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 🙂
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.
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.”
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