“You haven’t eaten anything,” our hostess lamented. “Have some of these spinach pastries. All of this food has got to be eaten!”
After dinner when the ladies retired to the kitchen for Turkish coffee, I smiled to myself, remembering again how much I love Turks. I came here to share God’s love with them, but they have changed me in the process. The longer I’m here, the more I appreciate what I have learned from them.
If you came to have coffee with my neighbor, she would surely offer you some Turkish delight. I have a different offering for you this week: little tidbits of Turkish style wisdom. These are life-changing lessons Turks have taught me.
· Make Relationships a Priority
Turks live in community. Friends and family talk to each other almost daily and see each other often. (We Westerners would probably call this co-dependency.) At my neighbor’s dinner gathering, two of the couples had also gone to breakfast together the same day. The women visit each other every Thursday. They are lifelong friends who live in community.
· Be Available to your Friends and Open to Interruptions
Many Turks will drop almost anything if friends call and ask, “May I come over right now?” As a Westerner I program and schedule my life down to the last hour, and I have a hard time putting aside my plans for friends who call to ask, “Are you free now?” I wonder how many serendipities I miss when I’m not open to interruptions?
· Make Room for Spontaneity in Your Life
Once my husband and I had plans to have dinner with a younger Christian couple. One hour before our dinner guests were set to arrive, my close friend Esra called.
“We haven’t had water in our apartment for 3 days. Can we come take showers at your house?”
I thought for a minute: Not only would our quality time with the couple be ruined, but I would need to then feed Esra’s family as well. I asked her if she had any other options and explained that we were expecting guests, but I’ve wondered what lovely chaos would have resulted if I’d said, “Sure, come on over!”
· Practice Hospitality
Turks can teach us the gracious art of hospitality, whether it’s offering a dish of nuts and dried fruits or a 5 course meal. The important thing is opening our hearts and our homes to friends.
· Make Time for Slow Food and Slow Life
My favorite slow food is sarma. It takes me 3 hours to make the filling and stuff the grape leaves. I tell myself, “I have three hours to enjoy cooking. I don’t have to hurry through life.” But I haven’t really learned this lesson because I only make sarma twice a year!
· Respect Your Elders
When was the last time you kissed an older person’s hand? Turks do it all the time.
So that was my box of Turkish delight for you. These are some things that make me love Turks.
If you have travelled or live overseas, what have you learned from your hosts?