I am both very happy and unhappy to report that there is a reasonable amount of computer access available to me here in Asia Minor, at least for this week. Happy because it means I could let everyone know that I made it alright and a little bit about how things are going so far. Unhappy because I was really relishing having 2 weeks off of the grid. Well, at least I am still phoneless.
Things here are different than I had imagined they would be, which is not surprising. But I am so excited about what the Lord has been doing in my heart and the body we have gotten to participate in. The plane ride was fine- actually, I was lucky enough to get an aisle seat AND no one next to me! For those who have never tried to sleep on a plane, this is the royal flush of the intercontinental transit world not lucky enough to be in first class. Sleeping, however, was greatly restricted by the inappropriate Spaniard across the aisle from me. He was travelling with an older woman who I hope was his mother (some questionable cuddling has put this in doubt) and literally, every time I was acually falling asleep, he would screech out a laugh or crank up his techno music, meaning that my in flight sleep was limited.
However, we all arrived in Asia Minor in one piece, and our hosts were there to help us get to the home we are staying in. The owners have graciously vacated for us and it is quite a large flat. I've been surprised at how large all the flats have been. Anyways, it is so nice to be able to stay in a home rather than a hotel, especially since we have a question. The TV channels are interesting - I think they must have purchased the I <3 Jesus cable package, since the English channels are all either the news or monks singing hymns on keyboards to children. It's also been interesting getting used to the calls to prayer that happen throughout the day... Arabic yodelling at 5am is not as condusive to sound sleep as you might think.
We have toured around a bit, though that will mostly be next week. I am struck in the same way I was in Athens and Corinth, in terms of how rich the context of the geography and atomosphere is for exegesis and comprehension. Ephesus was simply amazing and we actually read Acts 19 in the place where the riot happened.
But more than anything, I am overwhelmed by the hospitality of this culture. Everyone is so warm and accomodating, and don't (at least) outwardly display the disdainful attitude towards Americans that I've encountered elsewhere. Church on Sunday saw dozens of people coming up to us, just to shake hands and welcome us. They invite us to their homes for meals. They bring us snacks or tea throughout the day. They practice extreme patience with our very limited linguistic abilities. And aside from nearly killing us with their cars several times, they have been the picture of kindness to us all.
I have and continue to learn much about kindness from the natives and the foreign workers- it is really challenging to our individualistic, self focused mentality, which I undoubtedly possess. I feel like I'm really getting a glimpse into what it would look like to live in world where we looked out for the interests of others before ourselves. That would be something, indeed!
Anyways, I had a few empty moments with a computer in front of me, so I thought I would check in. More to come!!