10 Ways to Give Solid-As-A-Rock Support to Your Missionaries

Give Us Solid-As-A-Rock Support

We have not been the best at updates over the years. We have been learning to parent two kids, how to balance language classes and ministry and communication and rest. Now that we have reached the end of our first 3 years in Lebanon, we have taken a step back to reevaluate some of the Moral Support needs we have.

No Money Down

These first 8 ways to give us Solid-As-A-Rock Support living in Lebanon are Absolutely FREE! Nothing feels better than free. The first thing I want to emphasize is that we desperately need the partnerships that are not financially based in addition to the financial partnerships from many of you committing to donate to our ministry. We need relationships, in English, with people who have been there for us, who know our hearts, who we miss desperately, who have the chance to see saguaros right outside their windows, or eat at Eegee’s, or watch football the same day it is being played. We miss this part of our old life, and we miss all of you!

So, here are 10 ideas to give us, your very own missionary family, rock solid moral support:


#1: Download
Whatsapp and/or Skype to stay in communication with the Lisses

#2: Sign up for the Prayer Letter and commit to reply when you get a newsletter in your inbox.

#3: Join our Prayer Warrior Team and commit to reply when you get an alert by writing out your prayer in an email.

#4: Email the family. You can send letters to Louis, Annie, David, or Kyrie through email. You can even write letters to the other people we are working with that God puts on your heart. Don’t have our emails

#5: Share what we are doing with your small group and church. This is something that we cannot do on our own. If we write a blog post every week, we still cannot gain new partners or let new people to churches that support us know what we are doing. The only way we can do this is through people declaring that we are a part of their ministry.

#6: Share a mission moment for us. Please ask your church to let you speak once a month or once every other month for 2 minutes to share about what we are doing.

#7: Share our link to sign up for our prayer letter. Become an advocate for our ministry. Due to limited internet and time, we do not have a great social media presence. But many of you do. Use your network to share our posts and pictures on Pinterest, Instagram, facebook, Twitter, etc. (An extra way you could help would be to help us figure out how to add those links to our blog)

#8: Encourage others to use this list. Ask your small group to come together to write letters or share with their own communities about the ministry you are helping us accomplish in Lebanon.

On The Cheap

Some of you out there want to give money to something tangible, gifts rather than just deposit money into an account. We are happy to share different small gifts that we could use, for those of you who love to give gifts.

Gifts

#9: Clothing for the kids.

This is so fun to buy for many people, and we have been receiving multiple requests for the kids sizes. When we are returning to the States for visits this is a wonderful opportunity to stock up on reasonably priced clothes for the kids. Clothing here in Lebanon is about 3 times what we would pay in America.

Kyrie is ready for size 4T and 5T summer and fall clothes.

David’s only clothing needs are for his school uniform because he is fully stocked with everyday clothing. He is in size 7, moving into 8. His school uniform is currently a white shirt and navy blue or jeans bottoms.

These sizes are subject to change, of course.

#9: Amazon Gift Card / Books

We have an Amazon Prime account, so there are many forms of media we can get for free. You could give toward our Amazon account by buying us a digital gift card. This way we can purchase ebooks such as the kids’ homeschool books, and a few authors not available through our libraries. Louis would be able to get movies as well.

If you read an amazing book and want to recommend it, why not gift it to us via Kindle? We have a Kindle as well as the Kindle app on all of our devices. When you find the book on Amazon ebooks choose the option “Give as Gift” and you can email us the gift!

We do also love holding actual books in our hands, and the kids love reading so buying real books is a wonderful gift as well.

I know there are other gift ideas out there, and we can always use medicine, vitamins, and odds and ends from America, so send us an email if this is the type of support you are interested in offering.

#10: Save this list!

Maybe these things are not all possible for you right now. But in the future, as you want to get more involved, or someone near you wants to know how to stay connected to us and help us, you can pull this list out and share it all over again. Print it out to file, bookmark the page, or save it in your email as important.

A Few Bonus Ideas:

#11: Meet with us. Annie will be in the States in just a few days! Please sign up to meet with her to encourage each other in all that the Lord is doing! CLICK HERE to make an appointment, or reply to the email when you subscribe to our newsletter.

#12: Financial Commitment. If God is leading you to become a financial partner, CLICK HERE to donate through Horizons. Write Louis Liss in the designation / memo.

Monday Prayer Challenge

Thank you for praying for us this week as Annie prepares to bring the kids back to the States for the summer.

If you would like to join our Prayer Warrior team, CLICK HERE. Once you are signed up for our team you will receive in depth prayer requests and prayer alerts when we have an urgent prayer request. It is the best way to stay in the know about what’s going on with our hearts.

Fundraising

This summer trip Annie is taking with the kids is due to our funding level. We have dropped below 40% of our monthly support coming in. This severely limits our ministry because we are only able to cover our living expenses. God has called us here and so we know that He has a plan for funding that mission. First and foremost is our need for prayer. Without prayer we will not be able to continue to do ministry in Lebanon or anywhere. Secondly, we hope that you will pray today and this week about becoming a partner financially. This may be $25 per month, or a one time gift of $300. Whatever the Lord leads you to give we would be blessed.

