Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from Turkey!

We love the adventures of living here in Turkey. We love the area of Izmir, the people have been friendly, the food is great and Ryan is enjoying playing Basketball!Some of the funny/interesting things that have happened here are…

-Jess got ringworm

-Ryan has had many facial hair experiments and different hairdos or should we say “hair don’ts!”

-Didn’t bring enough cash to the grocery store so at the check out stand we had to explain in sign language we would be back with more money. Ryan sprinted home and back to the store within 5 minutes and the whole line was laughing.

-Jess taught a spinning class at her gym to a full class of people that don’t speak English! It was a great success…the people had a lot of fun and so did Jess.

-Jess is given free food at the “Bizarre” because people don’t want to try and figure out what she is explaining.

-Ryan locked Jess inside the apartment on accident for 2 whole days!!

-Ryan’s posters at the games say “In Ryan We Trust”

-We have learned not to ask for a peach because “Peach” in Turkish is a swear word!

-Jess enjoys going around to different small villages to do service with the Humanitarian Missionaries

-Ryan got chased and yelled at by a VERY old man screaming “America needs to leave the Middle East alone!” Ryan just turned and said “Whatever brother” in order to avoid an argument.

These are some of our adventures of Turkey in a nutshell! We feel very blessed to have this opportunity and have learned a lot through this experience. We are very excited to see our families when they come to visit and can’t wait to see more friends and family when we return home. We wish the very best for all of you and your families! We also wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Much Love,

Ryan and Jess Toolson

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Night Out

There is 1 Chinese Restaurant in all of Turkey and it is really close to our house. We go there quite a bit because it is SO good! It is owned and operated by Chinese men so it is true Chinese food. We love coming here to remember some yummy restaurants from back at home! We always get potstickers, sweet and sour chicken, noodles with chicken and another spicy chicken. All of it is so good! My mouth is watering from blogging about it.

My friend Kara that plays volleyball for Karsiyaka. She calls herself our child because we always take care of her and invite her everywhere with us.

Oh Christmas Tree

We have a Christmas tree! We would have never guessed we would be able to have a Christmas tree in Turkey because they don't celebrate Christmas here. Ryan's team mate Dre found this tree randomly in the closet of his apartment. He didn't want to set it up so we took it and have it in our apartment! It has incredibly random decorations and may not be the prettiest tree ever but we don't care! It's a Christmas tree and we feel like it's Christmas in Turkey! We just are curious to know where this tree came from and who had it before us! Funny to think about...

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 5, 2009


It's not often that you get to say you are "locked in." Well guess is that day for me! Let me explain. Here at my apartment in Turkey you have to have a key in order to unlock the door to leave. Also you have to have a key in order to get in. My cute little husband has an away game this weekend. Early this morning he was getting ready to leave and he took one of the sets of keys and unlocked the door. As he was getting ready to walk out the door his manager called and said that he would pick him up in 20 minutes so not to leave yet. Ryan came back in the bedroom and was on the computer. When the time came to leave Ryan took the other set of keys off the hook forgetting that the first set was in his pocket. He shut the door and locked it from the outside not knowing he was taking both sets of keys. This morning I woke up and was fussing around. I ate my breakfast, cleaned my kitchen, watched So You Think You Can Dance and got dressed for the gym. When I was leaving to go to the gym I went to grab a set of keys to unlock the door. No keys in sight. Was it in my gym bag? Nope. Was it in my purse? Nope. Were they in the couch? Nope. Coat pockets? Nope. So I finally decided to call Ryan. "Do you know where the other set of keys are?" I asked. He told me that they should either be on the hook or the kitchen counter. When I told him they weren't there he got up and looked in his duffle bag and found one pair. Then he checked his coat pocket and there was the other set. "OH MY GOODNESS!!" He was freaking out! He is all the way in Istanbul which is an 1 1/2 flight away. I thought I would be mad but guess what...I started laughing! What can you do but laugh? Ryan wanted to get someone to come and let me out but even if they unlock the door to let me out, I can't get back in! I have to have a key to get out or get in! Then he wanted to get a locksmith to come and replace the whole lock and give me a new key but I didn't see the point in wasting the money. So, I've decided to have an incredibly lazy two days! I have been cleaning, blogging, painting my toes and fingernails, watching TV and deciding on whether or not to bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies all for myself or not! The way I look at this situation is at least it's better to be locked in then locked out! At least I have a place to lay down, clothes, food and my computer. The only thing I'm hoping is that there isn't an emergency that I have to get out for. I guess in that situation a nice karate kick to the door will do the trick. RIGHT?

