Saturday, July 20, 2013

Reflections for 2013

Each year is unique for the team that goes to Lebanon and how we bond together and with the boys.  Each year has its’ struggles with illnesses, heat or safety concerns; but it’s strange how this year we were so worried about safety, prior to going, and once we got there we weren’t anxious about it anymore.  The Lord took away that anxiety and made out paths safe; now I didn’t say straight.  I don’t think that I’ve been on more winding roads in my life than this year-going to the northern cedars of Lebanon and the COLD river.  Fortunately, I don’t get car sick.
I really enjoyed getting to know the new director’s family this year.  We met Joseph last year but his family usually goes to Canada for the summer to see his wife’s family.  This year they were at Dar El Awlad and their four children were involved in all of our activities along with Fady’s children.  These children are so mature and helpful and so loving to the boys.  They are learning from their parents what it means to serve others and to follow Christ.  Of course, seeing Jeremy, Sara, Thad and Chandler was like seeing family; just hard to say good-by.  These families seem loving and supportive of each other and their children love Thad and Chandler!
I feel that the bonds are even stronger between Calvary and Dar El Awlad and the relationships are richer and lasting.  Like Tim said in one of his last blogs, the housemother told the boys “Of course they will come back.  Calvary always comes back”.  Maybe it is a truth that these boys need to hold onto.


Friday, July 19, 2013


It's 8:30 PM Beirut time. We have just made rounds of the boys apartments and told them goodbye. There were lots of hugs and a few watery eyes. Many of the boys asked if we were comming back next year. We answered "Inshallah".
One of the housemothers answered for us when she told the boys, "of course they are coming back next year. They always return."
Calvary has built a relationship with the boys and staff here at Dar el Awlad. One that they trust and value. A relationship of which they say, "of course Calvary is coming back next year. Calvary always returns."
Tim Smith

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thursday Pictures

Morning Programming - the boys love singing!

A afternoon outing in Burmana (up the hill about 20 minutes from DEA).

Group photo!

Dinner time in Farida's unit!


It's Thursday evening here in Lebanon. I can hear basketball being played on the court outside. I'm also seeing and hearing fireworks celebrating a wedding. It's just another evening at Dar el Awlad, only not quite. You see, this is our last evening here, tomorrow evening we depart.
I struggled as to what to write: a summary of the trip (but the journey is not over) what we did today, or maybe something of both.

This morning we helped the boys with their studies. We had a lesson from the Bible which TC gave. One of the boys complimented him on it afterwards. This afternoon, all of us went on a walk in a village a bit up the mountain. At 3000 feet, it was a bit cooler than here and we enjoyed it. After we ate we went up and visited with the boys in their apartments. Tonight they were asking, "why do you have to go?"

Yesterday we did a bit of shopping in an Armenian neighborhood. I was trying to get some items that might be sellable in a Calvary Missions Bazaar for fundraising for next years trip. Yes, we are already planning for next year's trip!!

When we returned to Dar el Awlad, a group of Indian believers had just finished their worship service here in the chapel and were fellowshipping outside.

To simplify it, TC and I (two Anglos from Texas) were sitting on the steps outside the Bouchers at a Boys Home in Beirut Lebanon, getting WiFi signal, listening to Indian Christians fellowship, not understanding a word but feeling the spirit. How do you spell Ecumenical?

Somewhere between the today and yesterday may lay what I am trying to say.

As we wrap up tomorrow, helping the boys with thier lessons, playing with them, laughing with them, there will come the inevitable question from the boys, "Mister, will you come back next year?"

To which I can only reply, "Inshallah-God willing." God willing, Calvary will return next year, and the next and many years into the future helping to teach and show God's love to these boys, and at the same time being taught and shown God's love by these boys.

Inshallah, the journey continues.

Tim Smith

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Few from Wednesday

Working hard at morning tutoring.

Active participants!

Singing songs.

Hanging out at break time.

