(April Blog) Things Are Hotting Up!

 

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Linda, The Cat Whisperer.

It’s May 1st and the temperature here in Antalya is already hotter than in the height of an English summer.

 

There were a couple of days in April when we were genuinely concerned about how we will survive the heat in July and August.

In the ministry also we have really started to get into the swing of things with Persian.

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A Fairly Typical Encounter With Persians in the Ministry – Linda is in The Middle Somewhere.

And in the congregation and with our studies it seems that the Devil has been doing his best to make life difficult for everyone.

As of today though, everyone is doing amazingly well in the face of adversity and the work is continuing on apace.

Patrick, my Nigerian study, has now joined the school and he is really keen to start with the preaching work. We are still only on chapter 8 of the Teach Us book so his progress is fast.

His life is not easy and every month he is under a lot of pressure as we all are, but for him with very limited resources, it is extra difficult.

He will have his residency interview in a couple of days and we are praying that things will go well so that he may stay here. If he is not able to though I am convinced that nothing will stop his spiritual progress at this point. His desire to serve Jehovah and his understanding of the cost of discipleship is very clear and strong.

We have also been enjoying some nice experiences in the ministry with the Persians, at first when we started holding the meetings in Persian I thought to myself, is it really worth it since there is only a handful of us attending that actually understand the language?

But already we are starting to see the benefit.

For example, one Bible study from Afghanistan, not pictured above, was previously attending the meetings with us in English but he has little or no English comprehension.

After attending the special talk in Persian he confided in us that the meeting had probably saved his life.

This is what he explained…

Before coming to Turkey he had been a drug dealer in Afghanistan. The money he got from his “work” paid for a nice sports car which his girlfriend was driving one day with his child as the passenger. They were both killed in an accident.

Since this happened he has been so numb from grief and guilt that he has not really felt that he was alive.

Though he has tried to repent and change his life by coming to Turkey and being law-abiding he has found life very hard here, to the point where he has been sleeping on the streets.

The day before the Persian meeting he contacted a “friend” back in Afghanistan and told him that he was thinking of coming back. The contact told him that he had a job for him working with the Taliban and involving drugs and guns.

Even though he did not like the idea he just thought to himself that at least this way he would be able to eat.

Then he came to the meeting and heard the special talk in Farsi. It touched his heart to the point that he says that since then for the first time in a long time he has felt like a real human being again and he changed his decision to return to Afghanistan.

His Bible study continues and we will see how far on the path of life it takes him.

One day last month in the market I met an Iranian man. His name is ######. Our encounter was fairly typical, we say a greeting in Farsi, they are so amazed that they stop and have a conversation.

They express their delight at our efforts to learn the language and give us their phone number.

As you can see from the photo he is quite a character and has lived for a long time in the Persian community in Chicago. In Chicago, he owns a couple of restaurants and his brother is a major businessman owning many large parking complexes in Chicago.

Right now he is living in Turkey.

We have kept in touch and the other day we were able to meet and speak about the truth.

He was very interested but his wife ##### was even more interested.

She was fascinated to learn that God’s name is Jehovah and that there is no hellfire.

Since then Linda has been trying to get together with her to cement the study but it has been a challenge because they have been moving apartment and they are half in the old one and half in the new, a busy time for them.

However, just a couple of days ago she called Linda. This was amazing because ##### said that even though she had been cleaning the new place all day and was tired she did not want another day to go by without meeting up with Linda.

So they met and discussed a few more points including the idea of the resurrection and of living forever on earth.

Living on earth forever with no death was a fascinating and thrilling new concept for Maria and sure enough, a study was started.

This is the beauty of the field here, most of the Persians we talk to have never heard of Jehovah’s Witnesses or anything about the truth.

Just going back to the earlier picture of ########, it was funny because at one point during that Bible study I whispered to Dominic, who was with us on that call, “these guys are really spiritually hungry.” At which point they leaped up and started to put the stove on and scramble around in the cupboards for food. I suddenly realized that they had thought I had said that I was hungry. So I had to stop them and explain what I meant. There was a lot of laughter as you can imagine.

This experience illustrates just how friendly and hospitable the people are.

Linda and I also both gave our first talks in Persian recently and everyone was very positive and encouraging about our efforts. It was actually the first full Persian meeting ever held in Turkey!

 

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Linda and Margarita, Linda’s first Persian Talk.

 

Other than these nice experiences, of which there are lots more, life has been quite a challenge.

Once again Linda and I have both come down with cold viruses and Linda’s back has been bothering her quite a lot again. I think that constant pain is just the new normal for her now.

In addition to that, I received notice that the blogging job that I had been doing has now come to an end due to economic challenges for the company.

