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TURKEY JOURNAL OF KEITH AND SALLY
DAY 1 AND 2 TUESDAY, WESDNESDAY
Kat drove us to Dulles International Airport, arriving just before 3:00 pm for our 6:10 pm flight. I think we beat the rush because we breezed through all check in procedures without incident. We are now sitting at gate B15 looking out the panoramic windows onto a blue sky with low clouds on the horizon. Our Northwest/KLM flight arrives in Amsterdam in just under eight hours where we have a
1 ½ hour lay over before we depart for Istanbul, arriving there at 1:45 pm Istanbul time. There is a 7 ½ hour time difference so good morning everybody.
DAY 3 THURSDAY
Our trip to Istanbul went well and we arrived in this large complex city of the very ancient and the very modern on Wednesday at 1:30 pm. That would be 6:30 Norris time. We are staying in the Sultan Hostel in a 16 bed dorm in the Sultanhamet district. Within walking distance in the Blue Mosque (picture above), Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, the Spice Bazaar and others. Five times a day, beginning at 6:00 am the call goes out across the city from the Mosques. The chant is in Turkish, of course, calling the faithful to worship. Worship five times a day is one of the five pillars of Islam. We talked over an hour with a 28 year old architectural student at Istanbul University about the city, the Blue Mosque and islam. He did not call himself a very religious Moslem, meaning he does not observe all five pillars, all the time. But he has a very strong desire to go to Medina (Mecca) someday. There are many tourists here from all over the world as well as the diversity of ethic and religious groups in differing garbs. We are well into our first full day and have enjoyed a traditional breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, cucumber, tomato, olives roll and jam. We had a shaved beef sandwich for lunch and plan on eating at the Spice Bazaar for dinner.
DAY 3 THURSDAY NIGHT
We have had a great and busy day. We went to Church Sophia. The original church which dates back to the 4th, 5h, 6th centuries has many thousands of small tiles that were eventually covered with plaster by the Moslems. The church was originally a Christian church during the Pre-Byzantine and Bysantine empires and then an Islamic Church during the Ottoman empire. It is hard to describe the immense size of these churches as well as the accompanying feeling. As you enter the worship area is about the vastness of space and the feeling of immensity that picks you up and swallows you whole. Looking out about 100 meters and up about 100 meters you realize that the people that somehow designed and constructed these buildings up to 15 hundred years ago were making statements about God or Allah. We also returned to see the Blue Mosque in morning sunlight; much blue. There are many mosques visible in Istanbul and from one vantage point on the river we could see seven, all huge. I will try and download pictures soon.
We took an all day bus on frıday to amsara whıch ıs a beautıufl lıttle seacoast town on the black sea. There are two harbors wıth a portıon of the town sandwqıched ın between. There are three vısıble moaques wıtht eh muzzerin callıng out prayer tıme fıve tımes daıly. THıs is a torusıst town for many Turkısh peoples but we havent seen any englısh speakıng people at all. NOt many people speak englısh but we are gettıng along. The food ıs wonderful. Here ınthe ınternet cafe we could be ın any country anywhere- there are a number of youth playıng games and there ıs rock Turkey musıc on the stereo. We are stayıng ın a pensıon whıch ıs a nıce hotel. It ıs not cheap-any of it but so far worth every turkey lıra. We thınk of all of you and pray that you are well. I know that a number of our beautiful NRF people are having tests and procedures or strugglıng wıth some ıssue and our prayers are wıth you all. God bless you all. keıth and sally
DAY 5 SATURDAY
For a number of years most of us in America have had a view of Islam and Islamic countries through the eyes of the news media. Most of those images have been of countries like Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine and the view have been of fundamentalist governments and conservative of fundamental Islam in conflict with those who embrace that theology and those who reject it. Images of women as a suppressed minority dressed in B... have been our dominant image of women. Men loudly proclaiming fundamentalist ideals with an Islamic government have been what our thoughts of Islam has been. At least for the most part.
