Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Turkey Part III: July 1st-8th (Ephesus, Izmir and Istanbul)

"I pray also that the eyes of your heart would be enlightened in order that you may know the hope  to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints and His incomparably great power for us who believe..." ~Ephesians 1:18-19

Considering I have been back in Romania for almost 2 weeks, I thought it was due time to write my final update on Turkey. After wrapping up our time in Ankara, Jenny and I headed to Ephesus and Izmir (Smyrna) for a few days of vacation before heading back to Istanbul.


Before I left for Turkey, I decided to read through the book of Ephesians as well as review Acts and Revelations as a way of preparing myself for seeing Ephesus. In Revelations, Ephesus is referred to as the church that lost her "first love". Jenny and I got up early Sunday morning and walked to the top gate of Ephesus. Upon entering the ruins, we were transported back in time. As we walked through the ruins, I imagined Paul there and could not help but feel a little sad, knowing that this place had once heard and received the gospel. But thankfully I know He is not done with Turkey yet. After visiting Ephesus, we also visited the ruins of the Basilica of St John where John, the beloved disciple, is said to be buried. Discovering that the Aegean Sea was just a short bus ride away, we then headed to the beach for a quick visit. I loved getting to observe families together, including many women fully covered, yet fully enjoying themselves in the water.

Jenny and I with the Library of Celsus in the background
Hadrian's Temple, Ephesus

Theater~Ephesus (imagining Acts 19)

Basilica of St John

Baptisitry at Basilica of St John's

Playing in the Aegean Sea


We took the train to Izmir (Smyrna) Monday morning and were able to explore the city for a few hours. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring the maps with us, so we ended up walking all over the city. In Revelations, Smyrna is called the "persecuted church". Jenny and I visited the ruins from the old city and then meandered through an area called Havra Sokagi, which is in the old Jewish area. Going to Izmir (and especially the Jewish area) was quite meaningful to me as my paternal great-grandmother, Molly, was born in Smyrna.
Church in Izmir
Along the seaside in Izmir
Ruins from the ancient city of Smyrna
Old Jewish area of Smyrna
Havra Sokagi

We flew from Izmir to Istanbul Monday evening, landing on the Asia side and then taking an hour bus ride to the Europe side, where we had booked a hostel. Getting to our hostel was a bit of an adventure, but once we arrived we found it to be a wonderful and convenient place to stay. Jenny was a great tour guide, taking me to the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia (a church that was built in the 500s), Grand Bazaar, Spice Bazaar, Chora Church etc. We also took a ferry to the Princes Islands to spend one day away from the craziness of Istanbul. Every day He gave us opportunities to speak of His love, whether it be with a roommate at the hostel, a tour guide or even a waiter at a restaurant. We may not know the outcome, but we know for sure seeds were planted.
Posing with the Turkish flag~on the ferry to Princes Island
Jenny at Princes Island (Sea of Marmara)

Inside the Blue Mosque

Courtyard of the Blue Mosque

Marble door inside Hagia Sophia

Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar
Grand Bazaar~an overwhelming experience!

Mosaic of the apostle Peter in the Chora Church

View of Istanbul from Seven Towers
Before coming to Istanbul, Jenny had been in contact with a woman who heads up a ministry for refugees coming to Turkey. As it turned out, we were staying in the same area, so we were able to visit with her.  Unfortunately, Turkey does not offer much hope to refugees and the stories we heard we overwhelming. Yet, we were blessed to then hear amazing stories of how God is revealing Himself to many of the refugees, knowing that He is our only true hope. His timing is also amazing.  Jenny's home church had a missions team in Istanbul at the same time we were there and they were planning to be at the refugee center the very same day that we visited (without us knowing), thus we were able to meet up with them for some sweet fellowship and prayer on our last night in Turkey. 
Jenny's church brought over suitcases of dresses from Dress A Girl Around the World
On our very last walk through the city, I noticed a building with a Romanian flag. While looking at the building, I was approached by a man who questioned me on why I was interested. I responded that I am currently living in Romania and that I love the country. He turned out to be a Romanian who is living in Istanbul and helping to open a Romanian cultural center. After speaking in Romanian for a while, he invited Jenny and I in for a "sneak peek" of the grand building~ highlight of my last day in Turkey: having my picture taken with a group of Romanians and the Romanian flag!

Posing with the Romanian flag in Turkey
Posing with Romanians living in Istanbul

Saying goodbye to Jenny~Istanbul airport


samyeli Adnan said...

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samyeli Adnan said...

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