Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Honestly, I was pretty weary about this day simply because I’m not the best automobile traveler and 4 hours one way is a long time – not to mention that we had practically been living on the buses already. But as it turned out, it was one of the easiest travel days. I had some really fantastic conversations with my fellow travelers, getting deep with them and learning about who they are. Plus, our tour guide not only gave us some great info (which I have neglected to really mention, but he had been doing all along), even throwing in a pretty hilarious story about his wife and daughter (which began with, “My wife, the other day she…she…(and here he was searching for just the right word)…she really pissed me off! It was pretty funny. Additionally, we had a pit stop about half way there where we indulged in Turkish Delight (a chewy gelatin-like candy covered in powdered sugar…think Applets & Cottlets, only considerably better), apple tea (a local favorite) and fresh squeezed (over-priced) orange juice. I think all the sugar rejuvenated us because we made the trip in what felt like no time at all.

The church at Laodicea was located up on the tippety-toppety of the mountain, which overlooked the entire valley region below. It was a city and culture of absolute opulence and the people of Laodicea looked down on others much in the same way their city looked down over the valley. As such, the letter to the church in Laodicea (in Revelation 3:14-22) begins with a harsh word, warning them to be either hot or cold instead of the lukewarm to which they have become accustomed. Interestingly, we learned that due to the natural surroundings, both hot and cold water were easily attainable for the people living in the valley below Laodicea, but that because of the plumbing system the rich Laodiceans only ever had lukewarm water – which is good for nothing. Imagine making coffee with lukewarm water, or trying to relieve yourself from the heat with lukewarm water – ugh! Thus, Jesus warns them that instead of comparing themselves to others whom are cold and considering themselves hot, they ought to be one or the other.

After Pastor Mark’s teaching in this incredible site, we made the short drive over to Hieropolis, a historical site with a somewhat funny juxtaposition of recently excavated buildings and a modern café. Additionally (and most interestingly) there were also naturally formed pools in the ground there, covered completely with some kind of calcium carbonate (honestly, that’s probably wrong – but I wasn’t really listening as I was in total shock at the white substance covering everything.) It looked like snow on a mountaintop from a distance. It was the most shocking thing! In order not to damage the natural formations, we had to take off our shoes, but we were allowed to wade in the pools and enjoy the water (too bad it was lukewarm – ha! No but seriously, it was. Such a tease – it looks cold and refreshing, but it was like bathwater. And after enduring the near 100 degree weather….torture).

After exhausting ourselves in the sun (and exploration) we piled back onto the bus for our four-hour journey home. The ride home wasn’t quite as jam-packed with fun as the ride there, but mercifully, it went quickly enough. We made it home in time for a late dinner and fell into bed. With only one more day in Izmir, it was promised to be the best yet! Tomorrow: Ephesus.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Philadelphia & Sardis

On our second day of touring, we loaded back onto the bus for a 75-minute drive to see the ancient remains of the Lydian city Sardis. Once there, we were rewarded with several different (much more intact) sites including a gymnasium (which is really like a gigantic “high school”), the synagoge, as well as ancient shops. Think of lots of columns and arches with a fair amount of greek writing and marble everywhere. Because there are so many earthquakes in the area, there were no complete buildings still standing and certainly no existing roofs. Still, there was plenty to see under the boiling hot sun and with the help of two greek dudes in our group, we were able to understand some of the ancient greek writings on the walls (of course, I don’t remember what any of that says now…)

After perusing the ruins, we traveled a few minutes drive to another site to hear Pastor Mark preach on the letter to the church at Sardis. Found in Revelation 3:1-6, this church receives a harsh word of Jesus as he calls them spiritually dead. It seems that Sardis is doing everything “right” on the outside – he doesn’t criticize their doctrine or their immorality – but on the inside, there is nothing: no passion for Jesus, no genuine love and affection for their neighbors and the world around them. Sardis is its own worst enemy. They have become apathetic and satisfied with the routine of faith instead of taking true joy in the rituals of faith. They simply don’t care.

This sermon was a particularly good one (though to be honest, they were all quite good) and has an easily applicable message into my own life: where have I become spiritually dead? What do I just not care about anymore? As part of the message, Pastor Mark talked about the difference between deadness and dryness as well. The latter being a season in which I’m not connected to Jesus or the church, but it bothers me. I am disconnected and uncomfortable about it. Deadness, on the other hand, results in no discomfort at the lack of Christ in my life. Good stuff, eh?

