Kyrie Rebekah Has Arrived!

Now two weeks old, we have finally had the time to sit down and write to you about what has been going on the last few months.

The last time we sent out a newsletter Louis was in Lebanon working with the youth, the team, and some visitors from America and China.

Louis came home February 13th, just in time for Valentine’s Day, and we have been going since then.

The season of Lent kept us busy at our church here in the States, staying connected, building relationships, and teaching Davy about this season leading up to Holy Week.

TIROSH was March 19th – 21st, and since Annie was ready to pop, she decided to help out (secretly hoping to induce), so that she would be with Louis the entire time. In addition, Davy helped each day. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and teaching Davy about ministry as life, rather than ministry just being a part of our lives.

Just before Holy Week, Davy got a stomach virus which he passed along to Mommy. Because of the due date being literally the next day, when Mommy was vomiting violently on March 27th, her doctor told her to go into the hospital triage to get checked. In the hospital we were informed that Annie was having contractions every four minutes, and she was dilated. But after a few hours, Annie still really not feeling the so-called contractions, and rehydrated from the IV, we decided to go home to see our little boy.

2am March 28th, Annie woke up with pain increasing, and by 7am the contractions could not be denied any longer. At contractions 3 minutes apart we headed to the hospital, and at 1:30pm Kyrie entered the world!

When we went home, the stomach virus that had seemed to miraculously disappear had remained with Davy, so we spent Kyrie’s first few days home trying to keep Davy from sharing drinks, trying to figure out pediatricians, and trying to let Carol/Cadee/Louis’ mom rest because she had also gotten the virus. Also, it was Holy Week!

Davy’s homeschooling curriculum had a whole unit on Holy Week, we did the Resurrection Eggs as a family, and he was really excited to celebrate at church. He can tell the whole story of Jesus from Palm Sunday to Resurrection, and so it was fun to take him to church for Palm Sunday, for him to bring the Palm Leaf cross to Kyrie in the hospital, and each of the services throughout the week. Louis preached for Maunday Thursday. Davy even got to do his first cross nailing, where he nailed his sin of hitting to the cross. It was a really beautiful and special time for our family, and we were very glad to share it with Kyrie. Several times during the week Davy shared the story of Jesus with Kyrie, and he is really showing how great a big brother he is and will continue to be.

We are so excited ot be returning to Lebanon in May, God willing. We have a huge summer planned with teams, new staff, and continued language learning.

Prayer Requests:

  • Kyrie has to have a minor surgery before we can begin planning our return trip to Lebanon, so pray that we can figure out insurance and timing without stress.
  • We have several teams and individuals coming to visit Lebanon beginning in June, so pray for us to be energized to help with the planning and training pre-arrival, and be ready to hit the ground running when we return to Lebanon in May.
  • Annie is healing well, but her hips were pretty beat up during the pregnancy and delivery, so prayers for continued healing.
  • The original purpose of coming back to the States in November was to finish fundraising and we are still only 2/3 funded.
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Since we have had very little chance to write a real update about things happening in Lebanon, we wanted to share with you two ways to get up to date.

First, we have an awesome blog that a wonderful woman connected with Horizons kept as she visited Lebanon last month. Please CLICK HERE to read about her trip. Included are pictures of the center, and stories about what has been happening this past month. It is very exciting.

Pray4MENA

And, as always, you can sign up for the Pray4MENA updates. MENA stands for Middle East and North Africa, which is the region we are working in, and these updates will tell you all about the people on our immediate and larger team. CLICK HERE to check those out.

One Month In Lebanon

The day I am writing this post marks one month from when we were sitting in Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix ready to leave, but stuck in limbo. Writing this update brings perspective to our time so far. It feels like we have been here a year, and it feels like we have been here a day. It’s a paradox! Don’t worry, this is not a Yuck Duck post. Great things are happening that we want to share with you.

We Are Pleased To Report…

Davy is doing amazingly! He is adapting well and back to learning like a rabbit, with great energy, enthusiasm, and speed. He is already able to say words in French, Arabic, and of course English. When he is tired he asks for a nap! When he needs a diaper he tells us. He can count to 2 now! If asked how old he is he holds up one finger and says, “One!” So Cute, So Smart. He is still in love with Jesus and God and prays by himself as well as reading his storybook Bibles by himself. His main prayers right now are to ask God for a cat and a car. He misses going for drives with us. He also thinks that getting a car will mean we can go visit people back in the States. He misses people a lot, and often asks about them by name, which shows an excellent memory, too. There are so many cute things he does that it is impossible to name them all. Make sure you check out the page on our blog filled with pictures of him. The newest ones are pictures of him at Four Corners, playing with Rami here in Lebanon, and playing in our apartment.

