Monday, March 26, 2012

Never Say Never

Homeschooling was something I said I’d never do.  

That was for geeks and fringe types, right? If I lived in America, I’m not sure if I would home school or not, but in 2003, the thought of my 6 year old struggling to learn reading in a language he barely knew was not very appealing. 

Early Home School Activity

So his first year of school, my son went to Turkish kindergarten three afternoons a week, and did English home school in the morning.  He actually hated kindergarten, which I’d always thought was supposed to be fun. One of my worst memories of our first year in Turkey is of a morning in November, months after school had started. My gregarious, outgoing son, whom I’d supposed was adjusting well, burst into tears and clung to my waist.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Rescue Lunch for Chaos Days

What do you do on those chaos days when cooking seems overwhelming? It’s tricky around our house because my kids did not grow up eating sandwiches, and frozen convenience foods are non-existent. For me, a great rescue lunch using simple ingredients from the pantry is hummus.  We serve it with toasted pita bread wedges, carrot sticks and cucumbers for dipping. Finish off with sweetened vanilla yogurt for desert, and you have a great meal.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Unlikely Friend, Unlikely Sister

Unlikely friends

“Would this bright, beautiful Turkish girl even be interested in spending time with a middle aged American housewife like me?” That was my question when I met Bahar about 8 years ago. She was a social butterfly with a million friends, a Chrstn graduate student from a Mslm background. I was a stay at home mother, unsure about what kind of ministry I could possibly have outside my home since caring for my husband and two kids was overwhelming enough.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Living Through Elevator Fiascos and Other Changes

The cross-cultural life is an adventure, but it’s not always comfortable.  You never quite fit in.  Things are always changing. When you’re in your foreign country, it takes years to learn the culture and language and make friends. You miss home. 

Then you visit home and feel out of place. You don’t even know how to push the buttons in an elevator. This happened to me the other day. In an airport elevator, I pushed what I thought was the second floor button, but nothing happened.  I pushed it several times before realizing that I was actually pushing a label. The button was the RAISED KNOB next to the second floor label, so I tried pushing it quickly and hoped the man standing next to me hadn’t noticed!  Every time I come home, I forget how to work the little machines at cash registers that take your credit and debit cards. It feels like learning to walk all over again.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

How to React to Life's Unexpected Turns

Have you ever noticed that no matter how carefully you plan, life has a way of taking unexpected turns?  Last Wednesday my daughter and I spent the night in Helsinki, Finland, the last place on earth I would have expected to visit. We had just the clothes on our backs. No pyjamas. No toiletries.

A bus stop in Helsinki

My husband and son were travelling from Turkey to the United States on a different airline, and we planned to meet up in New York City to spend a day sightseeing before we continued our trip home together.  I was excited because I’ve dreamed about going to New York City all my life. We planned our day carefully: Ground Zero, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Broadway, and Lombardi’s pizzeria.

The first hint that things were not going as planned came when we checked in for our flight.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Grumbling Guests or Thankful Visitors?

Last night I landed in New York with my daughter, and today today we continue our travels with my husband and son.

 Here is a re-post on one of my favorite pet peeves: we foreigners who complain about our host countries:


When you live overseas, it’s easy to fall into the habit of criticizing everything you find different or challenging in your host culture.  In Turkey, foreigners complain about bureaucracy, disorganized traffic, lack of planning, people arriving late, people arriving early, or people not showing up at all.  It’s easy to see the negative side of everything.  I should know.  I just spent one and a half hours waiting in two lines in order to apply for a new cell phone account.  It was my third trip to the cell phone shop in one week.

Cultivating Wonder and Thankfulness

Instead of grumbling about my host country, I want to cultivate a sense of wonder and thankfulness for God’s allowing me to be here.  Recently I wrote about life changing lessons I've learned from Turks.  Last month I had several “Where else but Turkey?” experiences that reminded me again to appreciate the kindness and generosity of Turks.