From there we ate lunch nearby and then settled in for another 75-minute drive to the teeny remains of the church of Philadelphia. Similar to the church at Thyatira, what remained was literally the shell of the ancient church, fenced in and tucked away within a city square. This letter, found in Revelation 3:7-13, acknowledges the church’s ability to keep to the Word. However, Jesus admonishes them to keep the strength and to not give up, as they have been doing. In a later sermon, Pastor Mark informed us that the small church of Philadelphia did in fact heed Jesus’ words and remained faithful for hundreds of years, until eventually the Turks invaded (during the Ottoman Empire) and wiped them out. What a legacy: to have remained faithful for so many generations! As an American with such a short national history, it can be difficult to fathom that kind of faithfulness.

After snapping a few pics, we (again) filed back onto the bus to escape the relentless sun and made our way back to the hotel for dinner and to rest up for Laodicea tomorrow: four hours away. (Yikes!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011


For our first adventure in Turkey, we headed for ancient Pergamum (Bergsma) about 90 minutes from the hotel for our first taste of pagan ruins and to visit the ghost of the church at Pergamum. 


As we arrived at the foot of an enormous brown mountain, we entered the site (complete with turnstiles, as though walking into Disneyland) and boarded an eight-seater cable car to the top of the dry, brown crag.  Once atop, we ascended further by step-climbing huge slabs of marble on a path to the foot of the foundational rubble once known as the Temple of Zeus. 


After learning a brief history from our guide, Ibrihim (the Turkish version of Abraham), we climbed the final few feet of marble path and rounded the edge of the face of the hill to see an amphitheatre built into the side of the hill.  It was a massive site in and of itself, seating at least 10,000.  After momentarily gaping incredulously, we turned to see the view from the seats: a fantastic view of the valley below.  What a sight! 


Once the bubbling excitement quelled, we scurried down the steps toward the front of the theatre for a front row seat. The film crew was already set up and Pastor Mark was preparing to begin the first sermon of the series, the letter to the church at Pergamum (Mars Hill is filming all of the sermons on the trip to use as part of the Ephesians series next year).  Even though it was probably nearly 100 degrees and I could feel the sweat running down my back and pooling under my thighs, I hardly noticed. It was something truly incredible to read scripture and learn the history of a place while you are sitting in the midst of it.


In his letter to the church at Pergamum, Jesus commends the believers there for enduring suffering.  However, that suffering doesn't give them the right to sin and sadly, the church has become steeped in sin, namely false doctrine, sexual sin and apostasy (professing faith but not practicing it; don't worry, I didn't know what that meant either).  Pastor Mark taught on the letter to Pergamum (which can be found in Revelation 2: 12-17, by the way) and then followed up the sermon with a Q&A. I learned a lot and all in all – between the location, the view, and the context – it was pretty amazing.


From there we climbed the 218 steps from the bottom of the theatre to the very top and surveyed the few remaining ruins before heading back down the mountain to board the bus and head to our next stop: Thyatira, the smallest of the seven churches.


After an hour-long bus ride and the fantastic morning, the teeny-tiny remains encircled by the fenced wall in the middle of a city block was….well, let's just say less impressive.  Nevertheless, we read the letter to the church in Thyatira (Revelation 2: 18-29) and reflected on the warning about false teaching and sexual immorality. Interestingly, despite being the smallest church, Thyatira received the longest letter.


At this point we were pretty wiped (and still jet-lagged) as we filed back onto the bus for the 2+ hour bus ride home.  After a quick dinner at the hotel and a glorious rainfall shower in our rooms, we were passed out for the night. 

Friday, July 22, 2011

Turkey: Missing in Action

I know, I know – where've I been??


So, here's the thing: I desperately want to give you a detailed account of everything that I am seeing and doing here in Turkey, however, the task up to this point has simply been too daunting!  Our days here are filled to the absolute maximum capacity.  Each day begins with a 5:30 wake-up call, 6am breakfast and 7am departure time (I know that sounds simply dreadful, but when your body already has no idea what time it is or what it ought to be doing, it's actually not so bad). From there we ride the bus from anywhere for 60 minutes to 4 hours to our destination for the day (usually with one pit stop to use the WC, buy a snack, and rub elbows with the locals). 


