During the fall of 2013, our second year as international teachers, we had to make a decision about extending our contract for a third year. Coming into our third year, we knew we had to make a decision about a potential fourth year. (This is how we’ve come to measure our life: the year before we moved to Turkey, our first year in Turkey, our second year in Turkey, our third year.)
As we faced the decision this past November, we did not sense His immediate answer. We knew would faithfully stay or faithfully go. Moving to Turkey was a leap of faith for us. We put our trust in the Lord and His calling and believed in His power to provide. And provide He has. We’ve struggled with the challenges of living here, but we’ve also experienced joy. Still, we felt a bit of a draw to certain country for a couple of reasons. We applied to another school in our network and left the decision up to God. At the beginning of February, we made another step of faith.
We will be moving to Seoul, South Korea in August!
It is a bittersweet decision accompanied by a range of emotions.
We are sad to leave our school, our students, our coworkers, our community, our church, our friends, and our family here. Turkey threw its arms open wide and became home to us. We have spent more of our marriage abroad than in the States. For all of this and more, we are grateful.
As we celebrate and grieve our last few weeks in Turkey, I want to savor each moment. The sounds of this place: our students laughing on the playground, the shouts of the simit man waking me up on Saturday mornings, the calls to prayer. The smells, the sights, the beauty of the landscape. Taking communion as an international body at church each Sunday. The crazy taxi rides. The tastes: the döner, alinazik, lahmacun, dondurma, mercimek çorbası, simit, patatesli açma… Everything, down to the very last glass of çay. I don’t want to forget anything.
We came to teach and influence our students and community. Anything we might have accomplished pales in comparison to the ways that they and this place has changed us.
As we are processing our upcoming goodbyes, we are also excited for a new place to learn, teach, and grow. David will teach fifth grade, while I will focus on language and my freelance graphic design. It has been a real gift to see how God is providing for what’s ahead, even now. We are at peace knowing this is our next step.
At the same time, it is overwhelming to think about packing up our life here and starting over in a new place. Turkey is familiar and comfortable. Turkey is home. But now we will (and we must) learn a new culture, language, transportation system, how to grocery shop, how to cook with new foods, make new friends, and much more.
I, especially, am scared about returning from whence I came. I was adopted from Korea as a baby. Moving to Korea will be different from our move to Turkey on so many different levels. I’ll be surrounded by people that look like me. I won’t (for once) stick out in a crowd. I will be a learner in a place where the people will expect me to know everything. I realize I am approaching what will be the most challenging time of my life so far. I am attempting to mentally prepare myself as I know I will be a huge disappointment in the eyes of my new host culture. I had a great talk with a Korean-American friend about his experience of moving to Seoul. I am trying to keep in mind that no matter how I look or how much language I learn, I will always be a foreigner. And that’s okay. I am praying for strength and love and grace.
As we look ahead, where we are now, and behind us, our cups are full. We are so thankful for the last three years in Turkey. We are thankful for the opportunities that lie ahead. We are thankful for our support system of family and friends. We are also thankful for your prayers as we make our transition.