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!
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.
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.
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!!!
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