As this post goes live, my family and I are boarding a plane in Istanbul, bringing this season of our lives to a close. For the past four years, we’ve lived in Turkey, learned the Turkish language, built relationships with wonderful new friends and grown as a family and as individuals.
There have been times that have been excruciatingly difficult – as most expats will experience from time to time. And there have been times that have been so filled with joy and peace that we’ve wondered if we could bear to return to the states.
Overall our time in Turkey has been a positive one and leaving is the bitter sweet journey of mourning the life we are leaving even as we grow in excitement for the life that awaits us back in the states. It is hard to leave and for that I am thankful. If leaving were easy it would seem the opportunity for relationships must have been missed.
It seems significant then to honor our time in Turkey, the country and the dear friends we have made along the way. Leaving well is an important part of entering well and we have worked in these last weeks to do just that.
When I spent a year in Mexico working among the urban poor there right after college, my life was so full of serving that I never really learned the language to a level that allowed me to really enter into the deep relationships that define community. When I left, I had helped the community but had gotten to know very few people.
My Turkish sojourn has been different. We worked hard to master Turkish and while my level of fluency is still a long way from where I would like it to be, it has allowed us to build friendships with our Turkish neighbors and friends that will last a life time.
Nelson Mandela reminds us that,
If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.
It is in the heart where true relationships are built. So as my family and I move on to a new season in life back in the United States, I plan to continue to help people the world over learn another language so that they too can experience the heart deep relationships of knowing and of being known by others.
Blessings to you all on your own language learning journey.
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