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.