T 11

Eight (8) months ago I was led into T11, a class, by a course administrator to study Turkish at Gazi TÖMER. It was a class of strange faces to me then; different people with different dispositions and the only common denominator was the fact that we  were all there to learn Turkish. The class had started a week prior to my arrival and two kind fellows, whom I will get to know better later as Isabel and Marwan, tried to explain a few things to me. A few minutes later, another new student walked in and I was glad to have company in my confusion. He looked as confused as i was when the teacher walked in and started teaching what was basic grammar. Due to my inability to comprehend anything the teachers were teaching I was left with the option of writing and that I did to the best of my capability.

It was during one of the breaks that I officially met Rama. She spooked me alright – asking me what I knew about the Turkish language. “Nothing” my obvious answer. “Not even the counts or alphabets” she pressed. A quick shake of my head answered her latter question. Then she gave me the ‘sorry pal” look. By that time, I was not very acquainted with her to know to ignore it. As if I didn’t know already, I gathered yet again that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park. In the first few days I simply showed up at school, returned to my dorm feeling cold and with a headache, ate, did my homework (if there was any), took a hot shower and lights out for me. I was trying in vain to find the logic in this new language. For years now, that was my method of learning- find the principles, master them, apply them. It took me a while to figure out why my method was not going to work this time.

A new class opened two weeks later and Rama was the first to tell me and encourage me to move there. It took me just about that much time to decide against it.

It is worth mentioning that I had very good teachers but I knew I had met the one the first day Şhaida Hoca, my speaking teacher, walked into the class. She was the best teacher ever for me then- a mixture of fun and learning – and oww how I needed fun during that time. It didn’t become a bed of roses after that. I still struggled, even probably much more in her class where I was required to speak.

I don’t know for sure but I don’t think it was very easy for anyone.  I knew of my tears because I was the one crying them and often too. Not able to understand anything in a class was very new to me. A feeling I could and still will never get used to. I remember walking up to my comprehension teacher once after class and telling her I didn’t understand anything she said in class, ever.

During all this time, I had forgotten all the excitement I had exprerienced traveling abroad, learning new things and even the miracle that brought me here.

Weeks passed, the seasons changed, exams after exams the class got smaller and smaller (for different reasons) and a bit more intimate each time.

Now eight months later after passing  four promotional exams and the final exams (thank God for answered prayer) we all sat around a table with smiling faces eating ice cream with Şhaida Hoca and reminiscing .

Now I look at faces of friends, not strangers, still different people from myself – with different perspectives on life – and I am happy.

I know I will miss every one of them. Hazret’s long speeches in Konuşma class, Isabel’s exasperated look in Yazma, Rama’s unending questions in Anlama and Dil Bilgisi class, Enes’ hand in his hair any time he was writing or thinking, Mohammed’s random questions, Sohiab’s brief showdown in Yazma class and his unshakable defense of the doctor profession, Khaled’s decisive head shake when asked a question in the Yazma class, Rana’s quiet prescence, and Aye Lwin…. well, Aye Lwins  wins the smart boy.

A bitter sweet end for a group of friends who otherwise will never have met. Eight months of torture, trials and test and we came out as the Triumphant 11.

 To my TÖMER  classmates *Arkadaşlarım sizi çok özledim. Yaptığınız her şeyde size en iyisini diliyorum.*

 

 

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HOŞGELDİNİZ

Höşgeldiniz! It was the first word I saw when I walked into TÖMER (a Turkish language school), a night after I arrived in Turkey. Naturally, I wondered how such a ridiculous string of letters and characters would sound like.

You must understand me, I have practically used English my whole life, a little bit of French and of course, a number of local languages in Ghana. I know about the other languages in the world but, this,… The “word” must have something to do with welcome. That much I gathered because right underneath the strange string of letters was the word WELCOME.

So i walked right ahead, İ was going to register to learn Turkish, and I hoped I will be “welcome”.

My first experiences in the country were not too pleasant or easy. First of all, I had a hard time finding my way to a pay phone. I found it strange that nobody I came across, apart from the gentleman at the foreign exchange stand spoke English in an “international” airport. I had read that the predominant language within the country was Turkish but considering Portugal, a Portuguese speaking nation that has a sizeable number of natives also speaking English, a global language, I kind of expected a similar situation here. Alas, here I stood lost with no means of communication. Eventually, I found my way out of the airport.

After some other events I have safely locked away in the “never-visit-again-cabinets’ of my life, I arrived at my dorm and I met Asia, and oh, how she made me feel welcome. Someone at last who would speak gibberish as well as English. She would later be a real friend to me (another story for another day).

