Tuesday, June 29, 2010


It’s Monday morning of week two here at Olive Grove (ok, it's Tuesday night but I wrote this yesterday morning). We have quite a few new high school girls, bringing Team Wild (our group name) to a grand total of 26 members! Today I start my drama elective which I am very excited about.

Yesterday, we went on an amazing day-long boat trip in and around Cirali (chu-DRA-lu) and we ended up in some cool caves at Olympos. I was reminded of how much I love being out on the water and some campers even retaught me how to dive (though it wasn’t much of a success). A thought comes to me as I reflect on our boat trip: we cannot escape ourselves. My dear friend Marianna knows this well, as she’s shared some insights with me pertaining to her tour de Europe. Our location can influence and shape us, but we are still ourselves. I am still the same self who struggles with insecurities and is intrigued by nature and funny people whether I’m sitting in my backyard at home or on a boat in Turkey. While I was aware of this going into my trip, I’ve seen it play out often here at camp and have enjoyed being a learner of this life lesson.

I still need eight hours of sleep. Though I would love to be the coolest counselor ever and socialize until the wee hours of the morning, I need to be rested so I can invest into my girls during the day. I still hate sports and have all the fears that come along with playing a “social” pick-up game of anything (though I did love watching our Jr. High boys dominate the village boys in football last week!). I am still likely to make close friends wherever I go because companionship is that important to me. Seriously, I almost cried when Katie, who I’ve known for a week, left for Istanbul yesterday!

So travel may end up transforming me a bit because of the experiences I’m picking up, but I still am Christine: an AMERICAN (as much as I sometimes hate owning up to) girl who is passionate about one too many things at any given moment…one who’s desire is to continue discovering these simple profoundums.

Anything profound being discovered on the home front? I’d love to hear!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Day four at Olive Grove! I love my girls; I have seven 10th graders. We get to meet together each morning from 9-10 to do a Bible study and they have some really insightful opinions about wisdom, which is our overall theme for camp. We’re studying animal “bios” in combination with Bible stories to focus on a virtue necessary to wisdom each day. For instance, we studied the grizzly bear mother who looks after her cubs furiously in combination with the story of Elijah and Elisha in the Old Testament on Monday. In both of these illustrations, we learn about loyalty, which is something a wise person must possess.

I enjoy being a younger counselor because it’s a really unique role for the high schoolers. While they definitely respect me (which I appreciate so much), I also emphasize to them that I’m still a “teenager” who can relate to them and remember high school trials and stories well. I’ve also made some great friends among the counselors here at Olive Grove. At least half of the staff lives in Turkey as workers. The other half is from Texas (or so it seems)! I enjoy my roommates, who are the other high school girl counselors. I’m even planning a couple of days in Greece with Michelle for our time after camp.

Working with TCKs has been such an enlightening experience for me. A theme I’ve seen developing with my girls is a sense of minority (or even loneliness) in their towns. Christian friends, especially of a similar age, are very hard to come by in Turkey. Though this is something I’ve known, I’ve not before considered how much of a role this lifestyle of small community plays into the lives of TCKs.

Last night, I was able to give a talk on responsibility (the virtue of wisdom we’re studying today) to the 7th-12th graders. I included a lot of personal stories as I ventured into explaining what holistic responsibility is. I talked about physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental responsibility. I included stories of Dillon, Anna, Laura, Mom and Dad, Nathan, and myself in my lesson… so if any of you are reading, thanks for the examples of responsibility you are to me! TCKs in Turkey definitely benefited from your influence on my life last night.

I’ve only been in Turkey for one week, but it feels as if it’s been a month! I miss milk, ice, and flushing toilet paper down the toilet, but other than that, Turkey is far too beautiful to mention any serious complaints. We eat melon with every meal, have the best fresh bread delivered to our Pansiyon daily, and are treated to something authentically Turkish every evening for dinner. I’ll have to cook a big Turkish dinner for y’all (I mentioned all the Texans, right?) when I get home.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


We are at camp in the mountains near Olympos (where the first olympic torch was lit!). For the past couple of days, we have been prepping for camp, which starts on Saturday. I am rooming with Katie and Michelle and we are counseling high schoolers. Our pansiyons (rooms) are very nice and include air conditioning... which I would venture to say is a necessity in this climate! Yesterday was 108 degrees F; the hottest day of the year so far.

