We would each like to take the time to write reflections of our time in Lebanon. So, stay tuned for reflections from the team members in the days to come. Also, in other news, I just got word that Tim, Sheila, and Jeremy landed in DFW and are making their way to Waco (as of 10pm Friday night). Thanks be to God for a safe and blessed trip!
I am sure that I could write A LOT about our trip. I could talk about even more. In thinking about the trip I have wondered what I would want people to know most about our time in Lebanon. In sharing with friends and family over the past week I have come to realize a few important things that I want everyone to hear.
1. Lebanon was not what I was expecting for a Muslim country in the middle east. I think we have ideas of what that statement means and with that come many misperceptions. I have spent time in Turkey in the past, so I only had my experiences there to base my expectations on. The city of Beirut was much what I thought it would be (generally), the traffic was the same, the abundance of concrete buildings, and the amazing food was the what I expected, but my ideas probably ended there. I was so utterly surprised by the amazing beauty of the landscape! It was gorgeous! The Mediterranean Sea and the hills and mountains were breathtaking. I was also very surprised to not see a mosque on every corner. I was surprised to see many other church buildings and to not hear the call to prayer 5 times a day (I think we only heard it twice our whole time there). The freedom of religion and worship there was refreshing and even a bit shocking. I did not expect that at all. I was overjoyed to see believers worshipping freely with no sense of condemnation or fear. We can't take this freedom for granted. I think it is so important to share this because we live in a society that lives with so much fear of all things middle east and Muslim. Witnessing this joyful freedom first hand was a God glorifying experience to say the least.
2. The orphanage is the best "home away from home" for these boys! I could never have imagined the ways in which they love and care for these boys. They are so intentional about everything they do, from school work, to meals, to play time, to keeping them connected to their biological families. It was an amazing and beautiful thing to watch. While I can't say there are not issues they deal with (behavioral, emotional, etc) these boys really are loved deeply, provided for in every way, prayed for, and so joyful! My heart was full just watching the activity all around me as they played, talked, and laughed. I am not sure what I had in mind when I thought about visiting an orphanage in Lebanon, but this exceeded my expectations. For example, there is a cafeteria in the bottom floor of one of the buildings where 3 people work every day to make 3 meals for all the boys and staff. However, the boys do not eat in the cafeteria. Each unit of boys (basically a full apartment with a house mother) sends a few boys down at mealtime to pick up all their food and bring it up to their units. It is there, at a dining room table that has been set, that they eat as a small family. The house mothers (one who has been there for 21 years!) work hard to provide a home for the boys in which they function as families, for meals, for homework, for downtime, for everything! It was beautiful. God was so evident in these "families" that give the boys stability, love, provision, teaching about God, school, and so much more. The work that is being done in this place was wonderful to watch and even better to join and participate with.
In all, my experience was wonderful. I pray that God allows me the opportunity to return soon. I pray that my family can join me. I cannot say enough about how impressed I was with all things Lebanon. I am sure I can write so much more about all the things I saw, experienced, and felt while we were there. Please, ask me about it sometime...I love to talk about it!
God is alive and working in Lebanon...I merely witnessed what has been, is now, and will continue to be. Thanks be to God!
With joy and thanksgiving,