What we have seen in Turkey thus far is a diverse group of people, busily pursuing their own lives without hindrance and with freedom of dress, thought and religious conviction. Many women wear head scarves and a number of middle aged and older wear long coats or shawls and are covered quite completely. But it appears to be quite optional and no one looks askance at what anyone is wearing. In Amasra, a seacoast town on the Black Sea, we could be anywhere in the developed world s tourists and locals mingle and mix in total freedom. The call to prayer is proclaimed five times a day from the mosque next to our “Pension”. A number of men and woman go, washing hands and feet at the outside spigots and then going inside, each
I joined several men to pray at an off time. We knelt and bowed down, our foreheads touching the rug and then rising to pray from a kneeling position.
Sitting on a park bench later a young man approached and talked. He shared his Islamic views and that there is “Only one Allah, one God.” I told him I prayed in the Mosque and he smiled and said good, there is only one God.
It appears that in this country of separation of Mosque and state as per the constitution, religious freedom is a legal right and is accepted as such. However, it is still a work in progress. From what we have heard there are groups on both sides that would like to see it go their way: more religious as a country and those who feel that any small religious move on the part of the govt. as a direction that would take away those rights. Freedom of speech is not like in our country, however. It does not seem like a good idea to criticize the president.
So far, the men we have seen are hard working and polite but insistent in their desires. Fort instance, when walking by a restaurant it is the job of at least one person to approach you and to invite you vigorously to dine with them. When looking for a bus, it is the job of a number of men to approach you and invite you in and convince you to take their bus. The bus business is highly competitive with at least six companies lined up next to each other competing for customers.to their own section to pray.
One of the incredible tile paintings in Hagia Sophia. Originally this huge church ws one of the biggest in Christendom, indeed, Constantinople (Istanbul) rivaled Rome as the Christian capital of the world and certainly was for Eastern Europe and Asia. When the Byzantine Empire (the endo of the Roman Empire) fell to the Ottoman Empire all churches were turned into mosques. This entire church, tile paintings and all were plastered over. This church is now a museum.
DAY 6 AND MORE
Forgive me for not posting-I have had some technical difficulties so will try to now catch up. We left Amasra on day 6 and several buses later we arrived in Sofranbulo, a wonderfully preserved tgown with wooden framework and doors and many houses as well. This is unusual for Turkey which is now primarily cement and all other ancient structures are stone. All our travel arraignments have been flawless,thus far. For instance, we walk to the bus station and immeidately we are helped and a bus is ready to leave, we are deposited in a city and a polis stops ans offers help and drives us to our hostel, a random man stops us speaking perfect english and he arranges our travel plans for the next day to Ani (today). And so it goes...we have traveled all night on the bus and many daytime trips. We have ridden in the ferry in Istanbul and walked many MANY miles. We have eaten a huge variety of Turkey food and it is good and we are satisfied.
In the Cappadocia of old and new took on new meaning. I will try to download a picture, but it will not capture the true essence. IT is in Goreme that people from pre-historic times started carving homes out of fairy Chimneys strange and alluring volcanic rock formations. It was the Christians that finally really made these rocks home and it is the churches and frescoes carved out of rock and painted on plaster over rock that are stunning pieces of architecture, engineering and art. As a sometimes former sculpture, I dont know how they were able to do what they did. (an aside, in fact, how these huge churches and mosques were built so long ago is a bit of a mystery to me.) We spent hours walking and oohing and awing over these churches and homes that are out of stone. The next day we visited more fairy chimneys and an underground city. We are talking 7 levels of elaborate rooms and tunnels going about 56 meters deep that were used primarily as a place of refuge when under attack. In fact there are a number of these dating back to proto-hittite times in some form or another. Two of the largest, though 85 kilometers apart were joined by a tunnel. Needless to say, we have hundreds of pictures of the fairy land and of the tunnels.
