Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Merry Christmas!




Angie made me wear the hat! Angie, Braxton, and I hope you had a great Christmas. Although we are 6,000 miles from our families, technology helps us feel closer. We also had a nice Christmas dinner with our teammates Isaac and Elizabeth. I don't know why but Braxton wanted to sleep through the gift opening. Braxton is now 13lbs. and nearly 23 inches long! We hope you all were reminded this Christmas of what a great gift God gave us in His Son Jesus. What an amazing thing to think that God loved us so much that He would give His only Son to save us! It is that gift we want to give to the people in Turkey.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Earth Shaking News!


Here is another picture of Braxton. He is now 4 weeks old. The fact that we gave him the middle name of Emre has been great so far. The Turks love it and they always ask why. So it always gives us a good opportunity to meet new people.
Well we felt our first tremor yesterday. That's the earth shaking news. I was sitting having my Turkish lessons when the ceiling fans in our apartment started shaking. I thought well its no big deal and the house just kept shaking. Right about the time we were getting ready to go outside it stopped. The actual earthquake took place about 60 miles southeast of Ankara. It was a 5.7 earthquake. There were no deaths just a few houses were damaged.
Yesterday was also the first day of a four day holiday called Kurban Bayrami, which is the Sacrifice Holiday. Meaning Turks will buy a sacrifice and have it slaughtered. They were showing all kinds of lambs, goats, and cows on the news yesterday. I was thinking they have no idea what they're in for. Our neighbors actually brought us a whole bag of freshly slaughtered lamb. It was a very nice gesture. Traditionally the family that sacrifices is not supposed to eat of the meat. They are to give it away. Nowadays though most people in Turkey sacrifice and put the meat in the freezer for later on in the year.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Saying No

To all you millions who read this blog, I'm sorry it's been so long. Little Braxton is very healthy. God has provided him with a very good set of lungs. I mentioned that I had a possible job opportunity as a part-time English teacher at a very well known company. It seemed like this was a great opportunity to get a work visa. So I started the training process. This is a great company. There were a lot of pluses to this job. There were also minuses to this job. Bottom line, God showed me that this isn't the right time. Angie and I don't need a work visa until April of 2009. Who knows what God will do in the time between. I need to focus on my language. My language is my job at this time. I'm here to communicate the Gospel. I can't do that well if I don't know the language inside and out. In the end, I had to call my potential boss and tell her the situation. My allegiance is to God, not to some company or to a process. When I think of eternity, things become very clear. A friend told me that sometimes what is good is not always best. I look forward to seeing what God's best is for us. I said no to a good opportunity in a lot of people's eyes. Sometimes saying no is what God wants.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thankful for what?

Our new born son may not remember this day, but I'm going to remind him when he's older. He will be forever thankful to his parents for the procedure we had performed on him. Braxton was circumcised today. Now you might ask why would he be thankful to us for that. Well in this culture a boy is circumcised generally between the ages of 8-12. Yes that's right. You will definitely remember at that age. You get a beautiful prince costume that you wear and when the procedure is done people stop by and put money under your pillow. It really is a huge ceremony. Well the funny thing about today is we left the hospital with a souvenir. The nurse handed me a tube with the foreskin from his circumcision. I didn't know what to say. So I said thanks. What memories were made on our first Thanksgiving here. Hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

OUR BABY BOY


Most of you may know by now, but here are the details in case you haven't heard.
Braxton Emre Reinhardt was born on NOV. 19TH, at 5:40 in the evening. he was 9lbs. and 19.5 inches long. I have more admiration for my wife now more than ever. After seeing the pain of labor, I was especially grateful God chose to let women have babies. It was an amazing thing. We feel so blessed. Click on the link to view an album we started for him. We will be updating it regularly, so you might want to save the link. See more of Braxton.