Chatting on the "porch".

Mister Mister

"Mister, Mister"
I've strangely grown used to the boys calling me "mister." At first I hated it. "I'm only 24, don't call me mister," I would think. But now, I'm Mr. TC. And that's alright by me!
The morning rolled around, which meant another morning of tutoring and bible study. The boys were getting  out of hand at first, but as soon as I pulled out the Putt-Putt card, where I'd make them sit out 10 minutes at the pool, they straightened up. At least for me they did. The morning finished, and lunch rolled around, and after a relaxing afternoon, it was time to head to Putt-Putt. It was going to be my last outing here for awhile, so I wanted to make it count. But with a sore back, I could only swim so much. The rest of the time was spent just enjoying the nice temperatures and the Lebanese sun.
Ater we got back, the Bouchers invited us to eat dinner with them at an Armenian resturant. Oh my stars, it was some of the best food I've eaten here! And I've eaten some pretty good food, mind you. My favorite dish by far was called Ras Asfour Karaz - or rather beef cooked with cherries and the delicious sauce that goes with it. Thad wasn't really in the mood to eat anything, which secretly pleased me, since I gladly ate what he didn't want.
We then ventured into the Armenian part of town. It was really cool to see this side of Beirut. The power lines overhead are certainly an accident waiting to happen, but on the other hand, it gave this part of the city a distinct feel I had not felt anywhere else yet. We bought some final gifts, and with my leftover lira, I will be heading to the grocery store either Thursday to Friday to stock up on chocolate. Can't beat that Turkish chocolate.

Tuesday Pictures

Farida's boys on the couch.

Lining up for Putt Putt!

At the pool :)

Practicing Spider Man skills!

TC in Sonia's Unit.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


We are just back from the swimming complex next door and all the boys are in thier units getting cleaned up for supper and the evening. It is amazing how quiet it is when they are all in the units. It is like after lunch there is a rest time until 2 PM. It was quiet. All one could hear was the cicadias and a passing car. When the bell rang at 2 PM, boys exploded out of the apartments,yelling in thier excitement to go swimming.
Of course, before they can go, they have to line up by thier units and be quiet, which is always interesting. There is the usual talking and kidding of each other, and ribbing of those that have to delay swimming for a few minutes due to misbehavior.
Then one of the boys realizes that Mr. Jeremy Boucher is just standing there in front waiting for them to be quiet before they can proceed to the swimming complex. The boy usually starts screaming for them to shut up. This rarely has an immediate effect, so he begins to single out indiviuals...."Mahmoud, be quiet.....Foulan, quit talking.....Matta, why are you bothering him? ....I wasn't bothering him, I was helping him adjust his cap!!!.....well, why is he crying?.....I don't know, I was just helping!!!!
"Who made you boss?" One of the boys yells to the boy who started it all. "Why are you shouting?.....I'm not shouting!!!! I'm trying to get everyone to be quiet and so can go swimming......Well, you be quiet.....Me,you be quiet or I will come and hit you.....Mr Jeremy he said he will hit me......No, No....I said for him to be quiet or I will help him be quiet.....I would never hit him....he is my friend".....Mumbling under his breath, "just you wait".
Finally the boys quieten down and off we proceeded. The lesson learned about being quiet in line has a shelf life of exactly the length of time between this line up and the next one. For by then the chlorine in the water will have seeped in and destroyed all memories of how to line up quietly and the process will start all over again!
These are just boys, no different from so many we know or know of, or were.
We are continuing the theme of "Being a Neighbor" from last week. Today we talked about King David and the neighborliness in the story of the rich man with many sheep and the poor man with only one lamb that the rich man took. Then we talked about Abraham welcoming the three guests. One a story of not being a good neighbor, the other of being a neighbor and showing hospitality. These boys know all too well the story of not being treated as a neighbor, of being raised by a single mom who has 6 sons and was living in a shack on the beach. When high tides come, the water come in the house.
These boys, that know all too well what the lack of having a good neighbor looks and feels like, know that they are loved and cared for here at Dar el Awlad. The ordinariness of Calvary being here at Dar el Awlad yet again, is beginning to tell me that the boys are starting to believe and accept, that there is a church called Calvary Baptist Church that loves them very much.
Pray that out church on 18th and Bosque continues learning to be a Good Neighbor, as our Neighborhood expands.
Tim Smith  

Monday, July 15, 2013

Round 2 Pictures!