Perhaps the Lord is not leading you to give. What we hope that you can do for us is share our ministry with others, to give us referrals to find people who are interested in what we do so we can connect with them.

If you are interested in joining our ministry financially, CLICK HERE. Write Louis Liss in the designation / memo.

We are fully supported by our sending team, and we are excited to increase the size of that time so that we can expand our ministry here in Lebanon. Please share our good news and prayer requests with your friends, family, church, and small group.

To Get More of the Story

There is so much more to say about this and we would love to share it with you if you will commit to being a Prayer Warrior for us.

Meet with Annie

If you are interested in finding out more, helping from the States, or praying with Annie while she is in the States, CLICK HERE to sign up for an appointment while she is in Arizona.

Father, You are in charge of all of the resources in this world. Please show us where we can be more generous in our giving. Bring the people into our paths whom we can connect with our missionaries. Show us the skills and assets our missionaries need so we can help fill in the gaps as senders. Amen.

And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:15

Let It Go: A Frozen Post by Louis

Expectations

If I was to take to look back at my expectations prior to coming to Lebanon, having a transforming experience listening to a Disney animated musical would not have made my list. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself in tears listening to “Let It Go” in the car with a group of high schoolers.

We have gotten to the point with our Syrian young men that we no longer schedule events. We have moved within walking distance of Horizons’ outreach facility, so we are in their neighborhood. We now have people coming over all the time, and we get to see the remaining three youth at least four times a week.

Make Disciples Who Make Disciples

Our discipleship with these young men has moved from meetings in “air conditioned” rooms to just living life together and taking them with them wherever we go. If we are going out to eat they come. If we are staying home to watch a movie they come over. And if we have activities with our interns or staff they always tag along. This has led to amazing exposure of mature believers closer to their ages who all have a passion for loving and sharing Jesus.

The one requirement of the high schoolers being around all the time is that they become our kids and our kids have to become their brother and sister. They must protect and help David and Kyrie as they try to navigate life in Lebanon. One day we were traveling around taking interns from place to place when all of a sudden Kyrie began crying uncontrollably.

Though an American high schooler thinks very little of a crying two-year-old, in the Middle East they jump into action.

Immediately the three boys searched their phones vigorously searching for something to take Kyrie’s mind away from whatever had bothered her. At the same time two of them yelled out, “I found it!” They began playing “Let It Go” on their phone. One was playing in English and the other in Arabic. It turned out they had the same video saved to their phones in at least three different versions. They then proceeded to sing along to every word and then translate the music into Kurdish and then to Arabic.

Needless to say, Kyrie was extremely happy.

Before I continue let me recap what just happen lest there be confusion: My two-year-old burst into tears; a 16, 18, and 19-year-old desperately try to help; they find and unleash a treasure trove of downloaded Frozen music videos to soothe my daughter; and I am stunned in complete befuddlement.

A Song For Refugees

I see them start to tear up as they sing the words and so I press in to listen to the lyrics of the song of which previously I had cared very little. Suddenly, I realize this is a song for a refugee. If you will allow, I will share a few points that made my high schoolers begin to cry:

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see; Be the good [man] you always have to be; Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”

    The thing I am consistently amazed by is the incredible resilience of people who have lost everything. These young men had to push aside all feelings of loss in their lives in order to press on and provide for their families. This forces them to go into survival mode relentlessly year after year. They have to choose to either flee into themselves or fight to survive. Through the storm that rages around them they have stayed strong and persevered.

“It’s time to see what I can do; To test the limits and break through; No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!”

Most refugees are spread throughout nations that do not like them and want them to leave. The policy of many nations is if you treat refugees well, then they will want to stay. It is easy to feel that the laws of the host nation are set in place to make foreigners feel oppressed and as a subjugated class. To sing a line about breaking through and experiencing freedom from this bondage would bring any of us to tears.

“And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast, I’m never going back, the past is in the past”

I’ve seen a change in refugees over the five years since we came for our first visit. At first, everyone thought that they would be going back any day. Then people began to make a life in transition. Finally, it has set in that this is going to be the rest of their lives. They have truly lost everything and they will never be going back. The only hope for a refugee is truly the hope of heaven. Just like the old hymn goes:

“I have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back, no turning back!”

How To Use Your Pen in the Battle

The Power of Prayer

Many of you really do pray for us, and we are so blessed. We have had a few times in our lives when we went on trips without asking for prayer, and we could always feel the difference. It was not a good feeling to feel that we were spiritually disconnected from our global community, and now we always make prayer the first requirement we tell interns and new staff to gather in their partnership development.

We can go without money. God has ways of providing food and shelter and clothing and supplies when we have a low month. Prayer is something we cannot live without. Especially with the call to prayer from the local mosque coming in through our windows throughout the day.

