My World

One Church

Writing is a deeply personal thing for me. I made my roommate read the blog post I wrote below before sending it to my organization’s marketing department for scrutiny. My hands were shaking as I clicked send and my heart is racing as I do the same for this post.

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As a logistics coordinator for short-term missions, I am constantly encouraged by the faith of the missionaries I work with. Most times I feel like they have more to teach me than I can teach them! Recently, a short-term missionary I have been working with came to me with one of the most beautiful questions I’ve been asked during my time with TEAM: “How can I bless my home church through my mission trip?”

My heart soared. What an example of Christ’s love for his unified body! Here at TEAM, one of our highest values is the church—engaging churches both in our hometowns and those reaching the ends of the earth to foster communities where the gospel is known and spread. It is encouraging to know our short-term missionaries are just as passionate about raising up the church as we are.

Together we brainstormed the ways this short-term missionary could bless her church in Canada with her time serving in Mexico. As we dreamed, I realized this is something all missionaries could strive for—especially those going short-term who want their trip’s impact to spread beyond their return back home.

So if you are preparing to serve overseas (or would like to know how to encourage your local church in general), I challenge you to consider a few of these ideas to bless your home church with your international mission trip:

  1. Commit to prayer

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 1 John 5:14

When was the last time you prayed for your home church? For the pastors to be strengthened in their marriages or the nonbelievers who visit to be touched by the gospel? This is a practice that is important at any time, but can be especially life-giving when following the Lord in his plan for you with missions. As you gather prayer support from your church family, ask how you can pray for them in return. Set aside time to pray specifically for these requests as part of your ministry before even entering your international ministry area.

  1. Engage others

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Romans 12:4-5

Let’s say you are going to France for a few months as part of a sports outreach with teenagers who desperately need someone to walk alongside them in discipleship. While you are excited to fill this role, you are worried that your two years of high school French classes won’t cut it when trying to have meaningful conversations with the students. At your home church one Sunday, you meet a woman who lived in France for years and is fluent in the language! Asking if she could help tutor you in French could not only bless you and your ministry in France, but also is a practical way for your new friend to use her gifts to further the kingdom.

God has given each of his children specific gifts and talents to be used for his glory and advancement of the kingdom. This could be a great way for people to practically support your ministry who are not able to financially contribute. Your mission trip can be more than an opportunity for your own gifts to be utilized, but a way to engage other members of your local church to put their God-given gifts into practice.

  1. Share your story

It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for me. Daniel 4:2

Just as your ministry starts before you jump on the airplane, it also doesn’t have to end when you get home. God loves to use time we set aside in service for his kingdom to teach, challenge, and inspire his children and it is the word of our testimony that conquers the enemy. Don’t be afraid to ask to stand before your church to share the way God has changed lives through your service. Boldly start conversation with supporters about the provision he granted in ways you didn’t even ask for. God will use these experiences to influence your heart, but could also have more plans for your stories than you could expect. Ask the Lord for opportunities to share the stories he has given you through your mission trip to multiply the impact of his work in your life.

  1. Foster a partnership

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. 1 Corinthians 1:10

The body of Christ is a single unit that cannot be divided by cultural, language, or geographical differences. In God’s sovereignty, it is entirely possible he is using you, short-term missionary, to provide a bridge between two churches to partner together in providing for each other’s needs. Perhaps through your time serving alongside missionaries in Guatemala, a need is expressed that someone in your church back home is the perfect fit to fulfill. Keep your eyes open for God’s prompting or opportunities to be a vessel uniting his people in one thought or purpose.

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My World

That one time I met Ben Savage

Let me tell you about this one time when I met Ben Savage.

This past February I went to LA with a friend for a couple days to see a taping of Girl Meets World. I have been in love with the original Boy Meets World since my older sister introduced it to me years and years ago. Basically my childhood consisted of Harry Potter, N*SYNC, and Boy Meets World. Eric is quite possibly my favorite TV character of all time and I absolutely adore Cory and Topanga. So naturally, I have been stoked for the new spin-off series since it was announced a few months ago, although like any true fan I know it will never be as fantastic as the original. Nevertheless, when my friend found out how to get free tickets to a taping in Los Angeles, I could barely contain my excitement. Several weeks later, we were on our way to sunny LA!!

