Since we arrived we have been going nonstop. With Davy’s hospital stay, we had a lot of healing and soul searching and God clinging to do, and it filled our time and minds. At the SAME TIME we had furniture to buy, and we had to learn how to live in a new country. Because of this nonstop life, our relaxation time often involves debriefing with each other, but not much gets put down on paper. Louis has a Word Document he has kept bullet points to remind him of all God is doing, and I asked him to make a newsletter article sharing some of those stories. For two months he has been working in between more and more bullet points getting added, of course. In the next few days or weeks I hope to send that post out to you.
While Louis is working hard to pull together stories I thought I would take the time to share with you a little about my part in our ministry here so far. As I have mentioned many times, the training we attended just before we came here changed a lot about our first six months here. We shared with so many of you all the great opportunities we had seen here in Lebanon when we first visited, now three years ago. Then at our training we had a realization that language had to come first and be our top priority.
So, our first ministry is to learn the language. Knowing the language is essential to our ministering to the refugees at the center, as well as to our helping the team here and discipling people within the churches. As we have written about our lives here, I hope that you realize how essential this piece is to our future in ministry. Language Learning is extremely difficult and taxing on our minds and energy. If every post was about language learning I think it still would not express the amount of our lives that is going into this and how it is accomplishing ministry.
First and foremost is the evidence of God’s provision in our language teacher, Abla. She is amazing! She is a Christian woman who we are able to share our hearts and lives with while learning the language. She probably knows us better than 99% of the people here. She is enabling us for ministry, and is always encouraging. It is easy to get frustrated with what we don’t know, but she always reminds us of what we do know. She has moved from speaking English to us during the beginning of our class to sharing in Arabic only and we use less and less English in class each week. We have 6 hours per week with her, which is a very intensive class. And what she teaches us is instantly usable in our neighborhood and at the ministry center. (This week Louis and I were able to get ground beef from the supermarket!)
In mission work worldwide it is easy for people to perceive the Westerner/American as experts, doers, in charge, and not needing anything. While these could be helpful in the future, we are not experts, we can’t do much, we are not in charge, and we need a lot. We have worked hard to be perceived as learners so that we can build community. If we come in needing nothing, being completely independent, we cannot have a relationship with anyone. Being at the center is a huge opportunity to learn about the culture, the way ministry is happening there, and to continue casting vision for our future once we have a conversational grasp of the language. Also, Arabic is the heart language of these people, so it is essential to speak it so that we can really get to know them.
Internship & Teams Coordinators
Because it is so important to understand Arabic to enter into ministry fully at the center, many visitors to the center from America have not been having productive or enjoyable times here. When we began having debriefs with Pierre Houssney, our supervisor, about where we could fit in and how things were going, we expressed a desire to change the way our visitors were experiencing the center. Because we are American, and brand new, we could see the issues from the American side, but because we already knew a lot about the center and love the team there we could also see the Lebanese side to the issues. So we were given a job that allows us to do ministry now. We became the Foreign Teams & Internship Coordinators.
We are now in charge of approving the people who want to come visit our center and giving them orientation and training pre- and post-arrival. The effect of this added effort was immediate and positive. Our team has been just as frustrated by these Americans who come in and don’t understand or make the effort to work within our system. Our first two interns arrived at the beginning of the month, and everyone at the center LOVES them. Whereas before there was a distance and coldness between the Team and Visitors, when our first intern arrived she was embraced, taken along on a house visit, and an entire family accepted Christ right in front of her! She is establishing herself at the center and working hard every day. Our second intern was a project intern, which meant he came for a month to do a project, and he lived at the center. The other residents at the center loved hanging out with him, they shared meals, and he was well received.
In addition, our trainings with them have been wonderful. We cover culture, language, and ministry life. In the weekly training we do, I am able to participate and share my heart, which has been life giving to me, as all the work Louis puts into the interns at the center every day is breathing life into him. We love these jobs, and are very excited to keep improving the program and the relationship between others who come and our team. Many of our gifts and passions are utilized in this position every day, and there is great opportunity for the future within this job.
These are the two big parts of ministry outside of our home that I am a part of currently. Louis will soon post his own breakdown of all the ministry he has gotten to be a part of here in Lebanon, so stay tuned!!!