Join Our New Prayer Chain

If you haven’t already signed up for our quarterly Prayer Week Challenge, please CLICK HERE to sign up. Four times a year we take one week to pray and fast, and we encourage you to join us. On this list you will also be informed of anything urgent or personal that needs immediate prayer but we do not feel comfortable or appropriate to post in the public setting. If you are serious about prayer for us, you have to be on this prayer chain list.

The Pen Is Mightier

I am sure that you have all been there, when you share a prayer request and then go home, but you still feel hopeless or lost. It is so important to pray together, and to be able to share encouragement with each other in our prayer lives. To make prayer an outpouring instead of just a time of filling up.

Although we know many of you are praying for us, and we can feel the love and blessings of those prayers across the ocean, we would be so much more blessed if we could hear from you as well. When you pray for us, it would be wonderful to get a little message from you as simple as: “Just said a prayer for you.”

In our time of living in Lebanon it has been a steep learning curve of how to balance communication home and the work here. It has been especially hard because we are not the most tech-savvy, and we love to live as simply as possible. However, we are turning over a new leaf with a renewed commitment to letting you know our needs, prayers, adventures, and stories.

Please join us in this commitment by recommitting to being in communication with us.

You Can Help

Share our newsletter at your church and small group.

Prepare a place at your church or a time in your small group to share what we post about. Pray with others for our needs. So often we are working through things that many people back home have skills and ideas to help with. We would love to be in conversation with you about the pieces of our ministry you feel invested in or interested in.

Print our newsletter and put in the narthex or hand it out to your small group.

Most churches are willing to put our posts in their own newsletters or as a bulletin insert. However, we have not had the time or energy to figure out how to do this, so it has fallen by the wayside. A person willing to take the blog posts appropriate for these mediums to format them for these places would be so appreciated. Please let me know if this is you!

Please send pictures, video messages via Skype or Whatsapp, news of life.

We are out of touch with our families, Annie doesn’t use facebook or other social media, and we feel like we have lost many of you. Whatsapp is a completely free app on your phone that allows for texting, video and audio messages and calls. Download it to your phone and email us your phone number and we can connect via Whatsapp. Skype is the other way we communicate with people, so share your info with us and set up a weekly or monthly time we can chat with you.

Email

Email is one of the easiest ways to stay in touch with us because you can commit to replying when a new post comes to your inbox. The replies get sent directly to our email. If you do not receive these blog posts in your email CLICK HERE to sign up for the daily, weekly, or monthly email from the blog. Additionally, you can sign up for Annie’s Blog HERE.

Meet With Annie

Sit face to face with Annie and pray with her and talk through how you can commit to communicate with our family, stay in the know about our ministry, and help us stay connected to all of you.

Building a Job Description From Scratch: The Humor of Missionary Life

International Teams Coordinator à Director

Explaining Louis’ job as International Teams Coordinator is a big task, so this post is longer than our usual posts. In fact, after three years of expanding and deepening this job, it was recently decided in a meeting that Louis does the equivalent of 4 jobs and must be promoted in order to have a staff member in charge of each job with Louis over and working with all 4 of them. We are still working on the Job Title for this new venture because International Teams Director doesn’t exactly express the scope of his job.

The History

When we arrived in Lebanon to be missionaries we had already had a cancelled plane, sat in airports for 15 extra hours (beyond the time we knew we would be living in the airports), missed an entire day at a hotel we had prepayed for, and two days later our son was in the hospital. It was not a good beginning.

As those first days became weeks and then months we were searching for hope, purpose, and vision. It seemed to Annie that God had brought us here to die, but I heard clearly from God that He did not bring my son here to die.

To determine where we might fit in, Louis began asking the few staff we had at the time what they did day to day. He was looking for needs they may have or people groups that may not be covered yet. Very soon he found both. The first need we discovered was the people who visit the center. At the time, back in May 2014, people who visited were usually dropped off at the center around 1 in the morning with no explanation (since the visitors spoke English and the staff all spoke Arabic) and then expected to get a taxi to get back to the airport. That was the extent of the staff’s involvement with the visitors.

Needless to say, it was not going well.

People were leaving angry, confused, and upset. The team here wanted all Westerners to be turned away and did not see the purpose of people coming at all. Where others may have seen this as hopeless, we saw this as the perfect place for us to plug in.

You see, we have been in this position countless times before. Working in education and churches means that we are constantly faced with people who do not understand why youth, children, poor people, uneducated, you name it need or deserve our time or energy.

So this was something we were well prepared for.

We saw the vision.

Bringing people together from different cultures was already happening on our staff as it grew to 15 people, all from completely different and in many cases opposing backgrounds. We knew that Jesus wants us a taste of Heaven here on earth, and in Heaven we will all be together. So, Louis and I began to take charge of people who were coming to visit.

In the beginning this meant downloading as much information as we possibly could from what was in our own heads and having debrief sessions every day for visitors to share all the negative pieces of their day.

