I went to visit the Zykos-Family on Saturday. They consist of Aris and Heather, their 8 kids, their dog Mina and plenty of birds (chickens, doves, pidgeons). It’s a simple home, but the love and joy makes it a great place to be. We had some meatloaf, peas and carrots and baked potatoes for lunch. And for dessert they served some home-made peanutbutter-chocolate-bars, I contributed some home-made ginger bread. I talked to the parents and played a drawing game with the kids. They are a great family!
Sunday was spent in church, as usual it took all day. This sunday one of the guys started playing some African songs during the worship time. It was a happy church! There’s just something about African songs that makes you want to dance and be joyful. :)
And on Monday my time in Cyprus came to an end. I could spend some last time with some friends and sit at the beach a last time. Then I was brought to the airport and went home.
This has been a full, amazing, beautiful, challenging and God-filled 7 weeks. I have learned a lot and am glad I was there!
Aris and Heather’s back porch area
Heather and Mina, their dog. This dog is full of energy and is very hyper!
2 years ago I made the kids a viking doll. It’s a bit worn, but they still have it :)
As in the previous weeks I’ve been keeping busy. I could get to know my interns better than before, realizing what treasures they really are. They are not perfect and have their battles, but they are great people. I can see what I need to learn just by seeing other people. They are like a mirror or my own issues. I learned, for example, that you need to be really careful what you say as a leader, how to chose your words and use them to encourage rather than put down. I also learned that I miss out on making friends because I feel like I’d be “bothering” the other person if I try to be friends. This seems to be rooted in fear and a false self-image. Because I realized that this is an issue, I started to change my attitude. I decided to “make the first move”, to take initiative more and not think that people will be annoyed by me. Because the truth is, I’m a great person, and so is the person I might miss.
On thursday was the celebration dinner, where people contributed to the buffet and to the program. I met a woman from Rwanda and was so excited, because I have a sponsor child in Rwanda. I got to play 2 of my songs and share a testimony. Other people got creative too, it was great!
And yesterday was the last day of the internship. We had an amazing 6 weeks and none of us wanted to leave. But we brought the time to closure and said good-bye to each other. I will see some of the people again before I leave, others I won’t but it was a priviledge to be part of this time and to meet these people.
We have a less packed schedule this week, but this doesn’t mean we are doing nothing.
Yesterday we learned a lot about the topic of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, as this is one of the outreach focuses of the House of Prayer (HOP) here. The HOP networks with, help equip and prays for ministries who fight against human trafficking, and in the past they have started and led a full-time work with trafficking-victims.
We watched two documentaries on the topic, and especially the second documentary is very moving. It doesn’t “shock” in that sense, but it shows what is really going on around the world. The topic is very dark and can be very depressing, as you could tell from the stories of those who were interviewed. But luckily the story didn’t end with overwhelming despair: The people who were interviewed for the documentary have been rescued and restored from their former life, both the women who were slaves and the people who used them.
What I think is key to realize: If you just rescue someone out of slavery, they are complete wrecks and will be broken for the rest of their lives. Counseling and therapy can help the victim a lot, but it cannot repair what was broken. Only Jesus can repair a person from the inside out. I really believe this is true, based on what others have experienced, but also my own experience (I never had to endure what slaves have to go through, but even in my “good life” I am being made new every day). So when I think about this whole topic, it would leave me sad, angry and overwhelmed if I only looked at the problem. But when I turn to God, I have hope, despite the problem.
That was the serious part of the post, now come the fun part: I was able to record my new songs and posted them here to listen to! And because it’s my Mom’s birthday, I am posting my song “Calvin and Hobbes” as well. Happy Birthday Mom!
Yesterday my rentor dropped in to see if everything was ok, and he gave me a bag of fresh lemons, grapefruit and pomogranate. The lemons are still green, but they smell so intense already! I made some fresh lemonade this morning, and the flavor is great!
My rentor brought me a bag of lemons from his garden
The sun apparently got so hot that it melted this tourist map!
The Light House at Faros Beach
The moon over Faros Beach
Today I visited with some of the interns at a restaurant down the road from where I am staying. It’s a nice place with a great view of the sea. We just hung out for a while and then went on our way back home. Some got a ride with one of the interns, I and Dan decided to walk. But while we were walking, the skies turned from a few clouds to a downpour-thunderstorm. We were lucky, though, because a woman drove by in her white van and gave us a ride.