Having this son really made me stop and think about my Savior, Jesus Christ. He was a baby boy just like our baby boy. He went through everything our boy will go through. Why? Because He loved us. Amazing love, isn't it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Turkish Sign Language

I met with some of the deaf guys that I wrote about yesterday. Three of them came and we went to a cafe, drank cay and tried to communicate. They showed me a lot of signs. By the end of our 2 hours together my brain was fried. I thought it was interesting that the sign for Christian is to, "use your pointer finger and move it in a circular motion around your face and then do the sign of the cross like the Catholics do." Again whether in spoken or unspoken language the term "Christian" in this country is synonymous with Catholicism. These guys have a very hard time getting a job because no one wants to hire a deaf person. Two of the men lost their hearing when they were very young. One when he was three months old and the other when he was one year old. In both of their cases they said it was from a high fever that they lost their hearing. One of the young men is actually 11th in the country in long distance running. He ran 5000 meters in fifteen minutes. That's just over three miles. I had a great time getting to know these guys and trying to learn unspoken Turkish. Lord willing we will meet at least once a week, and they will teach me their language.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Second Chances

It's been an interesting couple of days. Saturday I was coming back from my friends apartment which I am taking care of. I was sitting on the metro when a couple entered. I thought I'd be nice so I moved across the aisle to another seat and let them sit by each other. Well it so happened that the lady sitting beside me was speaking English. I struck up a conversation and long story short she is a director at a well known English learning center. She told me to stop in some time and apply and she would see what she could do. I found that very interesting. Now the same day just minutes later I got on the bus to our house. There was one seat available. I promptly took my seat. Seconds later I noticed the three girls around me were signing. Now this struck me as very interesting. I was thinking to myself, "How can I communicate with them?" I wanted to tell them about my wife who knows American Sign Language. Well I blew that chance. I asked God to give me another chance. Today I got a second chance. I was sitting on a bench after my language lessons in a busy part of the city. Five young men walk by me and they are signing. I said, "I'm going to talk with them. I don't know how, but I'm going to." I called my wife and asked her to tell me how I could sign, "I know sign language." Now granted Turkish sign language is totally different than American Sign Language, but it was worth a shot. So I waited until they came out of the store and I just went for it. I signed my signs and they just looked at me. I figured this is how it would go. So I noticed one of the guys sign to his friend that I wanted something. His friend turned up his hearing aid. So anyway we were able to set up a meeting tomorrow and I learned a few Turkish signs. I thank God for this second chance. I had a chance two days ago and I blew it, but God is so gracious. We will see what God wants to do with this.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vision and Boldness

This past week I was able to attend a Turkish Bible study. This was very exciting for me as I have been trying to get involved with Turkish believers. Mere typing is not enough to convey my enthusiasm but it will have to do. So in the Bible study they are studying the book of Romans. We went through chapter four and then had a time of prayer. While the man who leads the Bible study was praying he asked God to give the Turkish believers a vision for their own country. Many believers here struggle with the boldness to openly proclaim their new faith. Could it be that they struggle because men and women working here have not cast a vision or shown boldness? I don't know. I know men and women here who have a vision and show boldness in sharing Christ. I know it is far different to preach to someone and it's another thing to live it. I know that these are things people need to see in us before they will be willing to follow. If we are in love with Jesus, vision and boldness will be represented in our lives, because Christ is living through us.

Monday, October 22, 2007

In the News

If you keep up with the news, I'm sure you've noticed that Turkey has been mentioned a lot. The Armenian Genocide Bill that our government officials might pass is constantly in the news. Yesterday there were a number of Turkish soldiers killed and some believed to have been taken hostage from an attack by the PKK. The PKK is a terrorist organization that wants a country for the Kurdish people. Turkey has held them responsible for 30,000 deaths since the early '80's. Turkey has been at war with the PKK for years. It seems very likely now after this attack that Turkey will enter into northern Iraq. Needless to say it doesn't appear that relations between America and Turkey are getting better. With all this in the news, it's on every Turks mind. They always want to talk politics. By the way Angie and I as well as the other Americans that we know haven't received any backlash from the recent events. In fact nearly everyone I meet when they find out that I'm from America says something like, "Oh, America very good." They are talking about the opportunity to make money however. They hate our President and our politics. Frankly I'm sick about talking politics. Everyone hates America, but they want to go there and live. Go figure! I constantly remind myself I'm not representing America, I'm representing Christ. It can be very easy to get caught up talking politics instead of preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. Anyway of late I've just been telling people something to the effect of, "Men are bad and there will always be war. The world is going to end, but I'm not afraid because I'm going to live with Jesus." By the looks I get from most people, it appears they think I'm crazy. So far unfortunately no one has wanted to take the conversation further than that. We don't know what will happen in Turkey's near future. I would like everyone to please pray for me especially. Tomorrow in language school we are supposed to talk about what we think Americans want. I want to use my time as an opportunity to bring glory to God. I need wisdom.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Free!