Having said that we are now on the upswing again. Many of the brothers and sisters need greating here do online work teaching English to Chinese kids and they suggested I try the same.

I have now got an interview and demo date and I have total confidence in Jehovah that all will be more than well.

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These are my three hard-working assistants…

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From Right to left it’s Athos, Aramis, and Porthos!

In order not to end things on that completely ridiculous note, here are a couple of spiritual thoughts to end with.

If you have not already watched it, check out that video on JW broadcasting, a talk by

Nicholas Ahladis: “The Word of God Is Not Bound”

It was so encouraging, the content was amazing and shows just how Jehovah can mobilize his organization to accomplish incredible things in the power of his holy spirit.

Also, I was meditating on the account of the fig tree in the weekly Bible reading recently…where Jesus cursed the tree in Mark chapter 11.

The fig tree to Jesus was just like the Jewish nation, deceptive in appearance, no genuine fruitage.

Jesus righteous anger towards that faithless nation was directed at that tree.

But it was the next day that it withered, so whose power actually withered that tree? Whose anger was also felt against the faithless Jews?

Meditating on the account deepened my understanding of the thought that whatever we ask according to Jehovah’s will he will do for us.

Jesus in the next few verses referring to what Jehovah did to the tree, said, “all the things you pray and ask for have faith that you will have them.”

I thought to myself if I walk up to a mountain and say, be thrown into the sea, it does not matter how much faith I have, that is not going to happen.

But if my righteous and strong emotions in connection with what I pray for are a reflection of Jehovah’s own strong feelings, then I can ask for anything and Jehovah will answer that prayer.

Even if it were moving mountains or withering trees.

With that in mind, we pray that Jehovah will help us to stay here and continue this amazing ministry amongst these humble people that do not know their right hand from their left spiritually. And we pray that others will also come and join us, especially those who may speak Persian 😉

We also pray that Jehovah answers your prayers and that he will bless you all very much!

Lots of love,

Josh and Linda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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(March Blog) Now We Are Really Talking – Turkey

Hey folks!

Here’s a quick picture of one of the many local cats enjoying the sunshine the other day, if only I could learn to relax like that!

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Hope you all enjoyed a wonderful memorial. We had 58 locally and an additional 13 and 22 (Persian) in satellite locations.

We met at the Ramada hotel. One nice experience was that a young Nigerian man named Ben was visiting on business from his home in London and staying at the Ramada here in Antalya, he is not a Witness but his father is.

His father had encouraged him to find the Witnesses and attend the memorial. He promised that he would and he was expecting to have to scour the city to find us. He went down to the lobby on the day of the memorial and noticed that there were all these signs with “Jehovah” written on them. He thought to himself that this was very strange and wondered if “Jehovah” meant something else in Turkey.

Eventually, he realized that the memorial was being held at the very hotel that he was staying at!  On his way down to find the meeting room, the first person he saw in a suit that he thought “this must be a brother” was Patrick my Bible student, who is a fellow Nigerian! It was so encouraging for both of them, and Ben was very happy to attend and told us how much he loved the program. He is not in the photo below, unfortunately.

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It’s been another busy month in Antalya the main news is that we have joined the Persian group which is hosted by our English congregation.

When we were planning to come here we knew that it was likely that we would end up joining in with one of the language fields other than English and so it has proved to be.

Why did we choose Persian or Farsi?

I guess we got our first hint when a missionary couple who are fluent in Farsi were assigned to our congregation to pursue the Persian field.

They spoke to us about the need and the culture and the people. Soon after that, a Persian language class was approved by the branch for our area.

We applied and were accepted.

So we just completed the two-week intensive course and it was great. We now feel as though a strong foundation has been laid for us to go on and gradually work at learning the language.

Unfortunately, during the course we discovered that Linda has another health challenge, the poor girl has really been through a lot since we came to Turkey.

She has been in a lot of pain for some time but it got a lot worse recently and so we took her to the clinic, she got an MRI the same day and it showed clearly the problem, a herniated disc in her neck.

She is now doing physiotherapy every day for two weeks and after that, we will see how she is doing.

Amazingly though she carries on through the pain and is doing great work here with our little Persian group.

It really is an exciting field, here are some of the statistics:

There are 190,000 Iranians living here in Turkey as UN refugees, there  are 10’s of thousands more (we don’t know the number) that live here as residents, there were 2.5 million tourists that visited Turkey in 2017 from Iran and in addition to that, there are many here that speak Farsi that are living here illegally.

 

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The darker red the shading is the more Persian speaking refugees there are in those areas

 

As you can see from the photograph, we are based in Antalya which is not shaded red because there are no refugees here and yet there are 1,000’s of Persian residents and visitors here. This will be our base and we can eventually also visit the other areas to find interest.

