Friday, May 24, 2013

A Hop Over to Istanbul

It's been pretty busy at work, so a trip to Istanbul was just the ticket to get away and relax.

It's my fifth or sixth time there, so I had planned to visit other parts of Turkey.  Things didn't work out as hoped, but I'm not complaining.  It was a lovely trip.
I was able to stay with the man who had hosted me over the summer of 2011, and he spoiled me with delicious food and tickets to a Goran Bregovic concert.  I was also able to make a new friend, as another young woman was staying with him at the time.  She took me to a play (I understood nothing), and we discussed our love of Goran and Zumba.
I also spent a lot of time walking around one of my favorite cities in the world.  I went to old haunts and explored new destinations.  As one of the largest cities in the world (any way you slice it), there's always something to discover.  My host joked that most other places are "villages" in comparison - especially after I told him that I was coming from a reasonably-sized city in Bulgaria.
I took a book to my favorite destinations, caught up with a friend I'd studied Turkish with - and her new daughter, and just soaked up the lack of routine.  My only lament was that my Turkish wasn't better.  I feel it has only *slightly* improved since I left two years ago.  As my host is one of my favorite people in the world, it broke my heart a little that we couldn't communicate more, but maybe that's one of the reasons why we get along so well.
As I mentioned, work has worn me out a little.  April was a stressful month due to our GlobalGiving project.  It was the first time the organization had tried crowdfunding, and there we all feared that it wasn't going to work for us.  The very first night of the campaign, the reality of trying to raise $5000 from at least 40 people in 30 days was weighing heavily on my mind.  I picked up my Bible and immediately opened to Mark 10:27 - “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”  I still questioned how, and then I happened to flip a few pages and unexpectedly landed on Matthew 14:13-21 - the parable where Jesus feeds the 5000.  How were we going to raise $5000 in thirty days?  I felt God was telling me He had already taken care of it.  Of course, this didn't keep me from staying up nights worrying.  The only consolation I found in that is that I spent a lot of this time in prayer.  And I begged God not to let the campaign resolve quickly, so I would need to trust Him the entire month.  That prayer was certainly answered as well.  The worry, reliance, and tentative hope lasted the entire 30 days.  And He came through!  We were able to make our goal and help a wonderful group of people - which is a relief.  Our project was also featured a couple of times on a local TV station.  I prayed I would publicly thank God, but I failed.  That was disheartening.
As of today, I have two months left to my Peace Corps contract in Bulgaria.  I understand it's also the day Peace Corps officially concludes its programming in Bulgaria.  I've been finding reasons to come to Bulgaria with Peace Corps so long now (three different excuses in almost eight years), it's hard to believe that option will no longer be available to me.  Of course, I feel it's long been time for me to move on.  I have more mixed feelings about Peace Corps itself leaving.  It's hard to fathom.
I have made a few steps to transition out of here, but these have mostly involved submitting resumes, drafting cover letters, and scheduling the infrequent interview.  Other than that, I'm plugging along as if I'll be here for the foreseeable future.  Maybe it's hard to visualize because nothing is foreseen after that date; I cannot imagine life beyond Bulgaria.  And how will I just "hop on over to Istanbul" now?