Sunday, March 4, 2012
A few days after the last posting, I (Bob) left for Istanbul again and KLynn left for the U.S. to visit our daughter Rebekah and family in Chicago and daughter Lizzy and family in Durham, N.C. She enjoyed seeing children (grandchildren mostly) and the warm North Carolina weather and sunshine. My trip to Istanbul was for the Area Interim Mission Presidents Seminar. This particular seminar was expanded to include the area authority seventies and the two stake presidents (Moscow and Kyiv). They and their wives are an outstanding group of people. It is a privilege to be able to associate with them. I had a few small parts on the program dealing with legal issues, but it was mostly fun to be a fly on the wall and listen to our area presidency train the priesthood leaders. I have grown to admire and appreciate the members of the area presidency a great deal. They have been a powerful influence for good in my life. It is also useful to spend time with the mission presidents and establish personal relationships with them, so they are more than a voice on the telephone or a name on an email. A highlight of the week came on Thursday morning. I left the seminar to meet with our local counsel, Nuri Bodur, to discuss a number of legal matters. At the end of our meeting I invited Nuri to walk over to the new rented Church meetinghouse, which is near his office, and to meet the "young volunteers" (we don't use the term "missionary" in Turkey because it carries a negative connotation). Nuri and I had done a lot of work to help prepare for the volunteers' arrival in Turkey, and Nuri was happy to come with me. It was a moving experience for me to meet these four young men, knowing what they represent. I felt that I was in the presence of greatness. Three of them are from the United States (one from Kaysville) and the fourth is from England. They carry a remarkable spirit with them. I posted a picture of me standing with the four of them. A second picture of the young volunteers is with one of their teachers, Terry Smith (the older man on the left); a young woman who is a member of the Church and a native speaker who helps with their pronunciation; and Nuri, the young man on the right. Terry has lived and taught in Turkey for many years. The next morning at the seminar we sang "Called to Serve" as the opening song. As we started singing, President Roth (the Bulgaria Sofia Mission President) and the four Turkey Elders walked into the room and stood at the front. Several of the sisters in the room took out handkerchiefs and wiped their eyes. The Elders each then bore their testimonies in Turkish. Murat Cakir, the branch president in Istanbul and a native Turk, told me that after one week the Elders were at a second semester college level. They will do well. Murat established an LDS website in Turkey a few years ago, and he has over 1,000 referrals from people who have responded to his website asking to learn about the Church. I sat next to Murat at dinner one night and he shared his remarkable (I would say miraculous) conversion story, which took place many years ago. Preparations for the Elders' arrival in Turkey have been underway for a long time. Istanbul is a great city. I posted a picture of the Haggai Sofia, one of the city's great architectural gems. It was build by the Romans as a Christian Church in the sixth century and is now a mosque. (I also posted a picture I took last night of KLynn at our favorite Uzbeki restaurant. Sometimes it seems like we are living in a movie set.) I sat next to one of the mission presidents and his wife on the flight back to Moscow last Saturday. I shared some of my experiences about helping the Church to get more established in Turkey, and he with great solemnity told me I need to record it in detail. He's right. That will be a project for the next few weeks. KLynn got back from the States yesterday, and there was much rejoicing. I'm glad she gets to visit family, but it's not fun for her to be gone. One more thought, the Moscow stake presidency has asked the local members to fast and pray that we will be able to obtain land for new Church meetinghouses (a project that has been going on for years). I am not at liberty to post the details in a public blog, but this past week I could see and feel the affect of those combined prayers and fasting. I am optimistic that we will be successful. It's a privilege to part of this work.
Posted by KLynn at 9:29 AM