Once in LA, we met up with some lovely friends we knew from college who have since moved to California so we had ourselves a little reunion! We arrived at the studio and stood in the line forming outside, which was an odd combination of little preteen kids who was the show’s primary audience and young adults my age who grew up with BMW looking for a continuation to this wonderful part of our childhood. We quickly made friends with an awesome guy standing behind us who had been to lots of tapings before and told us we were in the perfect spot in line to get in. He was an aspiring screenwriter who had recently moved to LA from Atlanta to pursue his dream, and he already lined up a few impressive writing jobs! He attended as many show tapings as he could to get inspiration and grow familiar with the atmosphere he was working towards. Smart kid.

Blissfully enjoying the company of our new friend and another little boy celebrating his 10th birthday with his mom, the studio people started walking down the queue to check our tickets. You see, the tickets to show tapings don’t guarantee you a seat within the studio–it allows you to stand in the first come, first served line. We weren’t worried though since our experienced friend was confident we would get in. However, the studio people gave us a warning–there was a school group coming for the show so there could be a chance we don’t get in. My heart sank. Our friend told us there are about 100-125 seats in the studio and after careful eavesdropping, we discovered the student group could be as big as 45. Quickly counting our place in line, we might need a miracle for us to get in.

They started letting the front of the line into the studio. I prayed silently as we inched our way to the front. Then they cut the line off two people in front of our group. Crap. The school group hadn’t even shown up yet, why do they get special privileges? We were there first! What felt like hours later, the bus pulled up and everyone in line started counting the kids spilling out. 45 exactly. I tried to hold on to a small inkling of hope but everyone around me started getting upset. Did the kids even know what Boy Meets World was? There were several little girls behind us in line who didn’t. WE, on the other hand, grew up with Cory and Topanga, Shawn and Angela, the Matthews and Mr. Feeney. These kids have no idea the depth of the original show, the morals it portrayed, the example it set for my generation!

As we were watching these kids go through security and walk through the studio door, they kept looking at our line with haughty expressions. They knew they were the reason we couldn’t get in and seemed to enjoy our misery. One girl even waved sarcastically as she slipped through the door. I almost lost it. What a brat.

20140430-092309.jpgThen a black car pulled up, one you could tell was transporting someone important. Lo and behold, ANGELA steps out of the car!!!! From the original series!!! In that moment, you could tell the true BMW fans from the reaction. My generation was frantically whispering, “Look! It’s Angela!!!”, taking subtle yet stalker-ish pictures while some of the young’uns behind us were confused at the sudden excitement. Trina McGee (her real name, though she will always look like an Angela to me) seemed to be waiting for the okay to enter the studio so while she was waiting, she came over and took pictures with us!!! If we had gotten into the studio in the first go around, we wouldn’t have met Angela!
Flustered with the unexpected excitement, we started to resign to the fact that we probably weren’t getting into the taping. It was a huge bummer, especially since we flew from Denver just for this event. Our friend told us there was an awesome bible study we could attend that night in case the taping didn’t pan out, so I tried to let go of my frustration and figure out what else we could do with the night instead.

Then it happened.

The wonderful studio people came back to our line and LET US IN!!!! They admitted the two people in front of us, our group, and the small group behind us. My inner 90s child was rejoicing and spilling out everywhere!!! We were escorted through security into the studio where the pilot of GMW was playing on the screens to prepare the audience for the storyline. Then the writers and creators of the show were introduced and told us the vision of the show. The creator told us he wanted to keep the theme of BMW alive, full of values and morals, both episodes that will make you laugh and cry your eyes out (the episode when Joshua was born and had to be in the NICU still makes me absolutely bawl). Then he introduced the cast. When Cory and Topanga walked out, I could hardly stay in my seat. I couldn’t help but think “There they are!!! They’re standing right in front of me! This is real life!!!”

For the next three hours, we laughed on cue at various scenes. Cory was definitely the star of the show and just as adorable as he was in BMW. The show as a whole was as I expected it to be–really cheesy and immature like the rest of today’s Disney Channel shows. But there were still lessons to be learned and BMW wasn’t without its cheese as well. They have to appeal to the new generation of kids in order to get them to watch the show so this may be what it takes. Besides, the first season of BMW wasn’t the best either–they eased into the awesomeness. the episode we watched was similar to the BMW episode where Cory was invited to a geek party. The new girl, Riley, actually made friends with the geeks and became their queen. Somehow, that meant she turned into an anime character of sorts because that’s how geeks dress, I guess. The very last sene was akin to the Mr. Feeney moments where we all learn an important lesson of staying true to who we are. There’s hope for the show yet. If anything, watch the episode to listen for my laugh!