Fast forward eight months and I have finally finished my course. İ walked past the same sign, even though I’m nowhere near perfect in the language and I have bouts of doubts and uncertainty about what word or expression means what sometimes, I don’t think its so strange anymore. In fact, I wonder – How cool is it that a whole sentence is said in one word? Höşgeldiniz – You are welcome.

Embrace whatever new experiences you are facing and find the good in it. I bet you will find many ‘cool’ stuff to add to your reservoir of experiences.

 

The mind is a phenomenal tool designed to do marvellous things only if we train it.

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what are some of your experiences in new places?

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Royalties

The entire congregation was under anointing when she lifted up the chorus, the whole place was on fire, angels paid attention, people were healed, God was good yet again. Straight out of church she smartly walked past with a bust a bit too low, a skirt a bit too tight and short. He turned to catch a second glimpse. What he would give just for a few minutes with that sexy one.

It’s not my fault he can’t keep himself together; God has made us free people; all things are lawful and frankly God looks into the heart not on the outside.’’

So conveniently forgetting that out of the abundance of the heart she speaks, acts and even chooses her clothes; ignoring that ‘he who looks upon a woman and lusts after her has already committed adultery with her’ – forgetting adultery takes two.

Don’t get excited!

Praise the Lord brother. What happened to your belt? When did your waist drop to your hip? Why are your hands doing the job of our belt? Why am I looking at your underwear? Aren’t those pants a bit too tight and rugged. No combs at home either?

Hmmm!

What ever happened to this chosen generation of royal priesthood? What happened to this holy nation. Where are the kings and the queens, the princes and princesses? How are the royalties choosing their lot with the celebrities when ever so clearly, they belong in the throne?

When did Hollywood, Nollywood, Ghallywood or whatever wood become the standard for an elect and peculiar people. What happened to being the light of the world, the salt of the earth, a good example of a believer, the beauty of holiness and most of all to being like Christ.

Let the young men and women consider and reflect on these things, on how priceless they are. And let the eyes of our understanding be opened to the glory of who we are in Christ. Let the labels and tags and the craze of this fashion world not define us. After all, we are from a kingdom much more higher.

Let the kings and queens go back and sit on their thrones dressed majestically. That our son may be as plants grown up in their youth and daughters as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.

Spoken word poem by: Sarah

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You laugh, mock and scorn

At the tears of a heart so torn

You ask why give yourself

to such craziness and lifelessness,

amidst such bliss and pleasure.

You say come live life full in itself.

I start in wonder;

 

You’ve never known shame and disgrace

You’ve never felt the icy chills of loneliness

You haven’t known emptiness

nor the frustrations and hopelessness

Of slavery, bound by chains and shackles

No!……

 

You know not the pain of being forsaken

Nor the feel of guilty condemnation to death.

You lived a life perfect and free.

Sin and shame have nothing on you

The knowledge of the torment and nothingness ahead you lack;

 

To feel the joy and love divine

so shed by a savior, selfless and kind

descending from glory into the gory

Putting on the life

of a wretched and pathetic being awaiting death

Brokering the greatest exchange

A beautiful exchange indeed.

 

Giving everything for nothing

Trading his grace for disgrace

His fame for shame

His gain for pain

His liberty for captivity.

 

I cannot hold his peace,

joy and salvation with sealed lips,

folded arms, an apathetic heart

and blister less knees,

in the name of gentility and shamefacedness.

 

He regarded none when he hanged;

naked for none but me

striped for none but me

scorned for none but me

forsaken and rejected for none but me

bore a crown of thorns for none but me.

 

So I will shout till my voice is hoarse

Tell of this love I hold

About a savior who came not on a horse

to bring me into His fold.

This is the sound of freedom

The praise of a grateful heart

A heart won over by God.

 

                                        By: Clement Quaye

                                                 Sarah Kpentey

 

EXTRAORDINARY II

we were made for so much more than ordinary lives, let’s shine bright and let darkness run and hide.

The story as mama told it….

“once there lived a nation; One feared by many kingdoms and empires. Kings shivered and emperors trembled at the thought of war ring against them for they made useless dangerous ammunition and war strategies. These people however, attributed all the credit to their mysterious God whom they so feared and revered. It must have been true because there was nothing special about these people: they were neither huge nor well trained in battle, besides they didn’t even have a king. All they could boast of was this God.

Stories have been told of how this God raised His mighty hand in wrath against one pharaoh of Egypt for mistreating His people; unleashing plague after plague until He finally killed all the firstborns in the land sparing only His people. Pharaoh had no choice than to send the nation packing. Stories of how they had walked right through the Red sea and crossed fierce Jordan on dry ground. Other great and mighty things were told of this nation.