We spent the evening with the high school boy counselors preparing bonding games for the high schoolers. We are going to play the human knot and ninja on our first day with them. I'm getting excited to teach drama! I'll have most of the day tomorrow to prepare for that elective.

The Mediteranean is amazing! The water is warm but not hot and very salty so floating is way easy. Another necessity for surviving this heat is jumping in the ocean at LEAST once a day!

Well that's all for now; got to let someone else use the precious computer. Gule gule (see ya later)!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hello, Turkey!


I’ve made it safely to beautiful Antalya, Turkey. The journey was long and did not consist of much sleep, but I’m feeling well. Currently, I’m sitting in a cute Turkish villa hotel in a town that resembles Italy... so beautiful! I ate at a cafe in the village for dinner with some members from my team who also just arrived. Though it is 11:00pm and I have yet to have a good night sleep, the excitement of absorbing all this newness is keeping me awake!
Fortunately, we have an easy morning tomorrow before we are taken to camp in the afternoon for training. Apparently eighty degrees in California and eighty degrees in Antalya are very different... I was not expecting this humidity. Turns out I might be buying a few more tank tops while I’m here; not only because of the crazy hot weather, but also because it seems totally appropriate. There are definitely conservative women, but the majority of women my age are dressed like westerners without much concern for extreme modesty.
When flying in, I was shocked by how many mosques I saw... more that I could count, really. I have never heard the so-many-per-day calls to prayer in "real life", only on TV and through media. In a way, it's exciting to hear this aspect of culture for the first time, but then I am immediately saddened by the spiritual deprivation of this nation. More on that to come, I'm sure.

I’d better wind down; big days ahead. Thank you for praying for my while I journeyed! The Lord certainly had his hand of blessing upon me.

p.s. I accomplished my goal of recycling in Germany! I respect their savy waste management system. :)

Friday, June 11, 2010


I'm getting a crash course in Turkish tonight! My dad and I drove over to Barns & Noble this evening and the best phrase book I could find was Mediterranean Europe with a big chunk of Turkish... hey maybe if I master it, I can move on to Sloven, Italian, and Greek (not likely)!

Praise the Lord for bringing me this far... this morning in my journal, I wrote: "I'm anxious to get this show on the road!". And it's true. I feel very well prayed-for; many thanks to those of you bringing me before the Lord.

As I sit watching the world cup and listening to the horns that sound like bumble bees, I think about just how many cultural differences I will experience in Turkey. It is inexplicably exciting to me. When I'm hit with the awkwardness of a cultural clash, I hope and pray that I can maintain this curious, learner's attitude. I know I will face plenty of difficulties while I'm away navigating, counseling high schoolers at camp, and taking in the country as a whole. Nonetheless, I am ready. Thank you, Father for calling me to this exciting adventure. Bless those at home who have helped to get me where I'm going.

Hoscakal (goodbye) everyone! Hope to be back soon (we'll see if Turkish internet is compatible with blogspot).

Monday, June 7, 2010

It's been a while! These first couple weeks of summer have been busy... in a great way. Finishing up work as an RA was a little sad and exhausting, but very fulfilling. The beginning of summer has looked like: catching up with friends, eating BBQ with my family, and getting ready for my trip to Turkey!

I just wrote this to my (now X...sad)roommate:

When I was little, I would get overly excited about trips to the point where waiting for the day of departure to arrive (ironic) was nearly unbearable. So, in my old age (hehe), I think I've developed a coping mechanism to think casually about my trip until a day or two before it arrives. Unfortunately, there's a lot I need to do for Turkey: shop, write a prayer letter (check!), call my doctor, read up on the female presence in a Muslim country, and oh yeah PACK... so I can't do the whole "delayed anticipation" thing this time.

Yesterday, I bought travel snacks from Trader Joe's. Yes, I use stressful and/or exciting times as an excuse to treat myself! Really good trail mix, dark chocolate-covered almonds (I don't care what people say about traveling with chocolate... it works for me!), dried mangoes, Luna bars... Yum!

Though I'm a sucker for fun pre-trip details, I am striving to keep my focus fixed on the Lord. This morning, I enjoyed a great prayer walk where I talked with him about my campers in Turkey, asked him to let the camp run smoothly, and tried to listen to what he has for me at this time. My God is so patient with me which is such a blessing.

Over and out; I'm off to more detailing! (shrugs shoulders and giggles with delight... then spell-checks shoulders)