Today was the start of a three day holiday called Seker Bayram. Seker Bayram means sugar holiday. It comes at the end of Ramazan, the month of fasting. Generally kids will go door-to-door and you give them candy. Although I'm still waiting on kids to come to our door. I had to run an errand today, so I was off to the bus stop. The bus arrived and I began to put my card in the machine so I could ride the bus when I heard the word 'ucretsiz.' I looked at the driver and he said it again. Ucretsiz means I didn't have to pay for my ride on the bus. Now it was only 1ytl(1.17 right now), but still it was free. Apparently for the start of the holiday, the buses operated by the city were allowing people to ride for free. I found out that this is generally how it is during the major holidays. You know you just can't beat that price! Everyone loves to get something for free. In fact most people will take something they don't really need just because it's free. Well I was happy about my free ride. What's the first thing I did? I text messaged my wife and told her that I got a free ride. I received something that I thought was good and I immediately told someone else about it. We have a far greater gift in the salvation of Jesus Christ. It's free to us, thanks to God's great grace. Think of how excited you are when you get something for free, and you just want to call someone and tell them. Are you that excited about the gift of salvation that God has given you? Does it motivate you to tell someone else?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Baby and Babbling!

Angie had her regular doctors visit today. She is doing well and so is the baby. The baby gained almost 3 lbs. and grew 3.5 inches this past month. He is now almost 5 lbs. and 16.5 inches long. He is already heavier than I was when I was born and he is nearly as tall. For some of you who read this and may not know, I am a twin and I was born a month early. Praise God for His continued protection of Angie and the baby.


In language class today we read a story and then we had to talk about it. One of the people in our story was asked the question about the secret to living a happy live. So the teacher wanted to know what each or the students in our class thought. I was the last person that she asked. I said to live a happy life you need to know God, follow God, and keep his commandments. I explained that the Bible has all the answers for our lives. The teacher was nice, but she began saying that this is very hard because the Holy Books(Koran and Bible) according to her, are not modern. This is one reason according to her that it is hard to live a happy life with the reasons I gave. The other reason: The DaVinci Code, which everyone knows is based on hard evidence! Come on! I thought I'd heard it all, but using the DaVinci code to argue theology. This is another one of Satan's tactics to try to rob God of His glory. The teacher claimed that this book and movie could be possible and therefore the Bible has been changed. Now why is it that if we were talking about nursing for instance(we have a nurse in our class)everyone would say that the nurse in the class has some credibility because she studied nursing and also works as a nurse? If we're talking to the guy who went to school and studied the Bible though, he knows nothing and is immediately discredited. Now everyone in the class including the teacher knows that I studied Theology in college. I'll be the first to say that I have a lot to learn about the Bible and it's teaching and will never know it all. Compared to the people in my class who have NEVER read the Bible, I look like a Bible scholar. The point is nobody wants to hear what I have to say on the subject. Everyone asks me what I think, and then they don't like my answers. I think it's because the Bible doesn't leave anything up for discussion. It's the Bible way or it's not the right way. This is how I answer my questions and no one likes them. I thank God for the opportunity to sow some seed in language class!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Home Sweet Home!

Angie and I returned from Istanbul last Thursday night. I needed to go to talk to a man about International Student Exchange, so we decided to stay a few days. We had a good time and I learned a lot from the man I met with. Istanbul is a city of somewhere around 16 million people. Our first day of visiting all the tourist sites, Angie and I were talking in English about what we wanted to do. A man stopped us and asked if we were from the United States. We answered that we were and then the next thing he asked us was if we were 'born-again Christians.' This is not a term that just anyone uses. I asked if he was a born-again Christian and he said that he was Muslim. He was in Istanbul on business. I don't know whether Angie and I have a glow about us, but it was a reminder that no matter where you go people are watching. We could say a lot about our trip, but hopefully those reading this blog will come visit.


