From Ankara to Annandale
Coming back here in May, after a year at home, was unexpected, as is our continuing on into autumn. However, it’s been good to be back with the congregation at St. Nicolas, and with Margherita and the sandwich making team for refugees attending the UNHCR office.
At St. Nicolas, we knew that a good number of the “expat” members would leave in June, as summer is the changeover time at embassies and the big businesses. On top of that, most of those who remain go back home and on holiday for July and August. Sometimes on a Sunday, we’ve been down to literally a handful, although over the past week or two, some newcomers to the city have sought us out, and look as though they will settle at St. Nicolas. There’s even going to be a baptism of a baby girl in September.
The refugee members of the congregation continue to grow. This is a great joy for us, but sadly, it’s evidence of the fact that much of their life is enforced “holiday”, and the process for their repatriation is snarled up. This is partly due to one national group (not theirs) being fast tracked, and a general shutting down around the world of placements being offered. Understandably , they’re becoming very despondent, although they turn up every Sunday, bright and cheerful, and with so many genuine enquiries for John’s and my wellbeing. How generous and warmhearted they are.
I’m back on the Wednesday team at Margherita’s for sandwich making, and have met old friends and made new. Like St. Nicolas, though, the team is mostly expats, so Margherita has been very short handed over the holidays, not only on Wednesdays, but covering other days of the week too. John has come on board, and we’ve been doing three days a week. The numbers for sandwiches are much the same as before – 120-150 – but we’ve gone healthy! The sandwiches were always made with regular sliced white bread, but one day the shop delivered some whole meal loaves, along with the white. We struck on the idea of making the sandwiches with one of each type of bread, and so pleased were we with our innovation, we asked the shop to continue with both kinds of bread. Obviously, it doesn’t take much to give us a moment of amusement!
The whole city has been very quiet over the summer. To our surprise, we learned that the state schools have a full three months holiday, which must be a nightmare for childminding, although I don’t know how many mothers are out working. Our organist is a young mother (and private music teacher) with two primary school aged children, and they have a granny who lives in one of the coastal resorts in the south. The children have spent the whole holiday with granny-by-the-sea, but only one at a time, with the parents having their fortnight’s holiday in the middle, as they swap the children over. This solution seems to have gone down well with everyone, although we missed our lovely organist for two Sundays.
We expect to be home by the beginning of October, although who will follow after us is still to be determined. There will need to be further temporary cover until a permanent appointment is made. We would so love to see the congregation settled.
We get the pew leaflet from Annandale week by week , and that helps us to feel still at home. Our thoughts and prayers are always with you, and we look forward to being home again. With love from John and me. Jane.