Field Trip :)

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On Saturday, April 25th, we loaded up in a bus and van and took off to the Beqaa Valley to attend a wedding of one of the house mothers at Dar el-Awlad. It was a bit cooler down in the valley and so the photos here were taken through the window of the bus. The video is a clip (I link to it because it formats better that way) of the beginning stages of the wedding procession, where the groom's family comes to the family house of the bride to "steal" her away and go to the church for the wedding. The photos were also added to the slidesow (Scenes of the Levant, to the right) but I've linked to them below so you could seem them w/o having to search.

Video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJ2Op_uzMMU

Photos:







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First Impressions...

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Well, I've been in Lebanon for 5 whole days now and I've learned so much so far that I am afraid to discover what else there is to learn :)

Monday was my first real adventure as I went shopping (some success, some failure) and then to the bank...more below on that. Based on just being here and experiencing first shopping excursion I must say that I have a great deal of respect for the international friends who came to the US to study and work. Although I respected them before I am just amazed at how well they did. Just the simple task of shopping in a foreign country takes on new meaning: different terms for and uses of items, prices, store layout, and the general confusion of not knowing what you need immediately and what you can do without.

If being in a different culture was not "stressful" enough I had the opportunity to experience a mini-crisis...my bank cards didn't work when I tried to pay for groceries or withdraw cash from the ATM. When I called the bank their response was that Lebanon was considered a high-risk area and that they would not be willing to authorize my cards for use here. Many phone calls, prayers, prayer letters, and emails later I did get them to understand that I was living here and needed to access my account. It seems the situation is resolved but the solution is taking some time to work out (new security methods) and probably won't take affect until next week. Thanks for all the prayers, offers of help, and emails of support over these past couple of days.

During the rest of this week I will be using my time to explore the area and start developing relationships and rapport with the staff and children here at Dar el-Awlad. I have my first official work day on Monday, which will kick of my schedule. I am a bit overwhelmed by the responsibility and duties, but I think that is a good thing...just a bit intimidated :)

Wildlife in Lebanon can be pretty scarce but I've had some great experiences viewing things I've never seen before. Today I saw a flock of storks over the hills, just above where the orphanage is located. Also saw a hawk flying above the school not too long afterward. The bats are out all evening, you can see them as dusk comes in, eating mosquitoes. Every morning (except this morning) there has been some sort of songbird right outside my window, singing away. Of course there are lizards everywhere but I've yet to catch one.

I would post a photo but I haven't even taken my camera out of the bag yet...sorry. I just wanted to drop a quick note saying that things were fine and that your prayers and support have been most welcome and felt here the last few days. I never had any thought that life would be easy and the first week has shown me it hasn't.

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Arrived

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Made it safely to Lebanon!!! Plane ride was uneventful and flying through Frankfurt helped make this the shortest flight to Lebanon that I think I've ever experienced. Arrived at the airport in Beirut and had a bit of a visa snafu (evidently something had changed recently), but that was resolved rather quickly and we got Dar el-Awlad around 4:00pm.

My internet connectivity is a bit spotty at the moment as I have to go next door to the other apartment is I want to get access. This will change soon but for now I will probably limit my email to once or twice a day...be patient if you don't receive updates or responses from me as quick as you might have in the past.

Had a good church service this morning and a great lunch in Broumana...so I finally feel as if I am settling down a bit. During the week I will do a little shopping for some needs and wants (for the apartment) and start meeting with the staff and children here at the school and orphanage. I also hope to stumble across some rocks to climb here soon, I am already experiencing some symptoms of climbing withdrawal ;)

Talk to you all soon, stay in touch and please continue your prayers, the journey and work has only just begun.

Kahlil

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To Beirut....

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I meant to totally update this a little earlier but I've been sick since March 28th...a cold I think but it was enough to put me in bed for a while and I've been forced to take it easy. It has only been in the last week that I've had the strength and been able to breath well enough to resume rock climbing again.

