Saturday, October 3, 2015

Turkey Trip Part 2

The next morning (Wednesday, but the days are running together) we left early and drove to Assos. Assos is beautiful. We are not solidly in the areas where we can tie in Biblical stories. Yesterday afternoon, today on the bus, and at Assos, we went through the various stories of Paul traveling through Thrace (where we were before the ferry), the Troas area, the man calling to him from Macedonia, the falling asleep of Eutychus, and then we talked about the walk to Assos. In each case we had some nice devotionals, and I feel like the students are coming to understand Paul and his life better, and are being edified. We have had some nice moments. It rained on us at Assos, and the fog was so heavy we couldn’t see Lesbos (Myletus), but it was beautiful nonetheless. That is a really beautiful place.

Tashara and I at Assos

Students waiting for instructions at Assos
Tashara at Asos

From Assos we drove quite a ways and went to Pergamum. This is one of the seven churches John writes to/about. We have also started working our way through the revelations to the seven churches with the students. 


Pergamum is a great place for that. We were able to talk about a lot of symbolism behind his writings that you understand better after being at the place.

The Temple of Trajan at Pergamum
The Temple of Trajan at Pergamum

My class at the Trajan Temple at Pergamom (Pergamos)
It rained on us really hard while we were there, but Jeff found a little place under a shed we could hide and did a magnificent job of teaching us there. It was powerful. I added a little here and there, but there was little need. Jeff is a powerful teacher. I have SO MUCH fun teaching with Jeff Chadwick.
Chadwick teaching the students

The students listening to Dr. Chadwick as he taught during a rainstorm

The area around Ephesus where we traveled

We did a lot more teaching on the bus. Some of the things we want to talk about are better taught on the bus because they have to do with areas we pass through. We also played some games and the students were really having a good time doing goofy stuff on the bus. The new hotel we are staying in is nice. The food is fantastic. Tashara and the other faculty and I walked along a little street that had shops and a small amusement park, and had a very good time.

Me and our bus driver, Ossman

As faculty we also had to start working our way through some complications that are arising from our being here as the Muslim holiday of Sacrifice begins. Tomorrow we were going to go Ephesus first thing in the morning, but we figured out it wasn’t going to open until 1 pm.

Instead everyone got to sleep in, then Tashara and I and a bunch of students went out to swim in the Aegean (a bit chilly but not bad) and the pool. We had a nice, relaxing morning. Then we went on a beautiful drive to an early lunch, and then began touring Ephesus. It is a huge, wonderful, amazing site. So much to see, so much to learn. In the theater Jeff led us through the story of the riot against Paul that happened in that Theater. I also taught about John’s teachings to Ephesus, and I recapped the main teachings of Ephesians. We sang, had a wonderful time, and then Tashara and I spent some wonderful free time exploring the city. The weather was great and it couldn’t have been a better time for Tashara and I.

Ruins at Ephesus
Tashara at the gates of Hercules at Ephesus
The Library of Celsus at Ephesus

The theater at Ephesus where the riot took place because Paul was converting Christians and thus taking away from the income of idol makers.
Chadwick teaching about the riot in the theater (see Acts 19)
From there we went to Prienne. We had planned on going to Miletus, but it has rained so much it is a bit flooded out. I had never been to Prienne, but it is beautiful, and it is close enough to Miletus that I went over Paul’s farewell at Miletus there. I felt a strong, overwhelming sense of love for the students there, especially as we sang. The bad thing is that I was so affected I just walked away and left my water bottle carrier there. Very sad, I miss it.

The temple at Prienne

Students in the Odeon of Prienne, where I left my water bottle carrier
That night we got to the hotel late. Kent and Gayle Brown were at the hotel waiting for us. They have been serving a mission here in Iznik for two months now, and have 16 more to go. Their mission is to help branch members here. They are doing completely new work, trying to learn the language, covering an absolutely huge area only on bus, and it seems tough. I think they were happy to see us. I pray for them, what a tough thing they are asked to do. They never get to rest.

We spent so long talking with them that I had not time to go with Tashara to the amusement park or anything like that. But she had fun with the students. I did get time to run out and get some gifts for people. Then it was time to sleep.

Tashara later told me that the main topic of the night with the students was talking about how much they liked working with me. I strongly suspect that their audience (Tashara) influenced the conversation.
Tashara and I with our guide, Sammy 
The next morning as we drove through Izmir I taught about biblical Smyrna (the same place). I felt very good about what we spoke about while we were together. I told the students I would take 18.5 minutes. Someone timed me: 18:05. Pretty good.

The drive from Ephesus to Izmir

We drove to Sardis. At the temple there I talked about John’s teachings to Sardis, and then about temples in general, and tried to tie together much of the temple imagery in Revelations. I felt like it went really well. I gave them free time, and we enjoyed taking pictures of the stunning setting. 

Remains of the unfinished temple of Sardis

Tashara in the temple at Sardis

Then we drove over to another part of Sardis, where there is a huge synagogue (the largest ancient synagogue found yet), along with a gymnasium. The synagogue is stunning, so beautifully done it is amazing.

Ruins of the Synagogue of Sardis

Part of the Mosaic floor of the Synagogue of Sardis

We visited or drove through five of the seven cities of the seven churches of Revelation

From there we had a very long drive to Bursa. On the drive we told stories and had Sammy (Samih) tell us the story of how he got engaged and about traditions regarding courtship, engagements, weddings, etc., and then he even told us about circumcision traditions (which I am glad we don’t follow). It was a very long drive, but went quickly.

Sammy teaching the students

On the bus with Jeff Chadwick

The bus rides were indeed long

I have been having a great time with the students. We have really been able to laugh, tell stories, joke, and have a good time together. It has been great!
At Bursa, which was the original capital of the Ottoman Empire, we went through the Grand Mosque, which was grand. Then we went through some of the market, though most of it was closed for a holiday. Eventually we went to the hotel and had a nice dinner, and then went for a quick walk around the city, and got to bed early.

Inside the Grand Mosque at Bursa
We left early the next morning and in good time made it to Iznik, which is the site of Nicea. We went to the ancient gates, and then to the church. There we talked about the ecumenical councils that happened in Nicea. The issue of iconoclasm was finally settled there. Then we went to the tile bazaar. Iznik is the most famous place in the world for tiles. It was Iznik tile artisans that made the tiles for the Dome of the Rock, and still today if mosques or other buildings want good tiles it is to Iznik they go. I got a few gifts there, accidentally broke a swan tile and bought it too. 

The ancient gates of Nicea (with both classes)
The church at Nicea (Iznik)
Sammy, Jeff and I at Lake Iznik. We made a pretty good team
The nicest lady, who took care of the bathroom at Iznik. We didn't understand each other at all, but she laughed all the time and blew kisses to everyone. Without any common spoken language she still cheered up everyone she met.

Then we went to the shore near where the ruins of what they think is Constantine’s palace (submerged now). This is probably where the Nicaean Creed was developed. We spoke of that for a long time, and in the end it was a very nice.

From there we had a long bus ride, a long wait to get on a ferry, a small ferry ride (everything is very crowded because of the holiday), and then drove to the airport. The airport was a bit complicated, but worked, and we all got on the plane, and arrived in Israel at midnight. We were back to the Center by 2 am. It was great to see Julianne again! Everyone else was asleep. I was exhausted.

The ferry that would take us back to Istanbul

In the airplane on the way home

In the airport waiting to go home

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