Then, once we arrive at the site, we either tour around for a bit or head directly to wherever Pastor Mark is set up to teach. Usually our bus is the last one to arrive, so we often head straight to the site (and let me clarify – all the sites are ancient ruins. Some are actual amphitheatres, while others are the rubbled remains of churches.  All of them are super cool and outside in the direct sunlight of the boiling hot 90-something degree day). 


As you may know, the whole point of this trip (er, at least most of the point of the trip – because let's be honest: traveling is just neat in its own right) is to visit the seven churches of Revelation in Asia Minor (PS – did you know Turkey is in Asia*?!  I'M IN ASIA!!  I still can't quite get over this.)


*Okay fine, smarty pants: 97% of Turkey is in Asia.  A very small portion (including part of Istanbul) is in Europe.  But still.  ASIA!!  This bottles my mind.  My mind is bottled.


What the heck are the seven churches?  I'm so glad you asked! In something like 70AD (don't quote me on the date, I am guesstimating from memory here people) the apostle John was the only remaining apostle (all the others had been martyred by then) and living on a small island called Patmos (just off the coast of Turkey) when he received a revelation from Christ (which he later wrote down…hence the title of the book).  As part of that revelation, he received seven letters to seven churches of the early church in Asia Minor.  Each letter follows a similar pattern: greeting, descriptions of Jesus, praise, criticism, warning, exhortation, and promise. Neat, eh?


So as you may have guessed by this point, we are traveling to each of the remains of the seven churches to see exactly who Jesus was talking to as well as to learn from their past successes and failures.  Part of the awesomeness is that Pastor Mark is reading the letters to the church as we sit in that very location and teaching on the letter.  It's a pretty cool way to learn biblical history and spiritual wisdom (I highly recommend it).


After the 45-minute sermon and a Q&A period, we get the chance to check out the site (if we haven't already). From there we usually head out for lunch (some place not too far away) and escape the heat.  After lunch we get back on the bus and travel to a second site for the day.  This is usually at least another hour away. On the way our guide teaches us more about Turkey and/or we nap.  We tour the second site, take our pics, and pile back onto the bus.  Usually there is a substantial bus ride ahead of us before we get back to the hotel for a late dinner and a shower before we crash into bed and do it all over again the next day.  Whew!  (PS – can you say, jetlag!?!)


So can you see why I'm having trouble? There is so much to tell – and I haven't even mentioned the food or the people yet, ack!!  It's all too overwhelming!


Okay, okay – I don't want you to think that I'm complaining because, com'mon, I'm in Turkey.  So let's just say I haven't quite had the free time (not to mention the energy) to keep you abreast of my journey as I might have liked. However, what I'm realizing is that this doesn't necessarily have to be a day-to-day account.  Now that you've got an idea of the landscape of my days, perhaps from this point on I'll just fill you in on the details and not necessarily the chronology.  Sound like a plan?


Great, I'll get right on that for tomorrow.  Right now it's sneaking up on 2am in Turkey and that wake-up call is looming closer and closer….

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day #2: Travel

After our Chicago hiatus, Krista and I were staring several straight hours of travel in the face, beginning with a ten hour, forty-five minute leg from Chicago to Istanbul.  Generally I'm a good sleeper on flights and I had some sleeping pills with me to boot, so I figured I'd be good to go.  Unfortunately, that wasn't the case.  Despite being terribly drowsy while taxing the runway, we initially hit some stomach dropping turbulence (I'm not going to lie – there might have been some screaming; though, not by me) that sort of jolted me out of my sleepiness.  I settled down pretty quickly, but it messed with my mojo and I slept fitfully at best for about 3 hours.  When I decided to give the cramped slumber a break, I felt like we had to be at least 8 hours into our flight by now: imagine my dismay.  In any case, I survived (barely) and we successfully landed (something I'm genuinely thankful for).  By this time we had met a few people on the tour and despite the fatigue, enjoyed chatting with our new companions. 


