"It was excellent to hear from Sister Hatune´s first-hand experience"
A weekend with Sister Hatune – by Joelle Perry
This weekend, I travelled across Germany to accompany Sister Hatune Dogan to her meetings. Our first stop was Karlsruhe, south Germany, on November 19, 2016, where she gave a speech to a group of about fifty Germans who had invited her to speak on the subject of Islam. Her speech covered her life, her foundation, and the current political issues surrounding the immigration of many Muslims to Germany. After the speech, I had the opportunity to speak to the people and understand their reaction. Here are some quotes from my time with them:
“It was excellent to hear from Sister Hatune’s first hand experience.” – Inge
“We are too naive in Germany and don’t know the dangers of Islam. We know tolerance, but we don’t know how to draw boundaries. This talk has been so enlightening and helpful for us to understand how we can have a safer country, while retaining respect for others. We can only truly help with the crisis of ISIS in the Middle East if we do so with honesty towards the issue of Islam, and in seeing whom the actual victims are. I highly recommend everyone to hear her speak.” – Richard
“I want to try to make a difference, even if it’s only a small drop of water on a hot stone.” – Rebekka
Although Sister Hatune had a fever all that week, she continued to meet her deadlines and obligations. If she can at all resist it, she does not rest or cancel her meetings for anything, let alone take a vacation! The week I am describing now is a regular one, with her planner packed with meetings, interviews, and speeches, for the time she is home and not out of the country on her frequent missions. I’ve been visiting her all this month of November, and I am amazed.
With only about four hours of sleep a night, day and night, Sister Hatune does not rest, to fulfill Matthew 25:35-40, which says, “For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’’
After dinner with a very good friend of Sister Hatune’s, our next stop was Hamburg. We boarded an overnight train and tried to get some sleep. On Sunday morning, November 20, we arrived at the house of her friends, a family that comes from the same small village in Turkey. For 400 years, the two families have been conjoined by a spiritual godparenthood. We were quickly off to a Syrian Orthodox Church service, where she would present herself as the godmother to her newborn relative and take her to her baptism. The baby also received her first communion and anointing – three sacraments in one day!
The Syrian Orthodox Church community knows how to celebrate! The food was amazing, the people loved to talk, the celebration continued all day …, and I fell asleep at the table. I was honored to be a guest for this, the baptismal ceremony being the most beautiful and memorable one I’ve seen. Even so, before returning to our place to stay, to go to sleep, we swung by another town, around 11 pm, to interview a man whose mother survived the Armenian genocide in 1915. Hatune wanted to secure the report of his mother’s account.
Early the next day, we were off to pick up clothing donations from a shop, for the refugees of The Hatune Foundation to wear, and to a meeting with the General Vicar of Münster. Upon returning home, Sister Hatune said that she would finally spend the next two days resting, but was working in the garden and running around the town before I woke up. One thing is certain, she believes in action!
By Joelle Perry
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