TC helping read the morning devotional

Morning Program

The kids love the iphones that some of the team have!

Races in the afternoon


Round 2

Round 2
Today was the day we begin our 2nd and final week with the boys. It's just Tim and myself, and with 20+ boys to handle, from ages 6 to 14, we knew there was no way the two of us could handle it on our own. So, calling in the cavalry, the Bouchers and some 5 friends heard the call and came to our rescue!
The days always seem to start off a little rough for me during the mornings. I'm tutoring the grade 4 boys, and though there are only 3 of them, they are quite the handful! All of them are bright, smart boys, but they lose their motivation and I lose their attention quicker than the cats at Dar el Awlad run away from Thad as he chases and roars at them! And considering that it was a Monday, I tried to be a little more lenient with them (even though I'm a pushover to begin with).
After a break, we sang songs and had a Bible lesson. Tim and I are switching off days to give lessons, and though I've preached before, I quickly realized that I could not address the boys like I address rural Central Texan farmers. And boy, were they out of it! I could have put on a clown costume and made balloon animals and I'm sure a good number of them would have paid me no mind! It truly was a Monday.
The afternoon was much better. We played games with them for 3 hours, and by then end of it, they were still running around like they had just started playing. Oh, to have that amount of energy again! Tim and I then ate dinner with the Bouchers, and visited the boys in their units. I'm not sure what Tim did, but I was busy playing Uno and the card game War. I played with Mohammed yesterday, and I might have convinced him that I was once the best player of War in all of America! He was so proud when he beat me, and that was all the guys wanted to play with me. Though it was kind of hard for me to stay focused as Hassan had his hands and chin on my shoulders, unknowingly having control over a significant portion of my body needed to beat Ali and Mohammed at War! 8:30 came around, and that was the signal that it was time to go and let the house-mothers put their boys to bed.
Walking back to my place of rest, I cracked a smile. For me, this smile represented the good times I have had with the boys here, and how I've grown closer to them each day. To me, they aren't just boys. They are friends.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday Pictures

The shoes the boys received this week are now their best pair - many of the boys now wear these to church.

Badaro Baptist Church building.

A view of the sanctuary before the service begins.


As this Sunday draws to a close I am sitting here waiting for clothes to finish washing and listening to the boys play outside. It seems every minute or so you can hear them hollering, "Akh and so hit me....Why did he hit you?.......I don' know, I wasn't doing anything!!.....So and so why did you hit him?....Becuse he took the ball from me......I thought you said you didn't do anything!......Well, he had been playing with the ball for a long time."
We had a good morning. TC went with the Bouchers to their church. I went with Akh Fadi, the Residential Director, to the church he attends. He was the worship leader this morning.
It is a fairly conservative church. Men sit on one side of the sanctuary, women on the other. Women wear skirts not pants. Women keep their hair covered in church. When the service is over, the men remain seated until the women leave the sanctuary. While all that could prove distracting to some, the feeling of being with fellow believers as we all worshiped the same Lord and Savior was what was important.
I am sure they would consider some of our church practices strange if they came to visit us. Besides, we came here to serve along side, encourage and be encouraged, not to impose our views and practices.
Most all of the Evangelical (Believers, non-nominal) churches here have headphones with instant translation for foreign guests. All of the services we have attended had non-Arabic speaking people attending. Many of them are domestic workers from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, or Ethiopia. The world has come to Lebanon and the churches are reaching out.
For lunch today we had the boys from one of the apartments come and eat with us. Their housemother had the afternoon off so they ate with the Bouchers,TC, and myself. After they helped us clean up, they went upstairs to their apartment to rest until 2 PM. I'm not sure how much of the rest is for the boys or the staff. I know we appreciate it.
We heard that the rest of the team has made it back to Waco. I know that they are glad to be back home. They will be missed this next week! Already the boys are asking about them and if they will be returning next year.
That is a major difference this year. The first two years they were asking IF Calvary would be returning. Now they assume we will and are asking if people from this year's team and previous years' teams will be coming next year.
You, the Calvary family, have become a part of these boy's lives, just as many of these boys are now a part of your lives. As we continue to be your presence here at Dar el Awlad, please pray for us. Pray that we will be used in the lives of the boys and staff as He desires, that we learn the lessons from these boys that He wants us to return to Calvary with.
Tim Smith