The day of my Birth!

My pictures are always out of order! I will work on this. But my Birthday was a day to remember. We were busy and had so much fun!
My day went like this:
Gym, lunch with friends, Bizarre, lava cakes, dinner at Paprika my favorite Italian Restaurant and bowling! It was such a fun day and I appreciate Ryan going out of his way to make it a special day!

Ryan and Dre were competing ALL NIGHT! Back and forth taunting each other. It was so funny! It was close all night...
BUT THEN...Ryan got a Turkey in Turkey! If you don't know what that means, it is 3 strikes in a row. But not only did Ryan get 3 strikes in a row...HE GOT 4! He is a little competitive.
The bowling gang. David, Kara, me, Ryan and Dre.
Kara and me. She is so much fun and I am lucky to have her here.
The Holston's are so sweet. They came to my Bowling Party and brought me flowers! Cathy cheered me on the entire time even though I am terrible at bowling!
Ryan made my Birthday such a fun day. He made it special and did everything he could in order to make it just as good as a Birthday at home. I thought it was a day beyond perfection!
Kara made me delicious mini lave cakes! Ryan and I SCARFED them down.
At lunch we all took one of the super hot peppers out of the dish on the table and ate them at the same time. BAD IDEA! They were disgusting and our mouths were ON FIRE! The people here eat them like candy.
My Birthday card my parents sent to me! It was great to get some mail! Thanks for the card and gift mom and dad! Also my fabulous in-laws gave me ADORABLE LuLuLemon workout clothes! I am so excited about this gift. I am lucky to have fabulous parents and in-laws! Also Ryan surprised me. I thought that I had already been given my Birthday presents but NO...he had a surprise up his sleeve! He got me two more Helen Ficalora charms to add to my necklace. I already have the necklace and a "J" that my mom got me on a fun girls trip to NYC but Ryan had remembered me saying that I would love to add on to it sometime. He got a "T" and a crown with 2 diamonds. I don't have them yet because they were shipped to my parents house but I can't wait to see them! Thanks Ryan!

Games in Turkey

This picture should be at the end of the post but this is when the people are leaving. This is 20 minutes after the game is already over and the fans are still yelling back and forth at each other. They wouldn't let the visitors leave until all of the Karsiyaka fans were gone and the groups outside were gone. There are usually about 60 policemen with full uniform sitting in the stands the entire game. Helmets, shields, guns, beating sticks the whole get up. Nothing serious has ever happened but at least we know they are ready! They finally formed a line along the seats and walked pushing out the fans. It was fun to watch and that's what you call loyal fans!
The fans are INCREDIBLE! It may not be the biggest arena but the fans are loyal and do not sit the entire game! The crowd is this big all the way around. There isn't a seat to be found unless you want to sit in the visitors section which I wouldn't recommend to anyone! They get yelled at and harassed the entire game. The arena is so loud that you can't even hear the person next to you. IT IS SO MUCH FUN!
This is the crowd about 45 minutes BEFORE the game even started.
I love this drawing. They also call Ryan Superman! Watch the 2 videos below...

