A Climbing Fool

Since December I've been going pretty regularly to the climbing gym (Rise-Up Climbing) here in Lynchburg, in fact, it is turning out to be my home away from home.

As I began the long trek towards Lebanon I had to sacrifice many things: birds, apartment, stability, and hobbies (this is not a comprehensive list). I obviously couldn't take my kayak to Lebanon so I sold that off in the fall, but I needed something to help keep me physically busy and active. Well, rock climbing seems to have met that need. Within the past week I've gotten more blisters on my hands than I can count, have pulled a muscle, and banged up my knee. Even with all the "pain" there has been much joy, I've definitely come away with some skills and life lessons that will easily go with me to Lebanon...not all have to do with climbing.

Most of the steps in the process of moving from Virginia to Beirut have taken faith. This process has also required much prayer, encouragement from friends, and patience. Climbing has reflected a lot of the weaknesses I've experienced on the spiritual and existential level in a physical way. Its funny how the things we do, often in community, have deeper and eternal meanings when put into perspective. Whenever I've been successful at climbing it has been in the company of my friends, with them encouraging me, challenging me, and just plain being there and watching. If I were left to my own devices I'd surely fail, at the least I'd develop some rather poor climbing habits.

I'm licking my wounds and letting them heal for the time being, but I think I'll be back in the gym on Monday, taking it easy on the leg and bandages on the blisters. There have been times during this process, moving to Lebanon, that I've thought about giving up. Occasionally the process and journey seemed too overwhelming. I am glad that I've had people spotting for me and coaching me along, helping me get through the difficult times. A step of faith is letting go of one hold so that I can move on to the next, getting closer and closer to the goal that is set before me.

(note, the image above was linked to from the Rise-Up website, I am most certainly NOT the person on the wall...although that is one of my favorite routes to boulder).

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Site Recommendation for January 2009


A good friend of mine has a travel blog, Travellious. Back in September 2008 I was interviewed and just recently a comment of mine was moved from the comment status to something he called a Reader's Retort, check it out here. If you have a moment drop on over to Travellious and see what Austin is up to.

The site has some great links, a unique perspective you're not likely to find from other blogs and travel sites, product reviews, and tips & tricks on how to turn travel from something that you have to do (at times) into something you want to do (all the time).

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70, 80, 90, ... %

Officially I am at 76.64% of my monthly goal but unofficially I am a bit higher. Since my last email on 1/12/09 I received a couple more monthly pledges and a nice one time gift towards the work in Lebanon. Once I get an official report on those donations I will immediately post my current support total.

On another note, I have verbally submitted my resignation to my supervisors at Opportunity House, where I currently work. I will turn in the paper work later this week as I prepare to leave "the day job". The children and relationships with co-workers and professional partners will be hard to leave but as the departure for Lebanon begins to creep closure I have much to finish up here. February 3rd will be my last day with the City of Lynchburg as a full-time caseworker. I have offered (and it was accepted) to remain on as a relief worker as needed.

Questions that may arise from this post...
(Q1) What will you be doing during your time off, now that you're homeless and soon to be jobless?

(A1) Resting...didn't expect that did ya? Some of the time will be spent resting and saying my goodbyes. Will definitely spend some time rock climbing as well. A major chunk of the time will be spent touching base with current supporters and making contacts with potential supporters (businesses, churches, and individuals I might not normally have an opportunity to reach during the day).

(Q2) When you reach your goal will you immediately leave for Lebanon?

(A2) No. I still have some paperwork and other arrangements to be worked out. If I make it to Lebanon before June I can begin language study and settle in while the children are spending time with their families. I am hesitant to predict a departure date, but once I have a ticket in hand and a visa in my passport I will let you know.

(Q3) When you meet your financial goals will you continue to seek and raise support?

(A3) Yes. I am still seeking prayer support and looking for people that have a common vision for the work in Lebanon. I have a strong and committed base of supporters now, otherwise I would not be where I am at currently. I need to continue to grow friendships and relationships with more people and churches so that 1) people can see the impact of the Kids Alive ministry and how we are serving and teaching the children in our program and 2) when my two years are up I can return to Lebanon quickly if God allows it, continuing in the work He has called me to.

(Q4) Ok, you quit your job, so how are you going to support yourself from now until you leave?

(A4) As I said before, I am working until early February and will receive at least 3 more paychecks. Thanks to the graciousness of some great friends I have no rent. My truck is also paid off and I don't have any bills other than getting gas for the truck and paying my phone bill. I've been able to squirrel away most of my paychecks over the past several months and have some resources set aside. I am planning on getting a short-option insurance plan to cover any health needs that may arise during this time off. If I see where I am dipping too much into my "cushion" I may take on a part time job or do some relief work as needed for the City.

(Q5) What are your current needs?

(A5) Prayer, continued financial support, discernment, and patience. I have most of my material needs met for the trip to Lebanon, though I will need to get a new suitcase, some shoes, and a few new clothing items. I'd also like to get some counseling books that I feel might be difficult to procure in Lebanon.

Thanks again for everything and I look forward to sharing more with you all.

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A New Year Begins

This time last year I was on my way back to the States, having spent Christmas 2007 and New Years 2008 with friends in Lebanon...so this season for me is a little bittersweet. While the moments spent with friends and family during this holiday season were special and welcome, I am longing for the day when I can set foot back on Lebanese soil.

Thanks for all the prayer and support that you've generously shared this past year. I won't have an exact number until sometime next week, but I should be at around 73% of my monthly support, which leaves me with about $400 a month remaining. I've had some new monthly supporters sign on and a pretty substantial donation during this last month. I'll post new (corrected if needed) numbers as soon as I get my next report.

So what does 2009 hold in store? I am not sure. It is my prayer and hope that I will be in Lebanon soon, though I don't have a departure date yet I am hoping that it will be sometime this Spring. As always I will keep you all posted, either via email or on this website, so stay tuned.

Prayer requests...
  1. Continued support (financial and prayer) to keep coming in.
  2. More opportunities to share about the work in Lebanon with Kids Alive.
  3. Patience and strength to get through this phase of service.
  4. For other missionaries and Kids Alive staff in Lebanon as well as the children being served.

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