New Year Update

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.

Giving Tuesday with the Lisses

This post was published to Mommy Book Blog at 10:40:05 AM 11/27/2018

Giving Tuesday with the Lisses

Account    Mommy Book Blog1

This fall season has been marked with getting back into routines and so many ministries we have been working on over the past five years taking form.

LAB

The Language Academy of Beirut is something that Annie had been asked to participate in a few years ago, but the logistics did not lend themselves to a realistic plan at the time. It was a dream to have people on staff or internships with Horizons whether in Lebanon or outside of the country, and also for others outside of Horizons to be able to learn Arabic with language helpers here in Lebanon. This would have the benefit of providing jobs to people here, and also allowing us to expand our preparation for incoming staff and interns so that they are not landing in Beirut with no Arabic. Although two years ago was not the right time, doors have been opening and things have been falling into place for Annie to participate now. She wrote a curriculum packet and also has been evaluating the different current staff and interns’ levels to learn how best to place people. Rezan is the first teacher, and so he will soon be leaving our department to work for the Middle East Center for World Mission Language Acquisition Department. Rezan now has something like 13 Arabic classes every week, a full-time schedule of teaching. The next step is to start bringing in other teachers as well to take over our internship classes so that Rezan can focus on his students that are more permanent.

MEC

The MEC is a whole world of opportunities for our future as well, and as we continue to replace ourselves, we are folding our ministry into the MEC over time, and Louis hopes to be in a position to take a leadership role in the MEC to train nationals and internationals alike in cross cultural missions. We are dreaming of taking a team of Lebanese to another country on mission trips and transforming our trainings into useful material for Arabs, Asians, Americans, Europeans, and all others who come to the MEC. The MEC has many goals which will fulfill many of our deepest desires, and it is far too soon to even express everything we hope this can be, but we will share more as it becomes even more of a reality. This month we broke ground on our first MEC building purchase, which will serve as a prayer room directly behind our Horizons Café. This new purchase is a big step in moving from a dream to a reality for this center.

Beqaa

The ministry in the Beqaa, which has the largest group of refugees in tents, has also been expanding tremendously. A year ago there were one or two trips out to the Beqaa each week, and now there is a full team going four or five times a week. The team is made up mostly of people on our staff already working in admin or with other ministries who God has called to the Beqaa. Additionally, we have several new staff living in or moving to the Beqaa. Miriam is a Christian who already lives in the Beqaa who just joined Horizons staff, and Annie Ostrander who was our first intern ever, and has been on staff with us for several years now, will be moving out there soon. Additionally, our newest staff member to join us is a nurse who has on her heart to move out there. Finally, our family of five that just moved here will be moving out there in about six months.

New Staff

The staff influx has been tremendous. The stories of how people have found us can only be God! This new family, for instance, the husband, Tommy, was just walking through Beirut and ran into Louis and started talking to him. The nurse, Robbie, is working with another organization and we have been able to form a partnership between our two organizations. It has been an amazing time. Louis and Annie have both been very involved and redefining roles in this new season because onboarding several families and people at a time is much more time commitment than one at a time. Currently there are three more applications at various points in the process, and with both of us looking toward new ministries it has been a challenge.

Annie has taken the lead on the language component of onboarding because of her involvement with the LAB, and Louis with member care and pastoral care because that is his gift. Both of us meet with the new staff once a week for the first month to go through our own onboarding materials and to make sure that everything goes smoothly. This past week, Annie has been taking the Henderson family shopping for electronics for their new apartment. Annie also has on her heart to make sure that we are including the Henderson kids in this process, so she spent an afternoon with the older girls and processed through some of the culture with them and encouraged them. Of everything we have shared, that lifted Annie’s heart the most.

Family Ministry

Additionally, our own kids are being involved more. It seemed with David being at school two hours longer each day this year and having our day broken up by the two different bus pick up times, we would be limited, and it has in some ways, but it hasn’t completely closed us off. David has become much more proactive at school and has really found his footing, so he got the number of a classmate so that we could go over to her house. It was a wonderful playdate, the first time we have hung out with another family that was a school friend only. The visit was amazing, and we will be bringing them to our church’s cookie decorating and puppet show evening in December.