Language Learning is going fantastically! We have a language teacher that is coming to our apartment four hours a week (soon we will be increasing to six hours a week) to teach us. We are so blessed by her, and we thank God for her on many levels. First, her mentality is the same as ours, to learn what we need to get into conversations ASAP. Secondly, we get to keep Davy at home with us because she comes to our house during his naptimes. Third, she is a believer and she is amazingly nice and understanding and sweet. These short sentences do not even put into words how glad we are to have Abla as our teacher. Please take some time today (and any day you think of it) to praise the Lord for her, too!

In addition to this private tutoring, we have been able to begin work on our language route. We have made several great connections within our neighborhood. Our apartment sits right above quite a few shops, so we are using them to begin our route. As we said before we are taking our time to work up to our goal of going every day to practice Arabic with our neighbors. Now we have several shop owners (the snack shop below us, the dollar shop across the street, the “pizza” bakery, the produce stand just down the street, and a second “pizza” bakery across the main road just past our immediate neighborhood, and just further than that the grocery store has a few people who regularly help us practice our food words) giving us approximately ten people. In addition we are beginning to go to the Refugee Center and work with the Horizons team there, so we are able to practice some with them, too. Soon we will have enough conversational capability to share what we want to practice with people so they can help us.

Prayer Requests

Louis and I have been extremely hard on ourselves over the past month. We have not handled the unrelenting stress well. Please pray that we will be able to step away from the bombardment of culture, decisions, noise, time, and the 6,724 tabs open in our heads at all times to spend time with the Lord. Pray also that we would show ourselves the same grace that God has shown us. We are doing well, and we sometimes don’t see that. As I wrote at the beginning of this post, writing this puts it all into perspective. It has only been a month and we have done so much! It has only been a month, and we have many routines in place. It has only been a month and we are able to play with our healthy baby boy! With that in mind, continue to pray for healing of our hearts. Our grief in almost losing Davy has compounded our feelings of guilt and failure and loneliness. Thank you for all of your encouragement, prayers, and love. Please feel free to Skype and email us any time.

The Day I Forgot The Rules Of Movies -Written by Louis

It was last Saturday when our team leader was helping us load all 10 of our bags into his car in route to our new apartment in Beirut, when he said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Now any average film viewer knows that there are some cardinal rules to film such as: Never say, “Well at least it can’t get any worse,” lest you are immediately thrust plot first into an onslaught of tragedy. Little did I know that my declaration that our initial Rome experience was the most extreme stress we had ever encountered would jettison us into the actual worst day of our lives.

It was the trip from Heaven, which is to say that it was the trip from hell continually shown to be under the protective authority of God. It began by us realizing in Phoenix that our initial scale was inaccurate and our bags were extremely overweight. Annie’s dad was quick to jump to the rescue and help us move all of our heavy items to carry-ons which are never weighed at check-in. So we arrived at Sky Harbor Airport at 8:00 AM on Monday morning for a 10:45 AM departure only to find out that our plane was delayed for two hours. This meant that we were able to go have breakfast with our parents allowing them unexpected time with Davey that was greatly appreciated. We returned to the airport and loaded our bags only to be informed that our plane was broken, had to be flown to LAX and then to Toronto to be repaired returning to Phoenix at 8:00 PM for boarding. We were blessed with meal vouchers and so ate at the airport for free and we found a play place for Davey to spend the day waiting, though he was too stressed to eat or drink much. Then we were told that the plane was non-repairable and we were being transported to a new airline, rerouted to London, and would miss a whole day of our two day stay in Rome arriving there at 10 PM Tuesday. We e-mailed our bed and breakfast in the center of Rome to inform them and they told us the last thing we heard from them before boarding the overnight plane to London was that our new arrival time would force them to cancel our reservation. 10 hours later we touched down in London and began to try and contact the hotel owner, who did not speak English, over a payphone using credit card #1. We tried calling three times before our card was frozen having not informed the credit card company we were being rerouted to London. We then looked up on the board and saw that the connecting flight was also delayed so we rushed to the counter to see if we could get an earlier flight only to be told that the flight was not delayed but boarding right then in another terminal. After a mad rush we jumped on board at the last minute and landed four hours later in Rome at 10 PM.