DAY 8 That evening we took the all night bus to Erzurum, which is our beginning excursion into the east. The advantage of an all night bus it that you dont waste a day traveling and the disadvantages are that you miss the landscape, and well, it is night and sleeping is hard. We got to Erzurum, found a Hotel, and started seeing the sights. We saw amazing old mosques and a mausoleum with a tremendously huge courtyard. On Monday we went to Akdamar Island on Lake Van. A small church called the Church of the Holy Cross was built beginning in 921. Many of the ruins in Turkey are from different periods and styles of occupation, some featuring styles from several. This church is Armenian and has amazing stone reliefs on the outside depicting OT stories and the NT story is told by fresco on the inside. We talked at great length with the two professional people from Istanbul who spoke english very well. First, they convinced us to go to a different place than where we were going to, so tonight we catch the 10 oclock bus to Diyukiburk. It gets in at 6 and then we catch a minibus to Marden which they say is magical and amazing. At the church I explained some of the frescos and they seemed interested. We talked about politics and religion and the state of both in Turkey. Apparently the current govt. is the Islamic party and more conservative than most would like, though, they were voted in. There is some concern that it might go the way of Iran if that kind of thing continues. The guy was of the opinion that it might, he served in the army which is mandatory for 6 months, but the woman did not think it would ever happen. She also said that she is not interested in politics, and if that ever happens she would leave the country. Apparently it is hard to get visas to the USA, especially since 9 11.
10/16/09: I am writing this note at 7am on the 16th. We spent the night in a small backpacker hotel in Antakya which used to be called Antioch. Anticoch was a very important early Christian city, both Peter and Paul spending time here. The cave church of Paul is here and tradition has it that St. Luke wrote here. We will spend the day touring the many religious sites and getting a feel for the present day religious atmosphere and culture.
The night of the 15th we lay back on a bed covered with Turkish carpets and stared out a smoke hole in a home called a beehive. Somewhere around 4,000 years ago, Abraham slept in a similar beehive in this very place Harran for 15 years where he lived and worked before heading south through Syria and eventually into Palestine. This beehive was only about 200 years old, however. Our host and guide was a 24 year old Turkish man and his entire family. Many generations ago they came from Iraq and have lived in Harran ever since. His grandfather was a tribal Chief (King), and very rich. They are the head of the clan or tribe or community and all problems and issues flow through him. This is still the case, and now his uncle is the chief.
We toured the area as well as Harran, seeing very old Assyrian dwellings and temples built to a variety of Gods, sun, moon, sky and Jupiter, Venus and Mar. These are maybe 3,000 years old. We also saw several forts and palaces and caravanseris all dating back about 1500 years.
This is a dusty area except where they have started a massive irrigation project about 14 years ago. Now cotton is grown in HUGE quantities, picked by what appear to be migrant workers (entire families) and or people in the area. Also, corn and wheat is grown. Tradition says that in the days of Abraham this was a fertile green land but then the Mongols burned it and it reverted to desert.
I am thinking of the many places of quiet and deep stillness that we have been, Ani, the place of a umber of ruined churches and mosques on the Armenian border, the ruins poking up through the Asian steppe like sandcastles slowly disappearing on a beach. The Kurdish village at the base of Mt. Arrarat and the animals grazing and the children playing, the insides of Mosques where one or two men are praying and the thick walls shielded the heart of Allah from the noise of the world, the ancient haunts of Abraham where he felt pulled by God to go and be
And so we have moved across Turkey like Gengis Kahn, never stopping but moving inexorably towards the west to find and trace some of the routes of Paul. We will stand in the places where his words reverberated amongst the now ancient ruins of Rome and Greece. We will try to imagine the Gospel reaching out, perhaps sounding strange and foreign but nevertheless affecting lives and changing the souls direction. Our journey continues, we are a few days over half way, and we think lovingly and gratefully of you all at home. MAy you be at peace and experience the wonder and joy of life. As Ahmet from Harran says, We are not like yo westerners who think and worry about 20 years from now, we only think ahead to tomorrow.