Kyrie has missed going to the café with us, and so we have been working in afternoons that we can all go to the café to practice Arabic and have the kids around for meetings. This has pushed David outside of his comfort zone and allowed her to use Arabic since this year her class is English only. Kyrie is also thrilled that the new family has three girls, and she has been having a lot of fun playing with them. It has helped the girls feel included and befriended after leaving their own friends in America.

We are all going down to Tyre for the first time since we got back to Lebanon this week! Annie has a huge heart for Tyre and since all these doors have been opening in these other ministries, hopefully God will start to show what he is going to do with Tyre, but it seems like it is going to be a family adventure! We can’t wait to share what God shows us. This week we will be going with a staff couple, Caleb and McKenna, and Caleb’s parents who came out for Thanksgiving. It will be a good member care time and also, we always love going to Tyre.

Not to Mention…

This is such a small portion of everything that is going on! Thank you for all your care and love and prayers. If you would like to send us a bit of Christmas, putting it into our account now means we will see it at Christmas time. We have a visitor coming from Tucson this year, which we are very excited about! As we get closer to that time we will let you know if he will have room to bring cards over with him or the like. We are so blessed to see God using us here in Lebanon, and we want you to know that nothing here would be possible without you.

Having a new family here and seeing how their first week has gone so well has brought many tears to Annie’s eyes as we remember the horror that we went through our second day here and into the following months (Month 1, Month 2, and our huge Change of Plans in Month 5) . Our motto has been “We don’t want anyone else to go through what we went through.” And the first week of this Henderson family being here has been the fruit of that. Your prayers have sustained us these past five years, and 6000 more words won’t be enough to express our sincere appreciation.

And then there was this chicken that wandered into our building this week! Oh, Lebanon!

The Week of Prayer Begins!

Sunday, October 28: Healing

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Throughout the week those of you signed up for our prayer team will receive in depth prayer requests for this next season of our ministry in Lebanon. If you haven’t signed up yet, what are you waiting for? The first prayer letter goes out at 7:00AM Arizona Time!

If just a quick prayer and topic is best for you, each day on our blog the prayer for that day will be posted. The prayer team will receive in depth, personal, and private prayer requests not meant to be shared on social media. Thanks for praying!

Prayer Week Daily Prayer Topics

Back In Beirut

We just finished a 2 month tour of the states where we spoke at 7 churches in 8 weeks! We want to thank the unbelievable support from the incredible servant hearts of our supporters. It brings us to tears when we think of the countless hours of prayers, e-mails, and events that you have committed to us through the years. Because of you the hungry are being fed, the lost are being found, and the gospel is being preached throughout the world. Thank you.

Baptism

Kyrie Rebekah Liss was baptized on August 18, 2018. The following Sunday when Pastor Dan Valisakos asked her what happened to her. She boldly replied, “My daddy got my dress all wet!” Now every time we read about baptism in our family Bible times she stops the reading to remind us that she got baptized, too!

Discipleship

I remember when we left for a visa trip two years ago and Annie “accidentally” chose a hotel without WiFi. When we returned to Lebanon my phone exploded with over 1,000 missed messages. That was when we began realizing I was doing too much and needed help from the national staff. We hired three people to help with my work load and spent a year helping them transition into their new positions. After returning this summer it was unbelievable to feel missed but no longer the only one holding things together. The staff is thriving and growing in experience every day.

School

Because of all your support, David and Rebekah were able to start school this week. The only struggle was convincing Rebekah that she would have to return home each day. Predictably, she has already made lifelong friends so she doesn’t have to worry about bridesmaids at this point. David showed marked improvement in Arabic last year after one of our high schoolers began coming over each week to tutor him. David will be starting French this year and Annie is going to take an online class in French so we can better help Davey with his trilingual education.

