Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Half of Columbia’s Istanbul Memories

As I have just touched down in Istanbul, it’s such a coincidental moment when suddenly remembering one of my lectures from University of South Carolina; someone who is normally not hearing each other just like other American friends of mine after short-time-hang out and assemblies they used to have done for me and couples of my friends. It’s not easy to keep in touch when the business ends up, no interest anymore and also hard to find friendship with Americans. I am not judging all the American people as I have experienced with. But in general I can say only two persons among fifty ones something I could keep contact. One year later, after coming back from studying language and cultures in summertime 2010, I tried to say hello on Facebook with some of them and it’s hard to have some response. I know those kind of people with tough routine jobs are not easy to waste time with some distant acquaintances, not to say careless.

He’s Jeff who once told us in front of class about his experiences during in Istanbul for one year more working for universities in Istanbul. Jeff is one of my two friends (who is actually a lecture but we called friend each other) who still respond when I sometime sent him email. While looking around the most historical sites in Istanbul, a brief memory of our short togetherness in the State came up. This feeling eventually I shared with Jeff by email after about three years not hearing each other. And just need one day to have been replied among his busy working days. I nodded respectively to appreciate and adore this kind of behavior!    

I don’t wanna tell anything unimportant here to share with my lovely readers. There is one thing I need to expose in term of the family number, an interesting one to disclose somehow. How many children do you think in every American family? One, two, three, fours….? No. He is now expecting the 11th child! What a fantastic! So that I bravely asked something rather personal to him.   

Wowww... you are now expecting the 11th child? Fantastic, my lovely teacher! Really, it's to be honest to say since the first time having met to your "big family" at that time I keep this kind of question: why are you planning to have many children in your family, just not like other Americans? Hahaha..... I just wonder and will be happy if I could hear the replay from you, dear Jeff.


This is his reply and I really delight to know his insightful reason.

Here is my reply. Our story is a little long, but i usually only tell it to people who ask... and well, you asked.

When my wife and i got married, we were the typical American couple with a typical American family plan. We wanted to enjoy married life, enjoy our money and enjoy some traveling for a while before having children. In other words, we were thinking only about ourselves. But 5 months after we got married, my wife told me she was pregnant! OMG! We were really scared for about 24 hours, but since we are followers of Christ and believe that God has a reason for everything, we accepted this shock. When our son was about 1 yr. old, we felt that we were ready to have another baby.  And since the first one came so quickly and easily, we of course believed that she would get pregnant quickly. However, God made us wait... and wait... and wait. 

After a few months, we started to wonder what the problem was, and i remember beginning to pray and ask God to bless us with another child. Four months... nothing, five months... nothing, six months... nothing. Then i remember begging God with urgent prayers to please bless us. Seven months... nothing, eight months... nothing, nine months... nothing, ten months... nothing. Finally after 11 months, my wife was pregnant, and nine months later we had our second child.  I believe that by giving us our first child so quickly and making us wait so long for our second child, God was teaching us that we are not the ones who control or build the family, He is. In fact, the Bible says in Psalm 127:1-5, "Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." The idea here is that children are gifts from God, not inconveniences. They are blessings, not curses. Also, if you are a warrior in battle, you want as many arrows as you can fit in your quiver so that you can fight the battle well. Today, i like to ask people that if you're a captain of a ship, do you want a small crew or a big one? Because you can sail a ship much easier with a big crew.

From that time on, my wife and i have wanted as many children as God wanted us to have. At least we always said that, but still did things to control pregnancy (birth control methods). Until finally, in 2004, physically tired and tired of changing diapers, with six kids, a demanding job, a busy schedule, a house always messy with toys everywhere, i finally told my wife that i was ready to do something i would never do: get a vasectomy. It cost me about $1500 to tell God that we didn't want His blessings anymore (at least the blessing of children). Isn't it funny (or sad) how we try to choose which blessings we want and don't want from God? And isn't it funny (or sad) that we think we know better than God what is best for us? Who do we think we are? All i know is that i was only thinking of myself at that time.

About 18 months later, God began to speak to my wife about our decision of not having any more children, and she began to feel convicted. As she was reading her Bible and praying, she knew that God was telling us to have my vasectomy reversed, but when she told me about this, she just asked me if i would pray about it and see what God was saying to me.  After two weeks of reading my Bible and praying, i knew she was right. And since my wife and i both want more than anything to walk with God and live our lives completely devoted and surrendered to Him, trusting Him and His plan, we got my vasectomy reversed in 2006 (a $15,000 procedure that we got done for $1500 by a Christian doctor)!!! I believe God blessed our decision to trust Him by reducing the cost so much.

In 2007, God blessed us with our first "reversal baby"!  In 2009, our second "reversal baby"!  In 2010, our third "reversal baby"! In 2012, our fourth "reversal baby"! And if everything goes well, "reversal baby" #5 in May, 2015!

Guess what? I'm still tired and tired of changing diapers, life is still busy, and my house is still messy with toys. The only difference between the quality of my life in 2004 and the quality of my life today is that my heart is changed. My heart is completely surrendered to whatever God wants for me and my family. I know that i can trust Him because He is God and i'm not; He's the Creator and i'm not; He is good all the time and i'm not; He knows what is best for me and i don't; the Bible is filled with promises that He has made to me, and He's never broken even one of them. If fact, II Corinthians 1:20 says, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ." I've been telling people for the last 25 years that the happiest place on earth is trusting in Jesus Christ to do what God wants you to do where He wants you to do it. As a result, i've never been happier. The Bible also says in Job 1:21, "The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised." God has given us 10 chilfen and the hope of an 11th, but He has also taken away 3 other children to miscarriage.  But no matter what, we will never stop trusting Him and His goodness.

This past Sunday, i was encouraged again to keep surrendering my whole life to God when our preacher was teaching from Mark 12:41-44. Jesus was in Jerusalem during the last week before being killed, with his followers watching the people give their money at the temple. Many rich people gave large amounts of money, but then a poor woman who only had two small coins walked up and gave both of her coins. When Jesus saw her, he said to his followers, "This poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything - all she had to live on." Literally, she gave her whole life!! Three days later, Jesus would give his whole life so that you and i could know God and experience real life.

So check it out, BJ. As i've put my trust in Jesus Christ to make it possible for me to have a relationship with God, and since He has changed my life and forgiven me for my past, made it possible to live life today in peace, and taken away my fear of death and given me real hope for the future, i want to live for Him completely with my whole life today. I want to do everything He tells me to do and then enjoy every blessing that He wants to pour out on me. I don't want to find my own joy in what the world says is good; i want to experience the true joy of knowing God and walking with Him. That's why i love my wife faithfully and don't sleep around. That's why i go home every night to my wife and kids instead of going out to the bar and drinking with the guys. That's why i teach English at EPI for less money to internationals like you because that's what God has asked me to do... and i love it! That's why i read my Bible every day because God's much smarter than me, and i want to know what He thinks and not live life the way i think. And after all these years, i wouldn't change a thing!

That's my story. Let me know what you think my friend.