It is still hard for me to think about being on the other side of the Calvary trips to Lebanon. It could be because not that long ago I was! I was a part of the first team to come to Lebanon and was blessed by everyone I got to know while I was here; from the staff and boys, to guys my age who continue to come back because in many ways it's still home to them. These feelings and longing to be in the Middle East with my family is one reason I happen to find myself on the other side of the Calvary trip, living in Lebanon, with my family a few short years later. This year was a great opportunity for Calvary to come together and pray intently about continuing to partner in ministry with the boys and staff here at Dar el Alwad in the face of doubts and fears regarding the safety of the team. By now you know that yes, in fact they were all safe and we were very thankful that they came.
Calvary, you helped to meet so many needs here at DEA by your presence here. It seems very simple to come and put on a two week program for twenty-five to thirty boys and spend time with them during down time. However, the facts would say otherwise to plan a trip to Lebanon in the midst of what is going on in the region is something no other church, organization, or group were willing to do this summer. The responsibility would have fallen completely on a depleted summer staff that just finished the school year a week and a half before. The staff was tired and needed some encouragement which Calvary brought in so many different forms. The gifts of new shoes and sports balls always are the first thing the kids want but they soon realize that the people continue to come back and want to spend time with the boys.
Another thing that I get to see on this side of the picture is that throughout the year there was excitement knowing that Calvary was planning on coming back again led by Papa Tim. The kids are still amazed that this white haired, bearded man from Texas can speak their heart language. It's not just the kids that continue to remember Calvary throughout the year. Brother Fady, our Residence Director continues to ask about Calvary and how everyone is doing.
As for Sara and I, we are in a different boat because Calvary is home to us and DEA is home to us, so it just feels so natural to have you guys with us during the first few weeks of July. Our whole Lebanon experience has always included Calvary in July! This is what we have come to know and we hope will continue in the future that we will see Calvary every year.
Continue to remember these boys that you have seen and met over the past three summers. On the outside you may see boys that are just causing trouble like any other boy that you meet in Waco. Each one, however, is a broken vessel that God is seeking to redeem. Some have a great understanding that Jesus loves them and seeks to know them, while many or most have reservations whether those reasons stem from family or personal issues. We as well as you, Calvary, get to share this love of Christ with the boys. The great thing is that this doesn't only happen the two weeks Calvary is here but it goes on throughout the year as you pray and remember your family here at DEA.