FRIDAY OCTOBER 16
I am writing this from the courtyard of the Orthodox church in Antakya. It is called the Antioch St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church. In the kilise Pederleri office to my right I hear singing from the Kilisie Father and several other men. The courtyard is beautiful and serene in the midst of the city. When the doors open we will go in, stay tuned. This morning we went to St. Pierrre Kilesi, the cave Church of St. Peter. It is a natural cave that was enlarged with an outward wall and a narthex by the crusaders in 1098 as they marched through on holy conquests. It is said to be the earliest place where Christians met and prayed secretly. Tradition has it that the cave was the property of St. Luke the evangelist who donated it to the fledgling christian congregations as a place of worship. Peter and Paul both preached and lived here as did Barnabas. Inside the rough cave is a natural dripping of water that fills a hollowed out basin for baptismal. The water is said to have healing powers. As we stood in the cave, facing the altar we imagined Peter and Paul preaching and the joyous singing of the psalms and early church liturgy, and perhaps, the sacred meal, the eucharist was served here. Where we sit now is said to be where Peter and Paul probably stayed because it was the center of the large Jewish population in town. OK, we have been in the church. It is beautiful and serene. There are 10 large pillars signifying the 10 commandments. There are many paintings ,icons, on the walls, on each pillar and in the front of the church which has three altar areas. The membership of the church is about 1000. There is also an evangelical church down the street and a catholic church a few blocks over. Thats about it!
We went to the Antakya Archaelogii Muzee which has one of the best mosaic colelctions in the world. Mosaics from the 2nd 5th century were represented as well as other artifacts such as metal and pottery. The mosaics are astonishing, many look like paintings using a number of colors to show form and contrast. For instance one arm I observed had five different parallel colors to show the contour of the arm. Most of tghese mosaics are floor coverings, maybe all of them. I hope the picture came out.
This city feels very cosmopolitan and European. It is active and modern. We just had a Turkish desert, pastry with honey and a sweet syrup and cheese on the inside topped with Turkish ice cream which is gooey. Mmmm...maybe that will entice you to come to Turkey.
SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS and NOTES
We talked to a man from Germany today who has traveled the world. I asked him why and he said it was because of the people. He loves meeting people in all cultures. We find the people here in Turkey to be warm and helpful. They want us to like their country and hospitality is a very important concept.
The woman and girls in Harran were dressed in what I think of as traditional dress. The woman and girls in Antakya would fit into downtown Knoxville, It is here that we have seen more girls out in public with each other than any other place.
The men sit around together in Cay Evi drinking tea, smoking, visiting, playing cards or backgammon and twirling their prayer beads in their hands.
Passed a field in which two men would reach their hands into a bag or sack hanging at their waist, pullout seeds and fling it out. A rocky field, good soil, pathways and weeds on the side. A sower went out to sow and as he sowed some seed fell on good soil,... a wonderful Gospel parable comes to mind.
The streets swarm with min-buses and small van type cars of all makes: Fiats, Renaults, Peugots, Citroens, Skoda, Opel, to name just a few. There are a number of Ford rucks, vans and cars. I have seen maybe 3 Chevrolets and 2 very old Dodge trucks.
There are herds of animals: sheep, goats, cows, geese, and each herd has its own herder; four for a day it seems. They are never left alone., There are no fences.
Sat down to draw an old man and in minutes a crowd of 20 gathered around me. I finished drawing a tolerable likeness and a man from the store where I bought water asked me to sign it and put down my email and he grabbed it and literally ran back to his store in great excitement. look out Picasso.
An old man on a bus dressed in traditional suit coat, shirt, vest, sweater with his red prayer beads held loosely in his left hand and with his right thumb he twirls the beads one by one.
