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

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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!

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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.

We Have Arrived In Lebanon

We’re here at last! As soon as we got to Pierre & Gigi’s apartment Davy was off and running to play with Rami. They are having a great time together. This morning Rami didn’t want to go to daycare so that he could stay and play with “Baby David”. They are attached at the hip already.

Today we went shopping for our new apartment. First we measured and got to walk through and decide where we wanted things and then we went to buy a fridge, a washer, and a dryer. As I am typing this Louis and Pierre are off buying Davy his mattress and our water cooler. We are learning all about the electricity and how to work a gas stove.

We began to plan out our language route today as well. This is one of the methods that we learned about in our training that we are very excited to begin using. The idea is to take one day to meet as many people along a specific route as possible. Hopefully these are people who will be there every day. From the 50 or so people we try to meet that first day we will find 3-7 with whom we could visit every day along the route to practice Arabic (and later French). Shop owners are great because they expect people to come in and the chatting times are short so that we won’t be staying long. There are many shops right around our apartment, so we are going to begin working on our memorized dialogue to begin our walk once we move in and my walking blister from Rome goes away. A reason we love this language project so much is that it initiates relationships right away.