Dear ACOP Family,
Yeni yiliniz kutlu olsun!
This is one of the many ways of greeting each other at this time of year. It translates more along the lines of “Happy New Year” than “Merry Christmas,” but we find it opens the door to many conversations about what this season means to us as Christians.
We will decorate our home for Christmas, and have noticed an increase of “western-style” decorations in shops, businesses, and homes over the past few years—it sure adds to the festive season.
We won’t have snow for Christmas, but cools down enough to enjoy a cup of “Salep,” a hot creamy drink made with milk, sugar, and orchid bulb powder (how dreamy does that sound!)—and don’t forget to sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on top!
And we can’t forget to let you know about all the food…
Breakfast, or “Kahvalte,” is the most important meal of the day here for sure! Traditionally, we all sit on the floor or on very low seats around a large table. Plate after plate of cheeses, breads, olives, jams, eggs, vegetables, and an endless fountain of tea (chai) is shared among us all. After a breakfast like that, we aren’t hungry for the rest of the day!
But the true joy of the season is found in seeing God’s Word come alive—not only in people’s hearts who are hearing it for the first time but also in our own lives as we see it through the eyes of another culture. Although we come from different worlds than the people we are living with, the Holy Spirit is constantly moving and shaping us all with His Word into new creations.
Which reminds us about the Christmas story in the Bible, the whole story is absolutely captivating! A young couple surviving in a critical time, a baby king born in the open, forces of human evil and spiritual darkness hunting Him down, the curtain between our physical world and the heavenly realm lifted for a moment and catching a sneak peek of angelic choirs and light filling the skies with worship…OOOOOH! Goosebumps!
So our Christmas miracle this year will be to share in God’s presence and with those around us! FOR SURE! Making our biggest Christmas tradition— having people over (who otherwise wouldn’t have family to spend the holiday with) one we look forward to! Sometimes this means getting creative with where everyone’s gonna sleep or sit, but we’ve made a lot of wonderful, special memories in the process!
And maybe, everyone will wake up to Turkish Delight, or “Lokum” in their stocking. The REAL stuff they craft by hand here. It is seriously a form of art!
So we sign off our greeting with this verse…
“Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.”
1 Thess. 5:16-18 (The Voice)
P.S. The city where the original St. Nicholas came from is not far away from us!