Friends and Family,
We have had the most incredible day! After a long night’s sleep (and some Tylenol PM), we have become a little more adjusted to the 8 hour time difference here in Lebanon. This morning, we enjoyed a Lebanese breakfast of breads and fresh juices from a local bakery, and then we had our orientation to the Dar El Awlad orphanage. The orphanage has been running for over 60 years and helping to meet the holistic needs of children who are considered “orphans” in a variety of ways; some have been abused, some are fatherless (and thus have no legal identity because citizenship comes through the father only), some have been abandoned, and some are refugees from other countries and also have no legal identity. There are such incredible stories of how God has been at work here and in the lives of the children who grow up here, most of whom come from Muslim backgrounds. The orphanage is amazed that we are here; we are actually the first Americans to serve at the orphanage in over 20 years. Many groups have expressed interest in coming but have been scared away because of preconceived notions of the Middle East, but we are learning that Lebanon truly is a welcoming place and the gateway to reaching the Arab world for Christ.
Most of the boys are on their summer break right now; in an effort to maintain good relationships with the boys’ current families, they are encouraged to go home for about three weeks each summer if they are able. All of the boys will return tomorrow night, so until then, we have had some time to explore and see the beauty of this area of the world! This afternoon we visited Byblos, the oldest continuously inhabited port city in the entire world, located right on the Mediterranean Sea. There were quaint shops with jewelry, soaps, spices, scarves, and lots of beautiful things….which we now own. Then we explored an old fortress built by the Crusaders that still stands strong today, and the view from the top was unbelievable. As we were getting ready to leave, we heard the Muslim “call to prayer” from a nearby mosque which happens five times daily. It was an amazing way to get a glimpse of the diverse culture and beauty of Lebanon.
We ended the day eating at a Lebanese restaurant on the beach and swimming in the Mediterranean Sea at sunset…an incredible day that I will never forget.
We’ve had a few minor challenges…one team member is soaking her foot in salt water right now, another had to visit the pharmacy where she was able to get a Z-pack over the counter, and another (yours truly) literally burnt an inch off her bangs by putting the setting on the converter too high while trying to fix her hair this morning J Short bangs are in, right?!
Thanks so much for all of your prayers and encouragement…we can’t wait until the boys arrive at the orphanage tomorrow!