Expansion

Doors have been swinging open with our new ministry center out in the Beqaa Valley where over 500,000 refugees live in camps working as farm laborers. At the beginning of the summer one of our staff, named Yusef, was put in charge of running the daily services and distribution at the center but was still commuting three hours each way every day. I was praying for long term staff to move to the area so Jesus can be shown in more incarnational ways. Over the last six months we have had two families and two single women volunteer to be part of our ministry expansion team to the Beqaa. Stay tuned for news about the exciting growth of our outreach facility.

Prayer Requests

  1. Family: Pray for the kids returning to school, that they would be able to share Jesus with their peers and teachers.
  2. Ministry: Pray for grace filled sound doctrine as we are beginning our year of curriculum development this year.
  3. Future: Pray for the team in the Beqaa Valley to have a singular vision and direction for the long term growth of the gospel.
  4. School: Annie has decided to take a month in France to do a French language intensive. Pray for this month of separation for the family.

Passionate Paradox

Paradox 1

     As we have spent this past few weeks in the States, our family has been so blessed to be surrounded by love and support from our community. Everyone has at some point shared the same sentiment. We are so unbelievably excited to be in the US and simultaneously yearning to return to Lebanon. Expectantly wishing for the time we can once again be amongst our refugees. Desperate to wake up amongst a nation of people who have begun to embrace the hope of Jesus even if this world has nothing left to offer.

     Our life is a paradox, which seems only fitting since we worship a God who makes harmony from conflict. Fully God and fully man. Who wept while never ceasing to rejoice. In my devotional time four years ago I adapted a missionary poem called “Ants in the Sugar Bowl” about the challenges of working cross culturally while embracing the beauty of working in our father’s field. It seemed appropriate to share it now as we continue to live as strangers in a familiar land and prepare to return to our foreign home.

 

So I send you

To long hours and exhausting days

To garbage piled higher and higher every hour

To sweltering summers and frigid winters

To uncomfortable cars, smelly taxis, and crowded buses

To uncertain water and sporadic electricity

To exchange yes and no for maybe and I have no idea

To poverty you didn’t believe existed

To camps of humanity that stretch to the horizon

To abandoned construction sites filled with homeless families

To hundreds of thousands of children without education

To know and work with people who have lost everything

To a country suffocating from smog, refuse, and the invading world

To stare into the eyes of men and women preparing to die after being refused treatment

To buildings still bleeding rubble from decades of bullets and shrapnel

To people trapped living illegally with no hope of a future

So I send you, and I expect you to adjust

 

So I send you

To people desperate to know the God who walks the streets of the slum

To people who will give from their poverty

To finally feel you are worthy of the calling

To learn about yourself and the culture that reared you

To know God and make Him known to those who know Him not

To rooms too crowded to sit with people wanting only to hear the name of Jesus

To streets that only the deity of Christ would walk

To the sound of worship of native people in native languages with national music

To a national church that finally woke up

To songs that get louder when the electricity goes out

To chapels and churches bursting with seas of veiled women

To the cry from the Mosque being drowned out by the sound of praise

To spirits unbroken and hearts unshaken in the face of insurmountable odds

To hearing the voice salvation bursting forth in Arabic, French, Armenian, & Kurdish

To feeling unbelievable joy at the honor of laboring in the field of the true harvest

So I send you

 

Are you going, because I will be with going with you always even unto the very end of the age.

 

 

One Month Under Our Belts

Culture shock has been enormous as well as various stages of traveler’s sickness in returning to Lebanon, but here we are!

We had a rough first week, but then the second week was pretty relaxed, followed by an extremely challenging week three, and we have just completed week four, which ended Sunday with a realization that we finally feel like we have returned to Lebanon.

It only took a month to get there, but we did.

And now that we have started to feel regular again I wanted to send out a quick message to all of you.

We are alive and well.

We are in Lebanon.

We love you all.

Thank you for your prayers.

In the coming weeks, please feel free to reach out to us for contact.

We are still getting our heads above water as far as the blog goes, but I will be sending out sporadic updates as I am able.

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!”