After the taping, there was a scramble to the front of the audience section to meet Ben Savage (and the little girls who were the new Cory and Shawn but let’s face it, no one was as excited to meet them). Ben Savage was so nice, trying to talk to as many fans as possible and sign our random pieces of paraphernalia. Finally, right as we were about to be ushered out of the room, we squeezed our way to the front to talk to Ben (I’d like to think we’re on first name terms now). He signed our pages and even took a picture with us. I wish I could remember exactly what we said to each other, but it was such a whirlwind experience, I’m just content with knowing we spoke to Cory Matthews in person and he was the nicest person I could have imagined him to be. I’d say our trip to LA was a success!

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My Books

Book Bashing

I’ve been in a rut lately when it comes to reading material. I do GoodReads’ book challenge (at the rate I’m going, 40 books this year will be a breeze) to help keep up with what I’ve been reading, get motivation to finish books that I’ve started, and find my next book to read through an endless chain of recommendations. Though I’ve stumbled upon a some great books in the past years this way (The Night Circus, Unwind Dystology, and Perks of Being a Wallflower to name a few), there have also been books I loath entirely. Only if a book is truly awful do I give up finishing it entirely (although I still count it as read so I get the credit towards my yearly reading challenge. Honestly at times even getting through the first 100 pages is challenge enough). The books I’ve given up entirely in the past two years are…

 

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

This book I actually ripped up and plastered the pages over my writing journal as a reminder how not to write. Usually my bibliophilic tendencies would internally combust at the thought of harming a book but I thoroughly enjoyed murdering this one. I didn’t even make it past page 150. As a die-hard Harry Potter fan, I gave in to the hype that The Magicians was a grown-up college version of my beloved Harry and friends. Whoever supports this heinous comparison should be doomed to book purgatory (I’m looking at you, LitReactor). I felt no personal connection to any character because they were all so forgettable and unrealistic. Quentin was nothing but a Debbie downer, in spite of the fact that he learned his alleged brilliance could be used for magic. Who WOULDN’T be stoked to find that out? Quentin, obviously. Probably because he had no real brilliance to be accounted for.

The final straw for me was the appearance of the antagonist (if that’s what you can call it). In class one day, something made Quentin angry (I think his professor called him out on not doing an assignment or something just as trivial) so he decided to get back at the professor by *gasp* jiggling the podium just a smidge with his mind. The horror! The next moment, some grey-suited thing appeared and made the whole room freeze for hours. Well that was… Odd. Not exactly sinister, just confusing. Quentin somehow assumed it was his fault that the well-dressed eccentric stranger did such a horrible thing (but we all know what happens when you assume…). I literally had to reread that entire exchange to catch what exactly Quentin did, and assumed the podium jiggling was the culprit. Ok….. Then the school had an assembly to calm the students’ worries regarding such a horrific event.

WHAT…….? Quentin made a piece of furniture shake and therefore brought the wrath of the evil Barney Stinson upon the school. I couldn’t go on. I could, however, go on about countless other times where the plot seemed to halt (like when Quentin waited outside a building he couldn’t get into for FIVE HOURS before he thought to do anything about it), but I digress. Plot ridicules aside, I sent most of my time reading this book distracted by Grossman’s grammar and writing technique because it was just wrong. Horrible writing, horrible plot. It is an insult to JK Rowling for this book to be compared to Harry Potter in any way. I just wish I had a basilisk fang to go all Tom Riddle’s Diary on this piece of crap.

 

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

I read The Maze Runner, the first book in this series, and though I wasn’t completely in love with it, I was reasonably entertained by the suspense of the maze and the creepy inhabitants they called grievers. I could see potential in the idea and was interested enough to want answers.

I should have just stopped there.

My hopes were high when starting The Scorch Trials, which was the downfall of the book. Had I gone in with low standards, I may have actually finished this one. Instead, I was met with such a mountain of confusing and unexplained plot twists with no hope in sight for any answers at all. I lost track of what I was supposed to be anticipating that I just grew bored of the boys’ fruitless wanderings. I left them stranded in the desert and have no intentions of returning to see them through to safety. Once again, horrible writing to match the horrible plot.

