On our drive first thing this morning, we noticed the landscape and life in the villages that was different from the city. We passed fields of cotton, cabbage, other vegetables, grapes, peach and pomegranate and olive trees, and livestock. We saw tent-type houses where the roof was made of black goat hair whose occupants travel with and herd the animals. The tent-houses have moved further up the mountain to the cooler air since the last time HUG was here in February. This is the nomad lifestyle of the traditional Turkish people. There is a problem: as people are interested in moving to the city, there are less farmers, which means less food on the table. Our country faces the same issue. We have chosen to deal with it by making farming a business and adding preservatives to our foods; I wonder if the European countries will handle the problem the same way. So far, their food rules regarding chemicals and preservatives are more strict and more healthy than America's; time will tell.
We had an early start this morning to head to the first set of excavated remains in Sardis. We walked into the main area and viewed the Marble Court- a magnificent, high standing court about 2,000 years old, and still breathtaking. Then we walked through the oldest Jewish synagogue in the country with brilliant mosaic floors (what was left of them) and an altar, along with places where they stored the Torahs.
Our next stop was the remains of what was supposedly a temple of Artemis. Our guide Omer said if construction would have been completed, it would have exceeded the Parthenon in size. Within the area there was a small enclosed room where we went to read scripture together:
"I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead." -Revelation 3:1; to the Church in Sardis. I pray that we may not be dead in our faith.
We later stopped for a Turkish hand-made carpet tour. We were able to feel the silk from the silkworm cocoons. The women let us help them weave a thread or two of the rugs they were making (Joe didn't cut the wrong thread, did he?), and we walked barefoot on about 50 different types of rugs just after sipping Turkish Apple Tea.
Thank you for reading and thanks, moms and dads, for this opportunity you have given your children!
From HUGer Joshua:
Today marks our third day in Turkey and second full travel day. Starting from Kushadasi, we stopped at two and drove through a third city of the seven churches written to in Revelation. Our first stop was in Sardis, where we got to see the ruins of an ancient Roman gymnasium connected to the major highway of that day which linked all of Asia together. We then visited the remains of a temple to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt. It amazes me how well the Roman marble structures have stood the test of time. The marble still has most of the intricate details even after earthquakes or wars have destroyed the buildings they were once a part of. After our time here we drove to Akhisar, or what was once Thyatira. Here we had our first "Turkish burgers" with lentil soup and a mix of desserts. The food in Turkey is wonderful! We drove past the (very small) ruins left in Thyatira, and headed for Pergamum, which is modern day Bergama. Here we visited the acropolis of the ancient city, which is a large mountain where they built the center of the city with fortresses and expanded around as the city grew. The view of the nearby town and countryside were amazing! Our guide, Omer, is very good at explaining the background of all the sites, almost bringing them alive.
As we traveled through all these sites, we read scripture. We read Revelation as we visited each of the three cities that once held the churches that were written to. We read Acts as we drove on roads that might have been similar to what Paul traveled. On the acropolis in Pergamum we saw the altar to Zeus, Greek god of the sky, which very possibly could have been "Satan's throne" mentioned in Revelation 2. I wonder how many people have walked these same steps. What did these cities look like for the early Christians? Who has been here before us, and who will be here once our time has passed? These sites are still impressive today. How much more would they have been when they were fully complete? This trip has been one for many reflections.