As I have been settling into life in Istanbul, one of the challenges I have taken on is learning the language. Turkish is a totally different language than anything I have ever experienced. They have words for seemingly everything. For example, they have a word for your grandpa on your dad's side as well as a different word for the grandpa on your mom's side. OR a word for your the aunt that married your dad's brother and another word if the aunt was your dad's sister.
The way Turkish works is it is a language built on suffixes and grammatically it is put together opposite of English.
Filme izle mac için dişari çikdik (Movie the watch in order to out went we)
We went out to watch the movie.
I have to totally flip the sentence structure in my brain when trying to speak and listen, which for a person who likes to speak at the rate of a million words per minute, can be really stressful and frustrating. I think this is one of the reasons I came to Turkey though, to slow down. Which is really funny considering this is one of the fastest moving cities in the world. People walk with purpose, drive with purpose, and talk with purpose. To try and slow down a Turkish person is to frustrate them. But here I am, a yabanci (Turkish for foreigner), slowing down from my lifestyle of going and going and going in the United States.
Looking back at what life was like a mere month ago, I was always going. I had things planned out, and when I didn't have anything on my calendar, I was confused. Was I forgetting something? Was I going to get a phone call asking where I was because I forgot a meeting? Even planning time to relax was exactly that, planned. There was an order to everything, but here in Istanbul, I don't have an order for anything.
I have learned here that life simply happens. You can set all the meetings you want with people, but you have to know that there is a 50/50 chance that you will actually have that meeting.
My girlfriend, Emily, often makes the joke (although it's more of a statement now) that we can't go anywhere in Oklahoma City (or anywhere in the country for that matter) without running into someone I know. To drive home the point, we were in St. Louis at a Cardinals game where there were 60,000 people and lo and behold, walking up the steps to the section right next to us was one of my high school best friends, Brock Lamkins. I quickly got, "are you kidding me?" from Emily when I waved down Brock and went to give him a hug. She couldn't believe I knew someone there.
Community is a very important thing to me. I wrote a little about it in my first post. I am very passionate about living life in community, and it's not a rarity for the group message (which group messaging is a beautiful thing by the way) that includes four of my closest friends I have in this world (the group message is called Uptown Funk) to be blowing up our phones at any given time of day. It has been dramatically different for me to go from a place of such tight-knit community to spending many of my days reading by myself in coffee shops with people speaking a language I barely (on a good day) understand.
That's where the Lord has come in. So many days (and nights) I find myself having long, deep, and honest conversations with the Lord where He allows me to share frustrations and confusions, but calmly points me to his word and promises of intimacy and sovereignty. "I am with you always, until the end of the age"
The Lord has used the total reversing of my mindset and perspective on life here to draw me closer to Him, and for that I am thankful.
Now don't get me wrong, I love it here! Turkey is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited and I am constantly in awe of the creation that is here. The people I have met and interacted with here have been encouraging and welcoming. I have shared many wonderful meals, cups of coffee (the coffee game in Istanbul is so strong), and afternoons. Getting to hear the heartbeat for worship from people here has been great and I am excited to see what I learn and what I can bring to the table in teaching them about worship.
In the midst of my being stretched and "isolation" my perspective has taken a complete 180 it seems like. The Lord has pressed in on why I do everything, highlighted where I run in the midst of weakness and shown areas of strength and weakness. My prayer is not to pray away days here when they are tough, but to press in for the Kingdom and to know that each day is a gift and mission in itself.