Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Turkey vs. Texas

I got this idea from my fellow blogger Corlea, who blogged about comparing her old home of Montgomery to her new one in Memphis. Sounded fun. Here goes....

Natural Beauty: Honestly, the landscapes look fairly similar. Dry and arrid. Texas was a little greener, but I am told Turkey gets that way too when the rainy season hits. We also have mountain views here. So right now, they both get 1 point.

Turkey 1 Texas 1

Church: I love our chapel here, I really do. Both Chaplains are great teachers and the folks there are wonderful. But I miss Oak Hills. I miss Max and Bibleland and our Life Group so much. I am giving the edge to Texas on this one.

Turkey 1 Texas 2

House: No comparison, no argument. Texas 110%. I heart 4607 Eldon Run.

Turkey 1 Texas 3

Kids Activities: This one is hard. Technically there is much more to do in Texas. Children's museums and play centers abound. However-here we are more involved with other kids. We are constantly outside at one of the many, many playgounds within a 2 minute walk of our house. We attend playgroups at houses and the youth center. W seems genuinely happy-so that makes us happy.

Turkey 2 Texas 3

Food: Again, no comparison. I am a bit tired of kebabs. How many different ways can you eat one? I would give anything for one week of eating in San Antonio.

Turkey 2 Texas 4

I'll stop there. Even though Texas wins, I am surprised at how much I truly like it here. I thought before I came that I would just "tolerate" it for 2 years. Now, I think I will be genuinely sorry to leave. Off to take my little boy to play!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

2 Successes and 1 Failure

Success #1:
The Air Force Gala on Friday Night. We had a blast. I can't say enough about the people here-fun, genuine, and so welcoming. It was the best military function I have ever attended-live band, lots of dancing, and wonderful friends.

Success #2
Shopping trip to Mersin. I went with some other spouses on a bus to nearby Mersin. It is a nice city that sits right on the ocean. I spent all day at the big mall there with some great ladies. I am not a big shopper, but enjoyed getting to know more new faces. It made for a long day, but I am so glad I went.

And finally...I am sad to report.....The Failure:
The Auburn/South Carolina game. We tried. We really did. It just wasn't in us to stay up for the whole stinkin' game this time. I got up and made it until halftime and just couldn't stay awake. The good news is tha apparently our team doesn't need our support as much as we thought-they still won.

Auburn 35 South Carolina 27
War Eagle.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Turf Wars

Things work a lot differently here at Incirlik-I am still trying to get a good hold on how business runs and so forth. A perfect example: hiring domestic help.

When you first move in to your house, various people knock on your door asking you to hire them to cook, clean, garden, so on and so forth. We had already decided that we wouldn't need a housekeeper or nanny-but we thought a gardener would be nice. Ryan had already hired one before I came. He told me the first guy, Ilhan, wanted more money than the second guy, Mehmet. So we are using Mehmet.

We have just recently discovered that these 2 men-Ilhan and Mehmet-head up the two "rival" gardening services. Mehmet doesn't actually do our lawn-one of his employees does. Apparently, they are very competitive and each have certain areas of housing that are their "turf" historically. I think we must have been an Ilhan house that is now a Mehmet house. Drama, drama.

To add to the soap opera, guess who is our rental car guy? Ilhan. He reminds me very often (and very nicely) that we are NOT using him as a gardener.

And so are the Days of Our Lives...........

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Dear Turkey,
You and I have been together one month today. We have already had our ups and downs-but I hope this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Another Long Night

Yes, we were up again to watch football at 2 a.m. Because Auburn couldn't close the deal and the game went to overtime, we didn't get to bed until about 6. W got up at 7:30-so-yeah, it's been a long day.

A bit of an explanation for this strange nocturnal tradition of ours. I have had lots of comments from people (mostly on facebook) marveling about our devotion to the team. While I wish this true, it's not entirely. I think a lot of the getting up to watch the game has to do with keeping that connection with home strong. I have found that when you live as far away as I do from home, you will surprise yourself at the lengths you will go to to feel a part of life where you belong. That could mean different things for different people-but for us, it means football in the wee hours...and that's okay by us.