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Saturday Pictures

Boy wearing his new shoes.

TC at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary.

The Bouchers at Pigeon Rock.

Harriri Mosque downtown.

View from downtown.

A Day in the City

A Day in the City
Tim, Jeremy, Joseph, and I escorted the bulk of our team to the airport last night, and saying "see you later" to them was especially tough. We all shared hugs and farewells, and, eventually, we parted ways. It was apparent that their presence here will be missed by all here at Dar el Awlad as I watched them give their farewells to each of the boys. A huge question I had coming into this trip was whether short term mission trips were of any value. Could we really go somewhere for a 1 or 2 week period and make an impact on God's kingdom? Well, here in Lebanon, the impact is real. Boys still remember team members from the past and ask me about them and how they are. We have come here to be the church to them for this period of time, and it seems that God has allowed us to perform this task admirably. And though it's just Tim, myself, and a few faithful volunteers, we will still strive to be the church to them for this final week here.
But, before we start again on Monday, we were in need of much needed rest. Being with 20+ boys these past few days have reminded me that I'm only getting older. The Bouchers decided to show us around Beirut and see the city, particularly the downtown area. We started off the day by going to the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary. It was interesting to here the stories Tim had of the area and how much it had changed over time, and also how his wife Sheila once lived in what is now the seminary's cafeteria! I took the obilgatory picture in front of the sign, and we moved on.
The next stop was the Baptist bookstore. It reminded me of being in a Lifeway bookstore with mom growing up. Except for the Bibles that were in Arabic. I found a copy of the New Testament in Arabic with an English translation, and soon we departed towards the heart of the city.
We made many twists and turns through the city, but eventually, we found ourselves outside the Beirut Baptist School (where Tim and Sheila both went). I came away impressed by the structure, though I'm unsure how the faculty at the school could ever find a place to park in the neighborhood it was in!
We then found a place to park and walked towards what it called Pigeons' Rock. It was quite impressive to look at, but I found it to be deceptively tall, so any urge to free-climb to cast out of my mind. Afterwards, we entered downtown Beirut. As someone who loves history, it was powerful to me to be in one of the oldest parts of the world. Tim and I visited the Mohammad Al-Amin Mosque, which was recently built. Ramamdan is in full swing, which was made even more apparent by the lack of people in the city square and the men sleeping in the back of mosque. We went outside on the back balcony and from there, all the same block, we saw the Maronite patriarch's headquaters, a Greek Orthodox Church, Greek Catholic Church, and another mosque. To me, it was an appropriate reflection of the nature of Lebanon. After that, we visited the Maronite Church next to the mosque, shopped around a little, ate some ice cream, saw the clock tower and the Parliament building, and the end our trek, we went inside the Saint George Cathedral. The pictures of the saints and the tiles in the floors were so beautiful. Though we weren't suppose to take pictures, the curator allowed us to grab a few before we headed out. Afterwards, we discovered that attached to the church was a museum. Apparently, some excavation was done in the area, and the archaeologists had unearthed ruins all the from the Hellenistic area. I love museums, so for me, it definitely allowed me inner geek to emerge, as I took pictues like crazy.
Afterwards, we ate lunch, and returned to Dar el Awlad. The boys ran up to me, asking me where I had gone. They followed me around, when I told them I was going to take a nap, they saw just how boring I could be, and they ran away to play basketball. All in all, a restful, relaxing day.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Goodbyes, Part 1

The kids' craft today was coloring a frame with a picture of the team inside!