While in Igdir the TV showed fighting inn Hsarrife n the border of Turkey and Iran. Outside of town while riding on the minibus we passed through a Jandarme guard station. Our passports were taken along with identification cards of everyone on the bus and apparently checked carefully. Fifteen minutes later they were returned and we continued. We have gone through 4 guard stations on the eastern and southern borders.
Clothing style with the wearing of scarves varies considerably; the most traditional is to wear a long light colored coat, usually to the ankles but it can be mid thigh. Many, however, simply wear a scarf and they are multi-textured and colored. Some wear scarfs that match their outfits and the woman looks elegant indeed.
Bus stations, Otogar, are incredible. They are like airport terminals with up to 20 different bus lines offering and competing for their services. Some Otogars are two stories with arriving and departing, just like Mcgee-Tyson (only our airport is much smaller and does not offer the stores, food, or services as the otogars. The buses have stewards who serve drinks and snacks and lemon cleanser for your hands and face. Most of turkey travels by buses: you can get anywhere and the buses are frequent. They will let you off along the side of a random road or town and stop and pick you upo if you flag them down.
The silk road passes through Turkey in several directions; no wonder it has been fertile land for conquest for thousands of years. In Harran which means Hut Silk, the road went south to Syria, Lebanon and all pints south and north towards Constantinople (Istanbul) and into Europe, and east across Turkey through present day Armenia and Georgia and points east as well as into Iraq in the south east. The famous silk road and trade was a majopr shaper of civilization.
Should I comment about the food: the delicious honey, the amazing eggplant meals, the lamb and chicken and beef kebabs, the baclava, and many fruits and nuts that are everywhere....No, I wont bore you.
Sunday Oct 18
A Blessed Morning to you all,
Today Sally and I are in Konya. From a Christian perspective, Konya is important because Paul and Barnabas came through here and stayed here on each of Pauls missionary trips. Unfortunately, there is nothing left of those trips or churches in Konya itself. Op to 60 kilometers outside of town there are some remains, but they are very difficult to get to. Nearby in the small village of Sille, there are a number of cave churches and one important church that is said to have been built by Empress Helena, the Mother of Constantine the Great. It is of course called, St Helens Church.
From an Islam perspective, this is one of the most important cities in Turkey being the home and final resting place of Rumi. Rumi as some of you know was the founder of the Sufi order of Islam which is mystical and spiritual and the origin of the whirling dervishes. We hope to see the whirling dervishes here. We did see one in Istanbul and he twirled slowly around and around in perfect form, head tilted and right arm up to receive the blessing from heaven and the left arm down to communicate that blessing to earth. In the sema, a specific dance form in which a number will participate, the activity continue until the leader believes that there has been a mystical union between earth and heaven. The mausoleum of Rumi and his family receives about 1.5 million Turkish pilgrims a year.
I wrote a prayer this morning while sitting in the Sellimiye Mosque built about 1566. It is an offering this morning from the quiet of one holy and sacred place to the quiet of another holy and sacred place. May our hearts be open to receive Gods guidance and blessing.
Let my heart and mind ascend to the very highest heights of which I am.
Let my soul be thrust to the starry spaces of heaven on the wings of this prayer.
Allow my very being which you created, O God, to achieve the heavenly realm of enlightenment and wisdom.
In your vision may my imagination swell, O God, as a creation of compassion, love and grace.
Through Jesus as the gateway of eternal guidance may I encounter the Holy Spirit of elegance, peace and joy as I seek your face.