We got on the phone with the hotel owner who said that he would hold the reservation for one hour. We picked up all of our luggage including 3 checked bags (50 lbs each), 3 carry on bags (30-40 lbs each), 2 backpacks (40 lbs each), a diaper bag, a car seat, and a stroller then rushed to catch the last train of the night to the center of town. We got off at the terminal at midnight and the Google Map 15 minute walk from the station to our hotel began to lengthen as paved roads quickly turned into cobblestones, sidewalks began to disappear, road signs became non-existent, and two carry-on bags broke their wheels. An hour later we arrived at the front of an apartment building in an ancient monastic section with one buzzer with the name of our hotel. Annie was in tears as we stood outside and rang the bell only to receive no response. Rang it again, no response. Time after time we buzzed the door at 1 AM with no answer. Finally a group of bikers in leather jackets came over and helped us call the number on the booking sheet. At last the owner came down yelling in broken English, “Why did you not tell me you had a baby!? I can’t have a baby staying in this room! You have too many bags, you can’t stay here with this many bags!” He eventually allowed us to come up on the condition that Davey makes no noise at all. We set Davey down in the room, and he took two steps back into a shelf corner and began to scream uncontrollably. After an hour of yelling in Italian and English from the owner and my child we all go to sleep in our bed.

We woke up the next morning to a group of Germans staying in the closely adjacent rooms who informed us that they were in no way bothered by Davey and were glad he got some rest. He could sense our anxiety and so had trouble eating and drinking that day as well. We left early with one bag and one stroller to see all of Rome in a day, and indeed we did! We went to the Coliseum, Palatine Hill, the Forum, Trevi Fountain, 5 Oblilisks, the Pantheon, Piazza Navona, St. Angelo’s Castle, the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. We hopped on the Metro to head home when we realized how close we were to the Spanish Steps so hopped off and I climbed all the way up to the church at the top of the steps which had a service in progress. After taking a moment of reflection I began to head down only to find that my wallet had been stolen. We then began retraced our steps and discovered it had been taken by a questionable 55 year old woman on the crowded Metro who pushed through to get on at one stop and off at the next. After a considerable amount of directions from half a dozen locals we were able to locate the police station and call Visa to cancel Credit Card #2 on the only phone in the station. The American number on the back of the card wouldn’t connect internationally from the landline, but thankfully the officer happened to have the number for Visa International with whom I was connected but who had no information related to my American account. The woman was kind enough to transfer me to American Visa while the officers yelled at me in Italian to get off their only phone. The American Visa people had to transfer me to my credit union who was of course closed, but I was able to contact stolen cards and cancel the card causing us to only be out of pocket $200, a driver’s license, and some Harkins gift cards. We finished the day at the top of the Spanish Steps overlooking the city of Rome at sunset.

I exchanged the last of our saved money at the hotel for taxi fare to save our luggage and our marriage after the previous “15 minute walk” from the hotel to the station. We arrived at the airport three hours early only to discover at check-in that when our tickets were transferred from Air Canada to British Airways, Davey’s lap-infant ticket under my name did not transfer. After an hour of the lady talking on the phone she began to take a good look at our luggage and correctly assumed that our carry-on bags were overweight, our stroller was too large, and our car seat wouldn’t be allowed. An hour later we had rearranged all our weight and even found a service that could shrink wrap two of the bags together. An hour after that we had paid the fees at the counter that was still using carbon copies for credit cards. The lady eventually scribbled something on our tickets and we ran through the “dear God please help us, we’re about to miss our flight” security and hopped on the bus that took us to our plane that after the tickets were transferred over no longer had us sitting together. Thank God for Arabs who had no patience for this inconvenience and moved us around three times until we got a row together to ourselves.

Four hours later we landed in Beirut. We breezed through immigration, which was a nightmare last time, and they didn’t check any of our bags at customs. We were picked up by an old friend and taken to the apartment of our team leaders, Pierre & Gigi. Davey promptly laid down in his car seat and fell asleep having not eaten or drank well for the previous four days only to wake up at 2 AM, crawl into bed with us, and throw up everything in his stomach. He spent the next day screaming as four new teeth came in, and he continued to throw up two more times at various places in Pierre & Gigi’s home every time we put anything in his body. He woke up the next morning and we gave him water on the couch on which he promptly vomited. I then declared that it didn’t matter if we had nothing in our new apartment except a mattress we were going to move in that day and he could throw up all over the house all he wants. So we began to load all of our belongings into Pierre’s car when He said, “I still can’t believe you carried all of this through the cobblestone streets of Rome for an hour at 1 in the morning looking for your hotel.” “It was probably the worst day of our lives,” I replied. He responded, “May it remain so.” Needless to say, it didn’t remain that way.