Auburn 27 Clemson 24
War Eagle.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Paging Walt Disney

Today, I ventured outside the base gates for the first time since our marathon weekend. I need a dress for a ball next weekend and was told someone in The Alley will make me what I want very cheaply. Good enough reason for me. I was a little nervous to go though-seeing how exhausted and shocked I was the last (and first) time I left base.

Things have changed for me though. I didn't realize it until my friends and I had walked outside the gates. I have encountered enough Turks on base and practiced speaking their language enough that my confidence was much improved. Instead of being shocked at the poor architectural conditions-I was noticing the beautiful handmade products for sale. Instead of being timid and insecure, I was confident and comfortable. I shifted my focus from how different this place and people are to the similarities we share. When you really look, Turks really aren't that much different than Americans. They love their family, love to make babies giggle. They work hard and try to do what's right. They are friendly and warm and welcoming. One lady in the beauty salon proudly showed us a picture of her son in a military uniform. It reminded me of the look my mother-in-law has when she is talking about Ryan.

I feel like I became a slightly better person today. I can't explain it. The lyrics to "It's A Small World After All" are swirling in my head. How cheesy is that? But true, so true.

Monday, September 13, 2010

St. Paul, I Feel Your Pain!

Last Thursday morning was the kick-off for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) here at Incirlik. I was excited to go, but dreading the longer than usual (maybe 1 mile) walk to where the event was being held. Instead of wearing my work-out attire and tennis shoes to make the walk more comfortable, I decided to "dress up" in khaki shorts and wear my cute thong sandals from Old Navy. About half way to the meeting, my feet and back were both aching and I was really regretting my wardrobe decision. The fashionable sandals I was wearing had paper-thin soles that were as hard as a rock. I was sweating and hurting and complaining.

Then I thought about the bible study we attended the night before. We are studying the missionary journey of Paul through looking at the geography and historical ruins of the places he visited-many of which are in our "back yard" here in Turkey. Paul and his friends would often walk 200-300 miles from town to town, and then instead of taking the shortcut home, would retrace their steps and visit the same towns in reverse to check on the converts and early Christians they had left in their wake. So, about a 500 mile round trip, on foot, in Turkey, probably wearing similar footwear to the style I was rockin' to MOPS.

Yeah, I think I'll stop complaining now.


Friday, September 10, 2010

It's 3am (I Must Be Lonely)

Those of you who don't listen to pop music might not get the title here, but I wanted a creative way to introduce the latest Stebbins tradition: getting up at an insane hour of the early morning to watch college kids carry a pigskin on a 100 yard grassy field. That's right-we were up to watch our Auburn Tigers for the first time last night. Even though this was the second game of the season, it was the first one we thought would be good enough to merit us waking up.

I can think of very few good reasons to be up at 3. Maybe a crying newborn, or a stomach bug, or pulling an all-nighter in college. None of those things are fun. I guess I was out until 3 once or twice-but honestly, that's not much fun either. All the fun is usually over by midnight anyway. But here we were, dragging ourselves out of bed to watch a game. For fun. At 3am.

I have to admit, in some ways it is nicer for me this way. My sheer exhaustion takes the edge off my nerves as I watch the game. Instead of cheering loudly and yelling at the TV when I am frustrated, I just nod and yawn. Ryan tones it way down too. We both are just glad when it's over and we can crawl back in bed. Today, we were both dragging all day-I am going to call it "Tigerlag"-and yawning frequently.

As strange as this sounds and as weird as people might think we are, this is one of those "little things" that we will always remember. When we are old and gray we can laugh about it. It is something that we do together, something that makes us "us". I think our time here in Turkey will give us many of those moments together, hopefully all at a more decent hour :).

Auburn 17 MSU 14
War Eagle.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

1910 or 2010?

You be the judge-

-To call anyone, we dial "0" to get connected by an operator.

-We don't have a car right now, so I take various means of transportation to the store. I have taken a bike with a trailer behind it, pulled W in a wagon and then loaded it up for the return trip, and just plain walked and hauled it back.

-I go to the store at least 3 times a week because I can't take alot per trip.

-We walk to church.

-We don't have (gasp!) digital cable.