I had some of the interns over at my house on saturday. We went for a swim in the ocean and built a bonfire at the beach. While we were standing around the fire we met some guys from Israel, Gideon and Yah-Li (Hebrew for “God to me”). They were visiting a Cypriot friend for the weekend (Israel is only a 40-minute flight away) and left that same night. We talked especially to Yah-Li, at chips and some nuts that they brought and sang some old 60s songs with him. Then the guys from Israel went inside, and another hour later we went in, too.
Inside we relaxed on my balconey, sang some songs and played guitar and cooked a simple lentil soup for dinner. Then the interns went home.
Today I hadn’t planned on doing anything, but I was spontaneously invited for lunch with the family who rents the appartment to me. They are a very nice couple in their 70s, and they had their daughter and her 2 kids their, too. The food was simple and delicious. The lemons are from Andreas’ own garden in Nicosia and “barely in season” as he says it. They still are sweeter and fresher than any lemon you would get in Germany, so I’ll take it! We talked for a while and then I got to look around their garden. They have canna flowers that are over 2m tall (7-8 feet) almost all year round! Our cannas in Germany make it to maybe 70cm (3-4 feet), weather does make a difference!
In the end they gave me some lemons and pomogranates from their own garden in Nicosia. I thankfully took them :) Cypriot people are very hospitable, and a visit never is short. I was there for 3 hours, with people I hardly knew, but that didn’t matter. I enjoyed it, the perfect thing to finish off this week.
I was invited for lunch at my rentor’s house. Their food was delicious!
Andreas, the owner of the appartment, proudly prepares the salad with his home-grown lemons
Last saturday we went out to dinner at a local Taverna and ordered some “Mezze”. A Mezze is a group of many different dishes and you need at least 2 people to eat 1 Mezze. We were 8 people and ordered 6 Mezze, 4 of them meat and 2 of them fish. The taverna’s back porch is covered with grapes and is very nice. I enjoyed eating “Cyprus style”: eat a lot, and be loud! I was always taught to us a quiet “restaurant voice” while eating, but “restaurant voice” is loud here!
On sunday I got to witness a baptism at the beach. This was a special experience!
This week was just as busy as the last one, a lot of full days. But they were good days, and I could write another song during that time! It’s called “New Me” and talks about our (my) new identity when I know Christ. I will post the song with the lyrics as soon as I can record it properly
I haven’t been posting many updates because it’s really busy here. I can’t share everything (that would be too much!) but here’s some news:
Among many other things, I’ve been leading some art and music in the House of Prayer. The “art stream” is once a week, always on Tuesdays. We encourage people to allow themselves to be creative, to express what they are feeling in prayer and in life. Many people that come say of themselves that they aren’t creative. Still, doing something “creative” turns out to be very therapeutic for them. Helping in these sessions is very encouraging.
My song is done! It’s called “Face to Face” and talks about how we can only really achieve the “big things” if we have a relationship with God. Of course many people would disagree, and that’s fine, but I’ve experienced that knowing God as a person makes a huge difference.
One of the staff members was given a black summer dress, and since it didn’t fit her, she asked me if I wanted to try it on. I don’t usually wear skirts/dresses, but I decided to try it. The dress is beautiful and I actually like it! I also let one of the interns braid my hair (which is also something I don’t usually do) and she did an amazing job! She was happy to make me happy with something she is good at. And so she did!
Today we had lunch together and I got to cook the food for everyone. Since we have several allergies in our group, it was like a game of “Taboo”: I couldn’t use egg, wheat, milk, garlic, vinegar or hot spices. But it worked out well. I made baked zucchini in tomatosauce, stuffed with rice, meat, veggies, onions and garlic. To top it off, I added orange juice, cinnamon and honey. Actually the cinnamon and honey were Maike’s idea, she helped cook the food on thursday. Everyone enjoyed lunch and just hanging out together.
I can see the ocean from my balconey, and the other day I could also see some windsurfers! They looked like they were having a good time :)
So much for the updates, I wish all of you a nice weekend and warm greetings from sunny Cyprus :)
After going to Salamis and Varosha (the ghost town), the rest of the week was spent with hearing and participating in teaching. I got to know some of my interns and support the art workshop session on Friday. Also, I went on Friday evening to visit two of my interns at their appartment and cook dinner with them. We made a lentil-curry soup, simple but effective!