 

These are just the books I hated so much I couldn’t finish. There are many more books I finished but wished I hadn’t wasted my time doing so…

The Moon Dwellers by David Estes — If this one hadn’t been so short, I wouldn’t have finished it. I was in the mood for a thrilling dystopian but this one definitely fell flat in every way possible. That’s the last time I expect something good to come from reading an obscure young adults novel.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson — How this book became so popular so quickly, I will never know. I looked forward to each time Ursula died in hopes that her next life would be a bit more interesting. It never was. You would expect the 500+ page novel to address why she kept coming back to life, especially since she mentioned a couple times how familiar things felt. I guess that was too complicated for the author to try to conceptualize and add to the plot. Pity.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger — I watched the movie first then decided to give the book a go. Now I can’t even stand the movie. It takes real talent to make spontaneous time travel so boring. Also, I’m convinced this book may be the true inspiration for Fifty Shades of Gray. TMI, people. Put more effort into explaining how he knew he was going to die rather than give us the intricacies of her miscarriages. Rather than heart-wrenching, it was disturbing and disgusting.

Tiger Lily by Jodie Lynn Anderson — Peter Pan is one of my all time favorite stories so I gobble up any spin-off I can to revisit Neverland. This book made Neverland seem so ordinary and lackluster, I felt the need to apologize to JM Barrie on its behalf for destroying the magic. Better keep Neverland and its’ inhabitants in the hands of the master. I have learned my lesson.

 

Blegh. Next time you want a good book to read, stay as far away from these as possible. Now excuse me as I try to find my next read that will restore my faith in modern literature. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

My Brain

Benedictus

I’ve never been the type of girl who plans the intricate details of her wedding. I remember one time in particular as a little girl acting out my wedding, but I didn’t focused on details rather than the big picture. I have only ever had 2 details planned: in high school, I decided that my youth pastor will be the officiant at the ceremony. This detail will never change, no matter what. He has been one of the biggest influences in my life and I want him to be part of that day. The second detail I thought of just a year or so ago: I wanted the song towards the end of Pride and Prejudice where Mr. Darcy walked across the field to Elizabeth to be playing while I walk down the aisle.

Well, at least that’s what I thought I wanted. It has since changed in the last 24 hours.

You know how there are certain bands or songs you are obsessed with for a while but then life and other music gets in the way and you forget about it until you’re reintroduced to it all over again?

For me, that’s 2Cellos. I became obsessed with them again last night. Luka and Stjepan are two cellists from Croatia who are absolutely phenomenal. They played for Sean and Catherine’s Bachelor wedding last night, were on an episode of Glee a few years ago, and became hugely popular these last couple years. My friend and I traveled from Denver to Dallas last year to see them live in concert and BOY was that the best concert I have EVER seen!!! We literally watched all of their YouTube videos in one night and bought concert and plane tickets to see them right then. These two guys absolutely rock out with their cellos as much as, or perhaps more than Jimi Hendricks or any other rock star. They shred their bows in the course of five songs and Stjepan even headbangs while playing on numerous occassions. Then during the slower, classical pieces Luka seems on the verge of tears, still moved by the songs he has undoubtedly played over one hundred times. The passion they have for their music is phenomenal. If you have yet to experience 2Cellos, do it RIGHT NOW.

So last night as I listened to 2Cellos on Spotify for several hours, the song Benedictus literally brought me to tears and I decided that will be my processional song. I can’t seem to find the original lyrics of the song if they exist, but I did look up what “benedictus” means: Latin hymn from Luke: a Latin hymn from the Bible beginning “Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini” (“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” Luke 1:68-79). At first the song seems a little too melancholy, especially for a wedding celebration but the more I listened to it, the more I began to understand the song–or at least added my own personal meaning to it. The song to me highlights reverence to life and its fleeting nature. I can picture scenes in my head of the world in slow motion as people are staring at their loved ones, wishing for time to slow or stop to live in the moment for eternity. Or of a sunrise over the mountains where the music is reveling in the pure beauty of the moment. It is the musical portrayal of one’s spirit groaning for time to stretch so we may have even one more moment to appreciate life and love. I can think of nothing more beautiful or fitting for such a sacred event. My husband and I will come in the name of the Lord and that moment will live on for eternity.

My Brain

500 Days of Me

I can never convince anyone to watch 500 Days of Summer with me. The easiest way to alienate myself from the rest of the planet is to claim it as one of my favorite movies. Every time I suggest it for a movie night with my friends, I not only get an immediate resounding “No,” but a string of complaints of how depressing and downright horrible this movie is. They all have their own versions of the plot reenacted in their own lives–how they fell in love only to be left abandoned, wondering why their significant other never felt the same. I nod along sympathetically because I’ve learned to keep my perspective on the matter to myself. I can relate to some extent but not fully because…

I am Summer.

