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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Closing Banquet

We had a great day. We started with worship at the Union Church of Istanbul, an English language ministry in the heart of the city. They worship in the Dutch chapel which is on the grounds of the Dutch consulate. We received a book written by the pastor's wife about this history. I am anxious to read it. The church is vibrant and diverse and it was a real pleasure to experience what's happening in the lives of Christians living in Istanbul. To the left is Pastor Ben with his wife Elaine.
Then we had the famous Turkish bath as outlined in a previous blog. We ended our day with a dinner cruise along the Bosphorus. It was an absolutely beautiful evening and for the first hour and an a half we enjoyed beverages and snacks on the upper deck. The folks we've been with this week are dear friends and we are so thankful for our association with them through the years. Several of our close friends are moving on this year to other things and it is likely that they won't be at future gatherings. We grieve this loss. But the good news is that several new folks were in our midst this time around and we greatly enjoyed the new contacts we received. We look forward to building fruitful relationships with them as the years unfold. We are hosting this gathering next year in Stockholm and feel so excited to welcome them to our home town.
Istanbul is just an amazing city. It sprawls and sprawls as far as the eyes can see. The Bosphorus cuts Asia and Europe in half and the sights along the way are stunning, as everything on this trip has been. The lilac is newly in bloom, the Bosphorus bridge spreads out high above the strait, the homes of the rich and famous line the shores of the water, and all in all, it's just one great thing after another to take in. I have so many thoughts and impressions about this trip. It will linger with me for a long time to come. I am so grateful to our good friends, Benjamin and Elaine who hosted us. Their ministry here is invaluable and their hearts are
truly made of gold.