Today I am resting from an intense 1st week: cleaning, cooking, going to the beach and writing a new song. Some songs take ages to write, some don’t turn out, but I think this one will be good…
Here’s my song “Bird’s Eye View”. I apologize for the bad sound quality, I will try to edit it when I have the time. Since I was at the top of the ampitheater, it was quite windy. The lyrics are below, and also below the youtube-video. This song is not on my CD, but I did record a CD with 5 of my best songs. So if you haven’t seen that yet, go check it out on iTunes and Amazon, or write me an email to get “real CDs”
Northern Cyprus is much more spacious than the South
Roman Mosaics in an Arch
Sketch of the Ghost Town
Today we went to the ancient city of Salamis in Northern Cyprus. This is where the apostles Paul and Barnabas landed when they came to Cyprus for their first missionary journey. It was a bustling Roman city and the ruins speak of its former glory. We all went to the ampitheater and prayed for the island and for reconciliation. Since a war in the 1970s the island has been seperated by a wall into the Turkish-speaking North and the Greek-speaking South, even today people remember the traumas. There is no war anymore, but the wall remains. But the prime ministers of both sides are negotiating peace right now, this is very encouraging!
We also saw a ghost town on the coast nearby, which is under Turkish military control. It has been abandoned since the 1970s, making it a concrete ruin. It is strictly forbidden to take pictures of it, but I managed to draw a picture of the city. The site was quite bizzare: A military zone right next to a lively beach. The beach was completely deserted a year ago, but apparently things have changed quickly.
This weekend was fun and relatively relaxing for me, I hope your weekend was cool too :)
On saturday I visited with two of the other ladies on staff, one is from Russia (Irina) and the other is from Ireland (Carol). So that made 3 people from 3 nations! We spent the afternoon together at the pool and just got to know each other a bit. They are both great people, so that was a pleasure!
On sunday I and Maike (one of the interns) took the bus to Larnaca to go to the house church there. The bus driver was really helpful, but the bus ride was long and rocky. I got a little carsick and took about 30 min to recover…
I was worth it to take the trip, though, because the house church is awsome! Maike and I spent part of the service with the youth and told some curious teenagers about who we were and what we were doing in Cyprus. It’s a fun group of kids and teens :)
Afterward we had a generous lunch with the whole church (they do that every week). I was glad for the free meal, especially since it was a good one. And we spent a long time talking to different people, not leaving until 6PM. Time flies when you’re having a good time!
And today was the start of the internship! The team and the interns met, we had some intoduction stuff and a group lunch. I think it will be a great 6 weeks!
The week of staff training is over, so I’ve got some time on my hands. This won’t be happening again anytime soon, so better make use of it:
I started the morning off by doing some much needed “deep cleaning” of my appartment. This basically meant sweeping, wiping down surfaces and mopping the floors. Cyprus is a dusty place, so the mop-water was quite grey after I was done with it…
On Wed evening I made a delicious barbecue chicken dinner with some rice. Since it was enough to feed 2-3 people, I had some of that for lunch today. And as it is with other types of foods: it tastes better the second (or third) day!
I also tried to use some chalk pastels (something I don’t usually do). My attempts to use chalk have often failed because of it’s tendency to smear, but I decided to not be defeated just yet. So I sat down and did a chalk painting of the cacti in the back yard…
eventhough I see definite room for improvement, it turned out better than expected :)
Today we had another preperation meeting. Afterward one of the other staff members took me by a produce shop. And the store had the biggest pumpkins (actually they were gourds) I had ever seen in a little produce shop! I could lift one out for a photo, but not so easily!
I got here last Saturday and 3 days later it’s Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a summary of what went on here:
Sunday: a quiet morning, a home-made potato salad for breakfast and a day at the house church in Larnaca. It felt good to be back! I had been to the house church when I was here 2 years ago and had made some good friends. Meeting them again and feeling as if you had never been gone, a great feeling!
Monday: Beginning staff training for the internship next week. The staff members got to know each other and go through some practical stuff.
Tuedsay: I got to lead worship in the beginning for about 45 minutes. For some it might seem strange to sing songs to and for a God you can’t see, but when you know this God, it’s not difficult at all.
After this we talked about what makes a good team, what to expect from each other and from the interns, etc. It can be overwhelming to see all that lies ahead, but it is also exciting. We didn’t come here to relax, we came for an adventure. And adventures are seldom relaxing!
This morning I got up at 6:30AM, and now I’m sitting in my appartment on the beach in Cyprus! I will be spending the next 7 weeks here because I am part of the staff of an internship at the local House of Prayer (HOP).
The internship is a very intense program of praying, learning about God and how to get practical about your faith. I guess it’s a mix of church (only smaller), monastery (without the getting up early) and really intense friendships. I was here 2 years ago as an intern, now I will be helping in the music- and art-workshops.
I already took some pictures, hopefully I will also get some art inspiration along the way. I am really looking forward to this time!