Mar 31, 2007

Been gone in Turkey...

     I am so sorry I have not been keeping up my responsibility to make you all giggle.  However, the entire power of my brain has been used to write a portion of a sniper textbook on camouflage (I will upload it sometime- even put my “Chia Cop” photo in the article).  

     I also have been in the country of Turkey.  My wife and I took some time off to go and visit some friends from our church who are missionaries there in the city of Diyarbikir.  I suppose that I could tell about some of the adventures on that trip, and share some photos. 

     The first night after we arrived, we took our friends out to their favorite restaurant.  The waiter in the photo is an ex-Hezbollah member, who became a Christian.  Obviously this has caused some problems with the Hezbolla homies, who came for him one Sunday while at church.  The pastor, a Turkish national and a really great guy, talked them out of blowing the place up, and letting their ex-member continue to attend and work at the restaurant. 

     The food was good; as soon as we sat down, the waiters started throwing plates of appetizers on the table, and of course I started eating them.  I ate something that seemed like a small, squishy lump of cold meat loaf with lots of curry; as soon as I finished it, my friend pointed to the dish and said "Don't eat that".  It seems that RAW lamb is a delicacy here. 

     My diet (in spite of the raw lamb) was killed here, as they have bread for breakfast, lunch, and dinner here.  And it is a very good bread, baked in these oblong, flat loaves that sort of resemble Big Foot print castings. 

    The next day was an adventure; I went into a Turkish bathroom (water closet) for the first time at a market, and I was not with my friend (who speaks Turkish).  I noticed something that looked like a long, community urinal, and stepped up.  Just as I was reaching for my zipper, someone came up to it, squatted down, and started washing in it.  It seems that this water closet was just outside a mosque and the trough was used for "ceremonial washing". 

     They probably would not have looked kindly upon the western infidel pissing in their holy washing place.  You might have read about the incident on the AP wire services....

"DATE LINE- ISTANBUL... Riot breaks out in Muslim population in Diyarbakir neighborhood; westerners are dragged out into street and beheaded in religious hysteria.  Reports close to the scene blame this outbreak of violence on a lone Christian zealot who purposely urinated into a ceremonial washing site.  Experts agree this is highly unlikely, as no one would be that stupid..."
     After that close call with the headline news on Al-Jezera news, I tried to be more sensitive (I still think it looks like a urinal).
     Next we were shown around the area.  Just outside the city is a Roman bridge built in about 50 BC, it is still in use as part of the highway system.
     It blew me away how much old stuff there is around there.  Here in Yakima, WA., we have a museum that has preserved an early army fort; the building is 140 years old.  I told that to some of the people in Turkey and they laughed; here they have underwear older than 140 years. 
     I spoke to this group on a Wednesday; it was a study on the book of Romans and they were eager to learn.  I had to speak through an interpreter, which made a 20 minute talk last 2 hours, but they are a great audience here.  The only problem is that when you greet or say goodbye to someone, you get kissed on both cheeks; add to that the men here only shave about twice a week- which leads to serious rug burn by the end of the day. 
    On Sunday I spoke at the Diyabakir Christian Church.  It is strange that this is the only evangelical church within 200 miles, in a city of over 1 million people.  I was (secretly) introduced to an undercover police officer who attends the service in order to keep tabs on what is going on.  I gave him a "YAKIMA POLICE" patch from one of my uniforms; I hope he thought it was cool.  I had heard before I went that there were undercover cops there, and while I preached to the crowd of about 90 people, I could pick him right out; cops look like cops, even in Turkey. 
     One day my friend took us to a famous Armenian Church ruin that is in the city.  You can't read about this city without hearing about the Armenians, who were slaughtered by the Turks about 100 years ago.  We went to the ruins, which I assumed would be controlled by some entry fee like part of a museum, but my friend pounded on the outer door, which was open by a little kid who let us in. 
      I went and sampled some of the local sweets.  I thought "Turkish Delight" would be really big, but it seems that this big lump of sweetened carrot candy is bigger.   It is about a 50 lb lump of this stuff, mixed with almonds; this guy would carve off a slice and roll it in coconut.  It's actually pretty good; but... candy from carrots?   Too healthy sounding to be really candy.
   I go back to work next Tuesday.  I did hear that there have been NO murders in my absence:  talk about the consideration of criminals!  I want to thank each and every one for saving their violence until I'm back on the job.