The Turkey Letters: The lesson of the Charity Crow

Dear readers, all of which are clearly unemployed and lacking in substantial literature.

I insult you, and then I thank you for staying with me this far (at that insult you’re probably going “more! more! I’ve gotta have it!”).

I’ve long been back from Turkey and I’ve pondered on what this blog should be. I have decided that I am going to be a wind bag: I’m not done talking about myself yet (ME). And so, in order to remember everything that ever happened to me (me, me), I’m making them immortal on the internet: with the permission of my friends I’m sharing with you special letters that I received or sent while I was abroad. They’re special experiences and I think the world should know about all the good out there. Here you go internet. P.S. I reserve the right to change some grammar and spelling and names as to save face and be able to show up to work tomorrow.

And I’m also officially withdrawing my 2016 candidacy. I shall retract my initial withdrawal next Tuesday, shake Hillary up a bit, and then withdraw again a month before Iowa. Thank you.  

Dear [name withheld],

Woo, so sorry that it took so long to get these to you! I just got internet again back in the states last week. I’ve had not enough time to reflect on everything but the most common question I get is “so apart from the church, what was your favorite part?” At first I tried to come up with maybe seeing the Hagia Sofia…

When I took this picture I may have been under the influence...of ice cream.

When I took this picture I may have been under the influence…of ice cream.

or going to Bursa but…

Ooh hoo hoo! Can't find me.

Ooh hoo hoo! Can’t find me.

I’ve found it impossible to sincerely come up with a great memory that doesn’t involve the church, the gospel, or the missionaries.

“I got a shard of glass stuck in my foot…[then] the missionaries called me…”

One of the most amazing experiences with [the missionaries] came after a really bad day at my work. I had ended the day feeling stressed and dejected — regretting ever moving to Istanbul — and even after, a whole string of just unfortunate things happened that next morning as I woke in a huff. I got a shard of glass stuck in my foot and it was…pleasant. I met with my friend, Cassie, for lunch who told me all about her amazing experience in London, and with her academic program, blah blah blah — I was happy for her but I was still mad. While we sat and caught up on the roof of the Bahcesehir University roof the missionaries called me for a personal lesson. 

Still grumpy, I sighed and said, yeah, sure, why not, be there in half an hour. I said goodbye to my friend and stomped out of the cafe. 

I tried to play it off that the sun was absurdly bright, but I was really scowling as I walked to the bus stop and waited to get to the church.

Dolmabache Palace Istanbul Turkey 2013 (9)

Looking down, I saw this huge crow pick up a tiny stick in its beak. I watched it hop around like a kangaroo. [I’m pretty sure I was inebriated on ice cream because it was freaking hilarious. Way more than any avian beast should be]

I started to smile and this woman next to me saw it too and laughed with me. We got on a bus together and were able to sit next to each other. We had exchanged all of my Turkish in about 40 seconds when she offered me half of her bagel (“simit”). I smiled and accepted it.

I took a deep breath and couldn’t remember my specific reason for being mad. I really couldn’t remember what was wrong from the night before because the woman at the bus offered me half of what she had.

“the woman at the bus offered me half of what she had…I was just so overwhelmed by…the love she just gave freely.”

By the time I got off the bus, I was just so overwhelmed by both emotions, the negative and the love she just gave freely. When I got to the church, I was so emotional and all of the ups and downs of the last 24-hours kind of just spilt out everywhere. The elders asked, “so how are you?” and as open as I am with you, I was with the missionaries — except speaking far faster and…incomprehensibly. I finished. I waited. I looked up. Elder [withheld] took a breath and said, “wow, you’re way more open with us than our investigators are.” I laughed so hard.

 Then he asked me, “did you pray for charity this morning?” The question struck me. It wasn’t asked in an assuming way at all. But in the most sincere and gentle way possible. And it pierced me in all that had happened in the last 24-hours. Truthfully I have not stopped pondering on it since. It was asked with all the sincerity and love of someone living a generous and charitable life. It was simple and exactly what I needed at that moment. 

Provo Temple BYU 2013 (4)

This is something that I wrote to my little brother who is serving a mission in El Salvador right now: [pretty much letter/blog Inception]

“Yesterday, in the home of [my friend], the missionaries and my friend who is investigating the church discussed the restoration of the gospel. 

“I was able to open my mouth and testify that I knew this was the truth”

It felt so good. I felt so at home. She asked some great questions, she is curious and inquisitive. We were discussing the restoration and I was just sitting there listening to the missionaries and the exchange and…I just, just prayed for the spirit to come to me so that I could speak. And soon it did. I felt the burning — so distinguishable from when I run or am emotional — and I was able to open my mouth and testify that I knew this was the truth, that Jesus Christ’s atonement is the only way to salvation, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.

Temple Square Salt Lake City Utah 2013 (84)

It was a wonderful day. I felt so happy and just fulfilled. Now I was carefully focused and listening — I felt so in-tune with the Spirit and the missionaries and everyone in the room. And then it happened: Elder [Withheld]’s eyes twinkled, he took a breath, and I could feel something change and confirm — he asked her that if she knew the gospel to be true, if she would commit to be baptized. And she said yes. She would pick the day and yes, she would.

I knew it was coming, I could see it on his face and I could feel that, yes, this was right. Not even the best part of the day is that, when he asked her, “how do you feel when you come to church and speak with us and hear about all this?”

She said: “I feel like I am remembering something.” Oh, I was just so happy. I loved her so much, and I knew that the gospel was so true.

I can’t really describe how amazing it was a moment. We all giggled and jumped like sister missionaries after. I could feel the missionaries’ love for [my friend] in every part of me and it was indescribable. It was a wonderful and special moment that I know I will remember for my life.

And I am so happy to have been able to share it with the missionaries. You have a great kid! Before I left he said, “oh, I try, but I really have no idea what I’m doing.” But I just shook my head because he has a great understanding of the atonement that he shows through his love and kindness towards others. He and Elder [withheld] are in my humble opinion one of the best missionary pairs in the church. I observed that one was able to give the other confidence while one was able to add the needed compassion.

He reminded me of my younger brother and it was my joy to see the missionaries work. For me, my little brother was the greatest blessing I received in my time in Istanbul. There is hardly a better blessing or joy than to have a younger brother in the mission field, working hard, and being obedient.

I can only imagine what it must feel like as a mother.

I tried to feed them snacks and goodies when I could. Thank you! Sorry that this was so long, but it was for all my benefit of telling someone that I know the church is true.

Best of luck to you!

Cookie

And so here it is, the first of the Turkey Letters. It was a dream to live in Istanbul. Let me share it with you and feel free to share it with everyone. If you’d like to learn more about what I believe, please visit mormon.org or send me an email found in the About Me section.

Seni seviyorum!

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