It was hard, but it was worth it because we knew the value of what we were doing even when no one else around, no one on our staff, wanted us to be doing what we were doing.

It was a fight, but it was worth it.

In the beginning we were just scrambling, and it was chaos and we were trying something new every time someone came and creating forms and curriculum and constantly talking about ideas and ways to improve the experiences of visitors and the staff.

We accomplished so much in the first three years here because our focus was relational. The tasks we accomplished are wonderful in looking back, but at the time we were just working from crisis to crisis and thinking only about people.

Where Are We Now – Louis’ 4 Jobs

Housing Director

Truly this was a joint venture between Louis and I (Annie). Once we had guest houses and started getting visitors into those guest houses, I sat for about 40 hours per week learning everything I could about the processes and documents hotels use to reserve rooms and created my own spreadsheets, handouts, and emails to gather the necessary information from incoming visitors, confirm a reserved bed, inform all the staff involved in housing, and solving problems that inevitably came up with timing, flights, date changes, etc. It was not in my original skill set, but now I am feeling pretty professional at it. I set it all up so that anyone could come in and do it without needing to learn a lot. I created worksheets explaining the spreadsheet for bookings, worksheets explaining what visitors need before and during their stay.

Louis has become the person to pick up visitors from the airport, take them to the guest house, give them an orientation (explain about not flushing toilet paper and how the electricity works), often takes them to get groceries the first time, and takes them back to the airport at the end of their stay. He is also the main person to book people to the guest houses, communicate with the people who clean the guest houses, the other tenants, and he is the main mediator.

If you are overwhelmed reading, yes, it is a lot of work. It is a full time job, and it is only one fourth of the work we do (let alone having a family and getting involved at our church).

Intern Director

The second month we were here, just as we were starting to move again after Davy’s hospitalization and several week recovery, we discovered that there were two interns coming to Lebanon. There was no program for interns, and I already explained about how visitors were just dropped off at the center. This time there was one problem, there was a young woman coming. So far the only visitors had been male. Louis and I took a stand for this incoming intern and took over the internship program. If taking over a program that doesn’t exist sounds funny, please laugh, someone has to. We took Engaging Islam and pulled out the essentials and spent time just pouring into Annie Ostrander. We knew it wouldn’t be enough, and we knew that she would not have a great time, and we were just throwing everything we could at her and sending her off to do ministry when we didn’t even know what to join at the time. And she was phenomenal! God knew what He was doing because our weaknesses were made perfect by God’s provision in Annie’s life. In fact, Annie is now on our staff and you can read her own blog about her life in Lebanon HERE.

Since then we have created a much more accessible, interactive, focused, relational internship program for one month Externships and 3 to 12 month Internships. Louis teaches in the mornings for the first two weeks and sets them up with a full exposure to our ministry and by the end of their time they are shadowing or apprenticing with one of our directors.

Last summer alone we had 8 interns! 2 of those are joining our staff this coming year!

The main purpose of the ministry is to prepare interns to go on to do their own personal ministry anywhere in the world. If you or someone you know are interested in the internship program here with us during a free month to year CLICK HERE. Annie is in the picture above with one of our recent interns from Hong Kong.

Vision Trip Director

Pictured above are a combination of 2 teams and an intern who we were in charge of housing, planning ministry events, and we have kept one of these men on as an intern past his vision trip time.

Vision trips are the hardest work for us, but we also have a huge vision for them. There is no missionary we know who goes into full time ministry without a short term experience that changed their heart. When people come to see what we are doing here it can make the staff and people attending services and events feel like they are living in a fish bowl. However, it can change the hearts of these visitors. They can see that refugees are people just like them, or that God has equipped them with skills and can use them cross culturally. God uses short term trips to connect the ministry with the world, with donors, with prayer, and with potential interns and staff.

While the Middle East would much rather live as separately as possible from differing culture groups, that is not God’s vision, and Vision Trips are a key component of bringing God’s Will to fruition. Vision Trip visitors often take more work because they are only here for 1 to 10 days. This means they want to make the most of every minute. In the beginning we were able to shift our own Sabbath around these visitors because there were fewer of them. However, if we allowed it there could literally be a visitor every day of the year. So, we have set apart a Sabbath that we guard each week with few exceptions or changes, and have also adjusted dates we allow visitors. This is also for their own protection. August is a miserable time to visit because there is so much heat and humidity and no air conditioning. Easter and Christmas are also terrible times to visit because the Lebanese have family holidays and visitors are not easily welcomed into those and also the center is usually closed down anyway during that time. So, with my administration and calendar skills, and Louis’ fantastic people skills, we are able to give people a great exposure trip which makes them want to join us as senders and partners and part of the team.

Curriculum Development

Currently at Horizons Beirut we have been able to bring together people who already have giftings to work together and have seen these teams be successful in sharing the gospel and raising up new leaders in each department. One of the things we would like to grow in is being able to train new leaders in areas that they are gifted in, but need growth and new skills. We have been doing this through an apprenticeship process. They follow other leaders and duplicate the ministries. We would like to strengthen this by developing trainings for cross cultural work within our team, region, and throughout the Middle East.