-Everyone is always so friendly. People walk out of their houses to say hi when we pass. Cars honk their horns and wave. Our Turkish gardener knocks on our door most mornings just to see if I need anything and if we are having a good day.

-The big thing to do on base on the weekend is a round of bowling.

So, as you can see, life is decidedly slower and simpler here. Frustrating and annoying at times, and lovely at other times. I am not going to know what to do when I return to the US of A!!

Monday, September 6, 2010


It's Labor Day and Ryan is off. Both he and W are napping and the house is quiet for the moment. So, I have some time to blog.

**Warning-Deep Thoughts Ahead**

Last Sunday Night at church, the chaplain's sermon really stuck with me. He talked about the word Koinonia. Up until last Sunday, if you had said that word to me, I would have thought of the adult Sunday School class at my childhood church that bears that name. My parents were in the class for awhile, and many of my good friend's parents still are. A wonderful group of folks (who, by the way, put out an excellent cookbook that is one of my favs!). However, the Koinonia he was referring to was the true meaning of the word-intimate fellowship. He used it to teach us about how we as Christians on this base should treat each other, even though we hail form many different denominations.

But as God so often does, I learned a different lesson than the one the chaplain intended. You see, last weekend was our marathon weekend out and about in Turkey. I was fresh off the cultural overload of our adventure. As an American, I think I(not purposely) thought I was "better" than much of what I saw off base. Where I had come from was nicer and cleaner and well, better than this place. Horrible thought I know, but I am being honest.

During the sermon I realized that even though there aren't as many as in the States, there are Christians here in Turkey. Christians who are my brothers and sisters-and one day-my eternal neighbors in heaven. They might not look or dress or speak or eat like I do. They might not understand my love for football or ever have heard of my favorite stores at the mall. But God calls me to love them anyway. And not as an act of pity or goodwill, but as an equal.

You see, as silly as it may sound, my view of God was skewed. I viewed Him as an American-which, I guess, was only natural given that is where I have spent all of my time. When, if you actually look in the Bible, God's "Chosen People" (Israel) are actually a lot closer in appearance and in culture to Turkey than America.

What I am learning is that my view of God is growing. He is bigger than any country, culture, or language. He is above it all. There is no offical language of heaven, no one country's flag flys at the pearly gates. What will make heaven so, well-heavenly, is that it's residents will be a jumbled group of tribes, tongues, and skin colors all enjoying perfect, intimate community. Koinonia.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Savas Kartal!

Those of you who know me well know that I am a football girl. I absolutely love everything about college ball. Fall Saturdays with a pork butt smoking and a chill in the air is my idea of perfect happiness. Oh, and an Auburn victory here and there helps.

Therein lies our latest problem. You see, we live in Turkey. Not exactly football central-if you don't count soccer. So, like so many other things, we are learning to adapt. We have our grill, but pork is in short supply here. We will have to whip up some kabobs I guess. Ryan ordered ESPN 360 and figured out how to get the computer screen to play on our TV so we can watch our Tigers on TV-even if it is at 3a.m. Our Auburn flag will proudly fly outside our house on Incirlik Air Base. You can take the girl out of the SEC, but you can't can't take the SEC out of the girl.

Savas Kartal (War Eagle) from Turkey!!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Settling In

The big news is-our furniture is here!!! It was so exciting to see the movers bring in familiar items that add to our comfort here. It was like Christmas morning for W, who had totally forgotten about all of his cool toys over the summer. There are still boxes everywhere and alot of disorganization, but it is starting to feel like home.

The other exciting news is that our car should be released to us in a couple of weeks. This is defintely a best case scenario situation, as sometimes the Turks hold cars for months. Until then, we will have a mix of rental cars, bicycles and walking to get us around. I rode a bike for the first time in several years today. Add to that the fact that it was a bike made for my very tall friend-and I looked about as goofy and ridiculous as I possibly could riding to the commissary.

Speaking of my friend Wendi, she has been incredible in helping us to get settled. She watched W today so I could unpack in peace and lended me the aformentioned bicycle to get to the commissary. We have been e-mailing for months, and have bonded quickly here. She is truly an answer to prayer!