We continued partnering with John on the foundation work. One of his desires was to either set up an orphanage or work through local orphanages, so we made regular visits to some in the city.
On one visit, John met a woman outside the orphanage door who said she had brought her three children to put them in the orphanage because she could no longer care for them.
On an impulse John said he would take them if she’d sign the papers. She agreed, and John came home with three new children. His wife said she could not handle this responsibility, so John came to us and asked if we would take them in.
Unwise as we now see it, at the time we agreed. So our little family suddenly grew from four to seven, as the two girls, nine and seven, and their three-year-old brother, Solomon, moved in.
This made for interesting dynamics. These children had experienced little discipline in their lives, didn’t know about the basics of life—they ate with their hands, had never seen a sit-down toilet, and were suddenly thrust into the home of foreigners who spoke very imperfect Turkish.
It turned out that their Turkish was also pretty poor; they spoke a different, minority language as their mother tongue.
Explaining to those girls why I was disciplining their spoiled little brother proved to be a daunting task. Young Turkish boys are are considered little kings, given anything they want. Solomon’s older sisters wanted to protect him from my attempts to teach him what “no” meant. It was an interesting time.
For Josh and Nat, this “live-in language and culture exposure” was a good thing. Nat and Solomon were about the same age, but very contrasting in their looks: Nat very blond, Solomon very dark, our chocolate/vanilla pair. They played well together and became good friends.
We also took in a German girl in her twenties who was supposed to help us with our new family additions, but being a rebel, she turned out to be as much trouble as the children!
Another idea of John’s was to have the foundation distribute help to poor villagers on the Black Sea coast. Charles had contacts there so it was a natural place to start. In January, the three of us drove up, entered one of the villages, and began giving out used clothes and financial help to those in need.
After a few hours of distribution, an army officer and four soldiers appeared and began to ask John questions. In the end the officer decided to take us to the police.
John, Charles, and I got into the car, along with two soldiers carrying their loaded rifles and drove to the police station in the nearest city. There we were informed that we were under arrest, the first of a number of times this was to happen to me.
We actually spent a pleasant afternoon at the police station drinking lots of tea and giving the policemen English lessons while waiting for some “higher ups” to arrive.
The time also proved to be good language study for me. I easily learned a number of new words, including “tutuklandin,” meaning “you have been arrested.”
In the end, after John gave his statement, and some of the irate villagers we’d helped came to speak on our behalf, the police decided to let us go.
Then I learned two other words the police used to describe the situation: “yanildik” (we were mistaken) and “utandik” (we were embarrassed). That sounded good. Hopefully the authorities could now see that we were doing good and accept our innocence!
That night I had trouble sleeping. At first I thought it was from the excitement of the day, and then realized it was from the innumerable cups of strong tea we’d consumed!
Picture: Our boys with their new house guests: