Halfway Point of Our Summer

Time Has Flown By

Time has been going by so fast! The kids & I (Annie) are halfway through our time in America. If you haven’t seen us yet, please don’t hesitate to call or email, our schedule is pretty flexible and open and we want to see as many of you as possible.

I think the halfway point is a good time to share with you what my strategy for fundraising has been and is on this trip.

The idea to come for the summer without Louis was given to me by God when we were here last December and January. That winter trip was all about our family, getting Kyrie’s surgery accomplished, and celebrating her healing. We spent Christmas with our families, and we did not spend much time visiting with the people who support us, and we did not spend any time finding new partners.

Because of that lack of contact, I was inspired to start planning this trip to America around creating and deepening our partnerships. At the same time, I knew that the security training I would be attending would need a great deal of reflection and prayer. Needing a great deal of time to sit quietly and pray seemed at odds with running around to see every person who might be able to give financially or otherwise.

So, I asked God to give me clear directions that I could obey.

Engage

 

The word God gave me was Engage. Engage is the title of Horizons International’s course to teach people how to engage with Muslims. I have always been able to use the training to engage with basically anyone. It has given me a framework to reach out to non-Christians and Christians alike. Therefore, it was easy for me to hear God say I needed to use this framework in Arizona.

Not only do I want to Engage with people here, but to help people Engage with the ministry in Lebanon. There are so many ways to do this, and the first part is just having a relationship with us.

Also, I want to be an encouragement to people here in the States, to share ways that you have all kept us afloat and the joys of new ministries, stable ministries, growing ministries that I see in our communities here. These ministries that we have seen grow while we have been in Lebanon are such an encouragement to us as well.

Isn’t This a Fundraising Trip?

When I ask Kyrie a yes or no question, her answer is usually, “Yes or No”. While it is confusing when she says it, it is the most appropriate answer for me here.

Yes or no.

I am here hoping to be fully funded, but I am not raising money the way we did our first year of fundraising.

The money I am basically leaving in God’s hands. Yes, we are under funded and need to raise our amount in order to stay in Lebanon, but I believe God wants us in Lebanon, and so that part of the ministry will be taken care of by God.

I do not want to make it hard to give us money, however, so CLICK HERE if you would like to start giving monthly, or a one time gift.

Throughout this post I have linked previous articles that relate, so if you see a link, click on it to find out more of the story. Especially for those new to the blog, this is a great way to work your way back through time to connect with us.

If God is leading you to become a financial partner, CLICK HERE to donate through Horizons. There is a drop-down menu to designate funds for Louis Liss.

Annie will be in the States until August 20! 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.

If the appointment page is confusing, I made a walkthrough HERE.

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The Saga Continues aka Never Use Humana

It turns out that our insurance company has spun us around too long and now Kyrie’s surgery has been cancelled. The hospital requires 14 days prior to be cleared, but we are past that now, so the surgery was cancelled. While we are furious, we have some hope in that the doctor thinks she might be big enough now to do the procedure in his office, so we are praying that the waiver with our insurance goes through prior to September 1st, which is the new date to attempt this procedure in his office. Please pray for us.

Many people are just as confused as we are in this process, so I would like to take a moment to put in Summary This Process from Kyrie’s Birth to Now.

  • Louis and I chose to have Kyrie here in the States because of the trauma of taking Davy to the hospital two days into our move to Lebanon. We also desperately want our children to know their family here (whether through blood or otherwise). This is a decision we will take up into prayer in the future as we continue to have children.
  • Upon arriving in the States we entered into the process of getting insurance that would cover us having Kyrie and any problems that might ensue for any of us while we were here. (In the future Humana will NOT be an insurance we choose). The numbers on paper looked good, and we were saved from thousands of dollars in the hospital having her by getting insurance.
  • When Kyrie was born the pediatrician that comes to see the babies found that she had an imperforate hymen. I, Annie, had this as well, but it was not discovered until I was about 8 and had had many infections, and it was quite traumatic for me to get the procedure done. So, we were blessed to find out about the need for surgery so early on.
  • We immediately made appointments for Davy and Kyrie to see our pediatrician here, but then found out that while our pediatrician does work with Humana they do not work with the specific Humana plan we have, making him out of network. Our idea of having a pediatrician we could always come to in the States was gone, and the referral he had given us for the surgery was also worthless. So we spent some time finding an in network pediatrician. The one we found has too many patients and not enough pediatricians, so every appointment we make is a month or so out. By the time we saw her to get another referral months were passing.
  • With the referral we made an appointment with a surgeon, but the earliest they could see us was June.
    At this point we made the decision for Louis and Davy to go to Lebanon without Kyrie and I in May. We had teams coming to Lebanon for our first sets of summer trips for VBS and we needed to have Louis there for that. We sent Davy in the hope that the surgery would happen soon after the consult and we could join them ASAP.
  • The teams went well, great in fact, but Davy did not handle the separation well. He was having a terrible time, as were we all, and the consult led to a surgery date of August 27th. So, we brought the boys back in the beginning of July. We took time in Colorado to check in with Horizons.
  • When we got back to Arizona in the middle of July, Louis spent an entire day on the phone with Humana to determine how the procedure would be covered. We made sure to do it over a month before so that there would be no surprises. We gave all the information to the surgeon’s office who said that it sounded routine.
  • Now it is August, her surgery is approaching and we receive a call from the surgeon’s office saying that Humana has denied coverage. Two more days Louis has now sat on the phone with Humana, our primary care pediatrician, and the surgeon’s office. The information we had at first, Humana claims, is wrong. And now that it is a week away from the surgery, the surgeon’s office cannot keep our place in line at the hospital, so the surgery has been cancelled for August 27th. The surgeon’s office and our pediatrician are very nice and on our side of this and have been working hard to help us out and get us back together as a family and back to Lebanon. Humana has blocked us at every turn. We are hopeful now that Kyrie is big enough to have the procedure accomplished in office at the surgeon’s on September 1st.

    Please pray:

    • For the doctors and assistants who have been tirelessly working alongside us to get this taken care of now.
    • For the increasing stress to not take a toll (Louis and I have both begun to get sick during all of this and have had several minor injuries that I just know are a result of the stress. Davy and I have begun have nightmares every night again as well.)
    • For us to be able to put our energy into our work for Horizons and in discipling our senders here in the States (Look forward to some announcements soon of workshops we would like to do with those of you interested in learning more about ways to help out our mission to Lebanon and other missionaries you may know.)
    • For clarity as we make decisions for our family
    • For comfort in this time of disappointment and frustration

You do not know how important each one of you is to our lives. Without your prayers, concern, and love we would not be able to do any of this. We are battling loneliness and fear and culture shock all the time, but are able to see the hundreds of you that are supporting us by receiving this newsletter, and we know that you are behind us 100%. That is why we are running to you now with our need. We need prayer more than ever. Please ask your churches, small groups, friends, pastors, and anyone you can think of to join us in prayer as we approach this September 1st appointment. Thank you.

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.

Philippians 1:3-5

I Know I Don’t Know But Soon I’ll Understand – By Louis Liss

Thank you so much for your support over this last season of ministry. David and I returned to Lebanon 7 weeks ago while Annie and Kyrie stayed in America awaiting the impending surgery. I have always been gifted with a strong reliance on God’s plans above my own. I have often been the one counseling that God is in charge even if we don’t understand what He is doing. For now almost 2 months I have had a trying time of challenges and frustrations. This time has been concurrent with my devotional life as I have spent the last few years returning time and time again to John 15. Jesus continually calls me to trim what is not of Him so that the fruit that He has prepared can receive the light and attention it deserves. Right now I am going through a season of Spirit motivation and Spirit resilience. Tragically my default is apathy and I have relied heavily on my wonderful wife to speak inspiration into my life. Now that I only can speak to her when both she and I are exhausted, Annie and I have had to tap into our reserves of resilience to hear clearly what God wants for each day and rise early each morning to share the Gospel with the lost.

From this tumultuous ordeal God has been producing the following fruit:

  1. 6 Months ago Annie and I heard God calling us to start a new project where teams from around the world come and put on a VBS. We spent the next half a year planning and preparing a team of 12 from Denver to come and launch this new VBS Export project. Our national staff thought we might get 50 kids. Instead we got 150 kids. Every day kids poured in to hear the Gospel and have fun with our international team and national staff. We now have a new program to host each summer for kids to receive the Gospel and become disciples.
  2. We are establishing a silk road of Chinese missionaries from Hong Kong to begin sending teams and interns to learn how to reach the 23,000,000 Muslims in China.
  3. One of our missiological mottos is “Arab to Arab Ministry”. This week we are hosting our first Arab American team from San Francisco who is reaching out in Arabic to disciple new believers and pray for others to accept the Lord.
  4. I met with a leader of Walk Through The Bible to get more discipleship curriculum into the hands of our National staff as more and more people are coming to Christ in need of discipleship.
  5. We had two weeks of free clinics. From the people who served at these clinics some showed interest in returning to become local interns.

Though the fruit may be obvious, the attacks of feeling defeated, alone, and inadequate are constant. David has struggled immensely and because our organization does not recommend families separate for longer than 2 months, David and I will be returning to the states in time for Kyrie’s surgery. This has not worked out the way we planned at all and I don’t yet know why, but I know whether in this life or the next at some point I will understand.

Please pray for:

    David and I to get our exit visas this week so we can leave the country.

    Our flight back to America to be safe and uneventful.

    For the surgery to be blessed by God and in His timing.

Good News

    First off, thank you to everyone who has joined with us in prayer the last few weeks. If you fasted and prayed along with Louis that Friday or any day since we so appreciate it. We truly do need your prayers far more than your money, and this would have been a terrible time if not for your prayers lifting us up.

We have good news!

    Because this time apart has been so hard on all four of us, and through much prayer, God has given us peace about Louis and Davy returning in the beginning of July. YAY!!!

Kids Camp VBS was a success.

    There were 150 kids at the VBS run by our first team every day. The gospel was preached, and relationships were built, so our goals were met. We are hopeful that some of the people from the team will return to Lebanon in the future with this same church group and as interns. We would like churches that partner with us to begin to build a yearly or biennially (every other year) team to return and continue to build on the relationships and work done.

    In addition to the VBS the team helped with our food distribution by packing bags. We were able to order more food because we knew this team would be there, so more families can be aided through the summer months with the additional food packaged. They participated in the evening services and attended church with the Syrian refugees.

    We were also thrilled to be able to improve accommodation options before their arrival so that they could stay in our new guest house. The male members of the team still stayed at the center, and the whole team got to experience the full immersion into another language at the center. It was a great team, and we were blessed to have them. Contrary to the past, this team was able to support and serve our staff instead of be a burden on them. We were very glad to have found a way to make this work because we know that the way that a person gets into long term missions is through a short term trip, and the way that churches and individuals can best invest in their missionaries is to continue to learn about and understand the mission they are on. We want to provide churches and individuals the opportunity to come to Lebanon to help out at the center because we know it disciples them.

    One very exciting part of this trip was the acceptance and involvement of our staff. From the shaky beginning when Louis and I became “In charge of the foreigners” until now there has been radical change. A wonderful sign of their love for this team as well as an exciting opportunity we had to share the gospel in a tangible and lasting way is that the team was able to hand out picture Bibles in Arabic to the kids at the end of the camp that showed up with our staff members the last day! God provides.

    Between now and when Louis arrives we will have another team coming. They will not be running a VBS because they were able to gather a team with a majority knowing Arabic. We are hoping to have them join the ministries already happening, take over some teachings, and be at the center in the same way our staff is with less guidance and oversight. They will be able to jump into discipleship and in depth ministry with all ages at the center. Then, with both of those debriefs in his back pocket, Louis will hop on a plane and head home.

What We Will Be Doing With Our Extra Time In America

    These two very different teams will help us continue to shape our curriculum for orientation and training of individuals and teams coming to Lebanon. The experiences we have had in Tirosh, Via de Cristo, and Chayah have all prepared us for being able to easily identify the roots of issues that come up and determine how best to handle them in the future. Photography, dress code, gender issues, etc. We are using the debriefs that Louis has and will have completed to make trainings, orientations, etc. effective and always better.

    If you are thinking that you would like to join a team or host a team to Lebanon in the future, just let us know and we can begin helping you determine what would be necessary to plan a trip.

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.

Upcoming Training

We want to let you all know about the training that we are going to this April. So here is a summary of the information pulled from the website (Click Here to see the complete website). We will be attending the Compass training from March 31 through April 26 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Compass is designed to help cross-cultural missionaries develop skills and attitudes to successfully make it through culture shock and adaptation. Many missionaries last a short time on the mission field because there is a lack of pre-field training, and there are huge expectations set on them. One of the ways in which Compass will help with this is by giving us tools to acquire new languages quickly, which will make us more effective immediately. This will allow us to connect with the people we meet in their heart language. We will learn techniques in entering a new culture in areas of stress, team dynamics, conflicts, Sabbath rest, and relationship skills.

Your prayers are essential as we experience this opportunity together as a family. It has been many years since we have attended a training instead of running it ourselves. Davy has never had an experience of being in daycare throughout the day as he will there. I (Annie) am very nervous about it all, but feel that the Holy Spirit has been calling me out onto the ledge, to live less in safety, and more in vulnerability. I want to find God in every experience instead of relying on comfort and routine. I am excited to see what God is going to do with us there, and how we will be able to change our attitudes and increase our hope and joyfulness in these times of uncertainty.