The Countdown Begins...

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25, 24, 23, 22, 21...
I am going to Beirut !!! At least that is what the tickets I just got today tell me....25 days until I leave, 26 days until I arrive. There is much to do during the next 3 1/2 weeks and I really don't know where to begin with all that is left that needs to be done.

Current News:
  • This past Sunday I went before the church (Grace Evangelical Church) to share about the work in Lebanon and was commissioned in front of the congregation. Its difficult when you are so passionate about something to keep from exploding and sharing all you know and can. So what did I do? Stood up on stage, stoically trying to keep all my emotions from bursting forth into tears and randomness. Comfort was found in having the church body all united in prayer for me, Kids Alive, Lebanon, and the children. I look forward to the next couple of weeks as I prepare to leave so I can continue talking with and meeting more members of the church. Click here to watch the short video I shared with the church.
  • Today (Monday) I was given the go ahead to arrange my transportation to Beirut. Initially I was a little concerned as the airfare we found last week seemed to have increased in price, but those fears were short-lived after a few minutes of web searching. I will leave for Beirut on April 17th on a flight that had all of what I was looking for...brief layover, great price, and a relatively short overall travel time.
Upcoming News:
I will have something great to share here soon, check back later this week for an update.

Needs and Prayer Requests:
  • Travel: Safe and smooth travel form Virginia to Lebanon
  • Baggage: My counseling and social work books alone weigh about 70 pounds and I have to move enough clothing to last me for the next two years. Personal items, books, climbing gear, and other items also have to fit in somewhere. Although the cost of extra baggage is built into my budget I do want to be a good steward of my resources and would like to keep the cost as low as possible. Sometimes an airline will discount costs for a missionary or non-profit worker, something I will find out when I arrive at the checkout counter. At this moment I also need to get some additional suitcases, something that is NOT accounted for in my budget.
  • Leftovers: When I leave I will have my truck, bike, and some other things that will most definitely not go with me to Lebanon. The current plan for the truck is to give it to my parents to sell, the money from the sale will then be set aside for a vehicle in Lebanon if I am able to remain past the initial two years or for a vehicle in the States if I need to come back for a substantial length of time. Not sure what to do with the bike at the moment and some of the other items I am leaving.
  • Final Paperwork: Will, Power of Attorney, etc...all these need to be completed very soon so I can get them notarized and sent off to the office in Indiana. I've been blessed to have a friend and supporter draft the basic outlines for me, now I am looking to get a local attorney here in Virginia to review them for me. I think the documents say what I want them to but I need to make sure they meet Virginia requirements. I hope to have an attorney do this pro bono so if you know of anyone that would be willing to review these for me drop me a line, I'd appreciate it.
  • Fear and Skills: Matthew 6:25-34 and Philippians 4:6. When looking at the task set before me I am humbled, fearful, excited, and cautious. What can I do that will truly help these children? What can I offer them in my brokenness? Sure, I've been working with a similar population here in Lynchburg for the past 9 years, I've been to Lebanon several times and do feel that I have at least a basic understanding of the culture and what the children face, and I most definitely feel that I've been called to serve in Lebanon with my skills and talents. Doubt in myself and what I am capable of doing has always been an issue for me, but it is important that I not do this in my own strength, that would create failure and most likely a bad experience not only for me but the children. I know God will use me and I have confidence in Him, just not myself.
  • Children, Staff, and Missionaries in Lebanon: Working in a group home as I have done for the past 9 years has shown me that whenever something changes (a new person) in the residence there is a period of adjustment. This goes for new residents as well as new staff. Please pray for a smooth transition for all of us...staff, students, and missionaries. Another missionary will be arriving close to the same time as me so there is a lot going on for those at Dar el-Awlad.
  • Lebanon: Elections will be happening soon, I believe in May or June. As I get more information I will pass it along. Elections in Lebanon can be an interesting event and this year's election of Members of Parliament will have a strong and potentially decisive impact on Lebanese politics.
  • Language: That my spoken Arabic will improve quickly and that I am not a difficult student :)
  • Rock Climbing: Pure and simple, my new rec activity and something I hope to continue while in Lebanon. I also hope to be able to work with the children some on this so let's keep our fingers crossed on this one.
  • Arrival and Duties: Once I get to Lebanon it looks that I will be able to spend much of my early time there working on language skills, but I also hope to use the time to get to know the students some before they leave for summer break. I also would like to get a system of note taking and and office of sorts developed so that I have some structure set up when the children come back for programs during the summer and once they return for the fall. I need to organize my books, meet people and establish professional contacts, and figure out how I can adapt my skills and knowledge to the needs of the children and families. While I do have a job description it is all new for me and the program in Lebanon, so there is definitely a learning curve ahead for all of us.
More Than Hands
I posted a link to this video above but here is the video I created for my commissioning this past Sunday at church. Go to the YouTube site itself to see the video in its normal size. The code I used and the width of the blog page here seem to cut some of the embedded video off a little. The song used in the video is called "More Than Hands" and was written and performed by Sarah Macintosh.


