In the run up to the outreach to Turkey Magda had been very supportive. We had long discussions and even longer prayer sessions to try and make sense of all that was happening.
Hardus was not yet 5 years old and Thea-Marie was just 2. Three weeks was a long time to cope on her own with the toddlers and we arranged for Magda to visit my parents who was working at Petra Institute outside White River, Mpumalanga. They were living on “Petra Mountain” and part of a vibrant community. We knew that Hardus would enjoy the other children and that there will be enough hands to help to take care of Thea-Marie so that Magda could have a bit of a break too.
Being only recently exposed to the challenges of world missions, she was reading a book by Bennie Mostert: “Change the world through Prayer”, She was growing into an intercessor for the nations and I knew I was going to need her to be vigilant during my time in Turkey.
With Magda and the children settled, I joined the outreach team for the last preparations and orientation at the SAAWE office in Kempton Park. There were 3 men and 9 ladies. The SAAWE CEO and his wife were leading outreaches to Turkey for several years and this time his wife would lead the team without him. We learned some basic Turkish words and phrases and a little bit of an introduction to the Turkish customs and culture. We also received our allocation of literature and some Turkish New Testaments to distribute during the outreach. It was illegal to bring Turkish Bibles from outside Turkey because they were legally printed in Turkey. We expected to receive more once we were in the country.
The team bonded well and it was encouraging to realize that we all had similar testimonies of how God brought us together from different corners of our country and provided for us to be part of the SAAWE team to reach out to Turkey during the Northern hemispheres’ summer of 1995.
We were flying with Egypt Air and had a two day lay over in Cairo. That night I could hardly sleep on the airplane. I was just too excited and overwhelmed by the uncertainty of what to expect.
I did not enjoy the lay over in Cairo. I wanted to be in Turkey as soon as possible and I had a bad experience with an Egyptian Arab at the Pyramids outside Cairo. During the two day lay-over we did as many touristic things as possible including visits to a papyrus factory, the sphinx and the pyramids. At the pyramids a young Arab man was allowing tourist to sit on his camel and then he would take pictures of them. I was very inexperienced and once on the camel he asked me to hand him my camera. I did it without hesitation and posed for the picture. Once done, he did not want to return my camera or to let me down from the camel without paying him a handsome amount in Dollars! I was stuck. Hadn’t it been for the intervention of one of my teammates I would probably still be sitting on that camel!
In 1995 the old Ataturk International Airport outside Istanbul was stil operational. It was summer in Turkey and the airport was buzzing with people roaming around and trying to find their way. The interior of the building was dimly lit and there were little English signs to read or spoken around us. I probably read to many spy novels, but it reminded me of a scene from a Heinz Konsalik book. We hurdled together and we were all happy that we have an experienced outreach leader who had done it before, to lead us into the city.