In addition to the Engaging Islam and Engage courses that Louis uses to train visitors, interns, and new staff, he has developed his own trainings to target basic needs of new missionaries to the field especially in the area of learning how to do cross cultural ministry.

Here is a list of trainings Louis has developed:

-Youth Discipleship

-Storying the Gospel

-Having Spiritual Conversations

-Gender in the Middle East

-Lebanese Cultural Diversity

-Teaching Theology

-Personal Conflict in the Middle East

-Preparing a Personal Testimony

-Time and Creating a Personal Schedule

-Cultural Values Adjustment

-Missiology to the Muslim World

-Trauma Counseling

-Authority in the Middle East

-Hebrew vs. Greek Culture

Having standardized trainings really helps establish a framework and vision for people to grow from. We are helping to bring structure and reflection to ministry activities in a culture that does not usually reflect. Reflecting is a major component of Western minds, so the Westerners who Louis is training highly value these times.

Staff Director

Here is the tricky part of our job. Louis and I have a strong belief that as often as possible the national staff should fill every role, position, and authority. We are here to see what we can add to the ministry, and to work ourselves out of a job. While we believe that the greater Christian community in the world is called to be continually cross cultural, cross socioeconomical, etc., we also know that it would be best if Lebanese were helping the refugees, planning the trips, doing the trainings, etc. So our ultimate goal is to work ourselves out of a job as often as possible. At the same time, being overseas we have realized the real need for Member Care in our own culture group. Someone to hear us and understand us because they speak English, our own heart language, are from the West and can hear the cultural issues we are having as well as help us process, work through conflict, and grow in relationship with Christ and others around us.

Louis is now responsible for Member Care, conflict resolution, vision casting, and discipleship of our long term Western Staff.

Simultaneously to taking on being the authority over all of the Western staff, Louis must increase his authority within the national staff. Because he is in charge of staff it means that he is taking over responsibilities once held by the Lebanese and Syrian directors. This is a sensitive part of this transition and we appreciate your prayers as we walk this line.

Grocery Shopping in Lebanon

Living Life With the Lisses in Lebanon

Whether you pray, send gifts or money, or just read our blog you are a part of our team. You are the encouragement that gets us through the hard times. You are a huge part of the work we do here in Lebanon. With the huge gaps in communication I feel the part of me that lived in America for most of my life getting stressed over the loss in relationships with you all. So, I had this idea to share our lives here in a more interactive way. It has taken me awhile to make it doable, and now I am inviting you to join us in a few challenges to pretend you are living life alongside us.

Life in Lebanon Challenge #1: Grocery Shopping

The challenge will be simple. There will be 3 to 5 basic rules to follow for the activity, and you can do it at your own convenience.

This first challenge is about grocery shopping, which Louis and I do every other week with a few side trips to fill in for ingredients we couldn’t find on the first trip.

1: Make your shopping list as usual. If you normally just shop the aisles make a list for this exercise, yes you can buy things not on your list.

I use a meal plan purchased through Bikini Body Mommy to take the guesswork out of meals for the week. Briana provides a grocery list along with the recipes and the meals and snacks all planned out for me.

2: Now give your shopping list to someone else and ask them to randomly cross out 3 items and circle 3 items.

This is a simulation of the lack of availability of ingredients in our stores. There is no guarantee of any item on our list being at the store every week or the kind/brand/type that we would like.

3: Go to your grocery store and shop. As you reach items that have been crossed off, do not buy them this trip. In your virtual Lebanon experience, that item is “not available”. As you reach items that were circled, buy a different brand than you normally would, your brand is “not available” this week.

4: Try to make it through the week without the items that were “unavailable.” If you absolutely need one of the items you can go to a different store to try again after 3 days.

I hope you enjoy shopping with us! Please share in the comments how it goes!

Coming Back to America!

Yikes! You haven’t heard from us since December 30!

Then we were writing to tell you about our extreme excitement about Kyrie Rebekah’s healing. She was completely healed, and is a completely different child now with joy and energy! It is so fun to have her in our lives, and we are so blessed by God that she is well!

We Have Been Keeping Busy

While I feel badly for not keeping you up to date, looking back over the past months, there really hasn’t been any time.

Especially leading up to our trip to America, Kyrie’s surgery put everything on hold for us. When we returned it was a brand new beginning for Annie and has allowed so much ministry to expand from our homes and hearts because of the great healing in our lives.

We need to tell you all the amazing things happening, and we also want to let you know about new opportunities coming! It is an exciting time here in Lebanon.

We are right here in the middle of it, a strategic point of battle for the Kingdom. We are still receiving new believers into the center every week, discipling believers from fifteen or more different backgrounds, and starting some new ventures Beirut and throughout Lebanon.