WRITING ON BOARD BUS
I am not sure if I wrote much about a place called Ani . I will have to check our website when I get the opportunity. Ani is a mystical ruins on the Armenian border and was once the Armenian capital Guard towers on the Armenian side and a fence and a river separate the two countries. The day is clear, the sky blue and the Asian steppe is dried grasses and ruins of churches and cathedrals dating back well over a thousand years. Once, the major Christian city of the east through which the Silk road wound, crossing the river on a stone bridge, pillars of which still stand, Ani was abandoned and disintegrated when the Mongols swept by, clearing out everyone in 1237. It now holds the ruins of the castle wall, excavated village streets and shops and huge churches with deteriorating frescoes. Elaborate gigantic mosque with pillars 20 feet across and domes, some of which have fallen in dot the landscape. We are almost completely alone. It is strangely quiet. The wind rustles softly and the sun casts long shadows. How different is Ani now, from the busy metropolis of 100,000 people 1000 years ago. It is a place that demands reflective, meditative silence and thought. History has moved through here in successive waves and now tourists gather the ancient smells and sounds through imagination.
Arrarat was once thought to be the tallest mountain in the world. Standing with only a twin bt smaller peak it rises majestically, snow clad out of the Asian steppe south of Ani. We stayed in a fine little Pension in D.Gou... where a 24 year old Kurdish man who went to school up to 4th grade but spoke very good English was our host. I told him we were not interested in the supposed meteor crater or the stone Noahs ark (both tourist attractions but we were interested in Mt. Arrarat and seeing and meeting simple village life. No problem! He said. This is the standard phrase throughout Turkey. He hired a friend to drive and the next day we set out for Mt. Arrarat (or the foot of the mountain) and a small village. We arrived at a small wonderful village on flat fields stretching towards the mountain whose top was covered in clouds. About 6 families lived here in a cluster of separate dwellings, stacks of hay and reeds. Horses were tethered but cows and sheep and chickens and dogs wander with children and boys. Out of the door of a fine home made out of stone and clay with a reed roof comes a man; his father. His mother is in a separate small kitchen building cooking tortilla on blackened dome heated by slowly burning dried reeds. This is his home. We saw the land and then had dinner sitting on the floor of one of the rooms on Turkish rugs, eating traditional meal cooked by his 19 year old sister clothed in wonderfully bright clothes, scarf and long skirt. What a day. Mt. Arrarat you might remember is where Noahs boat is said to have landed after the flood.
Our bus is winding through mountains on the way towards Antalya on the Mediterranean Sea. This is extremely rugged terrain, as rocky as you can imagine. I dont know how hight the mountains are but I cant imagine marching armies of conquest through this land. AN occasional white washed village with red roofs and minarets rising above nestle in the crooks of the hills. It is hazy and overcast and so pictures will not do this trip justice. But hopefully our memories will retain the moment.
Tuesday Oct 20
I am sitting on the balcony of our hotel room inn Fetiye overlooking the harbor. Today, the sky was blue and the harbor as well. There are literally hundreds of large wooden touring sailboats parked in the marinas. The aluminum masts are sticking up like porcupine quills, even now in tghe dark they shine. Across the bnay the lights reflect on the water in straight even lines-no wind or waves.
Tomorow we are going on an 8 hour cruise along the coast, not on a sailboat unfortunately but it should still be awesome. This would not be a bad place to live. We came here by bus wrapping along a highway that hugged the coastline and turned back on itself ove and over again. Picture a combination of Highway 1 in California, the Maine coastline and the rocky mountains in the background-thats about it.
I had fish and chips on a boat docked in the harbor and Sally had a pottery kebab dinner at a little rest. overlooking the harbor.
Earlier today, in Demre we spent a long time in the church of St.Nicholas, an Orthodox saint who is one of the origins of Santa Claus. He came from an extremely wealthy family but became a priest who was loving of children, especially, and took care of the poor. He is also known as the patron saint of sailors in these parts. This town exists because of this church which is beautiful and has some amazing frescoes, mmmm, I remember about 1100 years old. We also visited Myra which has Lycian ruins.
Sunday Oct 25, 2009
Dear Church Family,
Good Morning! This is the day of our Annual Church Meeting and since it is the 75th anniversary year, perhaps, the 75th such meeting.
