Sunday, July 7, 2013

God's Cedars

Today was the day of the much anticipated trip to "The Forest of God's Cedar" in northern Lebanon. As we gathered for breakfast outside the kitchen, our greetings did not match the beautiful sun-splashed morning. Although everyone tried their best, a common theme was apparent...nausea. The discussion quickly turned to possible home remedies. Was it "BRAT" or "BRAN"? Was it bananas, rice, apples, and t...? Or, was it bananas, rice ,apples and n....? We couldn't remember the t or the n words. So, we focused on what we could agree upon...bananas! Sara B. ran to her apartment and brought all the bananas she had. Those were quickly consumed and we realized we would need more. So, I ran down to our neighborhood HEB and got enough for the day. We were all hoping for healing.

Thirty plus boys, staff and friends loaded into the big bus and the at-risk nausea patients, toddlers and baby loaded into the van. As we headed out on our 3-hour drive through Beirut, up the coast and into the mountains, the traffic was much more aggressive than normal and the roads had added extra twists and turns. It was going to be a challenging day!

Some of us were able to enjoy the scenery, the beautiful coastal waters, unique villages and towns and the sight of Tripoli in the distance. Upon reaching the town at the Forest of the Lebanon Cedars, the boys enjoyed lunch in the shade of beautiful trees, played and pranked. Others were surprised and pleased to find very clean (and frequented) restrooms at the entrance to the park.

As the boys and others that were able walked the park trails through the cedars, they saw 3000 year-old trees in this little forest. With a little imagination, you could see these trees surviving wars, disease, drought, and cuttings for palaces in Egypt and the temple in Jerusalem. Their massively thick trunks twisted and turned holding up amazing canopies of branches and limbs.

Also seen in the little valley next to the forest was a shepherd and his flock of sheep. The shepherd walked among his sheep, chasing after the stragglers and redirecting their course by throwing rocks. This scene convinced me that King David had a pretty good arm without the sling.

As we traveled back to Dar el Awlad, we passed through a Mediterranean fog as we descended the mountains and hills, saw beautiful homes and were welcomed back into the teaming Beirut traffic. As we ended the day, we had much to be thankful for. Although the nausea had it's challenges, we had been blessed by the natural beauty of creation. We had been protected  during our journey from beginning to end. We were blessed by the special gifts of Mr. Tim as he carefully tended those in our group that were suffering. We were also blessed by the patience and attention of Mr. Joseph as patiently directed the boys and successfully maneuvered the van through traffic of Beirut despite our distractions and special needs.

It was a good day after all.


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