In the summer of 2013, I had the amazing opportunity to live in Istanbul for a few months.
The LDS branch [congregation] was made up of converted orthodox Christians, Muslims, and others which brought such a unique and sweet spirit to our little group!
Each Sunday the branch president would stand up and say “We’re going to build a temple in Turkey!” and then discuss ways we can reach that goal. The Church is very young in Turkey – only since 2011 – and I loved the enthusiasm of their goal! There were only four missionaries while I was there – and they could not proselyte but could only teach member referrals – but I hear the number of missionaries has grown since I’ve been there.
I found out the greatest news last week: the Church announced the creation of the Central Eurasian Mission…with headquarters in Istanbul, Turkey! I am flipping out – SO excited especially because I can only imagine the immense joy the Saints there must have had to hear about this huge step forward in the growth of the Church. This new mission will also include members in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. How awesome is that!?!
While in Istanbul, I spent the majority of my time living with Mine, the Relief Society president. She was an incredibly strong member of the Church who welcomed me with open arms. Her spirit changed my life and I cannot wait to see her again! We made so many memories together, including a ferry trip up the Bosphorus my last day in the country. I love the people there with my whole heart and the amazing missionaries who were so strong in their desires to bring the gospel (and who let me tag along for some of the most amazing missionary lessons of my life).
I am sure that they are thrilled over this news. It signifies a change in the building of Zion in Turkey. Miracles are happening in Turkey! And I know that one day, sooner or later, there WILL be a temple in Istanbul!
There are about 400 members in Turkey and four congregations. The gospel was first taught in Turkey in 1850 and a mission was established in 1884 but in the early 20th century, the mission was closed. More Information Here >>
If you have any desire to live in Istanbul and serve in the branch – I worked with VIKTYO – a small company that finds international employment opportunities for people wanting to move abroad. Email my good friend Scott, at firstname.lastname@example.org, for more information about moving to Turkey.