now. What I fear a bit is that though this all seems to be great, it is void of meaning. I could have everything in this world that I want – a job, apartment, salary, hills to climb, and a beach nearby, but without family, friends, deep relationship and human connection, without a community centered in Christ and full of love, none of it would satisfy. But I trust in The Lord and cling to him.”
By evening, this is how I feel:
Even though the people here have a wide variety of skin and eye colors, I still manage to attract attention as a foreigner. I double checked with the hotel receptionist if I was dressed inappropriately and she said it has nothing to do with anything I have done, just that I am foreign. So much for blending in.