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mmm. kofta

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Sorry for the interruption, but I felt like posting this photo for the heck of it. I made this dish for friends back in 2008, but I cooked it again recently this past weekend. Just as tasty this weekend as it was last summer. I only wish I had more halloumi cheese.

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Spring in Beirut

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About a week or so ago I was sitting in the living room and noticed that something didn't quite feel right. A few moments later I had a familiar sensation in my lower back area that concerned me and I knew what was going to be happening soon. The pain started as a dull, but persistent pressure that quickly advanced to what felt like an icepick being slowly pushed into my kidney. I've had kidney stones before but never experienced an "attack" quite like this. On a pain scale I'd have to say it was a 12 out of 10. I spent about an hour or two on the bed, floor, and couch. Waves of nauseousness lasted for about 20 minutes. When the stone moved it was like a switch had been hit and the pain and symptoms suddenly stopped. I've had an occasional bit of pressure in my kidneys since then but nothing to really write home about. Kidney stones are something I've experienced since I was around 17 or 18 and I think that if I changed my diet some I'd be able to exert some control, they're calcium based according to the doctor I went to last time. The problem is that I like cheese and don't see that changing anytime soon, so I guess we'll see.

It's been a little over a month since I've left my position at Opportunity House. The down time has been good, the extra rest has been welcomed, but I am a little stir-crazy. Rock climbing and bike riding have been great time killers, the recent weather has been amazing for biking. I've been able to send out many emails and will soon be hitting the road to visit some friends "down south". I haven't gotten into a good routine yet, something that getting up everyday for work required, I do miss that somewhat.

I don't have the official word yet but we seem to be aiming for a mid to late April departure date for Lebanon. My directors in Beirut are working on visas and paperwork as I write this and once I have confirmation I will purchase my ticket & make departure plans. Its comforting knowing that it is so close, but the uncertainty of when creates a little stress...knowing I still have things to do that are based on a concrete leave-date.

Items of Prayer and Need:
  • Health (kidney stones, hands...blisters from climbing, sore and over-exerted muscles
  • That visa and travel documents are received in a timely manner
  • Good deal on airfare to Beirut
  • Wise packing and safe arrival of books, luggage, etc to Beirut
  • Smooth transition during these last 4-6 weeks in the States
  • Continued funding and prayer support
  • The children and staff of Dar el-Awlad
Links and Information:
As I prepare to depart for Lebanon here are some links and sites you may be interested in...

Thanks for your support, prayer, and interest in this journey I am about to begin. I look forward to sharing great things from my time in Lebanon and hope that this is the first step in a lifetime of service to the children and families of the Levant.




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99 % (NINTETY-NINE, that is correct) !!!

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SNOW DAY !

I hope you are all warm and safe, wherever you might be. Woke up to almost 10 inches of snow in Lynchburg this morning. I've attached some photos I snapped earlier. Nothing artistic about the images, just great pieces of evidence to such an amazing (but cold) morning. It has been good experiencing the snow as our winter hasn't been kind to us in regards to sending snow. I had hoped to have one good snowfall before I leave for Lebanon, and I got it this morning. Now the sun is out and it is almost impossible to look outside without going blind.

Celebration...
Yes, the title of this post says almost all I need to say. I am at 99% (actually 99.79% to be exact). I am less than $5 a month from reaching Lebanon. When I get the go ahead I will post my departure, but it roughly looks as if I will be able to depart sometime near the end of April. Still working on the visa process and have some other loose ends to tie up, but overall things look very good.

Well, gotta go clean my room, wash clothes, and check on dinner (crock pot full of lamb shanks, been working on it since 7am this morning).


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