Of course, our impact will be limited because for all this massive need there are 25 publishers in the whole of Turkey that are involved with the Persian field and most of us hardly speak a word of the language yet.

The response when we speak to these ones is incredibly positive, they are always delighted when they hear us trying to speak their language and their genuine joy at our efforts is highly contagious, it always makes for an upbuilding and exciting time in the ministry.

Persians are very emotional people and so there is a lot of love coming back to us when we extend ourselves to communicate with them, it is not unusual for ones to cry when they learn Jehovah’s name. Keep in mind that 90% of them have never heard of Jehovah or Jehovah’ Witnesses.

One of my Persian RVs texted me the other day after reading the latest WT that I sent to him in Farsi. His text was pretty straightforward, it said in Farsi, “that was so good, can you please help to change my religion.” I texted back, “would you like to study the Bible together.” He said, “Yes!” Then I thought, OK great, what on earth do I do now? He doesn’t speak any English and needless to say I don’t speak Farsi.

I should mention also that as things develop with this field I have to learn a new set of rules because of the sensitivities of the work in Iran and unfortunately I will not be able to pass on much news. I don’t want to endanger anyone, however, I am really excited about the potential and if there are any Farsi speakers reading this please come and help!

I did not realize what a great need there was until we joined the group, in fact, I thought perhaps there were not many here when compared with other places in Europe. Now that I know a bit more I realize that this must be close to the top of the list for a need in the Farsi field.

Just as I’m writing this I received a text telling me that Farsi is now in the JW Language app!!!

 

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Patrick on the right with the friends

 

In other news, Patrick (my study from Nigeria) continues to make excellent progress, after volunteering for the spring cleaning at the kingdom hall he said to me, “I just can’t believe that I never went to the kingdom hall before…I think it’s because no one invited me.”

Of course, he now comes to all the meetings, gives comments, welcomes visitors, volunteers for everything and I’m hoping that he will soon be allowed to join the school. He very much enjoyed his first memorial!

 

 

I will leave you now with a pic of the heart-healthy dinner Linda made for me the other day, fresh mackerel from the local fish market. It’s a really healthy fish and the price is very good!

We send you all our very warm love,

Josh and Linda

February in Antalya – Winter News

 

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We Got Our 2 Year Residency Permit

Dear Friends and Family,

 

We are now into March and I have a little respite this Sunday morning to look back on February and share those reflections with you.

We keep reading the news as no doubt do you about Turkey’s involvement with the war in Syria and it seems appropriate to assure you that there is nothing to worry about as far as Linda and I are concerned.

Sadly for those in the affected area, the trouble seems to be confined to Syria and Turkey itself is barely affected even on its eastern border which is clear across the other side of this vast country.

We even met a brother and sister from Denmark at the assembly in Istanbul, they live right on the eastern border of Turkey about 40 km from the fighting and they say that even they are completely unaffected by the troubles.

This last week I got a little concerned when I heard jet fighters going back and forth over the kingdom hall but later found out that they were practicing for an upcoming airshow.

This month our friends Dominic and Margarita Wells arrived in the country. They quit their jobs in London and sold their few belongings. They have rented and furnished an apartment in our building and are ready to move in in the next few days. They have been staying with us for the last few weeks so Dom and I have been often whistling the theme tune from “the odd couple,” with me in the Jack Lemmon role and Dom very definitely in the Walter Matthau role 🙂

 

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Linda and Maggie at the Bus Stop

 

It’s really nice to have them with us and it is good to know that there are others who feel that moving to Turkey is a worthwhile spiritual endeavor. Just like us, they will be trusting in Jehovah to provide online work so that they can sustain their stay here for the long haul.

Also our friends the Marsdens arrived from Canada for their “need-greating” adventure and they are already in the swing of things with the ministry and helping out with the congregation, LDC etc.

Linda and I had good news because we received our 2-year residency papers. After a tremendous amount of running around and jumping through hoops, we can now relax from a legal point of view knowing that we have permission to stay here and continue working for kingdom interests in this land.

Linda, in true Linda style, has compiled a document that outlines everything new ones need to know in order to secure residency here. We recently gave it to the German missionaries and their comment was, “it’s VERY German!” If anyone needs it, please let us know. It also contains useful info for visitors. The elders are also using it to help new ones.

Since we only became a congregation officially on February 1st you can probably imagine that it has been a challenging time, our spiritual enemy has been trying to kill it at birth (Revelation 12:4) but our great God Jehovah is always a step ahead and the congregation is doing very well. Not only that but the Persian group that we are sponsoring is getting more established and there will be a Persian language course in March which Linda and I and the Wellses plan to support. In addition to that, the isolated group that we also take care of in Isparta is growing and we have made plans as a body of elders to devote more resources and attention to those ones to care for them more fully.