I greet you from the coast of the Agean Sea, a little town called Ayvalik. It was once primarily a Greek town but is now Turkish with Greek influences. We are stayhing in a 300 year old house that was once the French ambassadors to the Sultan. It is beautiful.
Prior to 1923 this town was Greek and the churches in town were Greek Orthodox. There as a switch of townspeople at that time and the Turks that came here from the Island of Lesovos literally traded places with the Greeks that lived here. These churches then became mosques and vice versa on the Greek Island of Lesovos. In order to understand this ocuntry at all, it is actually necessary to know even a small amount of history.
Sally and I spent time in one of the Mosquers this morning, originally this large gorgeous and elaborate Orthodox church. The front of the church is heavily painted and the niches where figures like Mary would have been are now empty. We mediated and prayed quietly with several men who were either reading the Korwn or kneeling on prayer rugs facing east.
As we have traveled in Turkey and experienced the hospitality and grace of the people and experienced this Islamic culture which is built on tolerance and acceptance of differing opinions, views, theologies and lifestyles, it makes once again to be part of the Norris religious fellowship who espouse the same ideals. This land and its people have changed hands so often under so many different conquering armies and groups of people that it surely shows the pointlessness of war and of forcing your opinion others. The statement we make as a church, I believe, does make a profound statement of beauty that is of the best theology of the Gospels.
Today, you in this sanctuary and this fellowship hall will experience a worship service, a dinner and a meeting. This combination of events reaffirms again the vitality of this congregation as we remember our own history and continue to create a vision of the future.
Please know that Sally and I love you and who you are, we feel blessed to both be a part of you and to be on this trip of learning and we will see you in one week.
Many Blessings, love keith
Monday Oct 26, 2009
Sitting on the Uladag Bus waiting to leave the seaport town of Ayvalik. Our watches say 10:19. The bus was to leave at 9:40, mmm.. I ask the attendant. He indicates that the time is not now to leave. I look at the bus clock it says 9:19. Somehow, we are in a different time zone in this town. Well! How about that! We sort of rushed here from out 300 year old Hotel, leaving behind an amazing breakfast which we relished all too briefly. Now we wait on the bus, seats 1 and 2 for another half hour.
We are leaving the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean behind and heading inland and north to Bandirma where we catch a ferry to Istanbul. We will stay in Istanbul tonight say goodbye to Turkey and the largest city tomorrow and catch out plane home.
Yesterday, we sat down by the harbor ass the fishing boats loaded up wooden crates and loaves of bread and food for the next fishing outing. As the sun set across the harbor in silky waves of gold, yellow and gray music started blaring. Was it the Turkey national anthem or some other song? As it played the fishing fleet left harbor for the night of fishing. They will be back in the morning, those wooden slats bulging with fish.
During the day we visited three mosques that were formally churches. We also visited a church that had never been converted to a mosque but had been abandoned during the population exchange of the early 1920s. A few frazzled frescoes were still pasted to the walls which were falling down. The entire structure was supported by a labyrinth of wooden beams, but the earthquake of 1946 had done too much damage and it appears that it is only a matter of time before it all tumbles down.
Ephesus! We really didnt have enough time there. Everyone told us that 2 hours would be plenty but after three, we still felt pushed. So many people visit these 2500 year old ruins that the goal is to push them through. How do you come to grips with monuments, pillars and building remains that once contained a population of 250,000 people 2000 plus and minus years ago. A city that had hot and cold water, a sophisticated sewage system, libraries, baths, gymnasiums, schools, homes, marble paved streets, amphitheaters that seat 25,000 and more. Streets that are lined with the statues of important city people, emperors and gods and goddesses. Most, long gone but we did see many in the local museum. It is only through imagination that it has any meaning. Seeing the people in their togas busy living their lives and attempting the impossible, perhaps in any day and age, to leave peacefully and in harmony with oneself, nature, each other and the gods. They had no defensive walls and so they could not protect themselves from enemies, invasion or the changing topography of river and sea, so it changed location at least three times. Nevertheless, it has a quiet rhythm all its own and from a Christian perspective it has an importance that has made it a part of our New Testament in the book of the Ephesians. Perhaps, as Paul strolled these same streets that we walked, he commented on the statues of the gods and emperors and held up his motto of one God, YHWH, that is above all these Gods, the supreme God and Jesus Christ, the true son. In the small amphitheater he probably debated and a Christian community was formed and grew.
