We had a full and amazing day today! This morning we split up into two projects. Kat and I went with Brady and few of the kids started on the art wall project. The kids enjoyed outlining the shapes and created a special personalized design on the stairs.
Meanwhile, Karrie, Michelle and Jim took photos and decorated photo frames with the children. They enjoyed taking the photos of themselves with their friends and house parents.
Afterwards everyone grabbed their sandwiches and headed out on the bus to the pool on the other side of Beirut. The bus trip was filled with music and dancing on the way.
The kids had a blast!! It was so beautiful to see how Brady and the houseparents interacted and demonstrated pure love to the children and to watch them respond to each other in such a sweet way. They were so sweet by sharing their snacks with us and each other throughout the day and also sharing how thankful they were by coming to us individually and thanking us with hugs and sweet words.
My heart is overfilled with love and thankful for this day!
The kindness of God has been shown to us through his most precious of all his creation, people. People who believe different things, people who look, act, and speak differently but still show kindness and love to us. The universal language of a smile and common courtesy transcends differences. We have learned that with a smile and the Spirit of God all things are possible. The Lebanese people are kind and gracious always returning a smile.
Today we painted as a well oiled machine with the children doing much of the work. It was great teaming up with the kids. The children are a joy and Brady has a wonderful way with them and his staff. We also finished sorting the large amount of donated clothes they had accumulated. No more clothes donations are needed for a while 🙂 God bless you.
Today we toured the home a learned more about how the staff of Home of Hope loves on the kids and tries to ensure that their traumatic background does not dictate their future. The work they are doing with these children is a beautiful picture of the gospel.
We helped them today by organizing a storage area that they have been wanting to get organized for a long time. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner and fellowship at Brady and Amber’s house with some of the Home of Hope team.
One theme we have been reminded of repeatedly in our time here so far is the importance of trusting God with our future. We may not know the whole plan but we need to take the next step he is asking of us and trust that he has our future in his hands.
Pray for our time tomorrow painting with the kids. Pray for good connection with the kids and that we can show them God’s love while we are working with them.
Yesterday was another full day. Brady and Amber kept us moving to help us recover from jet lag, and I’m happy to say I think we are all on Lebanon time now! We went to church with the Blacks yesterday morning and then embarked on the team scavenger hunt. We were able to see some of the touristy sights as well as the Mediterranean. And once again we had some delicious food! Through our times of wandering the city, Brady has been very purposeful about having us observe the culture around us.
We are getting ready to head to Home of Hope this morning. We are not sure of the exact schedule but we will be hanging out with the kids and working on some projects around the home today.
Thank you so much for your continued prayers! The next 5 days will be full of challenges and joy and we are grateful to know we have so many of you praying for us and the children.
Apologies from the team for not updating you yesterday, but we were like zombies!!! The Blacks did great in keeping us moving, but as you can imagine, we were not all mentally there [after such a long two days of travel]! After a little five hour-ish nap, we started off the “day” in the Armenian part of Lebanon with a family style lunch that was AMAZING!! Then the Blacks let us go off on our own with a scavenger hunt!!!! SO COOL!!!
Poor Jim! All the ladies wanted to shop, but then we found some sweet goodies to keep him occupied. Then we went to the Dubai of Lebanon and walked around some more. We finished off the day with another family style dinner…SO GOOD!!! Most of us crashed for about 12 hours afterwards!!! Today church and more exploring with the Blacks. Keep the prayers coming; God’s presence is here!!!
After a couple of days in McAllen, we are finally starting to settle in –
even if we are a bit more sore and we are fairly convinced that the alarm clock is going off a little earlier every morning.
Lisa mentioned this in the previous post, but one of the most continual sources of encouragement on this trip has been the staff that are here full time. When we arrived this morning, we were welcomed by a group of people that took effort to reach out and told us how excited they were to see us again today. Their continual joyful spirit helps us feel like we are making a valued contribution as we try to serve God and some of His most vulnerable children.
For the most part, we’ve been able to stretch out a little further than we did yesterday. We may have still done a lot of the unglamorous (but necessary) work that we did before – sorting clothes, moving water around, things like that – but we have gotten the chance to try some tasks that allowed us to make more of a human connection. For example, we were able to help distribute clothes and shoes, and seeing the excitement on a child’s face when you’ve finally been able to find a pair of shoes that fit (and that they like) reminds us of the difference we are making.
And that, really, is I think the most important thing we experienced today: even the smallest ways we can show honor and respect to people make a huge difference. We’re in the midst of so many people that have been cast aside, and even the smallest things we do to help them find dignity are valuable.
The days seem to be flying by. As pleasantly uneventful that day one was (we were driving all day), day two was filled with sweat, joy, and tears.
Sweat – we sorted clothes, cleaned tables, and organized hundreds of bottles of water. It seemed both simple and never ending, but we made a small dent in the work that many of the staff and volunteers have been doing for months on end. As I’ve shared with others in the past, this work isn’t glamorous. Its exhausting and menial in a ton of ways, but I’m reminded over and over again that God sees and is honored by faithfulness in such small things. Honestly, one of the sweetest pieces of our time here has been bearing witness to the work and love of God’s people.
Joy – What a joy it was to meet the staff and volunteers at the Respite Center. Their love exudes every interaction and every small act of compassion. They welcomed us with warmth, appreciation, and open handedness; we quickly felt at home and were “deputized” to serve as we saw need. They made us feel part of a bigger community, serving and gathering together around love for God and our neighbor. In these interactions, we were struck by how much we have to learn about sacrifice and commitment.
Tears – it was also clear that the challenges and work faced on a daily basis are overwhelming to those on the ground. The work is overwhelming and unpredictable, and yet, they have created a process that works as efficiently as possible. At lunch, we dropped by a local taqueria next door, and the most impactful moment of my day was when the waitress wept with us as she shared how grateful she is to meet people who care. She shared how easily these brothers and sisters are forgotten and overlooked, but when she meets teams who come to serve, even when they’re only here for a short time, her heart fills with joy because she is reminded that they are seen and that God sees them.
Overall, its been a great two days. As we dive into our next, would you pray for us? Pray that God would continue to give us a sense of purpose, eyes to see places of need, and willingness to step into them. Pray that God would strengthen and sustain the staff as they continue to lay down their lives day -after-day. Pray for our migrant neighbors to experience a glimpse of the kingdom as they find respite and welcome at the Center.