A Timeline to Summarize 2017 So Far

So many other things have been happening with job changes, our team growing, and getting ready for summer teams and interns. Hopefully you can hear some of these stories more in depth by visiting with Annie when she comes to the States this summer. We bought our tickets for her partnership development trip back to the States for July and August.

May (So Far)

  • Engaging Islam Institute being held in Beirut at our center.
  • Louis got a promotion since it was determined he is doing the equivalent of 3 different full time jobs.
  • We attended a church picnic and had several meaningful and intentional interactions to deepen our engagement with our church here in Lebanon

You Can Help!

Annie and the kids are coming back this summer! I want to see as many of you as possible to share what we have been doing, the goals we have met, and what we are planning on doing with our new term.

In order to best plan my trip, I have a small survey I would like for you to fill out.

Good Grief


Good Goodbyes

As we walked out of church last Sunday, Davy suddenly stopped and ran back to start hugging everyone and kissing them. He was in tears saying he was going to miss them. While we hadn’t made mention of it, he figured out this was the last week, and he didn’t know if we would be back the following Sunday. Since Louis is preaching at a big event today, we didn’t know if we would make it to both either. Such a smart kid.

And he was able to say his good goodbyes. In addition we made sure to make plans to see the friends we have here to say good goodbyes even though it is only for a month.

Grieving Well

While we are gone, however, progress will be made on our Syrian family, the one with the two boys we have “adopted” into our lives. The whole family (4 kids and their mom and dad) are being sponsored to emigrate to either Argentina or Canada. While we are thrilled for this opportunity, which will mean the oldest and youngest boy can return to school, we are also broken hearted. To be in America during this pivotal transition is extremely painful. We are in a time of bargaining with God, “Please let them stay until we get back. At least one day so we can see them again.”

Please pray for us as we grieve this move simultaneously rejoicing simultaneously trying to figure out how we could ever see them if they do go to Argentina. Also, for all of you who have been praying for us for a long time. You will remember this boy, Rizan. You have been praying for Rizan and his brother Ivan for the past 4 years, too. So this loss affects you, too. Your prayers have been answered in so many ways. And the answer to prayer is to lose these two high school boys we have poured our lives into. We have to give them up to God that in Argentina or Canada they will have people who love them as much as we do to disciple and tutor them and bring them into their families.

WE CREATED APPOINTMENT SLOTS FOR MEETING WITH US FOR MEALS, EITHER TO HAND OFF A FREEZER MEAL FOR OUR FAMILY OR TO TAKE US OUT TO EAT DURING OUR TIME IN AMERICA. CLICK HERE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FEED US, BUT CAN’T FIT THOSE TIMES, CONSIDER DONATING THAT MEAL AMOUNT TO OUR FUNDRAISER FOR KYRIE’S SURGERY OR MAILING IT TO OUR HOUSE.

School Choice Report

One of our summer interns, Christian, doing a Bible study with some refugees.

An Educational Legacy

Louis and I have a huge passion for curriculum development, training, and education. Our parents were all involved in education, and my sister and I have both become teachers in school, and Louis in religion as a pastor. It is a huge piece of our hearts, culture, and family legacy.

Being in charge of the internship program here has been one way that we have been able to engage with that passion. Two of the interns we had this year (one of our summer interns is pictured above) are considering coming on staff with Horizons since returning home after their summer internship. Two others have gotten jobs working with refugees in California. We are so excited to be a part of something bearing fruit, and it also fills us with joy to be a part of their lives while they are here. When we return from the States we have three interns coming for an internship that will begin in February. This will continue to be a part of what we do moving forward, helping train and execute an internship program that is about learning to create your own personal ministry so that you can learn how to do ministry anywhere and with anyone.

Perhaps you are interested, or you know someone interested, in refugee work. Please consider coming to our center in Beirut. The work being done here is miraculous. People who have fought since the beginning of fighting are getting along in order to share the gospel. I also want to share the blog of our first intern who has since joined us on staff. She has beautiful stories of what we are doing here, and I would love for you to see! Her name is also Annie!

One of our summer interns, Michael, with some of the refugee children.

#lostgeneration

Unicef has put out several heart wrenching commercials alongside famous Hollywood stars sharing about the soon to be lost generation here. The war in Syria has gone on longer than five years now. This means there are children displaced, out of school, traumatized, whose lives have been interrupted for some to all of that five year period. When I was in training to be a teacher the stat they taught us was that if a kid moves, his parents get a divorce, or some other huge stress occurs in his life, that child will lose a year even if we work with him and he is present for class. Now compound that with the things these kids have seen, the immense trauma and strain and lives these children have already lived before the age of 10.

I refuse to believe this is a hopeless situation. War has happened before. People have been displaced before. And we have capabilities like never before. God is doing a new thing, and we know that He cares for the children in that.

This is an Arabic expression meaning Little by Little.

