People have asked how my trip was and I (still) can not put into words all of it - I tend to answer with "Amazing; Just amazing." I know that will not suffice for them, and to be honest it was so much more of that for me as well.
The food was so fresh. The trend here is to eat fresh and 'whole' to be healthy, while in Lebanon it's just a way of life. The fruit stands above the rest - so fresh, so juicy, so full of flavor! The ice cream would be a close second!
My eyes were opened to a completely new culture. I realized how little I know about the things going on in the Middle East, and what life actually looks like there. I still don't fully understand it, but my heart is definitely more open and filled with compassion for people there.
Religion is more than a choice there. Religion is a way of life. And a conversion from your faith is often a removal from your family and heritage. While Lebanon has a Christian influence on their country - Muslims, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, Christians, and more all call this place home. I fully felt the weight of what it means to "Coexist" as I stood in the midst of the city and looked at all of these churches on every city block. I felt even more the need for the gospel to continue to be spread - and the weight of what that actually means.
Above all, the faces of the boys at Dar El Awlad have changed me. They were pictures on a Facebook page to me before I left. Then they became boys with a story as I spent the first few days there. Now they have a place in my heart! Everything from Syrian refugees, boys who have seen death and war, motherless, fatherless, disabled, and more. But they are boys - filled with life, energy, joy, and hope. And thanks to the wonderful people working with Kids Alive International, they are filled with a hope in Jesus. It was precious to listen to them recite verses that they knew, and while coloring a picture of the word 'shine' they would sing hymns and songs they knew from heart.
There is so much more that I could say, and so many more words to describe how my heart has been changed. I will remember those smiling faces and thank God for the work He is doing in Lebanon, and in my life.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for us, and followed along as we served. Our God is great and is continuing to do mighty things in every village, nation, and tongue.
Eternally Grateful, and Faithfully His.
Vignettes of Lebanon Mission Trip 2016
Much was seen and done on this trip. How do you distill down the sights, sounds, hugs, laughter, and humidity of the trip to Lebanon? You can’t capture it all, but you try. Snapshots help.
The team experiencing a 15 hour flight….being greeted by friends at the airport….seeing the excitement as the day light hours fade and the Muslims who have fasted all day can finally eat….pulling into Dar el Awlad, our home away from home….seeing the parking lot filled with tables and Muslim Syrian refugees eating the food churches have prepared for them to break their fast….showing them they are loved….much longed for sleep….the team learning that breakfast can be pita bread, olives, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, zartaar and olive oil….worshiping in a foreign language….not needing the instant translation headphones to feel at one with fellow believers…sightseeing….entering a mosque that was built in the 1100’s by the Crusaders as a church….greeting boys we remember from previous trips….morning devotionals….trying to get boys to do schoolwork in the summer….the number of times the boys have to get a drink or use the bathroom when the schoolwork is on the table….eyes watching the clock as it ticks oh, so slowly towards 10:30 and break time….how rapidly the exhaustion brought on by schoolwork dissipates at break time….chapel service and the excitement to learn a new song and movements….wanting to sing the “Banana song”….lunch and a much needed rest period….playing with the boys….marveling at the boys footwork in soccer….supper….visiting with the boys in their apartments….excitement as we board the buses to the river….realizing that some of the boys must be profoundly deaf as they do not seem to hear the driver’s instructions to keep heads and hands inside the bus windows…..watching the bravado to jump off the rock into the river reded with each step that leads them higher….complaining the river is too cold then getting right back in….hungry boys devouring lunch….tired boys passing out on the ride from the river….supper….visiting the boys in their apartments….welcomed sleep….devotionals….school work….chapel….playing….visiting…being invited to a staff member’s apartment for dessert….the bus ride over the mountains to a farm….some of the same kids are deaf this trip as well….the team being quiet looking at the mountains that define the Syrian border….some of the boys are quiet too….thoughts of home?....the excitement of feeding a cow….walking along the paths….some walking off the paths….heading home and mechanical trouble….a boy’s relative comes, for free, on a holiday, to get us going again….tired boys….devotional….school work…chapel….playing….being taken out for supper as a way of saying thanks….some of the team discovering that mulberry ice cream is good….and so is rose ice cream….sightseeing and shopping….sitting with the cooks and housemothers drinking coffee….laughing and joking….feeling more like family than guests….talking with the Director….ideas for next year’s Mission trip….being asked if we would be resources for other teams wanting to come, willing to answer their questions….hearing him say that some of the seeds planted at Dar el Awlad don’t germinate until after the boys leave there.
As we boarded the plane to leave, one could not help but ptay that somehow, sometime the Lord will bring to fruition the small seeds we left behind, and that Calvary will send other teams forward to spread more seeds.