Well, the news that I was going to post (see last update) was that I am at 100% support and will be leaving soon, like April 17th soon. 10 days left and counting until I leave for Beirut. People have been asking many questions, perhaps the most common ones being, "Are you nervous?" or "How does it feel to be leaving so soon?" I haven't really been nervous other than the normal stress felt during a move or a new job being attempted. What I will be doing in Lebanon will be quite similar to what I was doing in Lynchburg, with less court involvement and more counseling. So, what am I feeling now that the date is steadily coming up? I feel a bit like a student who had all semester to work on a paper but chose to complete it on the night before it was due...yes, I spent far too many nights in college and grad school doing this, old habits die hard. I still have a few legal things to work out (will, power of attorney, etc), some financial preparations to make, and pack. I have a feeling that the packing will take place on the 15th and 16th. I also feel a sense of completion and expectation. The year long journey of fundraising and gaining support has been completed and the page is turning from preparing to leave to actually leaving. The sense of expectation lies in the days leading up to the departing flight and arriving in Beirut.

What do the last few days of being in the States hold?
Rock climbing...though not the main activity it is something I will be doing almost daily until I leave. I'll be going home for Easter to visit family and supporters (and drop off stuff that I am unable to take with me to Lebanon). Next week I am going to try to catch up with some friends and supporters and finish up my pre-departure to-do list. If all goes well I will be in Beirut on April 18th.

How can people pray for you?
Travel: This Friday I am taking some stuff back to my parents' house, I am praying for nice weather (no rain!) so I can put all of it in the back of my truck. I am also praying for nice weather on the 17th so I can take all my luggage to DC in the back of my truck too. The layover is short and the overall travel time is only about 16 hours, from Virginia to Beirut...I will be taking at least 4, probably 5 bags of clothing, books, and resources with me so here's hoping and praying it all gets there in one piece.

Work: Once in Beirut I will pretty much hit the ground running, so I will need to start connecting with the kids and developing a system to manage my time with them. Between the population of the school and the residential program my caseload is going to be close to 10 times what my maximum caseload at Opportunity House was, so I will be busy. Part of my job description is to teach a bit (social skills and stuff like that) and do some groups. While at Opportunity House I have to say that I was pretty adept at avoiding group work, so this will be a growth period for me as I will not be able to avoid this.

Children: The children we serve at Dar el-Awlad come from a variety of backgrounds and cultures with different needs, hurts, and personalities. My experience has been with teenagers for the past 10 years and this will be the first time I have any real exposure and contact with younger children...so I have to be able to adapt and be willing to bend even more than they do.

Staff and Missionaries: Anytime there is an addition to a system (family, school, friends, work, etc) there is a period of adjustment. There are two new missionaries arriving to Dar el-Awlad, so the established order will need to adapt to new personalities and the new arrivals will need to adjust to those already there. Please pray for a smooth adjustment period for all of us. Love covers a multitude of sins...

Future: As I prayed and sought to work with Kids Alive it was my intention to find a way to serve and live in Lebanon long term. The desire to remain in Lebanon beyond my initial two years of service is still strong and still something I am praying for. I don't know what these two years will bring, so please join with me in praying that God gives me direction while, that He makes Himself present to the children, families, and people I will encounter. And...for me to remember that in all things God is in control, it is about Him and not me, and that with all I do He be seen.

Support Team: I have a great support team that has given (often sacrificially) of their time, friendship, resources, and finances. Please pray that they would be blessed and continue to be an active part of the work I am privileged to share with them.

I have changed my mailing address and will be receiving mail at my parents' house, that address I will send out in an email update here soon. If you want to send mail or anything to me in Beirut you may use the following address...

Kahlil Pfaff
c/o Dar el-Awlad
P.O. Box 64
Mansourieh
El Metn
Lebanon

Once I arrive I will obtain a Lebanese phone number, which I will provide via an email update. My American number will only be used to send text messages and I will terminate it once I have a local number in Beirut.

You can use this link to send me an email or message if you don't already have a way to contact me.

Thank you for your prayers, patience, friendship, and support. This past year has been a journey and I am excited to see where it leads.

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