December and January were excellent months and hard months simultaneously. We officially started our Language Academy of Beirut, and Louis and I have both been working with the new staff and interns as well as the staff and interns already here to boost their language acquisition skills and I have been working to coordinate classes to learn Arabic.
Christmas was a beautiful time this year of rest for our family. We took a week in France to celebrate David’s new joy and passion for French, which he began learning this year in school. We spent Christmas in Avignon, which was like a storybook come to life with the castle and tower walls.
After our week as a family, Louis and the kids flew back to Lebanon and I remained in France for three more weeks to take an intensive French course myself. As many of you know, God told me to attend Rutgers, and I am currently working on an online Masters of Library and Information Science. Through the Rutgers study abroad program I was able to go to France and take this course. Several of you stepped up in December to help cover all of the costs, which was amazing and I thank you for making it possible.
In addition to being able to jump start French for myself in order to stay ahead of David as he needs homework help, I was also able to really investigate how I learn language myself. Because Arabic is the first language I have made a real effort to learn, I have tried a lot of different things, but hadn’t found the way to success. With French I was able to share a testimony of Jesus’ healing in just a week and a half! I was able to start using French, writing in French, and I am also reading a French chapter book.
Now that I am back in Lebanon with my family we took one week together before I began with new Arabic teachers. I am using what I learned in France to jump forward in Arabic as well.
The kids and Louis did so well without me, but it was hard. Lebanon had several days of flooding, so the kids were out of school longer than usual for winter break. This also shut down work at the center and left a team stuck in the guest house for a few days of their week long trip. We were seriously reminded that God is in control.
Our newest staff members have all found apartments now, and many transitions have happened to make life possible for them. We have a team moved out to the Beqaa Valley now, a family with three kids living near our center, and our two newest staff (who we had as interns in prior years) will be moving into their apartment between ours and the center on Saturday.
One final bit of encouraging news is in the realm of relationship building. We have shared in prior posts that it can be challenging to make friends here because of the tribal nature of the people. To spend time with us would limit time with family, for instance. We have had multiple fruits of our commitment to relationships, and the most recent joyous occasion was being able to attend the engagement party of two of our friends. Not only the invitation, but also looking around the room and seeing that we knew almost everyone there and all those people were happy to see us was a huge blessing to us.
We have a lot of good news to share, and we don’t mean to say everything is always good, although God Is Good All The Time! We have had family health issues, team conflict, and minor crisis. You can be praying for those things, but also we want you to be encouraged that we are obeying God and seeing the fruit of that obedience. We love you all and your support is how we carry on. We know your prayers and love surround us.