I have been back in the States for almost 2 weeks now. My “vacation” actually started two days early. Having received a call that one of my sisters collapsed at work, I flew home immediately. In almost 2 weeks, my Abla has gone from very grim hopes of survival, to talking and eating, enduring an 11 hour surgery, several procedures, and is now slowly recovering. Many thanks to all of my friends, family and acquaintances who have shown their support and love through all of this.
With all of the time I have spent sitting in waiting rooms recently, I have had a lot of time to ponder my life in Turkey. While I am there, certainly I miss lots of things from the States. The number one would be missing my family. But as I sit here in Chester County, I truly miss my life in Ankara.
Obviously, I miss my husband. He is a constant source of love, support, laughter and friendship. I miss the home we have built together. I miss my new friends. My kanka, who as soon as she heard the news, called numerous times, and as she is known to do, fed me! Since she couldn’t make me one of her lovely soups, meals, or desserts, she found an online shop based in my hometown and had a box of yummy chocolates sent to me, so that I would feel “warm and fuzzy.” Many of my Turkish friends, as my old friends here have done, have called and emailed on a regular basis, to check on my sister and to check in on me. Last night my American BFF and her husband had me laughing to the point of tears. I really needed that.
Friends and family are important in all cultures. But family in Turkey always takes precedence. They are tight-knit. One’s problem is everyone’s problem. My mother-in-law has learned the English words, “Get well soon.” She calls and in our limited language skills, I undertand that she asks how I am. She tells me she loves me. She tells me each and every one of the family who is praying for us and that send their love. Then she says, “Get well soon.” My brother-in-law is doing the same. He speaks English, so we get a little more out of our conversations.
Something I realized that I really love about Turks is the sayings they have for everything. Something we would call, “ni-ce-ties.” Even though strangers in the city rarely exchange greetings on the street, they do toss out a “nicety” every now and again. For example, when someone passes carrying a heavy load, or is sweeping the sidewalk, or is simply doing their job, a Turk will always call out, “Kolay gelsin.” May it come easy.
This week, I really picked up the full flavor of the term, “Geçmiş Olsun.” Get well soon. From my understanding, this is not something that is simply said to the sick. My mother-in-law used it to all of our family. Perhaps I am mistaken. But it is a beautiful idea that she wished all of us a “Get well soon.”
One thing that saddens me with the world is the lack of knowledge, the amount of ignorance. As much as we have the availability to learn anything we want, with the internet at our fingertips, what we are willing to learn is much more limited. Most Americans know absolutely nothing about Turks. I’m sure it’s the same with the Turks, but it seems most other countries are much more interested in other cultures than we are with theirs. I’m saddened by the fact that I meet Americans who think Turks are Arabs. I’m even more saddened that some Americans believe it is a bad thing to be Arab. I’m saddened by the lack of understanding of the Islamic religion, the lack of respect for it.
I find myself sticking up for Turkey, for its people, for its language, for its religion. Yesterday, as I sat in Church, reciting the prayers of the Stations of the Cross, I reflected on my belief in God and on His Son as our Lord. Lent is both a time of self-sacrifice, and a time to try to know our Lord better. A time to become closer to Him. I thought about the similarities and differences of Christianity and Islam. It doesn’t bother me at all that my Muslim brethren believe in Him as a prophet instead of part of the Holy Trinity. I’m told one can only enter Heaven through Jesus. I think that gives Muslims an open door. (Of course, I don’t believe any benevolent God would keep Jews, Buddhists, agnostics or atheists, etc, from entering either.) I find Islam beautiful. Their love for and respect of Jesus is beautiful. I could never be so self-righteous as to call my way, my belief in Jesus as God, the right way. My way is the way I know. It’s what I am comfortable with and I see no reason to change that.
I never have Muslims knocking at my door asking me to convert. I don’t know of anyone who puts me down because I believe in what they see as “multiple Gods.” I try to understand their beliefs which I feel makes me a much more tolerant person. I pray for Christians, that they will search for knowledge, that they will have respect, that they will not judge, that they will be more tolerant, that they will be Christ-like. And I pray for extremists everywhere that they will become less zealous and more tolerant. Afterall, we are all after the same thing, peace.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks here. If you have it in you, please keep my Abla in your prayers. If prayers aren’t your thing, good thoughts, well wishes, sending good karma is all appreciated too. It’s all good. My big sister is a strong woman, but she needs all the help she can get. Thank you and Peace.