The Marsdens traveled there yesterday to give a talk and encourage the brothers and interested ones out there and Landon being a very fine shepherd no doubt strengthened them greatly.

Our study, Patrick is making fine progress, he is always at the meetings and has now started commenting regularly. He showed up wearing a nice suit at the last Sunday meeting and gave a comment about the importance of dedicating our lives to Jehovah. As you can imagine the congregation was greatly encouraged because we can already see the potential for someone from the English territory coming into the truth. We have only just finished Chapter 4 of the Teach Us book.

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From left to right, Patrick, Me, My buddy Dom Wells and young Ivan from Russia.

In fact, after a meal with the brothers the other week, he wrote me this touching note.

“Thanks a lot for last night, I got to see another side of brothers and sisters and I loved it. Since I left Nigeria, I always forget that I am black. People’s reaction to me is what usually reminds me that I am black. Since I met you and Linda and started coming to meetings I have never had such feelings. It really feels refreshing. I pray Jehovah will help me to live up to your standards. Thanks, I will see you Sunday.”

 

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Cart witnessing Turkish style

Yesterday we got the opportunity to do cart witnessing and we joined the Turkish brothers putting our foreign language stand beside their Turkish one. We had heard lots of stories about the rewards and challenges of doing cart witnessing and sure enough, we experienced all of that for ourselves yesterday. We had a number of Turks stop and ask what it was about and happily take several pieces of literature. We also had some suspicious looking men (we think from the local mosque) approach, ask what it was about and then return later with the police who made us move on. The Turkish brother with us showed them the paperwork that indicates that we have the legal right to do this work but still they insisted we move along. Just before they came and even during the time that the police were there Dom was able to get the contact info. of an interested young man who is Turkish but has spent most of his life in Hackney, East London, when the police arrived the young man seemed to get even more interested. The brothers told us that in Ankara recently in one 40 minute cart witnessing shift the brothers placed 3 boxes of literature!

 

This is all our news, for now, we hope you are all surviving these last days and we are praying for Jehovah to continue supporting all of you. One blessing for us has been the weather and although we have had some cold and wet days, more than I expected actually, it’s not bad when you can sit by the pool in February!

Lots of love to all,

Josh and Linda

January – A Productive Month

pexels-photo-127160.jpegJanuary has been a busy month for Linda and I and the small group of publishers here in the English group in Antalya.

Just the other day we received news from the branch that our application to become a congregation has been approved!

A couple of Sundays ago we had an attendance of 51 at the meeting.

As of February 1st, 2018 we will be known as the English, Kaleci, Antalya congregation.

During the month we also received a German missionary couple, who will care for the Persian group that will be sponsored by our congregation, it has been very nice getting to know them both.

In addition, we have the goal of starting a French and an Arabic pre-group in the future.

For now, we are content with our “English” (More of an ESL) congregation and we look forward to getting our feet well under us before taking on too much more.

We now have nine elders who are all regular pioneering and at least 2 more considering joining us here, one speaks fluent French, the other fluent Arabic.

In the territory, we have been having a lot of success especially now that we have adjusted our expectations. It seems that there are not too many foreigners here but the ones we do meet are spiritually hungry.

We also continue to enjoy some nice, if not earth-shattering, experiences speaking to the Turks and of course, we continue to approach this cautiously.

I did notice that the cart witnessing is going very well in the local field and I have observed that the Turkish brothers can place dozens of pieces of literature in a single cart witnessing session.

I have a very nice study right now from Nigeria, his name is Patrick. He was working for several years in Northern Cyprus but he recently came to Turkey because it is less expensive to live here.

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This is Patrick

He is single and in his early 40s. He is very humble and has attended all the meetings from day 1. He also studies every week, sometimes twice a week.

He can remember receiving the magazines in Nigeria and also recalls sometimes listening in to discussions between the Witnesses and his father.

He really has a love for the truth! For example, we were discussing the other day about Jehovah’s name. He said that he did not recall seeing the name in the Bible before. We explained why modern translations do not include the name, the thoughts about the pronunciation and the idea that the name was too holy to utter. Patrick was really quite indignant at this, I could see on his face that he was confused and angry, and he said with quite a lot of disdain, “these are flimsy excuses!”

So Patrick is making good progress and is one of the best Bible studies I’ve ever had.

Our Turkish landlord Mehmet continues to take an interest in the truth little by little, the other day Linda made a nice meal of stuffed peppers and zucchinis. As he was working late in his office on the ground floor of our building we took him a plate of the tasty food.

