When Necmi got ill his wife Sakine was not anymore available as a language helper. We were introduced to Turkan and she became our language helper. We had weekly language sessions and Magda could practice her vocabulary on the ladies at the weekly fresh produce market and the wife of the door keeper. I was learning Turkish from my Iranian friend who translated for me when I spent time in Duzce. I was able to pick up words and phrases from the many conversations I was part of. The children were learning Turkish from friends they made in the neighborhood.
This meant that our vocabulary were very different. When learning a foreign language in this manner, the words that stick are the words that you use most. Magda knew words related to household tasks that was strange to me. The children knew words that they learnt so that they could play with their friends, and we were often aware that they used words not known to us. My vocabulary was also very different because of the environment I worked in.
Turkan was a new believer and actively involved in one of the small Turkish Protestant Churches in Ankara. She came to faith and then led her husband and two daughters to faith in Christ too. We always prayed together when we had our language sessions, and she was always asking for prayer for herself and her family. One day Magda was feeling ill. When Turkan came for the language session Magda asked her to pray for her. Turkan prayed and the next week she came back and shared what that meant to her. She looked up to us as missionaries thinking that we do not need any spiritual help or support from the people we came to serve. It meant a lot to her when Magda asked her to pray for her, showing her vulnerability and allowing Turkan to minister to her in prayer.
The programs at the Duzce Outreach Center commenced well. We were encouraged to see how the community were taking more and more ownership of the activities at the center. When the project was conceptualized it was always envisioned that the center will be handed over to the community at an appropriate time in the future. It was however becoming difficult for the full time volunteers running the programs at the center to think about an exit strategy. They were fully invested in the work at the social services center and they became reluctant to discuss the handover of the center to the community. They wanted to stay as long as possible and was hoping that the center could become a meeting place for local believers in the future. With this in mind they were becoming more and more involved in Bible and literature distribution,
I was accountable to the Earthquake Relief and Support Committee and responsible to implement the relief and support plans I developed for the earthquake victims in the Duzce province. As time went by, the reluctance of the full-time volunteer team in Duzce to discuss and implement an exit plan caused more and more tension between me and the South African couple managing the programs in Duzce.
It was a difficult situation seeing that the center entertained more than 100 children per week in the children programs and 20 women per week in handcraft and English conversation classes. The computer literacy classes also proved to be popular. The full-time volunteers were taking strain under the pressure of the living circumstances and dealing with people who were dealing with the effect of an traumatic event in their lives.
Time was passing quickly and we were presenting plans to the Earthquake Relief Support Committee to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the earthquake on 11 November 1999.