Their sturdy carriage was drawn by two horses. A spare horse,
tied to the rear of the coach, accompanied them. The driver was a stalwart
Tartar. This meek profession was generally reserved for Asiatic Muslims,
known for their endurance in hard conditions.
October was balmy that year. Throughout the way good weather
prevailed. The long journey, the first for Aneta, brought to mind the many
travels of the Apostle Paul in this land. Centuries had elapsed. Here they
were in the privileged position to be treading the same course with the
Valleys, rivers, hills and mountains were crossed each in its
own turn. Aneta’s and Haralambos’ hearts were happy, and their souls sang as
they covered the unusually beautiful terrain. Their deferred love was now a
reality expressed in tender romance. The fathomless mercy of the heavenly
Father overwhelmed them. Their lives were totally submitted to Him!
As the carriage stopped for rest or water, the young couple
walked to the hills and fields, holding hands, reassuring each other of
their love, and their loyalty and submission to the Savior. Haralambos had a
beautiful tenor voice. The hills and mountains of this idyllic land echoed
with the exaltation of the Redeemer. Perhaps even the angels in heaven
rejoiced. Haralambos was also a composer. Many of his hymns continued to be
sung by the older generation from Anatolia for many years. A number of them
celebrate the Lord’s return — a subject very dear to his heart — on which he
also wrote the aforementioned book. He could also play the flute and the
violin. All kinds of music greatly enhanced his ministry.
Staying at night in motley inns was an adventurous experience.
Usually tiredness overcame them at the resting places. Nevertheless, their
deep joy subdued physical exhaustion. The journey from Zinjidere to Adana
and on to Aintab ended being the only occasion in their lives when they
could have personal time together. The heavy pressures of the ministry and
the upheavals which were to follow robbed them of this pleasure.
Aneta and Haralambos were joyful and quite tranquil, while
calamity was casting its pall all over. World War I was raging, soon to
engulf the decadent Ottoman Empire with its multi-ethnic populace. Disaster
and catastrophe were closing in. Terror, tears and torrents of blood could
be foreseen on the immediate horizon. What lay ahead and how it would affect
them, only their heavenly Father knew!
Being well aware of the Lord’s warnings could they anticipate
anything different? Man-caused disasters were nothing new. This one however
was going to hit their very own people.
On the third day of the journey, the Tartar driver said to
Haralambos, “Hoja, efendi, (Mr. Teacher) I see women left by themselves
along the roadside. This can only mean that the army is already taking
coaches from their owners for military purposes. I fear they’ll soon grab
mine as well. You’ll have to take care of yourselves. If you expect this
journey to carry us to our destination you must negotiate with the
officials, probably arranging some ‘accommodation’ (bribe) to satisfy them.”
The warning moved Haralambos to action. When they met the next officials,
Aneta felt like Jacob persevering in intercession in that difficult
His plea with the officials demanded ingenious and skillful
reasoning, a method which usually paid off. He told the men that he was a
spiritual leader on his way to perform religious duties; that he had just
been married and it would be extremely hard to be left without
transportation. The officials appreciated the situation and consented not to
confiscate their coach. In all probability, it wasn’t only his sweet talk
that got them through.
But no sooner had they started out again, when along the way
they met a Greek mother with her two daughters who had been put out of their
carriage. The three of them were sitting on the side of the road like
helpless orphans, begging for a ride. Where were the coaches? Most of them
had been seized, so the ones left were few and far between. Haralambos and
Aneta were moved with the plight of this mother and her daughters and soon
squeezed them into their coach. Now they were six, in addition to the Tartar
coachman. Everyone was offering praise to God. Haralambos, not lacking in
humor, said one carriage had been taken by Caesar but the other was kept by
How they ever crossed the renowned Cilician Gates with such a
heavy load was beyond all comprehension. Those poor horses! They taught the
young couple a lesson of loyal service in total humility. This well-known
pass on the Taurus Range is difficult even for older motor vehicles today.
But with the supreme Charioteer leading the way the road opened before them
without any noticeable obstacle.
The weather is usually warm south of the Taurus Range. As soon
as the little company crossed over, the change in climate was apparent. Here
they were in this very fertile region between the Mediterranean Sea and the
Taurus Range. It is known as Cotton Valley because of the expansive cotton
fields and other moderate-climate products.
The Tarsus of St. Paul, a city never destroyed, only the new
built upon the old, was opening its arms to welcome them. Haralambos’ old
friends were eagerly waiting for him and his new bride. They had followed
his trip to Zinjidere with keen interest. The Pambukian family and others
told them they had been praying fervently for their safe arrival.
The couple was deeply indebted to them for their intercessions.
All along the way they had witnessed fights between coach owners with their
passengers on one side of the road, and soldiers seeking to take away the
carriages on the other. These distressing scenes made the journey
formidable. Passing by countless ordeals of this nature, they practically
glided through with no interference. And in the meantime they were able to
assist a poor mother with her daughters!
A couple more stops, one at the enchanting port city of Mersin
and the other at Haralambos’ own city Adana, added even more spice to their
journey. They fellowshipped with believers and visited with relatives in
these places. They left Haralambos’ mother in Adana and set off for their
final destination, Aintab.