Louis and Annie

This is another one of those reports where we don’t have full clarity yet, but we want to share with you where our hearts are at. Part of the reason that we ended up putting Davy into school here was so that I would have more opportunity to go down to the center to tutor Ivan. In the future we hope that can remain a possibility. Our hearts are for the middle school and high school aged children. Opportunities are beginning to peek out like new buds on a flower, but we haven’t had a clear call.

Then, there is Kyrie Rebekah. She can start school here next year, at 2. Since she isn’t even talking yet, we are a little hesitant, but at the same time we are loving Davy’s school. Putting her in would help us get residencies and longer visas, but we are waiting on God to see His plan.

Finally, Annie. Me. I was told by God when pregnant with Davy to take five years to be a stay at home mom. Every year I try to bargain with God to see if He meant something different. This year was no different. As I have been helping Louis in more of a Personal Assistant role, I wanted to start to ask if I could get some benefits or have an actual HR role. God said no. I can volunteer. In my prayers this past week God was bringing to my mind the different steps He has asked me to take and told me that this next year I would be a student. Louis and I need another boost in Arabic, so we are planning on increasing our hours with our tutor.

WE CREATED APPOINTMENT SLOTS FOR MEETING WITH US FOR MEALS, EITHER TO HAND OFF A FREEZER MEAL FOR OUR FAMILY OR TO TAKE US OUT TO EAT DURING OUR TIME IN AMERICA. CLICK HERE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FEED US, BUT CAN’T FIT THOSE TIMES, CONSIDER DONATING THAT MEAL AMOUNT TO OUR FUNDRAISER FOR KYRIE’S SURGERY OR MAILING IT TO OUR HOUSE.

Financial Prayer Report

A $5000 Blessing!

Last night I wrote this report, filled in the tables, but did not have the internet to schedule the post. Since our income and expense reports come about 2 months behind, I only had through September to use. Today I opened my email to find October’s report in my inbox. I decided to add the numbers from October and reformat the first table. When I opened the form, I found that we had received a one time donation of $5000 in October! This is a huge answer to prayer! For October our income was 149% of our monthly goal. Yay God!!! This is a perfect example of God giving us what we need, like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. There have been months that our Horizons account has ended the month at $0 this year, but God provides. It is His cash flow we are working with.

Louis and I pride ourselves on being transparent with people about our ministry. We want to share our ministry with you on all levels, including financial. Especially since we are always hoping to gain new financial partners. We are always looking for God’s provision through you all so we can invest even more into the ministries we have a passion for: high schoolers, training and curriculum development, church relations, parenting, and education, to name a few.

As this year draws to a close and we look toward those opportunities we want to focus in on, big projects we need to start saving up for, and regular cost of living and inflation raises, we have to raise our budget. Today’s report is a financial report, so it isn’t as fun to read as others, but we believe it to be a very important piece to share with you all.

This first table is a quick look at our financial situation throughout the year so far.

2016

Monthly Average Contributions Contributions Total Explanation

2015

$5,041.22

85% Throughout 2015

$7,289.83 to start 2016

11% of 2016 Total

In 2015 our Monthly Budget was $5,502.50.

In September 2015 we were at 111% for our annual goal.

1st Quarter January – March

$2,680.17

54% of goal

$15,330.35

26%

The large drop in our average monthly percent is in part because of raising our budget for 2016, but in part because we have had donors begin to drop off who have completed their initial commitment to us.

2nd Quarter April – June

$5,094.41

118%

$32,776.54

55%

Half way through the year we were pleased to be also half way funded for the year.

3rd Quarter July – September

$2,718.73

55%

$40,932.73

%69

October

$7,308.55
149%
$48,248.28
81%
This leaves us with $11,056.68 still needed to meet our goal for the year.

Looking forward, the following two tables are the budget sheets for 2017.

