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!”

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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.

Thank You For Everything: The Procedure Was Successful! Kyrie Rebekah Is All Better!

Dear Friends and Family,

    We cannot express with words how overwhelmed we have been from the outpouring of support, prayers, and encouragement from our sending community. Let me give a quick summary of the issue and then an update on Kyrie’s improvement:

For an in depth timeline of the past 21 months CLICK HERE

  • March 28th, 2015: Kyrie was born with an imperforate hymen that blocked fluids necessary for menses. Shortly after being diagnosed, a cist appeared in the area of the hymen causing sores, puss, and continual pain.
  • We applied for the procedure to be covered with our insurance at the time and was denied.
  • We attempted a painful out-patient procedure without anesthesia which was unsuccessful.
  • We applied for two international insurance companies and were denied because of a pre-existing condition requiring a surgery they wouldn’t cover anyway.
  • We attempted the painful out-patient procedure again without result.
  • November 2015: Our family returned to Lebanon
  • The pain grew steadily worse and Kyrie began sleeping 15-20 hours a day to manage the pain.
  • We attempted to get the surgery done in Lebanon but there was no one at our Lebanese hospital who was equipped to perform this uncommon procedure on a child so young.
  • December 2016: We returned to America to have the pediatric urological surgery with a specialist.
  • One week prior to the procedure the bulge from the cist subsided.
  • Prior to inducing the general anesthesia we attempted the painful out-patient procedure one last time and this time it was successful!!!
  • We asked our specialist how it was possible for the cist to subside enough for the procedure to be successful and he answered, “You must have had a lot of people praying for you. God must not have wanted her to be put to sleep.”

Kyrie did not have to go under and she has made a 180% change. She is bubbly, laughing, and awake all the time.

She is ALL better!

This is possible because of God’s response to all of your prayers and support. God has shown a sign of His provision in the wilderness. Though our sorrow and struggle has lasted for countless nights, His joy has come in the morning. We could not have gotten through this period of our lives without you all being an ever present comfort to us. We can’t wait for you to meet our joyful little delighted daughter that has been encased in pain for so long. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.

With Deepest Affection,

Louis, Annie, David, & Kyrie Liss

10 Days & Counting! America, Here We Come!

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I really love this picture of Davy looking out over Lebanon and seeing the song he made up, “Our City”! What a beautiful moment.

If you want to receive our contact information when we get American phone numbers for the month we are in the States, make sure you are on our email list by CLICKING HERE!

This week we so appreciate those of you praying with us. If you are on our prayer team (which you can join by CLICKING HERE) you have been receiving detailed prayer requests straight to your email each day. Next week we are going to continue praying about these same 7 topics, and I will report a little bit on what we prayed about this current week. If you would like to receive our prayer letters in your email, please CLICK HERE!

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Our fundraising site for Kyrie has been such a success! Because we budget to travel every 3 months and this trip comes after only 2 months, and it is much more expensive to fly to America than Cyprus, our budget is struggling to manage this lurch in timing. On the site we asked for people to provide meals by either having us over to eat or by bringng a freezer meal to one of our parents’ houses. However, the link has not been working for people. Please don’t despair. You can just send us an email or comment below and we can coordinate with you. If you would like to give toward the travel costs and appointments surrounding the surgery, there is still time to donate on the GiveForward site (you can give on the site up until the day of the surgery, December 28th).

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Of course, if God is putting it on your heart in these times of prayer to join with us financially for a one time or repeat donation to support our ministry here in Lebanon, the high schoolers and visitors we hope to increase our time with and curriculum for and the expenses of life, you can always become one of our financial partners through the Horizons Donation Page, which has many options for joining with us as well. Just put Louis Liss in the memo. This will go towards our future here in Lebanon.

The final plug I have for today is about an upcoming Writing Challenge Annie is putting on. The purpose is to kickstart the blogging habit in the New Year. If you would like to Join this FREE 21 Day Writing Challenge, CLICK HERE! If you want to follow Annie’s blogs through this challenge so you can pray and stay up to date during our month in America, or if you are hoping to finish that Christmas letter by February, or if you also want to kickstart a writing habit for a journal, prayer life, or blog, this Challenge is for you, too! Please join Annie. You will only get the Prompts if you CLICK HERE! The Challenge begins December 15th!

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.

Baby Update

In this post:

  1. Thank You
  2. Gender
  3. Due Date
  4. Name
  5. Health Insurance
  6. New Contact Information For Us
  7. Coming Soon…

First of all, thank you to everyone who has been able to take time this holiday season to see us amidst everything you are up to. Thank you to everyone who has helped us set up events to share about Lebanon and hopefully gain some new partners. We have so much hope for our family return because of these essential times of reconnecting with all of you and feeling your love. Thank you for all your prayers, donations, food, hugs, stories, and listening.

We have been rushing around like crazy to see everyone and do as much fundraising as possible before Louis leaves on December 29th to go back to Lebanon. As always, you, our faithful team have been caring for us in so many ways. One thing we have not stopped to share is the details about our upcoming baby. Mostly because we just haven’t had the time, and so we wanted to take time to share with you all we know about this upcoming baby. There are so many things that you all have been asking us, so we want to answer as much as we can, but if you have any questions please leave a comment on the blog or reply in an email and I will happily get back to you. We love you all so much, I put the outline of what will follow so you can skip down to any information you want to know.

It’s A Girl!

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Due Date

March 28th, 2015 is the official due date.

Last time our doctor wanted to induce earlier due to Davy’s size and since the healing process took a long time we want to follow any advice in that direction as we get closer, so we are keeping an open mind for the two weeks prior as well. And Louis will be back in time for Valentine’s Day, February 13th he lands in Phoenix, so he will have plenty of time to be here when we have to go to the hospital.

Name

Kyrie Rivkah Liss

Yes, there is a lot of story behind her name that we will share more of in the upcoming months, but we will start with just the definitions of the name. The Kyrie is a liturgical song, it is Greek, meaning Lord have mercy. Rivkah means Rebekah.

Health Insurance

We have health insurance beginning January 1st. We opted to start out with out of pocket so that we could start having doctor’s visits, and the ultrasound since we are already over half way along. Beginning January 1st all three of us will be covered until we are one month away from leaving. Then we will be switching to Good Neighbor Insurance, which specializes in missionary insurance. Once again, there is a lot more information some of you might be interested in, and I am happy to answer any questions. Just shoot me a message.

Liss Contact Information

Whether about any of this information above or anything else we want to stay in touch with all of you, but since getting back we haven’t had a very good way to get our contact information out there. If you do not receive our emails CLICK HERE. We don’t want to post all of our information on our plublic blog, but it will be emailing out with our newsletter.

Coming Soon…

We are working on some business cards and brochures with Horizons which we will be able to offer soon, and would really appreciate if all of you would take a few to share with friends and help get our work out there to some new people who might be interested in coming out to help, or funding our being in Lebanon. As we continue to prepare for baby, we still need to get enough for our monthly pledges in order to be 100% funded when we go back. Our budget will be changing slightly as we reevaluate what we actually need on each line item, and include newer expenses. Stay tuned, and email us if you have any way of helping us with fundraising or just want to know more about how everything works.