Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Turkey: Kusadasi, Priene, Miletus, Didyma, and Ephesus (Selcuk)
Although the predicted weather was 70% chance of rain, we were greeted with beautiful skies as we docked in Kusadasi, Turkey. As we departed the ship, Brian turned to the right but in the crowd, 16 faithful followers turned left. These 16 ended up in the center of the buses “lost.” ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.’ (Isaiah 53:6). Yes, we need to keep our eyes on our shepherd! The group decided to stay put and let Brian find us, and like the Good Shepherd, he did. Brian led us through the shops to meet up with the rest of the group, our bus, and our guide, Zehra.
As we traveled, Brian and Zehra shared some of the history of the area. Kusadasi means Bird’s Island as it once was an island. Much of Turkey has changed over the centuries as the rivers have carried silt to the sea, filling harbors and extending the land mass where there once was water. Many islands are now hills, and many harbor towns (like the ones we visited) are now far inland. We drove through a large silted area called the Meander Valley which is very fertile, growing cotton, corn, and olive trees.
When we entered Priene, Zehra pointed out that the river was muddy as it had rained and stormed last night. Brian’s prayers were answered with blue skies today—even Zehra said so. We hiked up to a church where the ruins showed a baptismal font at the entrance—as it should be—and steps where the preacher would stand. Mikah stood on the steps where many preachers/teachers had stood before. The next site was a theater that had seating for 5,000, an altar and seats of honor. Many of the group walked on down to the ruins of a first century synagogue, which had been found only in the last four years.
Back to the bus and a ride to Miletus. Here, in the large outdoor theater, is a seat which had the inscription “place of the God fearers.” Brian read (and sang) Romans 11:11-32 (33-36 song). What a treasure to be right where Paul had been!
After leaving the theater, we saw the base of what once was a lighthouse as this was once the harbor of lions, but the silt has built up so much that it is no longer a harbor. The islands around are now hills. We continued on seeing a bath house.
Once again on the bus, we headed to Didyma and lunch near the Temple of Apollo. Lunch was in a restaurant featuring buffet style and long tables for seating. Afterwards, we walked to the huge temple of Apollo, ringed with massive 122 columns. Today, we saw cats everywhere. After a quick walk back to the bus, we traveled through the city of Magnesia heading to Ephesus. Many took advantage of the ride to nap.
Ephesus was a metropolis! Only one-quarter of the city has been excavated so far. Paul had visited here two times and John also. Paul wrote three or four letters from Ephesus. As we walked on the streets Paul had also walked, we saw the huge library (third largest in the ancient world) which had taken seven years to rebuild the part that is standing now. I was taken by the number of “pieces” separated into groups that had not yet found their “homes.” We next went to the Grand theater—up many steps— where Brian read to us again Acts 20. Today, they are still working on uncovering parts of the theater. It was unbelievable to be sitting and listening to the words of Paul. We walked down the marble streets just as Paul had done.
Once again we boarded the bus to head back “home”...for quick shopping or back to the ship. A group—not to be named—shopped for a rug and came within minutes of being left behind in Turkey. Brian quickly hustled the group to board the ship in time to join the rest for dinner. All is well!
Grace and peace,
Flat Paul (aka Edna Rush)