It's Monday, 19 May 2014. Here in Turkey, the weather is getting warmer, the birds are chirping, new kittens are everywhere, and Christine and I are thinking of all of you. It will be like magic to step off that plane and see "the curvaceous slopes of California" again. We've had some good times lately. We spent a week in Munich, Germany last month. Then three days in the beautiful and mysterious Cappadocia region of central Turkey. And I even spent two days on a field trip to the mountains of western Turkey with our prep students and teachers where we hiked, did some high ropes climbing, and went on a 14 kilometer white water river ride. Real white water. And cold too. I'd never done that before. But as I sit here now, it's a little hard this morning not to also think about the serious troubles of this nation. Turkey is a country filled with tension. Within itself. There is great anomosity between many people I know and their government over the government's increasing religious conservatism and desire to have a Turkey more like the old Ottoman Empire. The more modern, more educated people here want a Turkey that is like the American and European models that their hero, former prime minister Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, envisioned and started to build after Turkey won its independence in the 1920's. It is along this religious versus secular divide that Turkey is in conflict. You might remember the demonstrations and violence here last summer over the issue of Gezi Park in Istanbul. That tension also erupted in many other parts of Turkey. And it has been seen again surrounding the nationwide municipal elections last March and the latest event I'm sure you've all been hearing about - the tragic coal mine accident in Soma, Turkey, this past week where more than 300 miners have died. It is the worst industrial disaster in Turkey's history. That event has rekindled much anger throughout the country. I've heard rumblings even here in quiet Tarsus as I wander the streets.