Along with language school and just living in another country come the same responsibilities that we have in the states: paying rent, utilities, and just living in general. Today I needed to pay a couple of bills for our new apartment. Usually I just pay them from the Internet, but since this was the first time I had to pay them in person. So I go to the post office and push the button to get my number to wait in line. To my dismay I had 54 people in front of me and at least a 108 minute wait! That's right just say a 2hr. wait. Just to pay a couple of bills! I wasn't about to do this, and I don't know why anyone else would. I went to the bank where you are also able to pay bills. Long story short, I couldn't pay my water bill at the bank. I had to go to the water company. OK no problem. Where is the water company, and how do I get there? Well I asked a couple of people and got conflicting reports. One said it was in a certain place, the other said it was on the opposite side of the city. I decided to go with the answer of the man who was more confident. By the way, I really needed to pay this bill so it didn't automatically come out of my landlords account. So anyway the second man I asked said he would take me there. This place is 40 minutes away and was out of his way. Yet this man was kind enough to help me. After a couple of stops talking to his friends, having a glass of tea, and myself beginning to wonder if I was going to make it to pay my bill by 5, we made it. The bill was paid no problems. Next month I can pay it over the Internet. So why did I tell you this seemingly pointless story. Well every morning I ask God to guide our steps and help us get through the day. God guided me to the right person who could help me get what I needed done accomplished. Sometimes we miss where God has helped us in what seem like the small areas in our lives. On top of all this, I was able to practice my Turkish!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pride

Ramazan is in full swing now. We have a nice little drummer boy who comes down our street between 3:30 and 4:00 in the morning to let everyone know that they had better eat something before the sun comes up. Interesting little fact: People here actually gain more weight during the month of Ramazan than any other time of year. How's that for practicing self-control. I have been in a couple of conversations this past week, that really showed me how proud the people are. I try to regularly practice my Turkish with the security guards at my friends apartment. I sat down this past week and I had them explain Ramazan in their own terms. Everyone asked me if I fast. I said yes I have, but it's different from the Muslim fast. One man who joined our conversation just struck the wrong chord with me. I was explaining why we fast and how we fast and he chimes in with something like, "Oh, you have an easy religion you can fast when you want to and how you want to." I must say at first I was a little angry, but then I took a moment and realized it was this man's pride. The fact is most of the men I talk with don't go to the mosque to pray, they smoke, probably drink a little, and who knows what else. Really, for most of the year they are not practicing Muslims, but for this month they are so proud of their fasting. Is it any wonder God's plan is salvation by grace through faith so that we can't boast about it. Islam like every works base religion lifts up man and says, "Look at me I did this, this, and this, and now I'm going to Heaven." Satan has blinded people all around the world with their pride. They think that they can do something good enough to save themselves. What are we to do about it? Jesus confronted people with their pride. In John 8, the Jewish leadership told Jesus that they were Abraham's seed and were never in bondage. Jesus told them very straightly that if you sin you're a servant to sin. Jesus then went on throughout the chapter to show them how they were not honoring God with their lives. Only God's power can break people's pride but through God's Word we can create questions in their minds about how good they think they really are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Language Learning

Angie and I have been learning Turkish for 7 months now, and we will be learning for the rest of our lives. There are days where we think we're finally getting it and there are days when we think we will never learn. Lost in everyday language learning is learning the language to communicate the gospel. Recently I've been given some resources to help learn what we might term "spiritual language." Since I've began studying, I realized how important it is not just to learn what a word means from the dictionary, but I need to learn how the Turkish people view this word. It's not enough to know a words meaning you need to know the word and it's context within the culture. For example the word "gunah" is the word used for sin. In my studies I learned that most of the Turkish people view "gunah" as adultery and murder. I wanted to test this meaning out so I asked a couple of people. They immediately said "gunah" is stealing, cheating on your wife, murder, etc...Pretty much sin is all the really big things you do wrong. So I wouldn't want to just say, "See we're all sinners. I'm a sinner and you're a sinner." The person would look at me and say, "You may have done all these things, but I haven't." That wouldn't be a good starter for a conversation! So we can't just assume everyone comes from our background and automatically knows what we are talking about. This is a small example but a valuable lesson that I learned. Please pray for us. We must learn the language and learn it well. Our main job is to communicate with people. If we don't know the language well enough we can't communicate. Part of learning the language is learning the culture, which gives the language it's context.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Is it Illogical faith or just a great God?

