A Journey in Pictures: Traveling and Other Things

I look down at my plate of Pad Thai noodles and savor the sweet and spicy aroma snaking up to my nose. I pick up my fork and take up a huge mouthful. I laugh to myself realizing that this will be the last Thai meal I’ll get before leaving for Lebanon for 10 days.

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Pictured from left to right: Stephen, Mike and Dawn, Dr. Barry Foster and his daughter, Liz (orange shirt), Nate, our team leader with his daughter, Kara and then me! Such a privilege to get to know these precious people passionate about serving Jesus! #dreamteam

We had arrived at the airport at 12:30 expecting the rest of the team to be there, and my Dad gets a call from Dr. Foster, one of the team members, saying that our flight was delayed and will be leaving at 5:30 instead. So, my parents decided to bring me to a Thai restaurant and eat there until 4:00.

We headed back to the airport and sure enough there was my team! We said our goodbyes to our families and friends that came to see us off.

And note: That picture above is us in our youthful, energized glow…we looked kinda gross coming back/throughout the trip from lack of sleep, blistering Lebanese heat and lotsa jet-lag. Hahaha:D

We flew a short, 30 minute flight to Chicago and had 2 hour layover there at O’Hare. Liz and I split a sandwich and drank fruit smoothies. Feeling tired already, Dawn suggested that we play a game of Dutch Blitz to wake up us all. Nate and Kara joined in on the tournament. And yes, we all got competitive and yelled at each other. Dutch Blitz is intense, ok?  😀 After the layover, we headed to London on an 8 hour flight across the Atlantic and then a 4 hour flight to Beirut. Thankfully, Mike and Dawn had brought some motion sickness medicine and I didn’t puke on the flight! First time in the history of my flying experience, huzzah!

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This is the view from my plane window. Flying over the Mediterranean headed for Beirut!

We arrived in Beirut on a Sunday night at about 10:00 PM. We were picked up by Milad, our translator that was assigned to us for a week, and Daoud, director of Heart for Lebanon. They were so welcoming and I had a blast talking to Milad on the way to the place we were staying at. We arrived at the Convent of the Lady at the Well where we would be staying until the end of the week. All of us were too tired to draw any intelligent conclusions from the day during the debriefing time so Nate let us loose to go to bed. Thank goodness. I took the elevator in a blur and dressed for bed, said goodnight and fell asleep to the hum of the air conditioning.

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Rooms in the Convent Guest Area! Liz and I roomed together 🙂

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This is Kara and I in our pajamas ready to hit the hay and tackle tomorrow! As you can see we are both super tired 😀

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Journey With Me: A Bitter-Sweet Return

I clutched the handle of my luggage bag, wrapping my Lebanese scarf around my shoulders and hearing the odd-sounding chatter in Mid-Western accent as the reality that I was back in the States settle in my mind.

I remember it all. The smell of Lebanese coffee and kefta with curried rice. The sweltering heat that exhausted us. The curious Syrian girls who giggled as they removed the small clips in my hair and placed them in their own. The barefoot Syrian boy in the Bekaa Valley running along the dusty, gravel street with my blue sunglasses slipping off each ear for they were far too big for him. Walking through the olive tree grove, with it’s pale, silvery-green leaves bending and whistling in the warm evening wind. Laughing, practically reducing myself to tears at the hilarious jokes and the unusual humor of the Heart for Lebanon team. The tears of Eisha, an elderly woman in the South of Lebanon; her family, torn apart by war, ISIS and horrific bombings. The smiles of Manel and Itab with their dark eyes, lighting up with joy and hope. I fight back tears and clutch my Lebanese scarf tighter as if I’m holding on to every detail, not letting one slip through my fingers.

image“Oh God. Why does it hurt so much?” I felt like my heart was being ripped out of me. I wondered why. Why did God let me go there for 10 days only to have my heart fully delighted and captivated by Lebanon and it’s people? Why?

I am there again, standing on the rooftop of the guest rooms of ABTS breathing the cool night air looking out at the bright Beirut city lights and the distant noise of the the cars and traffic. My heart beat outside my chest as if it would burst from the thought that this was my last night in Lebanon. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed that night.

Being back has been an emotional and spiritual roller-coaster. I am still processing things and the stories that I’ve heard and amazing reconciliation that is taking place because of the power of Jesus’ love that is stronger than fear or Satan’s plans for hate and destruction.

People constantly ask me, “So, how was your trip?” I basically choke. “Umm…it was, uhh, great!” Like seriously, God forbid, I start talking about the trip and I’ll never stop 😀 So take notes, if you want to hear about my trip, be prepared for a 5 page email. Grab some popcorn 😉 

But obviously, my jumbled rants scare people sometimes, so I had to train myself to keep it under 2-3 minutes. WHAT? My brain nearly exploded just at the thought of concealing a life-changing trip to 120 seconds adding in the “likes”, “umms”and extra distractions. While I won’t be the world’s greatest concise conversationalist, I have tried very hard to be brief, but impactful through my word choice and story selections.

And lucky you! You don’t have to be a victim to the sound of my rambling voice, but instead I’ll be breaking down my trip in little sections and telling you about each day, bit by bit!

I will be posting more frequently this week and next week because, surprise, I have lots and lots of pictures for you to see and many stories for you to hear! Stay tuned and thanks for reading today! 🙂