IMG-20180104-WA0015 (2)He was really touched by this and he showed us his social media page the next day. He had posted a picture of the plate of food and wrote some pointedly ironic comments, “Jehovah’s Witnesses just brought me food. Can this be so? In our country we call JW’s pagans, but is this what pagans do? These are my tenants, but they don’t feel that because they bought something from me that they bought me too. Look what kindness these “pagans” show!”

This month we have also had more visitors from Canada. They have been very busy and fruitful in the ministry, it’s nice to see what even temporary need-greaters can accomplish here in just a relatively short time.

We look forward to the arrival of Dom and Maggie Wells in a week’s time who are aiming to make a permanent move here and also Landon, Dana and Elijah Marsden who will be here in February and will stay and work alongside us right up to and including the memorial. Should be a blast!

Meanwhile, Linda and I are struggling away with all the normal frustrations of trying to make a life in a place that has different ways of doing things. Simple things like setting up home can be quite a challenge.

We are determined though to use the experience we have gained and frustrations suffered to benefit others who might like to make the move here.

And when things get really frustrating we just remember that we have the sunshine which covers a multitude of frustrations.

So far other than our earlier trip to Izmir we haven’t had any opportunity to do anything other than work and ministry but we hope to get a chance to enjoy an excursion or two in the days ahead, the arrival of the Wellses and the Marsdens should bring a few larks. Can’t wait to visit some of the nicer beaches along the coast as the weather improves.

Tomorrow, Saturday, we will travel to Istanbul to attend the circuit assembly and then we will head back to Antalya on Monday.

The other news is that we will have a football/soccer game with the brothers in the English and the Russian congregation on the 8th of Feb, the first one since we arrived here, let’s hope I still remember how to kick a ball.

For now, we will say cheerio and we pray that Jehovah will grant you a measure of peace and joy even in these critical last days. Don’t forget, the best is yet to come!!!

Lots of love,

Josh and Linda

 

 

 

December – A Dose of Reality

 

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The View From The Casavant’s Apartment of Kaleiçi harbor in Antalya as The Sun Sets

Some Context

One morning about 5 months ago I said to Linda, what do you think about moving to Turkey?

There were perhaps many reasons not to undertake such a move but three overwhelmingly good ones to do so.

  1. There are 80 million people in Turkey and only about 3,000 witnesses
  2. The weather can be inclement in Canada during the winter
  3. Vancouver is really expensive!

After lots of prayers, counting of the cost, and the blessing of Jehovah – here we are.

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Medical Care

Let’s talk briefly about December. On a personal note, it was a really tough one. Linda and I both got a terrible flu virus which led to an eye infection for both of us and for Linda also an ear infection, (she is still deaf in one ear after 3 weeks), and a very bad dose of bronchitis. This apparently was caused by a particularly strong strain of flu called “Australian flu”, it is only the second Australian we have met since arriving in Turkey, the first one was much nicer, he even recommended some good local restaurants.

Some of you adventurous types who might be considering joining us over here either for a visit or a new life might be interested in how things panned out with the medical care. I have to say that the experience was a very positive one. We purchased medical insurance when we first arrived, you need this for the residency application. (By the way, we now have an interview on February 23rd for our 2-year residency permit.) The insurance for both of us for two years cost about 1,500 Turkish Lira…about $500 CAD. The cost varies according to age. The insurance only covers 60% of medical costs and as far as I understand that is the best coverage a foreigner can get.

After a week or so of absolutely no improvement, we made it to the clinic and received excellent care. What we really appreciated is that everything was under one roof. We started with the GP who was an older Turkish lady but with the dress, airs, and mannerisms of a Russian Tsaress. She made an extremely thorough examination with the stethoscope and asked me to breathe in and out so many times I almost hyperventilated and passed out, she was disappointed with my efforts and scolded me, as only an ex  Tsaress who has now taken up the practice of medicine could. Standing directly in front of me she said to breathe out fully and properly! I protested, in vain, pointing out that if I did so I would be breathing right in her face…she scolded me again and in a very firm voice said “A DEEP BREATH IN…OUT!!!” So I let her have it, both barrels!!! She showed great self-control and barely even winced which surely proves her royal ancestry. To maintain one’s dignity in such a withering situation…simply marvelous! After our examinations she gave me a bunch of prescriptions and sent Linda downstairs for x-rays, this was done immediately and with minimum fuss, she was diagnosed with Bronchitis. Then we were sent upstairs to the ear nose and throat specialist whereupon we only had to wait for Fatma and Ebru. (See pic.)

IMG_20171212_113901.jpgOnce in with the specialist, he was thoroughly professional and like the GP spoke very good English. Using state of the art camera equipment he was able to show us on a screen the infection inside Linda’s ear. We got the needed medicine for her including antibiotics I’m afraid. She also had to have an injection on our next visit as there was still an infection behind the eardrum. I hope she recovers fully soon as it has been more than 3 weeks that she has been deaf in one ear and I am very worried about her hearing.