Not as in I’m secretly Zooey Dechanel, which would be awesome, but I can identify with Summer in almost every way. I have to be careful to whom I divulge this information. The last time I had a conversation about this movie with someone, he went on a rant of how Summer was a… *ahem*. Nope, now I’m definitely not telling him my view on the movie.

For those who haven’t yet seen the movie, it is from the perspective of a wannabe architect named Tom who falls in love with new coworker, Summer. You see their budding friendship-turned-kind of romance throughout 500 days, bouncing back and forth in time. From day 1 (or rather, day 10, I believe) Summer explains she doesn’t believe in love. Time and again, she says she’s not looking for anything serious and refers to their friendship as nothing more than that. I admit, she does give him mixed signals here and there by going on what seem to be dates and going a little to far with him, but even then she point blank admits she can’t give him the commitment he wants. 

Note to self: When someone says they don’t want a relationship, that means they don’t want a relationship.

Tom believed what he wanted to believe and saw what he wanted to see. The flashbacks contained only happy memories of the good times they shared, omitting the times she seemed uninterested and uncomfortable. He absolutely fell apart when she became engaged to another man over a year later as if he had been betrayed or cheated on. 

I can see how people who relate to Tom would become infuriated over 500 Days of Summer, reliving their own 500 Days of Somebody. Summer is a reminder of their failed relationships and how blind they were to the truth. How they were just shy of being someone’s “The One.” 

But for me, this movie is a beacon of hope.

Relationships are hard for me. I have the reigns pulled tight on my emotions and have a difficult time releasing them for anyone. I identify completely with Summer’s dilemma of discomfort and uncertainty. She doesn’t allow herself to feel too attached because something inexplicable feels off.

I am my own Summer. 

I haven’t allowed very many Toms in my life. Summer retreats much later than I ever would, and much more gracefully than I would as well. I admire that about her. She gave Tom a chance, but was true to her feelings and wouldn’t let Tom dictate how she felt. She tried to make herself feel things that just weren’t there but in the end, the charade was too much to keep up. She didn’t believe in love because she had seen the hurt it can cause rather than the joy it could bring. 

Oh how I can relate.

Then, what caused unspeakable heartache to the man pining after a girl who’s been absent for the last 20 minutes of the movie brings unbelievable hope to the Summers of the world. She at long last finds love. The real crime in the movie is that we don’t get to see the true romance play out. Had we seen the progression of Summer with her now-husband, I’m sure there would be a noticeable difference in how she felt about him versus Tom. Even the short smile we witness as she’s marrying this mystery man was a grander one than she ever had with Tom.

This gives me hope. She couldn’t muster feelings for one man, but she found love in another. Just because she didn’t love Tom doesn’t mean she’s a heartless robot with no emotions. 

I don’t mean to shaft Tom. Yes, he deserves sympathy too. He didn’t deserve to get his heart broken. We all can relate to the Reality vs. Expectations scene in the movie… I know I do. But there are many of us who don’t fall in love so quickly, or feel as though they can’t at all. There are some who grow frustrated with Tom’s desperation and persistence. Give the girl a break, she’s been through enough without your pressuring her. Hollywood is obsessed with the head-over-heels romance that consumes one’s entire being, building every relationship up to be once in a lifetime stuff fairy tales are made of. As someone who is frankly a little timid when it comes to feeling anything at all, it’s nice to know I’m not alone in this.

My Books

I am a Rêveur

I know in French that means Dreamer, but it means something entirely different in The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. If you haven’t read this book yet, it’s about time you do. I want you to go down to your nearby Barnes & Noble and get it right now. I’m serious. I can wait.

This has become one of my all-time favorite books, so much so I am currently reading it for the second time. I don’t read books multiple times unless they completely envelope me into another world that I admittedly prefer over my own. I’ve read each of the Harry Potter books at least 3 times, some as many as 5. I feel like I could read The Night Circus just as many times. THAT’S how enchanting it is.

