There’s no getting around the fact that these are strange and difficult days. In the midst of all of it, the trees still bloom, following the rhythm of their Maker, and we can pray together, “…let (our) hearts be flooded with light so that (we) can understand the confident hope He has given to those He called—His holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.” —Ephesians 1: 18
Learning vocabulary in the local language can at times take an interesting an unexpected twist. One example is this: a Ferris wheel is called “eshmakis borbali”, which directly translates to “devil’s wheel”.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him. Truly He is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge. — Psalm 62:5-8
Living overseas gives us new opportunities to try new food, but at the same time makes us miss food from back home. For me, one of the things I miss most is bagels. You can occasionally find bagels at the local Dunkin’ Donuts in our city, but you can’t find good boiled bagels like those made in New York City. Recently, a student’s family was looking for a new item to add to the family bakery. I decided to introduce him to boiled bagels. We had a great time making bagels with cream cheese and bagel sandwiches, and then having other students taste them. They all loved the bagels and he hopes it will help his business be successful. Pray for him, and our other students, that they would see God’s blessings in their lives.
It is not unusual to have people approach me and my toddler on the street with big smiles that transform their faces and the local version of baby talk. It happens all the time. Some people even give him small gifts. Recently, one older gentleman presented my son with some candles (for burning in the orthodox churches here) and a couple of days later, an old lady selling flowers gifted him a small bouquet of violets. Along with the gifts, both exclaimed “God bless you!” to him over and over. These interactions are sweet and often leave me with a lasting smile.
A local tradition includes passing a bowl of koliva out to four neighbors. This dish a dessert made of boiled barley that is sweetened with honey, sugar, walnuts, and lemon. Our neighbor brought us this bowl of koliva to celebrate the beginning of the great fast that leads up to Easter. Tradition says that if you eat this dish you will not be hungry and will be successful in observing the fasts. Please pray with us that while locals are physically fasting, their hearts would hear from God and they would know Him more and more.
March 3rd is Mother’s Day here. All along the main streets, vendors like this one sold their blooms to passersby and greeted mothers with congregations. The cheery blooms — predominantly daffodils and violets — were another sign that spring is coming!