The Ministry

I recall that at Gilead we were told that just because an assignment has a great need it does not necessarily mean that the ministry will always yield great results. The study Bible also makes the following point: –

Matthew 4:19

fishers of men: …The implication may also be that, like fishing, disciple-making would be strenuous, labor-intensive work that required perseverance but sometimes produces few results.

As things settle down and Linda and I have now had the opportunity to get a real feel for the ministry here, we realize that a ratio of 1 witness to 28,000 population does not necessarily equate to thousands of Bible studies. As an English group, our focus is on foreigners and there are relatively few in this area at this time of year. (Things are very different in Istanbul where there are lots more foreigners and the ministry is much more fruitful.) Those who are local to the region are usually Muslim and generally speaking have little interest in Christianity, whatever the denomination.

However, Jehovah undoubtedly has his desirable ones in this region and because there are so few witnesses here there are outstanding experiences to be had.

Experiences

We enjoyed a visit this month from Steve and Amanda Corcoran from North Vancouver, they came to check out the possibility of serving here in the future. They had an amazing time, they traveled up and down the country and were very zealous enjoying some great experiences. This included one man who they met in Cappadocia who is from Iran but of Arabic background. He took a real interest in the message and felt that God had sent Steve & Amanda to him. A few days later when we were with Steve and Amanda in a coffee shop in Antalya, he texted them saying, “I have shared the information from jw.org with my sister, we have studied it together and we have decided we want to join your community and start doing good!” We look forward to hearing how things progress.

One nice experience that I had recently was a young man named Faras. All over the city, it is not uncommon to see individuals with large, heavy, hand-pulled carts digging in the garbage bins for recycling. 99% of the time these folks are from Syria. As they generally only speak Arabic it is a challenge to communicate with them. Some of the pioneers in our group, including one Russian sister in particular, are very adept at sharing the videos with them in Arabic. I have been a little shy to do so but the other day, having just read about Jesus speaking to Zacchaeus up a tree I could not pass by this young Syrian man who was actually standing high up on top of a tall industrial garbage bin. Looking up at him I gave a friendly greeting and, to my surprise, he spoke a little English. I was not in the ministry at the time but on my way to the pharmacy. We had a nice chat, exchanged phone numbers and arranged to meet. Since then we have had a Bible study and he now has the literature in Arabic. He also speaks but does not read Kurdish. We look forward to following up with him and we will see if there is progress.

IMG-20180102-WA0017 (3)Just today in the ministry we approached another Syrian doing the same kind of work, to my amazement this one spoke excellent English. It turns out he studied physics at University in Aleppo. His name is Ahmed. We had a really nice conversation and he explained that he is exhausted from pulling the huge garbage cart around the city all day every day. I could see that his arms were shaking from the exertion. He showed us some pictures of his little daughter back in Syria who has the genetic blood disorder thalassemia. You could see that he misses her terribly as his face was full of love and emotion as he looked at her picture with me. The Good news is that she and his wife will soon join him in Turkey. He texted me just now saying, “how are you, dear friend?” We will start a Bible study right away and I am confident this one will go somewhere as he was very fascinated by the website. He also just texted this picture that he took of the two of us.

 

Kurdish Taxi Driver

One final experience just to show how friendly the Kurdish people in Turkey can be. I took a taxi to a local furniture and hardware store (I don’t make a habit of taking taxis but they are quite cheap here). The taxi driver turned out to be Kurdish. I was able to witness to him a little in my beginners Turkish (the Kurdish people also usually speak fluent Turkish). He was very friendly. He dropped me at the store, turned off the meter and as he had taken a shine to me he decided to come shopping with me. “I’ll help you,” he said. I tried to refuse but he wasn’t having it. For the next hour and a half, he went all around the store with me picking out pictures and rugs and helping me talk to the staff in order to get the things I needed. He loaded everything back into the taxi and only after that did he turn the meter back on and drop me at home! He was just happy to help me out. He even insisted on helping me carry all the stuff upstairs to the apartment!

So after a tough December Linda and I feel that we have had a dose of reality but we are still very happy to be here.

As for our little group, please pray for us as we are hoping to become a congregation very soon, can you believe we are now up to 9 elders in the group! All of us are regular pioneers.

We will leave you with this shot of us and our visitors enjoying the December sunshine in Antalya at Guy and Dorine Cassavant’s place. Look forward to writing more news at the end of the month.

Lots of love from Josh and Linda.

 

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Steve and Amanda (right) enjoying the December sunshine with some of the need-greaters here.

 

 

Antalya Delight

December 2017

Orange season!