My first glimpse of Turkey, I'm sorry to say, was less than impressive.  It was approximately 5:00pm local time and pretty much all I could see was the airport and a few brown hills amongst the flat landscape.  It was very….eastern Washington.  In fact, it felt a lot like Yakima.  But I decided to not rush to judgment – heck it's not like SeaTac boasts Seattle's best landscapes either.


Our final destination for the day was Izmir, Turkey's third largest city (by population), where we will be staying for the majority of our stay.  So in our brief 90 minute layover we purchased a visa (it's a stamp like a postage stamp, not a rubber stamp – neat, eh?), cleared customs, purchased those pesky Turkish Lira (and got a $1.65:1 rate, yahoo!!), sped walked halfway across the airport to make our connecting flight, and zipped through security (again!) just in time for the final boarding call.  It was tight, but again, Providence was on our side and we didn't hit a single snag.  Our final flight was only an hour long and I managed a solid nap and awoke to learn our in-flight "snack" was really a mini sandwich, tubuli and chocolate-banana mousse (yum!).


From there we deplaned, met up with the rest of our group and checked into the hotel. Uh, can you say "five stars"?  Yeah, it's okay :)  We didn't mind the rainfall shower or access to the spa or full-on fitness rooms (!) either.


Tomorrow the touring starts for real – Pergamum, here we come!

PS - I know I usually try to post lots of pictures, but as it turns out (long story short), I do not have access to the blogger webpage at all, so I'm posting these via email.  That means I have no idea how to incorporate pictures, so those will have to wait until I'm home.  But I'll try really extra hard to be entertaining with words instead!

Chicago – a mini adventure!

Our connecting flight to Turkey was out of Chicago, so Krista (my roomie for the week) and I decided to make a day of it and catch the earliest flight we could to the windy city for a day of fun before we met up with the rest of the group.


After waking at the crack of dawn, we boarded our plane with little trouble (they made me throw away my yogurt!) and in the nick of time (apparently everyone is "early" for the first flight of the day – who knew?)


Our first mission upon arrival was to convert our dollars to Turkish Lira, but we were skunked out immediately, as they didn't have any.  After learning the conversion rate was $1.43:1, we shrugged it off and headed off for mission #2: where to stash our bags?


We had both decided, rather than risk becoming separated with our belongings in a foreign country, we would carry-on our luggage and pack light.  Genius! Except for the fact that we were in Chicago with 10 hours on our hands and not particularly excited about lugging our bags around with us.  Why didn't we just stick them in a locker and call it good?  Because evidently, lockers in airports only exist in movies like Get Shorty or The Saint and not in real life (something about the possibility of a bomb….I dunno).  Who knew, right?


But my dad came up with the most brilliant solution – there is a Hilton attached to the O'Hare airport – why not ask the bellman if they'll watch our bags while we're gone?  As it turns out, my father is a genius as we did just that. Even though we weren't guests, bellman Frank was kind to us and accepted our bags anyway (we made sure to tip him on our way out).


From the hotel, we hopped on the Blue Line and 45 minutes later were smack dab in the middle of Chicago.  Our plan was to hit up Millennium Park, see "the bean," and do a little shopping and eating.  And that's precisely what we did overall, a complete success.  A quick 7 hours later we were sweaty, tired, and hungry (again), so we made our way back to the airport. 

All in all, a fantastic day of Chicago fun.

Click it - it'll be fun! http://itspouxtoyou.blogspot.com/

Monday, July 18, 2011

I'm Going to Turkey!!

Hello dear readers!!

I know it has been unforgivably long since I last posted anything of substance, and for that I apologize. But it is with great excitement that I am (belatedly) happy to tell you that I have the incredible opportunity to travel in Turkey for 10 days!!

Here's the scoop: Mars Hill Church (my new church home in Seattle) is taking a group of folks from all over the world (172 of us, to be precise) on an expeditions tour of the seven churches of Revelation (See Revelation 1-3.) The apostle John wrote seven letters to the early Christian churches at the time to both encourage and discipline them. We will be seeing a number of the early churches as well as studying both the biblical history and the accompanying scripture (mostly the book of Ephesians and Revelation 1-3).

We will be spending the first week in Izmir, using the city as our hub as we venture to a new site each day. For the final three days we will travel to Istanbul and explore the enchanting metropolis.

