Monday, June 29, 2015

Here we go again...

I am delighted to fire up the blog again as we prepare for another summer trip to Beirut, Lebanon.  Our team will be at serving at Dar El Awlad in Beirut from July 2-11.  We have a wonderful team of 9 people (7 of whom have been to the orphanage before).  It is an amazing team and I am delighted to serve alongside each of them.  Here is our official team picture that we took tonight as we had a packing party together.

 We are minus one very important team member though.  Our beloved friend, fearless leader, native arabic speaker, and brother, Tim Smith, will not be able to join us this year.  He has been temporarily sidelined due to cancer.  While he cannot join our team physically this year we take him with us in our hearts and in our thoughts.  His wisdom, smile, and presence will not be far from us as we spend time in one of his favorite places.  We look forward to him joining the team again next year when he has overcome his cancer battle.

We will miss you dearly on the trip!  We are so thankful for your wisdom as we go and we covet your prayers for us while we are there.  We will bring back stories, memories, and plenty of pictures to share with you.  We love you and look forward to sharing memories at Dar El Awlad with you again one day.
The whole Lebanon team

 And, because we all will miss Tim this year, we decided he needed to be in our official team picture too.  So, look closely and you will see our friend Tim.  And, stay tuned as he may appear in more pics in Lebanon.

I have some thoughts to share from some of our team members who are returning and also from some who have not yet experienced Lebanon.  Here are some things that we are excited about as we prepare to go where God has called us.

"I am so excited to be going to Lebanon for the first time.  I have loved hearing stories from others about the boys there and the wonderful people who help care for them.  Members of the team have encouraged me to to in the past but this is the first year I have been able to go.  I am excited to see how God is working in Lebanon and to see how He is going to use our team this year." - Clara

"I am looking forward to seeing all of the boys that we have worked with before.  I'm sure they have changed and matured in two years.  I'm looking forward to meeting Yazmeen, Brent and Ruth's baby girl.  We were at their wedding three years ago and now we get to meet their firstborn.  I'm also looking forward to doing some sightseeing this year.  I am excited about bonding with our Calvary family even more."  - Lanna

"I first went to Lebanon four years ago in the summer of 2011.  It was Calvary's first trip, so we were just getting to know the boys at Dar El Awlad, and the boys were just getting to know us.  Since then, a sense of family has developed between our communities.  I'm eager to go back this summer to see how the seeds that were planted four years ago have grown and developed.  I'm excited to see Ali, Abdullah, and Bilal, boys who were in my group as kindergartners, who will not be rambunctious, independent 4th graders.  I'm excited to see if Jad's shoulders perk up to his ears when he lets out a mischievous laugh.  I'm excited to see if Ochinga still wears a cheerleading outfit and prances around the campus as he tries out his new magic tricks on his friends.  I'm a different person than I was 4 years ago, and I know they will be, too.  Some boys may no longer be at Dar El Awlad, and new boys may have joined them.  I'm excited to sit on the bench under the balooka tree and to get to know each of them, and I'm incredibly grateful for this opportunity God has allowed for our paths to cross in Lebanon once again."  - Mary Alice

"Not having seen our friends at Dar El Awlad in two years, I am anxious to see their faces.  Those faces of genuine warmth and hospitality when we arrive, faces of intensity and enthusiasm when we compete, and faces of compassion when we discuss faith and life.  Most memorable are their faces on shoe night when they are overwhelmed by the love and generosity of their Calvary family that gives so generously and thoughtfully to these guys so far away.  I remember those faces.  I'm hoping they remember mine." - Les

"We're now less than a week out from starting our journey to Lebanon and I find myself more excited than ever to return.  Last minute preparations are being made and for many of us, we will soon be returning to a familiar place.  A land where some of the best fruits and food is eaten.  A place where hospitality is a way of life and everyone goes out of their way to help you feel welcomed.  A ministry where God is doing amazing things with a dedicated staff who seek to love him and love others.  And finally, a home where I will encounter my friends, Charbel, Mohammad, Ahmed, Jad, Abboud, Daniel, and many others.  I've missed you Lebanon and I can't wait to be with you again."  -Josh

"It has also been 4 years for me since I first traveled to Lebanon.  I loved every minute of it!  From tutoring rambunctious 4th graders, to seeing smiles shared when language was a barrier, to eating the most amazing food ever, to seeing God work miraculously in young boys lives. to seeing staff members give up their own lives and dreams to love them boys unconditionally, to growing closer with my Calvary family.  The list could go on.  I cannot wait to experience these things and so much more as we go."  -Jennifer

We will keep this blog updated as we go so please check back often.  May God do abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine as we journey to Lebanon once again.

With great hope,

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