Expense Monthly Amount Change from 2016 Explanation
Living Expenses We have added Health Insurance (which under the ACA is no longer reimbursable for nonprofits) and the Minister’s Housing Allowance in addition to our salary. While the money comes to us in one paycheck, we want to be clear about the expenses we plan on having, so we added these two as separate categories.
Salary $3,642 This is a 13% raise. Our Member Care told us that we should be raising our salary about 5%-10% each year. We have never raised our salary above the minimum allowed by the board until this year. All of our budget raises in the past have related solely to ministry expenses.
Health Insurance $600 This is a new category. We have been paying for health insurance for Louis and David this year, but in 2017 Annie and Kyrie will also be eligible, finally. We are getting international health insurance that will cover us in any country.
Minister’s Housing Allowance $1195.70 This is a new category. Louis is ordained and commissioned, but we had not filed the paperwork to officially be able to take the tax deduction at the time we wrote our 2016 budget. We used what we actually spent this year to create this part of the budget. Beneath this Staff Budget we have included the Annual Estimated Expenses for the Minister’s Housing Allowance for you all as well.
Social Security & Medicare $415.98
Total Living Expenses $5,853.68 We only receive this amount after taxes, and if there is money in our Horizons account, so our salary is approved by the people giving in support of our ministry and time here in Lebanon.
Reimbursable Ministry Expenses These are the expenses for which we are able to receive a reimbursement from our Horizons account.
Visa Trips $828 We combined the categories that equal up to visa trips. We have increased the budget for Kyrie who will be required to purchase a seat in 2017 and to account for an annual trip to America. While the paperwork will hopefully one day work out for us to be able to stay in country for longer than three months at a time, currently we have to leave every three months. We do not take vacation days in Lebanon, but use 3 trips for family retreats and 1 trip for partnership development.
Conferences & Meetings $50 Same as 2016 This monthly plan of $50 allows us to attend a conference each year and the Horizons Staff Summit every other year.
Postage & Printing $25 Lower than 2016 Mostly we use this for receiving care packages and mailing out prayer cards during our partnership development month.
Ministry Meals & Gifts $85 Lower than 2016 While this culture is one of gifts, and we do take people out to eat often, we prefer to use our salary and not try to keep reimbursement files of what business was discussed.
Supplies & Materials $15 Lower than 2016 Mostly we use this to buy supplies for administrating the three guest houses here in Lebanon.
Total Reimbursable Ministry Expenses $1,003 Lower than 2016
Administration Fee $685.66 10% of the Total This is the overhead fee Horizons takes out automatically when someone donates to our account.
Total Monthly Staff Budget $7,542.34 This is $2,600 more per month than in 2016 We decreased our reimbursable budget significantly because the way our taxes work out now it is much easier to get paid in our paycheck for a great many of the ministry jobs we have instead of turning in reimbursement forms every few days. So much of our regular day to day life is reimbursable that we have been unable to manage the paperwork it would take. By taking the appropriate steps we are making decisions that are good for our donors.
Worksheet for Estimating Housing Expenses for the Minister’s Housing Allowance Annual Estimated Expenses Explanation
Housing Rental Payments $8,400 This is our rent, but the owner could raise it any time he wants to, or charge us a renewal fee.
Generator $574 Generator electricity. We currently pay for the 5amp generator, which is the lowest and cheapest available.
EDL $621 Government “good” electricity. This is the only electricity we can wash clothes, heat water, or run A/C and heaters with.
Garbage, Common area electricity, etc. $492 We pay for several services in one lump sum each month, which we have finally begun to grasp the full range of with the Arabic we now know. Feel free to ask for more information.
Water $457
Internet $750 Our internet is not unlimited, but is not the worst (although that is a matter of debate between the two of us at times).
Skype $45 We refill our minutes as needed and now can use Skype to call American phones.
Phone $360 We keep this cost down by using WhatsApp instead of minutes the majority of the time.
Structural Repairs & Maintenance $200 We do not get to choose what gets repaired or maintained outside of our apartment, so we were blessed that these were only $200 in the year we used to pick these numbers. However, in the time since we turned in this form we have received the bill for elevator maintenance done in our building, and that alone cost $220 due before we leave for the States.
Gardening, Landscaping, & Pest Control $575 This year we spent $500 creating a garden space on our balcony and pest control costs $75 each year to get our apartment sprayed. We were blessed they have stopped using the pesticides that force us to stay in a hotel for the night, and we were able to stay home during and after the spraying. This is a new thing for Lebanon to have safer pesticides.
Furnishings, Decorations, & Cleaning $570 Bringing Kyrie meant that we had to buy her furniture. We plan on upgrading the kids to beds in the next few years as well. Davy sleeps on a fold out couch right now and Kyrie in a crib still.
10% Allowance for Unplanned Expenses $1,304.40 So smart that the tax form includes this. Hopefully we will not have to use it.
Total $14,348.40

Please feel free to ask us any questions about our budget. Annie is our budgeting queen and is ready to clarify and help you understand our budget. Just because we write the budget does not put that money into our account. Horizons does not pay us unless our partners put the money in our account. You are our partners, our shareholders. You are the ones that make this budget possible or not.

We need more people joining with us financially all the time. We want to share this ministry with you. Please Give by CLICKING HERE. Put Louis Liss in the memo.

For those of you still reading, perhaps because you skipped past all those tables, we are fully relying on God for this budget. We know He will make it all possible. If the opportunities we are getting most excited about start to become realities there will be a great increase in work and it will be self-starter, entrepreneurial work which will require a strong support team backing our passions. Join our Prayer Team, Annie’s Blog (for moral support and accountability for her), and our Surgery Fundraiser Team (to help us cover the expenses of this surgery and the trip surrounding it). 

WE CREATED APPOINTMENT SLOTS FOR MEETING WITH US FOR MEALS, EITHER TO HAND OFF A FREEZER MEAL FOR OUR FAMILY OR TO TAKE US OUT TO EAT DURING OUR TIME IN AMERICA. CLICK HERE. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO FEED US, BUT CAN’T FIT THOSE TIMES, CONSIDER DONATING THAT MEAL AMOUNT TO OUR FUNDRAISER FOR KYRIE’S SURGERY OR MAILING IT TO OUR HOUSE.