Saturday, May 4, 2013

Meet Olive

To start with, I have a secret to tell you. Olive is not my real name, and where I live, we do not use the word missionary. We call ourselves “workers” instead, but I have so enjoyed getting to know some of you missionary moms. 

Here are the questions you asked me last week:

How did you end up in Istanbul the first time?

I got involved in international student ministry while I was at the University of Texas and fell in love with Mslms.  Soon after I graduated, my home church sent a team to Istanbul in 1989, so I spent two years there. 

How did you meet your husband?

While I was in Istanbul, I had Salvadoran teammates who knew Javier and predicted I would marry him.  Since he lived in El Salvador, I never took them seriously, but two years later when our team returned to Texas, my friends invited him to come meet me. We had a stormy, long distance courtship that lasted four years and made marriage seem easy.

What got you guys to move from Latin America to Turkey? Are there any similarities between the two cultures?

My husband and I were both involved in mobilizing Latins for the Mslm World when we married.  Since the beginning we planned to serve among Mslms. However, Turkey did not interest my husband, and I never tried to persuade him to come here. God spoke to him without my having to say a word.

There are many similarities between Latin and Turkish cultures. Both cultures value community, relationships, and extended family. Spending time with people and being open to interruptions are more important than getting tasks done although Turks are even further along this spectrum than most Latins.

What is your very favorite part of Turkey and Turkish culture, and what part is the hardest for you?

My favorite part of Turkey is the people. I have close Turkish friends, even one “adopted” Turkish sister, and I love hanging out with them I love their hospitality and DELICIOUS food.  I love a culture where women walk arm in arm, close friends connect by phone daily, and you kiss an older person’s hand out of respect. 

I love it seeing that even in an environment like this, God is at work. One person coming to Jesus is a total miracle here, and I am awed by the commitment of my Turkish brothers and sisters.

The hardest part is that response to the Gospel is SLOW.  Turks are more resistant than Arabs or Iranians. So a lack of fruit discourages, and most “workers” leave after only 2 or 3 years.  You have to find your joy in the Lord and serve out of obedience and love for Him.

How do you handle home schooling some of those more challenging subjects?

With a 10th grader and an 8th grader, this past year was my hardest homeschooling year yet, due to challenging subjects like Chemistry and the fact that I used no outsourcing. Next year I plan on lessening my load by using some outside resources. My son will take an advanced composition class from The Potter’s School, and we’re going to buy an Apologia DVD physics class ‘cause I can’t go through this again!

I try to encourage my kids to study on their own independently, but I spend significant time discussing the material with them as well. My son studied 20th Century World Lit this year, and I just couldn’t envision him reading things like All Quiet on the Western Front and Cry, the Beloved Country on his own, without anyone to talk them over.

What place do you count as home? Where do you say that you're from?

I’ll never forget the time we went back home to El Salvador and my then 10 year old boy burst into tears on the first day and said, “I know I was born here, but I don’t feel like I’m from here.”
I’ve tried to give my kids stability by fostering an American identity.  Although we value our Latin roots, we feel it’s important for the kids to feel like they have a main home base, and we chose America for that.

Well, it’s been nice chatting with you. Now let me introduce you to Liz, and you can ask her questions in the comments:

Here's Liz:

Well, if we were to sit down for caf├ęcito, we would probably talk about kids (I have three 6 and under, all boys...pray for me).  We'd also probably get around to talking about cooking and eating whole foods, made in traditional ways.  
There would be some conversation about the stress and joys of cross cultural living, of how unique Costa Rica is in Central America.  We'd probably talk about my travels, how God called me to Latin America before I was in Junior High, my love of creating, and I am sure along the way our family's quirkiness would shine through.

And then we'd probably need to stop talking to chase a dog down, or fix a scraped knee, and then we might enjoy some homemade goodie.  Let's chat 


  1. Hey Olive ~ i've got apologia physics - if there's some good way to get it to you and you're interested. :-)

    Questions for Liz:
    1. How do you handle cooking/eating whole foods in a place like Costa Rica. I'm the same, but it is really, really hard here to do so with any variety.
    2. What's your favorite kind of coffee?
    3. What's your biggest challenge with three young, active little guys?
    4. Is there anything about this expat life that keeps catching you by surprise? What is it and why does it keep surprising you?

    1. Thanks, Richelle! I just bought it used. Are you talked about books or classroom DVD's?

    2. Hi Olive,

      I would love to talk to you more about your life in Turkey! We have good friends who are missionaries here in Peru with us who will shortly be relocating to Turkey. They are actually on a vision trip over there as we speak! I would love to get your email address and pick your brain a little more. My email is: klcantrall(at)gmail(dot)com

    3. Yes, I'll write you at your e-mail Kelsey! Amazingly I THINK my husband skyped with your friend last week. He told me he talked to someone from Peru who is planning a trip here soon. Will write soon with more details.

  2. more question for you: Where did you live when you were in El Salvador?'s one for you: Have you learned to cook a lot of Costa Rican stuff? I also enjoy cooking, and do the majority of it from scratch but somehow when I make Salvadorn dishes they don't turn out quite right! Also, do you have house help, and if so have you had any luck teaching your helper how to cook American food from scratch? We love the woman that works for us, but she's always adding oil to everything!

    1. Hi Danielle! I lived in San Salva ;-) en Lomas de San Francisco! por el Autopista Sur cerca del Pollo Campero!! What about you? Where do you live?

  3. Liz, I have two questions for you:

    1. What do you enjoy most about life in Costa Rica? What is the most stressful thing for you?

    2. How do you handle juggling the need to focus on your home and children with the desire to be able to serve outside of your home as well? (I've seen all kinds of mothers along this spectrum, I'm just wondering what kind you are!) :-)