What a special way to end the first week!

Mr. Les and Johnny - Kimberly spent some time making balloon animals/swords/etc with the boys.

Mr. Josh with two little ones.

Saying goodbyes and "See ya later"s.

Not Goodbye, but See You Later

Today is one of the toughest days for the team, because most of us are saying goodbye to the boys.  We started the day the way we've started most of our days here.  We began with breakfast, morning story and devotional, study time, break, morning program, lunch, and then afternoon activities.  Only today , each smile is a little wider, each hug a little tighter, and every moment treasured a little more than the one before because its the last for a while.  Some of the boys have heard that we are leaving tonight so I've already heard several questions: Why do you have to leave? Are you coming back next year?  Are you going to miss me?  Questions that make this day especially harder, but along with the questions I've also received a multitude of thank you's, I will miss you's, and I love you's.  I remember this final day last year and have been trying to prepare myself for it all week, but no amount of prep time can really prepare you to say goodbye.  So instead I say, "See you later."
Josh Caballero

Nahr Ibrahim Pictures - Thursday

No fear! Cliff diving.

The water was freezing!

Walking over river rocks.

Little adventurers!

The littlest ones, tuckered out. :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Skip Day

Skip Day! We skipped morning classes and set out for a full day of adventure at Nahr Ibrahim (River Abraham). Again, about 30 kids and staff loaded into the bus and the rest, now healthy Calvary volunteers, staff, 2 toddlers and a baby (sound familiar?), loaded into the van for another road trip. We traveled through Beirut, up the coast and into the mountains. As we drove up along the river to our favorite spot, the canyon walls grew higher, steeper, and more rugged. By the time we reached our destination, little direct sunlight would reach the canyon floor. With the cool morning temperature, overcast sky and shaded canyon bottom, the mountain river water could be breathtaking. As excited as everyone was, there was a lot of toe-dipping before swimming. But before long, if you weren't in the water a boy would figure a way to bring the water to you!

Up the river from our gathering spot was a cliff for jumping. For you Central Texans, this is the Lebanese version of Tonkawa Falls. Jeremy and Jad wore out the path up the rocks to the launch site. Eventually, everyone lost count of their perfect entries. Others gathered for extended periods of time at the launch site teasing, threatening, and bribing each other to jump. This process started early and continued after our lunch (cucumber sandwiches with ham or cheese and delicious watermelon). By the end of the day, a new group of proud veteran jumpers boarded the bus for the trip home to Dar el Awlad.

Most of the smaller boys stayed in a river pool near our gathering spot. They swam and paddled tiny inflated rafts with amazing skill. One of them spotted a mountain river crab (really!) in the crystal clear water. They called for Mr. Kalil. He caught the crab and passed it around for everyone's inspection until Mark (a volunteer from Iowa) was seriously pinched. After drawing Mark's blood, the crab was released to return to the river.

Upon returning to Dar el Awlad at 5:00, our team was invited to a 7:00dinner with our hosts Joseph and Tricia. Then, we were invited to a 6:00 pre-dinner "coffee" at the home of our hosts Akh Fadhy and Peggy. At the "coffee", we were served Peggy's Fruit Punch (made with fresh peaches, oranges, pineapple, kiwi, raisins and sprite), Peggy's chocolate cake, and ice cream cones with assorted ice creams. After enjoying dessert first, we were then driven to downtown Beirut as the sun was setting and the evening call to prayer began. Joseph and Tricia treated us to wonderful Italian food at La Piazza. This last night together was a special time.