We unloaded our bags at our apartment that only housed a 100 cm mattress for Davey and went together to buy us a mattress downtown. We put Davey on my shoulders and were joking around when Davey asked for water. Having thrown up everything for the past two days we asked him to wait until we left the store and then 30 seconds later I was holding onto his legs as he fell limp down my back. We immediately picked him up but he was unresponsive. His eyes rolled back in his head and he began to foam at the mouth. His arms tensed and shook and then went limp. I ran outside and sat on the ground with him in my arms yelling and shaking him with no response and no breathing. A worker at the mattress store screamed for me to come with him. I jumped in the car with him as he drove like a maniac through the streets of Beirut towards the nearest hospital. All he could tell me in English was, “give him breath.” I began to perform CPR on Davey whose lips had turned blue and was completely limp. After two minutes of screaming, praying, and compressions Davey woke up. The color returned to his lips and he began breathing again, but he was still unconscious as we pulled up to the hospital. They took him in and took his vitals which had begun to return to normal right before making us leave to go to a hospital with a pediatric unit. We drove continuing to pray until Davey began to cry. The sound which had been a source of stress so many times before became the sound of life that brought tears to our eyes. We brought him in to the emergency room where they performed a CAT scan and took blood work before hooking him up to an IV. Six hours later he was diagnosed as having experienced a seizure brought on by extreme dehydration compounded by every other stress experienced in the previous five days. He was released that day and we took him home and cried for the rest of the night as he slept quietly between us. He has made a full recovery.

We’re sharing this story with you for several reasons. One is that you are our family and our support system. By sending us you share in both our joys and our sufferings as we do with you. We want you to know the reality and the cost of sharing the gospel in the calling of God on our lives, but also because this is a story of God’s unending provision in times of unfathomable, crushing pain. We’ve prayed for years that God would prepare us to go and do what we have now embarked on. In so doing He has prepared stores of resilience within us that we did not know were there. As we left the first emergency room in a foreign country without any Arabic to explain what happened, without a diagnoses, carrying our unconscious child in our arms we sang this song: “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, He’s so good to me.” That came from our most profound depths to which we know that the lamb of God is worthy of all of the honor and all the glory and all the praise forever and ever. No matter the circumstances and trials of this life the majesty of the cross cannot be shaken from its foundation. His love endures forever and his mercy is everlasting. We are ineffably thankful today that the grace of God was made manifest in such a way that we still have Davey with us. We thank you for your continued support of Jesus’ ministry here in Beirut. It is your love through Christ that sustains us and holds us as the darkness of the valley gives way to an impenetrable light of healing and salvation.

Bombings In Beirut

This was posted by our team leaders in Beirut in our team’s blog, Pray4Mena.org and we thought many of you would be interested in reading it.

Bombings in Beirut – Some Perspective

Every time there’s a new series of bombings, many people ask how we can continue to work in an environment like Beirut. They want to know how to interpret what they see on the news. But one question I have for them is whether they are really much safer where they live.

The two most recent bombings, like many in the past, are a reflection of the sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, which is manifesting itself openly in the Syrian war, and boiling up from time to time in Lebanon.

This will likely continue to happen, and it’s possible that it could escalate, although we are praying that it doesn’t. So far it’s not really more than the weird “usual” of Lebanon, which tends to have assassinations and/or bombings every few months.

But for perspective, some good frames of reference are the murder rates and violent crime rates in the US. There were 500 murders in Chicago in 2012.  All the bombing victims in Beirut each year are a lot less than that, even though the Beirut metro area has a comparable population to that of Chicago, which has 2.7 million residents. Even the US department of state admits that violent crime is rare in Lebanon, so I doubt that annual murders plus bombings in Beirut would even approach half of the murders in Chicago.

But we should also remember that fatalities from car accidents are far far more likely than deaths from bombings in Beirut, or even murders in Detroit, where 1 in 1832 residents were murdered in 2012. Car accidents are the leading cause of death in most places, with the exception of some, like Ohio, where in 2007 drug overdoses surpassed motor vehicle crashes for the first time on record , or Vermont who loses more people to heroin than cars or guns, as I learned yesterday from a speech by Vermont’s governor, who devoted his entire state of the state address to heroin.

This illustrates the fact that, no matter where you live, life is dangerous. I don’t mean for this to trivialize the political and ethnic violence in the MENA region, and we certainly need to continue to pray for peace in MENA. However, having a realistic view of the world requires an acknowledgement of the frailty of human life everywhere, which should lead us to a deeper trust in God, who sustains us through every moment.

Pray for Chicago, for Ohio, and for Vermont, and don’t forget to pray for MENA!

http://pray4mena.org/2014/01/11/bombings-in-beirut-some-perspective/