Turkey Day in Turkey

This Thanksgiving was one we will never forget! We were able to celebrate 3 times! On Thanksgiving day we were invited over to a party with Americans. Ryan and I were walking in the grocery store and I knew I heard a man speaking English to his son. I ended up asking him and he is American. Him and his family have lived here for 9 years. He is so nice and his wife called and invited us over for Thanksgiving. There was a big group of people there to celebrate. There were 3 different families that have lived here for a number of years, Teachers that are living here while teaching English, people that were visiting Turkey and then US! Everyone was so nice and we ended up making a lot of new friends. We played such a fun game and ate tons and tons of food! Then on Sunday we had a Thanksgiving dinner with our Branch! It was kind of sad because all of the members were sick and couldn't come. It ended up being the Abney's, Huseyin with his wife and Ryan and me. We had enough food to feed an army!! Sister Abney made the most delicious food and yummy pumpkin pie from a real pumpkin! I made Apple crisp, pumpkin chocolate chip bread and sugar cookies. All of this food for 6 people! The 3rd Thanksgiving we celebrated (also on Sunday) was with Ryan's American teammates. Andre got us a Turkey and stuffing from the Army base and it tasted so delicious! We had the dinner at David Holston's apartment and his sweet mom cooked up a storm! Again I took desserts and those boys SCARFED them up. We played skip-bo and a fun game that I learned from the American group on Thanksgiving day. It was a great few days and we will always remember when we had Turkey in Turkey!

Sunday Thanksgiving with the Abneys, Huseyin and Harije.
Waiting for Huseyin to pick us up on Sunday.
This is our Sunday routine.
At the American dinner they made these adorable name tags and had one for every person!
Ryan playing the game with Todd and Gwen's cute boys
A few of the men at the dinner. Such nice people
The girls! We loved laughing about funny things that have happened to each of us here in Turkey.
Thanksgiving Day!
Sadly I didn't have my camera at the teammate dinner. I will try to get some pictures from someone else that was there.

There are so many things that I am grateful for. Being happily married to my best friend, all of my family, all of my friends, the Gospel, my health, yummy food and the list can go on and on. But the one thing I felt really grateful for this year is the opportunity that Ryan and I have to live here in Turkey. It has been hard at times because there are days that I feel homesick (like when my whole family was in Mexico for Thanksgiving) but overall I have learned so much and have really grown as a person. I have met so many amazing people and have learned how truly blessed we are. I am loving this little adventure I am on with Ryan and I will remember this Thanksgiving in Turkey forever.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Village of Yakakoy

I had another amazing opportunity to go with the Humanitarian Missionaries to a village called Yakakoy. It is a mountain village about 2 1/2 hours away from Izmir. It was an incredible day and there were multiple times I felt like I was in a movie. The mountains and scenery were amazing and there were so many things I never in my whole life would have expected to see. Just another adventure to add to the list of things I've done while in Turkey...

Look at this cute little lady. Huseyin rolled down his window and yelled "Hello my mother! How are you?" And she responded "Hello my dear son, please come in and visit." It just tells you about the Hospitality of Turkish people. She has no idea who Huseyin is but yet she wanted us to come in and visit with her.
The playground
The Art class! I would ask them to hold up their drawings and they would get so shy! So cute!
The Art Room
The girls playing at recess. They love to tap me on the shoulder and say "Hello my name is Beya. What is your name?" That is the only English they know but they love to practice!

When we first arrived to the school they put on a little assembly. I met a bunch of the adorable children and they would all run and pick me flowers! They made me feel so special! When the assembly was over we went and had a meeting with the Principal. After the meeting we went around to each classroom and said goodbye! When we went into one of the classrooms a sweet little girl had drawn me this picture and taped flowers to the paper. I loved it!

The cute little Kindergartners!
The boys were so funny. When we were getting ready to leave they would poke their heads out the school windows and yell "BYE!" and every time I would turn around say bye back they would giggle and duck down in the window. They did it multiple times and each time they would laugh harder and harder!
The Teachers and Staff of the school.
They brought me flowers during the assembly
1st Graders

These are Huseyin's friends. They live in the city that is about 30 minutes before the village. We stopped at their house for lunch. We were expecting a light lunch or even just a few snacks...but NO they gave us a feast!
Pita with meats and cheeses
This is the table when we were finished. Pomegranates, mandarins, pita, tomatoes, lettuce, fruits I've never seen and a yogurt drink!
The Village we went to visit. It looked like a movie...

A man selling Mushrooms on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere! I guess there are famous mushrooms that only exist here in Turkey. I wish I would have taken a better picture of them but they are PINK! They look so interesting! This man wanders through the mountains and sleeps in the mountains until he has sold enough mushrooms to return home. What an interesting life.
I didn't dare try a mushroom. I am sure it would do something a little "special" to you if you know what I mean!
This is the end of another adventure I will never forget! There will be plenty more to come!
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