During the coffee with Peggy and Akh Fadhy, Akh Fadhy shared his testimony as translated by Peggy. They also asked that we pray for their faithfulness as they continue to serve at Dar el Awlad, that their children (Danny, Leah and Jason) would provide good relationships for the Dar el Awlad boys, that the boys might not be consumed by the negative talk of war when they visit at home, and that God would continue to guide and strengthen them for their days of service forever. They also asked that we pray for Joseph, the new head of the orphanage, as he adjusts to new responsibilities. These will be our prayers for them. A remarkable place and remarkable people.


The River

Today we had a very long eventful day.  We began the day with a trip to the Ibrahem river with the boys.  The river was 1 ½  north of Beirut in the mountains.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  The day was a cool and overcast so it was fun watching the boys get up the nerve to jump into the freezing water (some were braver than others).  Some of the older boys hiked up the trail to a deeper section of the river where they were able to jump off the cliff into the water.  Most of the boys took their time trying to build up their courage before jumping in but some were fearless and jumped then immediately hiked back up the path to do it again. Even Jeremy and Les took turns jumping off the cliff, which the boys loved!  Joseph brought inflatable rafts for the little kids so they had fund paddling the up and down the length of the shallow end of the river. It was such a great day and the boys really enjoyed playing in the river.

After we returned we were invited for dessert at Akh Fady's  home.  His wife Peggy  made a delicious fruit punch and cake and then served us ice cream.  While eating Akh Fadhy told us of how he became a Christian and began working at Dar el Awlad.  He and is family are so special to the boys and have made us feel so at home.  

After dessert Joseph and his wife Trisha treated us to dinner at an Italian restraint in downtown Beirut.  We enjoyed great conversation and good food.  When then took the scenic route home, driving along the coast in downtown Beirut.

Tomorrow is our last day in Lebanon.  I cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by.   I’ve had so much fun spending time with the boys this year.  It’s been so special to return and see the boys recognize us from last year.  I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know the new boys.  I know that these precious moments we have spent together mean a lot.  I will recall a fond memory from my time here in the weeks/months to come and know that the boys will also have memories of our time together.  It means so much to them that we come back each year.  I have been so blessed to get to know these incredible young men/boys with beautiful smiles and big hearts!  

Jennifer Caballero

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Few Pictures from Wednesday

Mr. Tim and Ali at Putt Putt!

You have to be brave to get your camera this close to an impending splash!

Boys with thier new shoes, Ms. Lanna reading letters to the boys.

The boys were thrilled with their shoes and goodies - the letters and pictures were treasured by all.


