Saturday, February 23, 2013

Recent Developments--At Home and Survey Trip to Istanbul

Jon and I in Taksim

With Jon on the ferry crossing the Bosphorous

Coastal view of the European side of Istanbul

Hagia Sophia

The Blue Mosque
Well, for those of you whom I haven't had a chance to catch up with recently, there have been some significant developments in the recent months.  They are significant enough that they warranted a new blog post, which sadly hasn't happened in many months.  First things first--since the last post on the blog I have begun dating Jon Gibson, a friend from my days at Northland and much more. ;)  We first dated when I was still a Northland student roughly two years ago, and now we are together again. [Insert the appropriate Muppet song here]  Next in the progression of news--as a result of Jon and I building a relationship, his current living arrangements being located in Istanbul, Turkey, and some brainstorming from earlier in the year, I flew to Turkey for about 10 days earlier this month in order to get a taste for how things work on the ground over there--everything from the food, culture, language, public transportation, to what the conditions are in the local churches over there.  I will also admit there was a definite element of wanting some clarity in my relationship with Jon and a chance to have some in-person conversations for the first time in the past two years.

As survey trips go, it was largely a success.  With the length of trip that I was able to take, there was ample time for having some deep, serious conversations with friends over there, and most extensively with Jon as well.  We were able to discuss future hopes, dreams, and goals without the pressure of time zone changes (8 hrs from Central Time to IST time) or the limitations inherent with gtalking or even Skype.  He was also able to introduce me to his circle of friends in the city there, and we got to spend a couple of the days seeing some historical sights and enjoying each other's company without being rushed or too busy to soak it all in.  As a result of this trip, I feel much more prepared and excited for what lies ahead in the next few years and attempting to plan possibilities for what's ahead.  Though there are plenty of major details still left in question, the trip did provide the much-needed clarity and at least some direction we were hoping for.  Getting to see the city, meet a lot of people, and reconnect with several friends from NIU were some highlights for me.

While I have traveled overseas before, this trip was new territory in many ways.  Having spent the majority of my previous travels in SE Asia, I was startled by some of the European aspects included in Turkish culture.  I had mentally prepared myself for a more Central Asian context, and I did have to adjust my expectations to a more Westernized city.  This is not to say that I did not enjoy the culture, but I did have a good laugh at my naivety in thinking that all experiences with a new culture would follow roughly the same pattern.  It is hard to compare SE Asian culture with an eclectic mixture of European and Central Asian.  What I have learned is that people are people wherever you go, and it is important to allow yourself time and space to absorb new cultures in a way that does not leave you angrily comparing it with your previous positive experiences.  There is beauty to each culture, and the way to glorify God in your interactions with each one is to appreciate the ways in which that culture uniquely reflects His glory (flawed though it will inevitably be).

I apologize for the length of the post and the lack of organization in thought.  Though I've been back home for over a week now, it is a complicated process of sifting through the conversations, observations, and experiences.  I have yet to fully process everything, but perhaps I will post again once the thoughts have fully settled.  For now, I am content with where I am, excited about where I am preparing to be, and extremely grateful for where I have been.

More later. :)


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