Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Our next adventure...

We know our next assignment!
We are thrilled to announce that after our adventures in Turkey, we'll be packing up and moving to...

South Dakota State University!

Dan will be an ROTC instructor
at SDSU in Brookings, South Dakota! 

And, yes, Peter is already prepared to fit in with the locals with his snazzy new SDSU Jackrabbits shirt.  My family volunteered to take a road trip to Brookings to check it out for us!  They came back with a glowing report, lots of photographs, and an SDSU t-shirt and socks for Peter.  Here's a little virtual tour of our new home:

The population of Brookings is about 20,000 people. 

SDSU's campus looks beautiful! 
Here's the future home of Dan's office.

My mom taking a stroll around campus.

My family even went to an SDSU football game during their visit! 

My brothers, Ryan and Greg, cheering from the stands.

Dan will start his new job at the end of July 2012.  We are absolutely thrilled to be back in the Midwest; just 3-4 hours away from our families!  We are excited for this next step in God's adventure for us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Chapel Trip: Tarsus, Heaven, and Hell

We recently joined our Catholic parish for a day trip visiting local sites.  Our first stop was Tarsus, hometown of Saint Paul.  Though this was our fourth time visiting Tarsus, this visit was especially unforgettable.  We were given the priviledge of celebrating Mass in Tarsus inside of St. Paul's Church--a church originally built in the 1700s.  There is a tradition, however, that this church was built on the site of the second Christian Church (after the church in Antioch) founded by Saints Peter and Paul!


We were blessed to have two holy priests accompany us on our trip.  Father Bob is our pastor on base (on the left).  Father Francis (on the right) is a missionary priest that serves the local Catholic Turks in the area.  It's amazing to think of the possibility that both priests were celebrating Mass on the very site that Saints Peter and Paul celebrated Mass almost 2000 years ago!  As Father spoke the words of consecration, I got goosebumps as I imagined Saint Peter speaking those very same words on this sacred ground. 

A painting of Saint Paul in his church in Tarsus

The modern city of Tarsus does not have any Christian residents with the exception of two little Italian nuns sent here to maintain St. Paul's Church and arrange for groups to celebrate Mass here. They live in a small, discreet convent across the street from the church. The joyful little sisters invited us to join them for coffee and cookies after Mass.  I can't imagine the challenges these sisters face being the only two Christians in Tarsus.  It was apparent that these crosses did not take away their joy.  They radiated the joy and peace of Christ as they welcomed us into their humble little home.  Though they spoke very little English, they didn't heistate to offer our little "Pietro" another (and another and another...) cookie. 

The Italian nuns put us in their convent's Guest Book!

Our group in the Church of Saint Paul.  The Italian nuns are in the navy blue on the right. 

I have been blessed with wonderful friends in our parish! 
Here are some of us at the Well of Saint Paul. 
It is believed that Saint Paul's home was near this spot and he used this well!

The Beaudoin's at Cleopatra's Gate

Enjoying a tasty Turkish lunch in Mersin!
Next, we visited the Corycian Caves, better known as "Heaven and Hell".  The two caves were formed by underground chemical erosion.  There are many legends associated with these caves. 

The first cave we saw was "Hell".  Fortunately, we couldn't climb down into this cave!  We just peered down into this gloomy deep pit.  It's believed that this was the location that Zeus imprisoned Typhon (from where "Typhoon" storms get their name), a many-headed monster serpent that was the father of the guard dog of Hell (Cerberus). 

Our next stop was "Heaven".  This cave is much larger than "Hell".  We climbed down 452 stairs before we reached the ruins of a Byzantine Chapel dedicated to Mary, built in the 400s AD. 

Inside of the chapel one could see the faint remains of frescos on the ceilings!

Deeper past the chapel is a cave-gorge with an underground river, thought by some to be the River Styx. 

We climbed down, down, down the wet, slippery rocks and clay until we reached the end of the path where the little river quietly trickled. 

It was a fun and busy day!  We went to Heaven, Hell, and back!

Kizkalesi and Kanlidivane

We recently took advantage of a sunny Saturday and went exploring.  First, we visited the ruins of Kanlidivane.  Kanlidivane is an ancient city built around a massive sinkhole (about 230 ft deep) near Mersin, Turkey.  Its history dates back to the pre-Roman era.  It evolved into a Byzantine city, with the ruins of basilicas, cicerns, and graves that can still be seen today.  