Well, it's 6:30 AM. Just made myself some Turkish coffee,(you boil the sugar and coffe grounds 3 times) and am getting read for the day to start. The weather this year has been much better than last year, temps in low 90's and humidity only in low 60'%. At least this year after you dry off from a shower you are not soaking wet from sweat.
I'm am sure you have heard of the car bombing in south Beirut yesterday. It was in a Hizbullah neighborhood and apparently directed at them, not one has claimed responsibility. Speculation as to those behind the bomb range from the US, Isreal, and Syrian Resistance forces to any number of anti-Hizbullah forces. The folks here are not terribly worried about it, the expect the Hizbullah leadership to take thier time and determine who was behind it and then retaliate in a very surgical manner. I guess Lebanese politics show more steel and a less velvet veneer than Stateside.
There were a couple of boys yesterday that did not obey the team when they were told to get out of the pool and get ready, so today they will be sitting out for 5 or 10 minutes while everyone else goes swimming. If it's like last year, those who get to go swimming immediatly, will not hesitate to swing by and inform those being punished how nice and cool the water is!
Tonight we plan to have an assembly and give the boys and staff the gifts we brought from church members for them. We requested the church members sign up to buy tennis shoes for the boys and to place small items, ie. socks,toys etc., all in a large zip lock along with a letter to the boy and a picture of the family giving the shoes. For the male staff we brought dry fit shirts and for the women staff we brought bath lotions. When I wrote to ask the administration here what would be some things to bring to the staff, they replied no team had ever asked to bring anything to the staff.
The staff here are amazingly dedicated. Of the three housemothers, 2 have been housemothers for over 20 years, one has been a housemother for over 16 years. The current director of Dr el Awlad has been with them for 24 years. These are amazing staff and they deserve to be recognized and applauded for thier dedication.
We brought shoes for the boys last year and this year some of them have seen the shoes piled up on a table in one of the apartments. They keep asking about them, we keep telling them they have imagined something that is not there, or they are assuming what they saw is for them. Many of them are quick to point out to us that they are wearing the shoes we brought them last year. While they appreciated the shoes, what made it even more special is the pictures and letter from those who send the gifts. No longer was it an anonymus donor. It was real people. They asked us if we knew the people and to tell them some more about them.
Will be writing this in stages today. Just set the breakfast table. Breakfast today is pita bread, olives, a cream type cheese made from yogurt, tomatoes, cucumbers, luncheon meat, cheese, coffee, tea with mint. No bacon, eggs and grits today. I think breakfasts are the most difficult for the team in that they are the most unfamiliar to American tastes.
For lunch yesterday they served hamburgers and french fries. They set the tables outside and all the boys and team ate together. The biggest difference was they put the french fries on the hamburger between the meat and bun. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. It is a special treat for the boys. For lunch Monday we had peas,carrots and potatoes cooked in a tomato sauce and served over rice. Supper is usually a light sandwich type meal.
We had told the team we will be eating what they serve the boys and if anyone needed anything else to eat there is a grocery store next door with most anything you could desire. It is a two storey grocery store with an escalator and an escalator for your grocery cart so you can take it up to the second floor and continue shopping!!!
This morning, after we did the schoolwork with the boys, Kimberly continued with the theme of Being a Neighbor. The story she used was the prodigal son and had the boys to act out the story. I think it had extra meaning for the boys when the boys acted it out. I think the theme of Being a Neighbor is very appropriate this year for Lebanon, both in terms of external neighbors as well as internal neighbors.
The big event this evening was giving the boys and staff the gifts from the church. They were so excited. They open the bags and immediatly went for the letters from the givers, then they ran around to us asking us if we knew you, "Please read me my letter", What will I say?
I think the most shocked were the staff. They were not surprised we brought items for the kids, but for them! We know whatever we bring will not change the lives of the children or the staff but it does help remind them that they are loved and appreciated.
 Isn't that what we all seek and need?

Tim Smith

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Tuesday Program Pictures

Julie and Mark (a local volunteer) helping out the G2 kids.

TC tutoring grade 5 boys.

Les helping out the guys entering grade 6!

Josh and Grade 2&3 kids.

Jen & Kimberly with grade 3.

Thoughts from Lebanon on Tuesday

 *   Hamburgers with french fries on the burger are good.
 *   It doesn't matter where you live, 1st grade boys all act the same.
 *   You don't have to know the language to understand the prayer.
 *   Skype makes the world a little smaller.
 *   It is very valuable to have a school teacher on the mission trip with you :o)