In the small town that we now are leaving, we walked the back streets where old woman fed goats and cats and shook out their drapes and watered flowers. Horse drawn carts sat against the curbs on the cobble stone alleys. Many of the buildings were abandoned and decaying. It was life continuing but also life that was fading. I remembered what the paved roads of Ephesus felt like and wondered, how long does any society last before it passes away and becomes the walkways of tourists.
Our 75th Anniversary!
We began our 75th Anniversary celebration.
with a special worship service and a reception following. Rev. Dr. Bob Puckett talked at both and Vicki Amos, the wife of former interim minister, Rev. Cliff Amos talked at the reception.
Graduate Recognition Sunday, May 25 2008
Ethan Palmer, Ryan Phillips, Will Simmons, Evergreen Haverkamp and Michael Bean.
NORRIS HOME TOUR
Sponsored by the NRF Youth Group
An exciting event is being held in Norris for only the second time in its 74 year old history; six residents are opening up their homes for a home tour. These homes are all original Norris homes, designed and constructed by TVA architects and craftsmen. Some are almost original, but most have been tastefully redone and added on to, while maintaining much of their orignal flavor.
This event is being sponsored by the Norris Religious Fellowship youth group as a service to the community of Greater Knoxville and as a fundrasier for their mission trip to Guatemala in June.
The Carson and Alberta Brewer Home.
New Members Received February 2008
THANKSGIVING DINNER 2007
We are once again offering a Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Anyone and everyone is welcome. We just ask that you call the church office for reservations, and if possible, bring a dish to share.It was a great time of festing and fellowship where new and old friends got together for a day of thanks.
THANKSGIVING DINNER 2006
Thanksgiving Day, we held a meal for the church and community. Sixty-one people attended. The church provided and cooked six turkeys, stuffing and rolls. Many people brought a thanksgiving dish to pass and a fabulous time was had by all.
CONGREGATIONAL DINNER AND MEETING September 24, 2006 A dish to pass supper, which is always amazingly good. The meeting wsill feature year end reports, The f.inance committee witll present a presentation on current finances and will launch our stewardship campaign. We also look forward to a special presentation of music by memebers of the youth group
CONGREGATIONAL MEETING HELD ON SPETEMBER 24, 2006 A meeting was held on Sunday immediately following church to vote on the new executive committee and treasurer. The following church membvers were voted into office: Executive Committee: Steve Bohanon Susan Miller Treausurer Jerry Crossno Assistant Treasurer Becky Blackwell
SUNDAY SCHOOL START-UP BREAKFAST 9:30 AM-SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2006 IN THE FELLOWSHIP HALL SUNDAY SCHOOL REGISTRATION & PROGRAM FOLLOWING Come and join us. It is a good way to begin the Education year.
Outdoor Work Day May 6, 2006 Twenty of the Fellowship ghathered to spread mulch around bushes and trees and to clean up the yard. It was a beautiful day and much work was accomplished. A good day!!
CHURCH CHRISTMAS PARTY 2005
Bob Gregory Leading Carols wiyth accompaniement by Marcia Slagle and Ruth Simmons.
October 22 and 23, 2005
Dr. Lamar Williamson teaching on The Gospel of John at an Educational Forum held at our church October 22,23, 2005.
Part of the teaching was audience participation. Here, three participant act out the story of the Wedding at Cana of Galilee.