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Hey everyone this month’s blog kicks off with a trip to a Turkish barber, it’s an experience like no other especially when you make the bold move as I did this last time of asking for a haircut and shave!

We also made a trip to Izmir taking in the famous cotton producing town of Denizli on the way.

The Turkish Barber

Perhaps the Turkish barber is aware that in some parts of the world a male hairdresser is not always seen as the manliest stereotype and, as my shave and haircut experience progressed, Orhan (“the terrible”) seemed on a one-man mission to redress that perception.

At first, this was all very reassuring but by the end, to quote the book of judges, I felt like the men of Succoth at the hands of Gideon. Like I’d been “put through an experience,” as the old translation used to say.

It all seemed very cordial as I stepped into the shop with my barber displaying no initial sign of the hand to head combat that was to follow. The hands, like large hams that beckoned me into the barber’s chair, should have been my first clue but at this point my future antagonist craftily displayed naught but the manners of an English butler. It was all very Downton Abbey.

As the scene was prepared for battle and before the cutting cape was put in place like a hangman’s noose, I made the childlike error of attempting to give my instructions, in flawless Turkish I said the word for “three,” and cunningly pointed to the top of my head, this swiftly followed by the word for “two,” whereupon I made a sweeping gesture toward the sides.

This seemed only to enrage Orhan, who tightened the cape to the garrote setting and began buffeting my head from side to side in a sort of shiatsu style massage technique. When this initial ordeal finally abated I could focus on my appearance in the mirror, it seemed that Orhan was satisfied that I had reached the desired boiled beetroot face coloring that he was clearly after.

At this point, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Orhan had a fiendish accomplice, still dizzy from the head buffeting I thought the accomplice may have been some sort of hobgoblin, but actually, he was a small child perhaps a nephew. He seemed busy preparing a concoction…just in time I shifted my attention to Orhan who was now standing to my right holding a pair of long-nosed scissors, the Aegean sun glinting off the twin blades.

Orhan had now switched from Olympic wrestler to the discipline of fencing and seemed poised to make a lunge, an inner preservation instinct told me to stay perfectly still. Orhan must have seen this glint of understanding in my eye and upon recognition of it instantly pounced, not once but twice! It was all a blur but…all I can say is that whereas I had nasal hairs before Orhan’s remarkable double Coup Lance’, now I most decidedly did not! I gave him a look of congratulations as if to say, “Touché”, Orhan bowed almost imperceptibly and continued his work.

Then came the Clippers, none of this 2 and 3 nonsense for the pugilistic Orhan, but just a certain ferocious scalp rubbing technique, my head gripped easily in one Turkish wrestler’s hand, no doubt like so many cabbages on the farm in the Turkish countryside during his childhood, and in the other hand the Clippers doing their worst!

Well, I could go on all day about this but suffice it to say that the experience was a memorable one, the concoction mixed by the hobgoblin turned out to be hot wax which was applied to the upper face and below the eyes, ears and up the nose and later agonizingly ripped off…a flaming torch was also applied to these same areas whilst Orhan shielded my eyes from the naked flame. Some kind of powder was applied to the entire face and then burned on with a hot blow dryer and later removed. Hot soap was then liberally applied to the face and when I say liberally, I mean liberally, this was followed by a meticulous shave with a cutthroat razor, deftly handled by the inimitable Orhan.

Finally, my hair was washed and then dried by Orhan covering the whole head roughly and swiftly, as in a kidnapping, drying the whole face, ears, eye sockets etc. No trace of dampness was left to tell the tale. It did all eventually come to an end, the job was so thorough I can never imagine needing a haircut again but I suppose one day I will have to return and look Orhan in the eye once more, I do not recall what I paid, I simply opened my wallet and with the same agility as with the earlier fencing move, some notes were removed from said wallet, “Tesekur ederim”, I said and Orhan, mute throughout, gave another slight bow.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you Orhan the terrible, masculine Turkish barber extraordinaire!!! (Rapturous Applause)

A Trip to Izmir

In other news, It’s been a busy couple of weeks since our last blog and we’ve been really enjoying all the encouraging feedback and comments. Please keep them coming and don’t forget to click follow on the blog, this way you will get an email letting you know when the next blog is posted.

Jehovah is clearly motivating many to consider Turkey in general and Antalya in particular as a good place for a need-greating visit or even as a place to make a long-term move to. This is very exciting!

We arrived in Antalya on October 11th so we are coming up to the two-month mark, we are very happy to share with you what we have learned and enjoyed so far.

At the end of November, we had a short visit from our friend Laura from Vancouver so we decided to make a trip to Izmir together.

 

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They even offer you a free tea when you stop for gas!

 

We toyed with the idea of traveling along the turquoise coast which would have been very scenic but would have taken much longer and in the end decided to go direct and make brief stops at Denizli and Pammukale along the way.