As you might has guessed, this book is about a circus that’s only open at night. Completely decked out in black and white, Le Cirque des Rêves is much different than anything anyone has ever seen. It is the venue of what I can only describe as a “magic face-off,” although it’s much more than that. Through intricate details and stunning imagery, the circus comes alive and sections of the book take your own perspective as though you are walking through the path between countless striped tents yourself. I have never so much wanted to jump inside a book and live within the pages so much as this one. I almost find myself more intrigued by the circus itself and the secrets it holds than the actual plot.

I don’t want to go into much detail about the actual storyline, for fear of giving any of the secrets away. The best way to go into this book is blind–not knowing much about anything, in order to fully watch the magic unfold.

You’ll soon learn that the circus “groupies” so to speak call themselves Rêveurs, following the circus around and wearing black and white to better blend in with the object of their obsession, save for a splash of red–a scarf, a hat, a rose resting on one’s lapel. I find myself wanting to dress accordingly as I read, mashing my consciousness even more so into the story and calling myself a Rêveur as well. I know if the night circus were real, I would be right alongside them, obsessively following, exploring, and writing about the circus.

Erin Morgentsern, bravo. You have created a masterpiece of both the book and the circus.

My World

Turkish Delight…?

Story time!

If you know me at all, even one passing conversation in the grocery store, you will know one very important aspect of my life: I studied abroad last summer. I will find a way to worm this little detail about me into any conversation, even if you find it annoying. It’s something I’m most proud of and an experience that has changed my life.

Obviously, thanks to this wonderful experience through Semester at Sea, I have tons of stories. Literally, tons. A ton is what… 1000 lbs? I have a thousand pounds worth of stories. Here’s just one for you today:

Towards the end of July, I spent 5 days in Istanbul, Turkey. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect in this city, but I was excited to find out. I had heard about Istanbul years ago and put it on my travel bucket list; now I was finally able to check it off!

On our first day in Istanbul, my friends Krissy, Ali, and I set off to explore the city. We wandered around a bit before breaking down and buying a map to find the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque–two attractions we were told to visit by several different experts on our ship. On our way, we stumbled across a beautiful park. After visiting major cities for the past month and a half, we weren’t used to seeing so much grass! We took endless pictures, played on the swing set tucked back behind a path, counted several busts of Attaturk (he was everywhere), and posed for pictures on a bridge crossing a tiny pond.

Soon, we grew tired and hungry. We found a quaint little cafe right outside of the park, so we wandered inside. It was completely empty except a couple waiters. Awkward. It was about 10:30 in the morning… perhaps it wasn’t open yet? Then one of the waiters spotted us and, a little too excitedly, waved us to a table. That was confusing… there was a bar displaying many different pastries and drinks with a cash register on the end. Surely that’s where we were to order? After a few more awkward moments of sitting, we decided to just go for it and order a couple plates of baklava and apple tea (best meal you will ever find in Turkey!). After a lot of pointing and attempted Turkish words, we finally ordered and returned to our seats. A few minutes later, the same friendly waiter brought us our plates of baklava. We offered, “Sağol“, but the waiter oviously wasn’t leaving.

To our surprise, the waiter–knowing very little English, mind you–started cutting up our baklava for us. As this was our first day in Turkey, we figured maybe it was a custom of Turkish servers to cut up the guests’ food… until he started feeding it to us. Starting with Krissy, the waiter came up behind each of us, one hand on our shoulder, the other hand holding a fork with a bite of baklava in its prongs and he proceeded to feed us the baklava!!! After each bite, he would set down the fork, grab a napkin, and wipe the crumbs from our faces!! We watched each other being fed by this Turkish stranger, stifling bouts of laughter but he could tell we weren’t used to this sort of treatment.

After feeding us our first bites of baklava, the waiter left so we could feed the rest to ourselves. We could not stop laughing, wondering if this was a Turkish tradition or if we stumbled into the wrong cafe.

A few minutes later, our waiter friend returned with free Turkish Delight for us to try… or rather, for him to make us try. Looking back, he may have just wanted to see if we would let him feed us again because that’s exactly what he did. After he fed Ali her piece and was wiping her face with a napkin, we all swear he tried to blow her nose.

Shortly after our friend fed us Turkish delight, we paid and left as quickly as we could, waiting to burst from laughter as soon as we rounded the corner. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life!

After talking to a few other friends and eating at a couple more restaurants, we realized that it was not a Turkish custom to cut up guests’ food and feed them their first bite. If any waiter tries that, he knows you’re American and will go along with anything because you’re trying to experience the culture firsthand. I guess we did experience a certain aspect of Turkish culture… they can be tricksters.