Here I am, sitting in a Starbucks in Etiler, Istanbul! I have now been here for one week. It's crazy how with time it can feel like I've been here forever while I also can't believe it's already been a week. Was I really at Taylor just last Saturday? Huh.
After an 11 hour flight or something like that, I arrived at the airport and searched for my name on a sign (you always see that in the movies, but I never thought I'd actually be the one doing it!). This man didn't speak English, but held the sign with my name so away with him I went! He was a man from my host dad's work, and I knew ahead of time it would be him, but it was still a little freaky, taking off with a stranger in a new country who couldn't talk to me! Thankfully he took me straight to my new home :)
The little boy I'm caring for is named Ates. He is 3 1/2 and a really sweet boy! He is of a more gentle nature, not one to run around or play sports or be rambunctious, which is a relief for me! He was really shy at first, and he is seriously adorable with the biggest eyes and long dark eyelashes, as you will see in later pictures. I immediately loved him and really like my host mom as well! She and her husband have been extremely kind to me and welcoming, helpful, and forthright with communication and expectations, which is great.
You know I'm a nanny when I carry around Ates's Thomas the train backpack even when not with him... My host mom and I decided it would keep the creepers away ;)
They live in an apartment flat in a complex. It is very nice and more spacious than I expected. I live in a district called Etiler, which is on the European side of Istanbul this time (Istanbul is part Asia part Europe, split by the Bosphorus strait which connects the Black Sea and Aegean Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean.) It's really nice to be on the European side this time, because it is where the city centers and most sight-seeing is. I am well-connected to public transportation, and it's inexpensive.
My daily schedule goes something like this: Wake up at 7 and get ready for the day, Ates gets up around 7:30, feed him breakfast and get him dressed and ready for school which is from 9-1 on weekdays. While he is at school I have free time. Go with host mom to pick him up at 1, have lunch together, play all afternoon until dinner, have dinner around 7, give him a bath and put him to bed around 8:30. Each day is quite a long day!
Wednesday was my day off, and I took the opportunity to visit some of my favorite sight-seeing spots from last summer...
|The famous Blue Mosque|
|Beautiful Bosphorus boats and coast|
|I stopped for an afternoon snack of hummus and pitas before going into the Grand Bazaar.|
|This was the view from outside the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, which I visited since it was my favorite museum last summer.|
|Fishermen here have the longest fishing poles I've ever seen! And there are lots and lots of them.|
|The famous Haggia Sophia|
|This cutie is Ates. Look at those big eyes!|
|This is the view outside our apartment windows. Yes, there are tennis courts just below.|
|We went to a fish restaurant with his grandparents who told me it has the "best fish in the whole Mediterranean." I'm not sure about that, but they were delicious!|
|Corn on the cob is a common street food which Ates LOVES. I told them that I would also be eating corn on the cob if I was at home which my dad grows, but I didn't tell them that our homegrown corn is at least 5x better than this stuff :)|
|This is somewhat of a classic Turkish breakfast. Cheeses, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, olives, and bread. Usually we have hard-boiled eggs and sometimes nuts as well, and other places I've had it they usually also have deli meats.|
Needless to say, I am thoroughly enjoying being back in the beautiful city of Istanbul! I also feel very safe and happy with my host family :) Yesterday I got to attend the Every Nation church which the Lord blessed me with a connection with before coming (I wrote about that in my previous post), and it was so, so refreshing! The church was quite small, but had at least 10 other college-aged girls and guys there, and I am so excited to become friends with them! Worship was basically food for my soul, and I felt the sermon may as well have been written for me, all about how the Lord delights in perfecting His power in our weakness. Day to day life isn't all easy for me here, but I am so thankful that the Lord will give me through His the power the strength and abilities I do not have in myself! t's really apparent to me that fellowship and worship both with God and other believers are essential for my spiritual and total well-being while I am here. I really am so excited to see how He will continue to deepen my relationship with Ates and give me opportunities to show His love while experiencing the beauty and wonder of His creation in a place so different than anything I've known growing up :)