This week Angie and I had a friend over. We've known this young man for sometime and have become quite good friends. He came into our apartment, sat down, and read the sign we have in our apartment, "Jesus Christ is Lord." This sparked a discussion that lasted nearly three hours. This is not the first of a discussion like this. He basically said that it was not logical to believe how I believed. Some of his complaints about my logic were as follows:

1. The Bible is God's Word and cannot be changed.
He said that God cannot change, but that man changed verses in the Bible to make them say what they wanted. This is a pretty standard statement among Muslims. I responded by saying that his holy book(Koran)says that the Bible is God's Word. It also says that God's Word cannot be changed. Surah 50:29,"The Word does not change before Me, and I do not do the least injustice to My servants." Surah 18:27, "And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord: none can change His Words, an none will you find as a refuge other than him. So if the Bible, God's Word, can be changed then it would follow that the Koran(what he says is God's Word) can be changed.

2. Jesus Can't be God.
With this point, my friend said that man's body cannot contain God, and God cannot limit Himself to man's body. To this I just reminded him that he believes that God can do whatever He wants. God is all-powerful. I also had the opportunity to explain why it was necessary for Jesus to come as a man and live a perfect life. Still my friend thought it illogical. I'm given you the short version, as I stated our conversation lasted quite some time.

3. Jesus died for our sins.
My friend doesn't see the reason for this, nor do I. Why would Jesus die for peoples sins? He believes that every Muslim will spend some time in Hell to pay for their wrongs, but eventually they will make it to heaven. During this point Angie and I tried to focus on God's love. We explained to him that we don't understand why Jesus would die for our sins. My friend was having a real problem with the fact that we are born in sin. See Muslims believe that they are all born clean.

There is much more we could say about this conversation but what we've written is enough. The Bible doesn't make sense to unsaved people. I tried to explain to my friend that He is trying to understand an all-knowing God, which he himself says is impossible. Our brains can't comprehend why or how God does everything. This is the beauty of the Gospel, which I explained to my friend. The hand of God is in the Gospel message. Look at every other religion in the world and they say, "Do this, this, and this, and you can go to Heaven." The Bible way says there is only one way to heaven and that's through Jesus. We explained this to our friend. My friend even said that maybe his mind is closed. We are praying that God would open his mind and heart. I told him when God saves him he can come live with me. He comes from a country where he could be killed for becoming a believer in Christ.

In the end, it's not about putting points on the board for who won which argument. It's not whether you can understand it or explain it perfectly. It's about planting seeds that God can develop and grow. Please pray for our friend. He's heard the gospel on several occasions. Pray Angie and I can be instruments that God would use to be a witness in his life.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Here Comes the Bride!

A couple of weeks ago from our 9th story view (our friend's apartment), we were able to watch a party of a newly married Turkish couple. It sounded like we had a live band in our apartment! I have provided some video for your viewing pleasure. The entire video is about one minute and forty seconds long. Notice the spoons in the men's hands. Unfortunately the party didn't really get started for another few hours, but by then it was dark. What you didn't get to see is that later on in the party the bride and groom would dance. To me it looks like they just jump around and snap, but I'm sure there is more to it. While the bride and groom are dancing, people will throw money at them. That's right money! They get to skip the step of opening the cards to get to the money. Then someone will start picking up the money and pinning it on the groom. So if people are generous the groom has money pinned all around him.
video

Friday, August 31, 2007

Good Enough!

We've been moving and setting up our new apartment this entire month. It was during this time that this thought, "Good enough!" came to mind. When we first entered our grand apartment I began to notice a lot of crazy things. For instance, you may have three electrical outlets in one room, and you're guaranteed that one of them won't work. Sometimes two out of three don't work. Or than you have the situation of ceiling lights not being centered on the ceiling, and there are many other things I could mention. I know some of you are thinking who cares. Well you see the thought process for most people here in Turkey is, "It's Good Enough." I'm thinking, "No I want it right." They say, "Why, it's good enough." You find this thought process in the religion of Turkey, which is Islam. Every Muslim knows that they aren't perfect and they never will be. They don't pray five times a day or they have a drink every now and then. In fact, most have never read the Koran. The goal is not perfection. The goal is to be good enough. A Muslim just needs enough good works to outweigh the bad ones. So this thought process permeates their entire way of life. It's not perfect, but it's good enough. I don't have to worry about being perfect because my Savior, Jesus Christ was! I'm perfect through the blood of Jesus. Ramadan begins this month. Millions of Muslims will observe their fasting hoping to erase some bad deeds, just to be good enough. Pray that we will be able to explain that God has much higher standards than just being good enough.