The photo above shows the massive sinkhole in the center of the ancient city of Kanlidivane.  Kanlidivane means "bloody spoon".  The origin of this name is unknown.  It possibly refers to the red soil that covers this region.  Another legend states that criminals were executed during Roman times by being thrown into the sinkhole (which maybe is the "spoon" referred to in the town's name). 

This is one of the reasons why I love traveling in Turkey.  You never know what you are going to see!  As we were driving on the road near the ruins, we found a manequin leg!

Next, we visted Kizkalesi.  Kizkalesi, Turkish for "the Maiden's Castle", is a coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea.  This town is famous for its twin medieval castles.  The first, built in 13th century using materials from the 5th century BC, is situated on the shore.  Its sister castle is built on an island in the sea. 

Above is a view of the castle in the sea.  This photo was taken from the castle on the shore.  Legend has it that a King sent his daughter to live on this island after it was predicted that she would die from a snake bite.  His efforts to protect her were in vain when a basket of fruit sent to the princess contained a deadly viper. 

After exploring the castle on the shore and splashing in the sea, we hopped on a boat and set sail for the castle in the sea.  Above is a picture of the castle on the shore...taken from the castle in the sea.

The little boat that took us to "The Maiden's Castle"

Saturday, November 5, 2011

All Saints Day Festival

November 1st was the Feast of All Saints Day.  I love this feast.  We celebrate all of our brothers and sisters in Christ who have finished the race; who have attained perfect holiness and union with Christ in Heaven.   It is a beautiful reminder that I am not alone in my journey to Christ.  We have holy big brothers and sisters in Heaven to inspire us with their lives and cheer us on as we run the race toward our Heavenly home.  Just as I find great consolation and strength in asking a dear friend to pray for me, I find an even greater consolation in asking a dear friend in Heaven-who is constantly gazing upon the face of God- to pray to God for me.  There are no magic formulas or superstitions, just Heavenly friendships. 

In fact, the history of Halloween comes from All Saints Day (which was once called "All Hallows Day").  The word Halloween means "All Hallows Eve"...the day before All Saints Day!  I love to try and picture the enormously joyful party up in Heaven on this day as the lives of ALL of the Saints in Heaven are celebrated!

We celebrated All Saints Day at our Catholic parish on base too!  All of the CCD children dressed up as Saints and gave a short presentation on the life of their Saint. 

Peter was Saint Ignatius of Antioch.  Saint Ignatius was the third Bishop of Antioch (which is right down the road from us)!  He was the first Church Father to refer to the Church as "Catholic".  Saint Ignatius was captured for his faith and martyred in Rome. 

Since I am a CCD teacher, I also got to dress up!  I was Saint Helen.  Saint Helen was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine.  She used her wealth to help the poor and build churches in the Holy Land.  She is famous for finding the True Cross of Christ. 

My teaching buddy, Katrina, dressed as Saint Gabriel the Archangel.  Her husband and son joined her as Saints Raphael and Michael the Archangels! 

Friday, November 4, 2011


This Halloween was Peter's first experience trick-or-treating!  We ordered his costume on-line and talked it up for weeks in advance.  So by the time October 31st rolled around, he was ready.  Okay, that's an understatement.  He was completely thrilled!

We met up with some of our good friends and their kiddos for a little pre-trick-or-treating pizza party in the park.  I love Halloween at Incirlik.  The weather is still warm enough for you to be comfy in a sweatshirt, Security Forces members volunteer to walk the streets to keep everyone safe, and the whole base comes alive.  It is so safe and innocent, much like I'd picture trick-or-treating in the 1950's.  Everyone knows all of their neighbors and everyone is out together, celebrating and having fun. 

Peter and I were crayons! 

The Beaudoin's: two crayons and a piece of paper

Peter was so excited!  We'd been practicing for weeks!

He would walk up to the house and say "aaa-teeet!" and boldly hold out his bag.  After his candy was safely in the bag, he'd hurry to the next house chanting "More!  More!  More!". 

Peter's favorite stop of the night was Father Bob's house.  As we approached Father's street, Peter started begging "Bob House!  Bob House!"  Our friends, Nate and Erin, were also there!

The fruits of Peter's labor.  He was so proud!