But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Early last Monday morning, we got up, loaded into the Smiths' van, and headed to Izmir, a large city about three hours away. Once we got there, Gwen helped us buy train tickets to a town near Ephesus and we were on our own to explore in a land that was completely foreign to us for the next two days.
We had about two hours to wander before our train came, so we decided to go ahead and get an early lunch. Let me tell you, when you are gluten intolerant and you can't communicate well with your waiter to ask what doesn't have gluten, and you can't make up your mind about what looks the safest, be prepared for the waiter to bring whatever he decides you should have... I had a handy card, written in Turkish, that explains what I can and can't have, but he took it upon himself to order for me. I guess I just looked clueless enough! Oh well, my tomato soup and veggie omelet were tasty, at least.
After a semi-stressful train ride, we ended up in Selçuk, a small town near Ephesus. If you ever get the opportunity to travel to Ephesus, please please please stay in Selçuk! We had the nicest, most wonderful staff at a hostel called Homeros Pension, who loved on us and made us feel like family. Here are the only two pictures I managed to take at the hostel. I wish I had taken more, but this gives you a feel for a Turkish hostel!
|Our distinctly Turkish room!|
|The view from the rooftop sitting area. This was wonderful in the evening.|
After we got settled into our room, we set out to find places to explore. First up, St. John's Basilica. This is said to be the burial place of the Apostle John.
I don't want all of my words taking away from the pictures, so I'll mostly just show the view, with a few comments here and there.
|The marble and stone work were incredible.|
Next was the ruins of an ancient castle. Eli's 8 year old self came out while he romped around and explored every part of the castle!
|When your toddler falls asleep on Dad's back and there are no clouds in the sky, you use what you have to keep her as comfy and cool as possible! I just happened to have a very lightweight scarf that doubled as a sun shield for the day.|
On Tuesday, we woke up and went to the rooftop for an excellent breakfast. Turks really know how to do breakfast! This day was no exception. After breakfast and some gift shopping, we caught a ride to Ephesus (from one of the nicest guys you'll meet. He owned a textile shop, but was very good friends with the owners at our hostel. He told us what to expect to pay a taxi driver, but wouldn't accept any money from us. We would have loved more time with him, to hear his story and share ours. Please pray for him, that others would get to share Christ with him. Oh the witness he would have!).
We didn't really know what to expect from Ephesus other than the sites we've seen in pictures. We were so surprised by how many people were there. It was like Disney World (except the rides and Mickey Mouse, of course...) We saw people from all over the world, experiencing this culture and history right alongside us.
There were so many interesting sites and artifacts to see, which I could ramble on about, but I will let the pictures speak for themselves.
|One of the two amphitheaters at Ephesus. This was the smaller of the two, but was still overwhelming in size.|
|I loved loved loved the patterns and mosaics on the floors. I wish I could have seen these when they were full of color!|
|The famous library at Ephesus.|
|So much more grand than pictures can show.|
After we visited the library, we were all hot and tired and in need of a break. We found a tree in the middle of the market square to sit under. This place, this cool retreat from the busy, noisy, hot tourist area was just what we needed. Sarah quietly dug in the dirt with a snail shell and we had our first chance to really internalize where we were. A place we never thought we'd get to visit. A place where so many before us have traveled. A place where God's name was shared as people mingled and congregated. A place He can use even now, despite the busyness and tourism.
And we were able to once again, feel the abundant gratitude for His love and rest.
|I love this girl more and more each day.|
|The second amphitheater. We didn't venture inside, but it was enormous!|
We are grateful for the chance to see a huge piece of history. This will forever be stored in our minds and hearts as we reflect on the places God has led us.