Friday, July 5, 2013
Friday July 5
Today was the beginning of our first full day in Lebanon. Though my body was tired and cravig sleep, my body is also bipolar and decided to wake up at 2am from my slumber. Having not properly adjusted to the time yet, I decided to go outside and stand for a little while. Not only did I enjoy the cool air, the view of the city lights and the Mediterranean provided me with a smile as I looked out on this beautiful country. After reading, I feel back into bed, with the sounds of insects providing rhymthic sounds to soothe me to sleep.
After being awoken by my roommate Tim at 7:45, I made my way downstairs with the anticipation to receive both food and wifi. After eating a delicious breakfast, Joseph, the soon to be new director of Dar el Awlad (and the 1st Lebanese national to direct the orphanage) debriefed us. After becoming well acquianted with him and his family, it was time to go one of the most touristy places Lebanon offers: Byblos. Originally a Phoenician seaport, Byblos has transformed into a renowned shopping center. The 8 of us who came to Lebanon, along with the Bouchers and our Jordanian friends Abood and Omar departed shortly after breakfast.
The traffic in Lebanon is absolute madness to me. In a city with millions of people, I can count the number of stoplights and stopsigns I've seen on both of my hands! Aggresive driving can be rewarded, and if the road has marked three traffic lanes for cars to drive between, there will be four lanes going down the highway. As a Texan used to wide lanes and roads, the traffic can feel claustraphobic to me at times.
After stopping at a cliff side to take pictures and picking up some falafel to go, we eventually reached Byblos. I can safely say I think everyone who went had a great time. We bought gifts for friends and family, enjoyed ice cream, and absorbed more of the Lebanese culture outside of Beirut. After Byblos, we ate at a resturant located on the coast and enjoyed tradiional Lebanese food. One thing about Lebanese food I've learned is that meat is not a primary to their diet as most typical American diets. Out of all the foods we ate, only one had meat in it. Though I enjoyed it all, the french fries dipped in hummus were delicious.
We got back to Dar el Awlad to clean up and prepare to meet the boys and housemothers, who had just returned today. The plan was to meet them at 7pm. However, due to an unforeseen issue with the keys, the iron gate that protects the entrance to Tim's and my place was shut behind us, and with no key to open the gate, we were essentially locked in our own apartment. After a while, Joseph and Jeremy broke us out, and we went to meet the boys.
And what a greeting they gave us. I had just met them, but the way they welcomed me made me feel as if I was a new addition to their family. They recounted their memories of us coming to see them previously, and asked where previous team members were who didn't make the trip this time. The memories that they possess are so vivid, it allows you to see the impact that God allowed this church to make because of our support for them. Some of the boys were shy and quiet, while others thrived in the spotlight. We are taking them and the staff to see the Cedars tomorrow, and the excitement they have for going tomorrow is contagious. Making the trip to see them and hopefully love on them like Jesus would was worth the travel and preparation to get here.
After the boys went to bed, we talked to one of the boys (now a 21 year-old man) who was raised in the orphanage. He is clearly an inspiration to the boys. Not only was he baptized (something one of the boys brought up when we visited them), he now works for an NGO called Hearts of Lebanon. Because of the wars in Iraq and Syria, refugees flee to Lebanon to escape the war. With people flowing into the country by the hundreds, He described how his organization provdes relief to both Iraqis and Syrians in hopes that they can have better lives. As I listened to him talk about his work, the passion he spoke with made you believe that his full heart is in this. As a FBO (faith-based organization), he described how he can both share his faith and help others by meetin their tangible needs. All I need was listen, amazed by how God equipped him in this place to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
We concluded our day with visiting our friends Brent and Ruth and their family. Brent and Ruth will be leaving tomorrow to do a tour of America for two months (it will be Ruth's first time in America, and more importantly, her first time to Texas in August). As we talked and visited, Brent shared his views on the current stability (or lack thereof) in the regions of Lebanon outside of central Lebanon, where we are located. It's really unfortunate when their is no pefectly good solution to a problem, and the situation here mirrors that idea. But, in spite of what's going here, we have chosen to be here. We've seen how this chuch has affected this place, and God willing, when this body leaves, our relationhip with Dar el Awlad will grow stronger through the years.