Google maps says the journey takes six hours but it ended up being more like ten with the stops and detours we made along the way.

Laodicea and Pamukkale

We realized that we would not have time to do much more than glance at the ruins of Laodicea on the way but it did become clear as we journeyed past them why Jesus used the apt illustration about the Laodicean Christians in the first century being luke-warm and wishing that they were either zealously hot or refreshingly cold. From the site of ancient Laodicea, you can see the spectacular hot springs at Pammukale and in the other direction the stunning refreshingly cold snow-capped mountains of the region.

 

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The mountains on the way to Izmir…

 

We look forward to spending more time there on another occasion. Perhaps we will get a proper Bible tour of the area from our friends Dom and Maggie Wells from the UK. They are moving to Antalya in February and know Turkey from their work as Bible tour guides with the travel company, (owned by brothers), that organizes the British museum Bible tours and tours to Bible lands. We know that some of you have enjoyed being with them on tours to Israel and other Bible lands in the past.

We also stopped in Denizli, a town famous for its Turkish cotton, and picked up a supply of lovely Turkish cotton towels (at a good price) for the new apartment, (more about the apartment later).

Izmir is a fascinating city although our visit there was very brief and included a mission to stock up on some household items from Ikea, yes Izmir and Istanbul both have an Ikea. The city is between Antalya and Istanbul in size with a population of 4 million. It still feels quite overwhelmingly big to us, bear in mind that Istanbul is a vast city, six times larger than New York. The streets in Izmir, particularly in the center of the city, where we stayed overnight with our friend Nisha, are incredibly narrow and we had some anxious moments navigating through the streets in the rental car, often having to fold in the wing mirrors and suck in our stomachs just to make it through. Parking was also a massive challenge and on one occasion we had to park a nine-minute walk away from Nisha’s place as it was literally the closest parking spot available.

Personally, we like Antalya, it’s a bit more manageable in many ways for us as we enjoy a slower pace, and apparently, Antalya will also soon have an Ikea, we already have quite a few Starbucks and plenty of other western-style shopping malls and stores.

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On our way back to Antalya, we decided to just try to make the journey back as quickly as possible, we did start to get hungry eventually and stopped in a little town that specializes in making clay pots of all different shapes, sizes and uses, of course we bought one (for slow roasting lamb in the oven.) As we tried to find a place that looked suitable for a hearty lunch we finally settled on a place out of desperation that looked pretty awful, just a ramshackle little establishment at the side of the main road passing through the town. It’s quite cool at this time of the year in this area as its right in the mountains; you certainly need a warm sweater.

(By the way, I found a nice Hemingway style one at the market the other day; it goes with the new, writer in the Turkish Riviera image that I’m trying to cultivate. 🙂

Coming back to the point, we sat at a table by the wood stove in the center of the deserted restaurant with certain ominous misgivings about the lunch we were about to receive. What followed was a delightful surprise of excellent food, hearty lentil soup, delicious hot bread, tender chicken skewers and fresh, crisp salad all served by the Turkish family that ran the restaurant, the total cost of the meal was about 10 Canadian dollars for the three of us.

Finally back in Antalya, we continued tying up all the arrangements with our apartment. Here, in conclusion, we will just say a few words about that. Finding a suitable place to call home is certainly a bit of a challenge here, though when you do, you will, at the top end of the budget still pay significantly less than you do back home for rent.

With the place that we settled on, and we certainly made it a matter of earnest prayer, it became clear that Jehovah was approving of our choice and pushing us ahead. Our Turkish-German landlord, Mehmet, told us the other day that he woke up in the middle of the night and logged on to the jw.org site, he started reading and browsing and only stopped reading three hours later. Since then he has been so supportive, helping us out with so many things. Today we mentioned to him that we need to rent a place in town to hold the memorial that’s big enough for at least 50 people and he said that he will help us to find a place. He texted us the other day and concluded the text by saying, “may Yehowah bless you!”

Well that’s all our news for now just to say that we enjoyed a nice day in the ministry today, having good calls with two Indonesian girls on the bus who we placed magazines with and showed the website to, they spoke good English and Linda exchanged phone numbers with them, we agreed to meet again and talk more. Also with a Nigerian man, a Senegalese fake watch seller, as well as various nice Turkish folks.

We love how this last photo came out, we also took it in the area of Pamukkale, (pamuk means cotton in Turkish), in the foreground, you see vines, not sure if these are still in use for winemaking. The winemaking industry in Turkey is having a bit of a tough time because of the more conservative views of the government. It is still possible to buy good wine here but the cost is not cheap, at least 30 TL ($10 CAD) a bottle for a decent one.

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