The full team was present today almost.  One more fell victim to the stomach virus, but has climbed back to normal.  We heard bible stories, learned new songs, worked on English and Math and then went swimming.  Our days here are not really any different than our days back home.  There's a schedule, a rhythm, a pattern.  We wake up each day to a rhythm similar to that of the day before.  There are people around us who need our presence and people whose presence we also need.  There are children to mind, meals to be eaten, lessons to be taught and learned.  There are clothes to wash, prayers to be made, news to read and trash to be taken out.  The world keeps spinning and days keep passing and whether we live in North America, Asia, Africa . . . we all seek comfort and security for ourselves and our families.  We all work hard and savor the moment of falling into bed.  We all enjoy a good meal and the conversation surrounding the table.  We all skin our knees, lose our keys and walk under the same stars.  We share the excitement of a new birth and sadness at losing a loved one.  So, our names may sound different and our food may not smell the same.  We might not all make our living the same way or have the same driving rules, but . . . there's a little boy in front of me riding his Big Wheel.  He's riding it the same way I rode my brother's when I was small.  There's a group of boys upstairs playing Jenga - just like you.  There were grade school boys calling for attention at the pool - "Look at me!!" just like you once did.  So, when a country has a fragile political balance, its neighbor is at war and there are random violent acts, its people feel the way that you might. They experience uncertainty or stress or tragedy the way that you might.  So, when you read a news article or hear a radio report of disturbance, you are not far from the people in the midst of that turmoil.  They are like you.  Their babies cry and toddlers pull at hems of skirts.  Know that though there are myriad differences in speech, dress, belief, custom, etc., we share a common Creator, a common Redeemer and a common Sustainer.  God's image is present in you.  God's image is present in the people of Lebanon.  Know that when places like Lebanon really do feel foreign and their circumstances difficult, the people need and want what you need.  You already know how to pray for them.  We are brothers and sisters - us and them - and it falls on us to pray for their peace.  They are family.   Thank you to the little boy on the Big Wheel for reminding me.

Julie Coston


From the time I was a small child I have hated taking the position of observer in a situation.  For instance, I vividly remember a time when I went to “watch” my sister and some other older children go rock climbing.  By the time the day was up, I had managed to get myself in a position to climb up and down the rock (even though I was wearing church shoes and a dress).  Point is, when given a choice I almost always chose the position of doing rather than observing.  I love getting my hands dirty.

Yesterday, however, as a small subset of our group left the day filled of activity at Dar El Alwad, we entered into this role of observers.  The day began first by visiting the seminary and attending a chapel service where we listened as Arabic songs were sung and as a monk recounted his testimony and call into ministry. This time was quickly followed by going to SKILD and observing how staff interacted and worked with the children with individual learning differences.  That again was quickly followed by a luncheon where we were able to hear of the testimony of ministries happen all over Lebanon and Syria.  This lunch was followed by observing speech therapy and motor therapy sessions. 

As you can imagine, when first embarking on this day of observation I was fairly uncomfortable and antsy.  I so desperately wanted to know and be able to sing the Arabic words that were sung and I wanted to enter into the French game on “s” and “z” sounds.  However, as the day continued and as I settled into the role of observer, of listener, I was reminder of what a blessing this position can be.  You see, when you are constantly caught in constantly doing you for get to stop and notice what else God is doing around you, how He is very much present and working in lives outside of your own. 

Yesterday, when I finally decided to listen I heard others speak with passion of the work God was doing in and through ordinary lives here in Lebanon.    Some spoke of God’s faithfulness to bring them into ministry, like the monk who spoke of a time of prayer that transformed his heart into one burning for God or the director of SKILD who spoke of feeling unfit for the position and then recounted the journey through which God had placed her there anyways.  Some spoke of the miracles God is working, whether that is using the prayers of a believer to work healing and reach the heart of a Muslim, or the miracle of open doors to begin a work of children’s ministry among refugees.  Not only did I hear of God’s working in the stories that were told, I saw it in the worked I observed.  I saw it in the miracle of skilled even existing to begin with and in the passionate and patient work of each staff member there. 

This observation was like the refreshing of my soul.  For in seeing God working, so far beyond human capability I was reminded that really my role is almost always partially one of observer.  God is the one working the miracles.  What a blessing to observe and stand in awe of Him.

“Let the whole earth fear the Lord, let all who dwell in the world stand in awe of Him.” Ps 33:8