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.