Turning point

April 30, 2011

April 20, 2011

As we were walking in the Turkish mountains for an entire day, we felt so completely confident. Wrongly so, as we were soon to find out. At least four people had confirmed that the hotel 31 kilometres away and touted by a road sign was definitely open. Still we fall for taking something at face value just because it’s been written. And hadn’t it only been in Greece that we heard someone say: „Surely you don’t believe everything you read online?!” Having arrived at our destination, there was a hotel alright, though it was at least partly of the ramshackle sort. So we enquired whether there was some sheltered spot we could pitch our tent in. This started a discussion, in the course of which we threw in a variety of creative suggestions which, however, kept being turned down eventually. Finally, we were allowed to spend the night in the garden under the roof of the hotel bar. Even though a tree right in the middle of the allotted space prevented us from setting up our tent, we hoped our warm sleeping bags would help us get through the night OK despite the cold and rain. It seemed the best solution. Since we intended to get an early start the following morning and our food supplies were too scarce for the mountain stretch, we decided to have a bite to eat in the still-open restaurant. As the only customers, we were the focus of attention of the entire staff that kept discussing something – as were we.

Generally, we seem to be discussing a great deal of things on our trip. Presently, we talk about the life of the Apostle Paul. Initially a top-notch persecutor of Christians, an encounter with Jesus at Damascus turned his life around (Acts 9). From then on he kept spreading the word that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah wherever he went. In Antalya we hired a car and followed in the footsteps of Paul’s first journey. When he arrived in Perge (see video) at the time, he had to overcome his disappointment about the fact that John Mark was no longer willing to continue his journey with him and headed back to Jerusalem. In Antioch (see video) we realized that Paul and Barnabas, though first asked by the crowds to speak to them, were then driven away and persecuted. The reasons for this were not of a theological nature but sheer envy. Even in Ikonion (see video), they had to flee again to escape stoning. And in Lystra (see video), the incredible happened: Those envious people from Antioch and Ikonion followed them as far as Lystra, stirred up the crowds against Paul and stoned him. Shortly before, Paul had healed a paralyzed man, and Paul and Barnabas had to fight tooth and nail not to be worshipped as gods. How fast the tide can turn. Now the stones were cast, and everyone thought Paul was dead. But he got up again, and left for Derbe with Barnabas the following morning (see video). Even if you’re fairly fit, hiking in the Turkish mountains is quite an energetic endeavour. But to tackle such a trail after having been stoned is nothing short of a miracle. In Derbe, it was not the verdant hill without any excavations nor the rather chilly temperatures of around 4 degrees Celsius that impressed us, but Paul’s decision. How easy it would have been for him to head straight for Tarsus. Quite understandable too, after all the persecution and suffering he had been through. “Turning point Derbe” is what we called his decision to think the encouragement of the believers more important than his personal safety. Putting up with the possibility of facing yet more persecution, he returned.

From Derbe we drove a little further into Central Turkey to visit Cappadocia (see video) and its truly fantastic rock formations, a unique wonder of nature. We marveled what works of art man chiselled out of tufa rock over time: apartments, churches(see video) as well as the up to more than 10-storey-deep underground towns (see video). Many times we have marvelled at God’s ingenuity reflected in His creation and the way it is used by man. We were also impressed by the large number of well-preserved churches and chapels. Not only did the persecuted Christians find refuge in those underground towns, but they also played a crucial role in extending them. It is nothing short of amazing that the Good News of Jesus has withstood countless times of persecutions. Our little travelling companion of eight months, the cuddly sheep, keeps reminding us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus also had to undergo lots of suffering. And even after His resurrection, lies were spread by some who had been bribed into it about why the tomb was empty (Matthew 28: 12-13). Now it’s Easter again, and we celebrate Jesus’ victory over death, even if we have to do without our traditional Easter lamb cake this year.

But back to the Turkish mountains. As we were having our dinner under the watchful eye of the staff who were constantly discussing away, and in expectation of a night more or less under the stars in wintery temperatures, suddenly our situation took an unexpected turn. They offered us a room where we could spend the night – for free. We were so grateful that we gave them a pocket knife we had been carrying with us since Greece in exchange. A day later then, Annemarie somewhat involuntarily ‘gave away‘ her green blouse in a moment of inattentiveness. But even a loss can add new colour to your life. In the evening then we met the first Turkish person to grasp straight away that we wanted no more and no less than some protected place to pitch our tent. That was at a petrol station located at a height of 1,500 metres and again at very low temperatures. Both in Greece and Turkey, the term ‘walk’ seems to be almost unknown. When going to the shops, for instance, some people park their car in the street directly in front of the store, possibly since it seems impossible to walk the distance from the car park. This may be the reason for their difficulties to understand what it is we’re doing. But Mustafa did. He served us warm tea at the petrol station and showed us a soon-to-be and structurally complete restaurant and told us we could camp there. On the following day, despite a breakfast à la petrol station and the drizzle, we made good progress. Having tackled 240 kilometres across the mountains in seven days seems to us a bit of a miracle.

Now the next challenge awaits. The coastal road towards the south sadly doesn’t lead straight ahead. The curvy road reaching considerable heights at several points will definitely save us a visit to the sauna. After our little car trip, we need to pluck up all our courage to face a stretch of this sort come Monday. A definite highlight, though, is that we can now finally get rid of our winter clothes which will lighten our load. While staying at Lea and Paul’s in Antalya, we were immensely grateful that we were able to spread out our entire possessions on five beds, do some sorting as well as a thorough laundry using their washing machine. Isn’t it amazing what one can be happy about in different circumstances?!

Happy Easter holidays!

Hanspeter and Annemarie

Website: www.BaselJerusalem.info

Photos: http://baseljerusalem.wordpress.com/category/fotos/

Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/BaselJerusalem?feature=mhum#g/u

In the German magazine „family“ (03/11) you can find an article about our hiking to Jerusalem.

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