I don't really know how to start or how to write this blog. How does one explain 6 countries done living by faith for one month just a few sentences... I'll try my best to just give you a glimpse of my experiences of our time in central America. It's been a complete faith journey the whole time. Have you ever wondered how life would be like if you put your trust 100% in God? Well... He might just ask you to pioneer Mexico and do your Luke 10 from Cancun, Mexico to Guatemala for 10days. But that 10days was not enough to establish pure faith. So God asked us to do 5 countries in 6days. We all arrived safely in Costa Rica on the 6th day with a extra bit of faith in our pockets. I just simply cannot put it into words, I highly recommend you just try it yourself So here's a few photos for inspiration:
Lets travel back in time and go to Cuba. My mind was blown when we got off at the airport in Havana after a 13h flight from Russia. The streets were filled with very old cars from way back. With a killing heat, no toilet paper and no english speaking people we started our time in Cuba.I thought we were going to Cuba to build, work in gardens and to serve the people there. Few did I know about what was waiting for me. First of all the pizza's is like R5 and the ice creams R0,50... Crazy! After a 15h truck drive from Havana to Santiago we arrived at the church where we stayed for 3weeks (that is super long for us). Through all the physical work and eating ice cream we had amazing connecting times with some locals from the church. We went to be a blessing for them and they have blessed us back more than I could ever imagine. I don't know how people who have so little can give soooooo much? Honestly, it can definitely be through God only. Thank you Cuba for your hospitality and lots of adventures. Thank You God for revealing more of Yourself to me and more of Your amazing love. Next up-> pioneering Mexico. Miracles awaits.
I am so thankful for: African time; it is better than Turkish time, free public toilets, the SPCA, understanding Afrikaans, 'n lekker Braai, wearing shoes in the house, western toilets, Yum Yums double crunch peanut butter, google translater, an open window in a truck with a smoker driver for 7 hours, not having my pasta taken and hidden away by my team, not waking up to the sound of ziplock packets opening, not being called the spice girls or Charlie's angels by every merchant in the market but above all, I am so thankful for these things because they have made Turkey and the Turkish people crawl into my heart. This year for thanksgiving (not that I've ever had thanksgiving before.) instead of a stuffed turkey with roasted veggies, cranberry sauce, giblet gravy,creamed asparagus, mince meat pie and fruit cake, I had; Adventures stuffed with laughter and roasted conversations with strangers. Giblet grace, soft healing of the heart, princes seat pie, and layers of the fathers love, delicately prepared by the hands of God like a true Master Chef.
Sahlep n. a traditional winter warmer, a common beverage in Turkey. The powder of Sahlep is sold in a ready-to-prepare form, to be mixed with cold milk or water, boiled until it gets thick so that it can really sooth our sore throats and take away that cold during the blistery winter days. The dust of cinnamon makes it even more pleasurable. It is thick, it is sweet, it is comforting. I would like to use this delicious drink, made out of orchids, as a metaphor to describe my time in Turkey: As we arrived with a lot of uncertainty in Istanbul, we found our way to a backpackers with the Hagia Sophia Mosque on our front porch and the great Sultanahmet Mosque in our back yard. With happy faces and smiling hearts we celebrated our arrival and the well located backpackers which is walking distance from everything in the city. We were well reminded by the shouting of the two mosques 5 times a day that we are centrally located...which made our experience of the Muslim culture alive. So the milk was on the stove and that there was no chance of turning back for me -we as a team embarked on a crazy cultural pilgrimage through the land of Sahlep. Our first destination was Izmir. We had a blessed time serving, being served and having fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Part of the ministry included facilitating a cutural youth night and conecting with Turkish kids, visiting an underground worship event, doing some work around the house and sharing some testimonies at church. The milk was on the boil, our hearts swelled with joy and like boiling milk our cups started overflowing... After making our way through the ancient ruins of Ephesus, the Word sank in deeper and I received a better understanding of what it was like in the days when Paul wrote letters to the Ephesians. That was the devine moment when the soft white powder was added to the milk and being stirred together- things started to come together and I was able to pinch down the present and the past on one spot, feeling impacted and overwhelmed by the large pillars and fine carved out relief pieces on the capstones. The concoction started getting thicker... Due to the fact that we are traveling on a low budget, we thought it good to save some money on transportation. We diveded into smaller groups, got dropped off at the side of the road and started hitchhiking! I hitchhiked 897km in total, without paying a penny for transportation or food on the road. We went through Pamukkale ( a natural wonder of hot springs ), snowy mountain ranges and Cappadocia, a valley of oddly shaped rock formations where people made their homes in thousands of years ago. Now that I am back in Istanbul I can enjoy my cup of Sahlep reflecting back on all of my wonderful experiences and the friendly Turkish nation that opened up their doors for us- front doors and passenger doors :) And last but not least, my team is the cinnamon on top of my drink, without them this journey would be flavourless and normal...
How can you try to explain Turkey in words? Everything that has happened here was just one amazing journey. I can literally see God's hand in every place that we've been to. From our first day in Istanbul God has started the journey with me to show me what true humility is and make me realize again that this year is not about me.
This is a done deal!! Jesus is in me and I am in Him. This is who I am!! I am everything God said me to be. I don't need to search for it, I don't need to do something to get it. He already gave it all to me with the cross. All I need to do is release it! Release God in me trough His Holy Spirit.
There is something liberating about sitting on a rooftop of a hostel in Istanbul, looking over the chaotic puzzle of buildings and busy people with Amanda Cook's 'Wonder' pumping through my earphones. What a time to be alive.