It has now been two weeks since our arrival in Turkey and it has been full of so many experiences I will never forget! Our days so far have been mostly spent at the place we’re staying taking classes and doing work projects, but we have also gotten a lot of chances to see Turkey and experience the Turkish culture. The culture shock was at first very overwhelming. Woman’s role in society is polar opposite of what it is in North America. There is pretty much complete separation of men and women in most aspects of society. Woman are not to look men in the eye’s or to initiate conversation. We were told basically not to engage with men if we can help it. For these next two months, men do not exist. Even with the two guys on our team, when we go out in public we are not supposed to joke around with each other as we usually would. It’s definitely something to get used to, but thankfully our team is made up of mostly girls, so it makes it much easier! But nonetheless I have really enjoyed the cultural change. Turks are very warm people. They are extremely hospitable and seem to love foreigners! We do get a lot of grace when it comes to the culture, because we are foreigners, but I don’t think we’re doing too badly! Last night we were able to go to a Turkish wedding. There is no such thing as crashing a wedding in Turkey, so through an acquaintance of a friend we were able to go! We stopped on the side of the road to a group of men sitting having tea. It was soooo awkward! There were no girls and only one guy that spoke English. We sat, had tea, and then were taken to where the real party was! The girls were in a room and the guys stayed outside while we all danced. We squeezed into the room that was literally packed shoulder to shoulder with a small space in the middle where maybe a half a dozen people were dancing. We stood at the back of the crowded room, all feeling slightly uncomfortable, not knowing a soul in the room. After a few minutes of awkwardly being pushed out of the way a few of us decided just to go for it. We stood in a group of younger girls, trying to mimic their movements. Slowly more and more people joined in, wanting to show the foreigners how things were done! It was so cool! It is so amazing to me the way that people can connect without communication. I can’t describe the feeling it gives me, but I love that that is the way God shows me His glory! We also had a chance to see the biggest mosque in Antalya. It’s so hard for me not to upload pictures to show everyone, but it was so incredible! I loved being able to see the way that they pray. Again, Turks are so hospitable, they treated us like royalty! After the mosque they took us to a place that overlooked all of Antalya where we had tea and just visited.
But I promise we’ve been working hard too! We have picked rocks out of the olive garden, painted chairs, laid pavers, and mixed cement. Me and two other girls are in charge of all the meal planning so every week we get to go shopping at the Pazar (the outdoor market). THAT is an experience in itself! You find ways to get around the language barrier and usually get what you’re looking for though. I think we’re almost getting the hang of it!
I am so thankful for all the opportunities we’ve had just to get out and really take everything in. This is so different from most Outreaches and so different from what we were all expecting, but I’m not complaining! This next week we will start to get more involved and interact more with Turks. We will be in a school this next week for the mornings and then doing more work projects here in the afternoons. Please keep praying for our team. There have been moments that have been very spiritually dark for some people and prayer has been a key focus in our time here. Thank you everyone for all your support and prayers! I look forward to when I can show you all pictures and share about all the things God has shown me here!