This morning my goal was to attend church. Aside from the one visit in Istanbul last winter, this would be my first time in a year. Both the School Handbook for Native Speakers and the Greek man I met at the pool mentioned St. John's Anglican Church as a place to meet expats. I left my house on my bike at 9:00 a.m. dressed in running shoes, my "biking skirt" and a light t-shirt. I also wore my backpack with my laptop because my second goal of the day was to find a Starbucks with internet after church.
I enjoyed a beautiful bike ride along the Aegean Sea to the ferry terminal. I had just missed the ferry to Alsancak (the terminal closest to church) but I hopped on the ferry to Konak (near the old center of town) and figured riding the extra distance up to Alsancak would be faster than waiting for the next ferry, which it was. I arrived at St. John's at 10:02. Luckily the church ran on Turkish time so it hadn't even started. For the first five minutes I wiped sweat off my brow and chin and hoped no one noticed.
The service was mostly in English with the Collect and Gospel repeated in Turkish. Interestingly enough, most of the people attending were Turkish (Armenian) which was interesting to me. I was unaware of meeting any Armenians in Malatya.The substitute rector started off the day praying for all Syrians but especially for those relatives about whom there has been little information. I learned that Syria was almost 17% Armenian especially near the northern border with Turkey.
The homily was about the importance of honoring your father and mother. There was what appeared to me to be a bold statement when the rector mentioned that in some places in the world there are still places with slavery and where women have no freedom and control of their own destinies. (think Malatya.....)
After the service I attended the typical Anglican coffee meet and greet. I don't usual do this but I was eager to gather information and meet two of the women who appeared to be of my generation or older. I introduced myself to one of the aforementioned women and had a delightful conversation. It turns out that she is Muslim and married to the rector. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say both had spouses who had died, their families had been good friends for years and they married. She is an active member of the Soroptomist society and helps battered and abused Turkish women. She cited a story about teaching a 60 year old woman to read which opened up lots of freedom including being able to ride the bus. Before learning to read, this women could not go to town alone because she could not find her way back home.
The second woman, it turns out, has been living/teaching in Istanbul Turkey for almost 30 years. She was fortuitous for me to meet as she is the dean of students at a high school in Istanbul that sponsors the Model United Nations program and chooses which schools to accept to the competition. It just so happens that I will be one of the club sponsors at my school for TIMUN and considering I know little about this program, I am delighted to have a resource.
Thank God for the freedom of religion in Izmir and for this opportunity to live in such a beautiful, interesting place.