Kids, in a couple of weeks, I’ll be temporarily leaving the country.
This is a big deal. The last time I boarded a plane to leave the confines of the United States was in March of 2003. That was the last time I went to Brazil. I always thought that if I ever went overseas again, it would be to revisit my friends in Brazil. Sadly, that hasn’t happened (yet).
A couple months ago, my pastor and friend, Jeff Noble approached me about joining him and possibly others from our church on a discovery trip to Istanbul. I was very conflicted about giving him either a yes or a no.
On the one hand, how many times in my life will I ever have the opportunity to travel to Istanbul? On the other hand, how many times in my life have I ever even considered having a desire to travel to Istanbul?
I mostly wanted to say yes. Because it’s Istanbul! It’s a city rich with so much history. Once upon a time, it was Constantinople, the seat of the Roman Empire for nearly a thousand years. It was the site of the start of the Great Schism, which saw a split between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. It’s home to the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. It’s the only city in the world to reside on two continents, simultaneously!
Why was I debating? Of course I want to go to there!
But there was the issue of the passport. I had not needed a valid passport since March of 2003. So I allowed it to expire back in 2011. Unfortunately, I waited too long to simply have it renewed, which I could have done as recently as December of last year. But I didn’t. So I need an entirely new passport.
Y’all, that is an ordeal. I don’t remember it being such a hassle the first time I got one. I’m pretty sure I just walked into the post office with my official passport picture and application, paid the fee, and about a month and a half later I had a passport. This time around, I couldn’t go to the post office. Because they don’t do it anymore. I filled out the application online. Then I had to make an appointment with someone at the library. Then I had to sit before a tribunal of librarians who made me swear an oath that the information presented was correct to the best of my knowledge. I mean… ordeal.
I still don’t have the passport yet. I’m a little worried that it won’t get here in time. I was told that, by expediting it, I’d have it in plenty of time. But with it not being in my hands yet, I still have concern.
Anyway, assuming the passport arrives before July 9, I will be heading out to Istanbul. And I’m pretty much psyched.
The purpose of the trip is to get a look at what a team of folks who are currently living there are doing and how they’re working and getting a feel for how we can help them out. The hope is that our church can develop a partnership with them that will last five years, and then we can send folks over there on a fairly regular basis to help out with their needs.
I really am getting excited about this trip. My concentration in my Christian Studies degree from Bluefield was in Church History. So that’s got me geeking out. From the perspective of the guy who gets to document everything we experience over there, well, that’s got me geeking out, too.
We’ll be there for just over a week, flying back to the States on July 16. The cost is approximately $2,500 per person and there are four of us going. If you are interested in helping to support us, you can make a donation by clicking here. Please, memo your gift “IST-Peck” so I’ll know just who to thank!
Stay tuned for updates here and on the Northstar Church website! In the meantime, enjoy this little ditty from They Might Be Giants and Tiny Toon Adventures…