I can't tell you how thrilled I am to be traveling again and on the precipice of sharing my new adventures with you, dear reader. While this won't be quite the same type of free-styled adventure I had in Italy, I'm confident the experiences will be no less memorable. My hope is to post daily and share my Turkish adventures as they unfold. (My secret hope is that I can easily fall back into the habit of blogging again and not have another year-long radio silence...heh heh. But we'll just have to see how that goes.)

So stay tuned! There is more to come - beginning with a day-long lay-over adventure in Chicago...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who Wants To Go To Paris?

Came across this cool contest, thought it was worth a shot: http://ohhappyday.com/2011/06/goes-to-paris

Thursday, October 28, 2010


So I was looking through the pictures on my camera the other day when I came across this:

I've been having a bit of a rough go of it today (you know those days when you just don't have the patience to tolerate the normal peskiness of a day? Yeah, I'm having that day today) and this just made it a little bit more tolerable.

I came across a number of fun pics so I'm thinking it may be time to update the sidebar pics as well. Hmmm...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Blank and Bare (aka The Before)

I've had my hands full moving and unpacking over the last several days and even though I'm not done yet (blame the head cold I picked up in the mean time) I thought I'd give you an eye-full of the place in all it's naked glory. So here's the tour:

As you come in and look to the left, you will see my teeny, tiny kitchen. (Jane says it's more efficient this way...I hope she's right!) Like most apartments it's a galley kitchen, meaning, it has a narrow runway with a row of appliances/cabinets on both the left and right. The picture above is what you see on the left side of the kitchen. (Note the lack of microwave, tiny counter space, and sparse cabinets *sigh*).

The picture seen above here is the right side of the kitchen. On the left side of the photo, you are seeing a sliver of my washer and dryer. That's right: I have a washer and dryer in my unit. That's right: I have a washer and dryer in my kitchen. You may also notice that I have a dishwasher in my kitchen (YAY!! A DISHWASHER!!) And though you can't see it, there is also a disposal in that sink. Bliss!! (You may also have noticed that the washer and dryer look conspicuously like they're in the pantry. That's because they are and I have no pantry. Feel free to scroll back up at that previous picture and review just how little storage space I have. Yep, I'm becoming an efficiency queen.) As you can see, the kitchen sink also looks out into the living room.

This picture is obviously of my bathroom. It is directly across from my kitchen and is what you see if you immediately look to the right after walking into the apartment. (Let's review: kitchen on the left, bathroom on the right. Got it so far?) And no, you're not imagining things - that toilet is pretty low to the ground. I..don't...know. Whatev, it works.

This is the view of the kitchen from the living room - it's much cuter when viewed this way. I'm just sayin'.

So this funky door is what the entrance to both the bedrooms look like. That's right, one whole wall of each bedroom is comprised of floor-to-ceiling sliding fiberglass doors - crazy right? It's totally funky and reminds me of a geisha-house door. If I were sharing this space with someone, I don't think it would be very sound-preventative or private (um, hello? You can see right through the door, duh.) But since I'm not, I think it's totally neato! I mean, fun - right?

If you're standing next to the tiny counter over the sink (which for all intents and purposes is a "bar," but really...com'mon) and look toward the right, this is what you'd see. This is the door to the spare room (sewing room/bonus room) as well as the sliding glass door that leads out to my spacious balcony. (BALCONY!!)

If you're standing in the same spot I just mentioned and looking to the left, you'll see the rest of the living room. Lots of windows for light, eh? Oh and did I mention this is a corner apartment? This corner is also the corner of the building. (Not that that means anything, I just thought you might like to know. See - you can see houses out the window. No staring a brick walls or the underside of stairs for me!)

From here, if you were to take a few steps to the left, you'd see the door to the "master" (read: slightly bigger than my queen bed) room. It's door is exactly like the sewing room door: über-cool.

Both rooms have generous closets, but there are no other closets in the apartment. (For every pro, there's a con, eh?)

So far I have the kitchen unpacked, my bed set up and am currently tackling the bonus room. Still so much to be done, but between being sick and working I just haven't had the time. I'm hoping to be totally moved in (and sleeping there) by this weekend.

Once I have it all set up, I'll take you on a second tour. Stay tuned!