These people however didn’t know how special they were. After they had conquered all the nations and settled in their land, they looked around them and noticed how different they were. They thought that having a king will be a great idea so they asked for one and got it. As time went on their kings vexed them greatly. Having a king turned out to be not so great in the end.

Thing is, they weren’t a nation made to have a king but they looked around, saw the ordinary and thought it better; they traded their extraordinary for the ordinary…”

“Sarah, please never trade your extraordinary for the ordinary” mama ended.

I said my night prayer, mama gave me a kiss and said good night.

Mama had mentioned I was special. I didn’t know exactly how special until a while later when I found out I was a princess. A princess? what! Unbelievable!  Was that why I had to wear these gowns?  Yes! I am from a different kingdom than here. A much higher and powerful one (no kidding) and that is the way of life of the people in that kingdom and I have to reflect that regardless of where I am.

Till today I don’t know what inspired that bed time story – whether it was the deflated look in my eyes when I saw my dress or the longing look in my eyes as I looked at Emma’s dress; or maybe both – but I’m so glad I heard it, for it gradually changed my perspective of life and how I saw myself.

Today, I don’t fret over the long dresses and ‘many rules’, I have embraced my lot. And when I look around and feel a bit weird or uneasy, I remind myself of who I am.

So, don’t let the norm of this immediate environs fool you, we hold so much more valuables than the seemly glitters of this world; for all you know, the “cool” you so much want is dross and not gold.

….on dark days when i feel frustrated, unloved, and inadequate, I remember who I am and straighten my crown. -unknown

 

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EXTRAORDINARY I

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light”

Mama, I thought held an archaic perspective to relationships and was altogether too prim and proper about everything. Times have changed and things along with it but not mama. She still held on to the colonial definition of civility – sit down right, dress like ladies, talk to your friends with ‘courtesy’ ….and the list was endless.

The hardest part of these was the gowns -long and loose flowing dresses or skirts practically to the feet-she made us wear. We wore them everywhere except for school: where we obviously had to wear uniforms, and even with that she sewed our uniforms extra-long. I do not know about my sisters but for me this was quite frustrating and annoying.

At a point in time, all the kids at school were to go to the children’s park for a funfair and mama had promised us new clothes for the occasion. I was excited because I felt nothing in my wardrobe was good enough and also because a new dress held the promise of a much current fashion style. I should have known mama wouldn’t deviate from her usual ‘length appropriate clothes’. The clothes finally arrived and to my disappointment they were gowns.

I was so pissed. Before the promise of new clothes I had resigned myself to a selection from my woefully-limited-in-style wardrobe. The silver lining that came with mama’s promise turned out not to be silver after all: now I had to reconcile myself with my earlier decision and this was hard. I probably would have sat it out if not for the fact that I wanted to go so bad.

The day for the fair came and I dressed up with very little excitement. On the bus, I was rather melancholic in contrast to my sisters who were busily chatting away, obviously unperturbed by their clothes. I wasn’t looking forward to seeing my friends because I knew they would be better dressed than I was, and they were.

I went to say hi to avoid looking snobbish or troubled, either of which would have warranted a lot of explanation of which I wasn’t exactly in the mood for.. In course of the exchange of pleasantries, Joy, a friend of mine, said “I love the way you are so simple Sarah”. She probably meant it as a complement but I didn’t take it as one. It just set my teeth on edge. Was I so pitiful that the best she could say was “simple” in her attempt to be nice? Moreover, if she thought my clothes were that great why didn’t she get similar ones, I had worn the styles enough times.

That evening, my cousin Emma showed me a picture of a dress her mama was going to get her.

Much Later that night, mama told me a bed time story different from the popular ones.

…….

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Another year has began. Everything is looking bright and fair. It is both a new beginning and a continuation. New heights to clog and goals to reach. New expectations with renewed hope and faith.  A continuation of life and compilation of memories to look back on in later years. A revival and rekindling of waning fires and  another chapter of the life-long story we are writing.

All in all, we are reaching for much more and  trusting for greater things and times. As the year goes by; live, laugh, cry if need be, be courageous, get back up when you fall,hope, make friends, trust, love , and  ooohh…..  take photos. At the end of the year, when you look back make sure its a smile you have on your face.

And as i wish you a happy new year i cannot forget to mention God. He lightens our path so we may know the way by which we should go, because we have not passed this way before. Leave HIM out, and all  you have is a recipe for disaster.

Happy New Year !!

Mutlu Yıllar !!