Overdue Update

3 07 2009

Hi!  I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to blog or share pictures as much I’d hoped – we got moved from the rooms with internet and so updates are much harder to manage.  Since a lot has happened since I last posted, I’ll share the highlights.

– I’ve spent two weeks in Bourj Hammoud now, working with the coordinator between the Armenian school system and World Vision.  It is a dense neighborhood, with tiny alleys for streets, and much poverty.  My placement has been a bit challenging, as it has lacked clear direction and I’ve had to really take initiative to understand how everything works, but I’ve been grateful to see how some development programs are working.  I’ll spend the next two weeks at Howard Karagheusian Center, a social service organization that provides education and health services.  I think I’ll be spending time with some teenage girls who have dropped out of high school but are receiving skills training at the center.  I met them last week when they were on retreat at Bylos and we bonded really quickly.  I’m excited to be in their lives for a brief period.

– This city is the most chaotic place I’ve ever been.  I spend about 3 – 3 1/2 hours every day in the car, which is quite draining, especially considering it’s about 92 degrees with 50% humidity, and often the cars don’t have air conditioning.  There are traffice lanes, but no one drives in them, and I am now learning the various ways one can communicate using their horn.  There is a honk to let someone know you are passing them, one to let them know they can merge, one to tell them not to merge, there is a Christian honk (yes, seriously) and a Muslim honk, and honks for various political parties, one to tell someone to hurry up, and one to let everyone know you are angry.  On a positive note, I am the last person to get dropped off in the mornings, which means I get to spend 2 hours seeing many parts of the city as people shuffle to work.  I’ve been praying for the places we drive through, and learning a lot from our kind and knowledgeable driver.

– On the weekends we are taking opportunities to travel.  Last weekend we went north to Tripoli and the mountains.  We saw the Cedars (referenced often in the Bible) and the beautiful Maronite village of Bcharre.  We then covered our heads and wandered the ancient souq of (the predominantly Muslim) Tripoli, picking up some hand made natural soaps and ate the BEST baklava I’ve every tasted in my LIFE.  This weekend we’re heading south to Tyre and Sidon (maybe you’ve heard of them?), and, hopefully the heavily guarded border region between Lebanon and Israel.  Please pray for our safety, though we are in good hands with a local friend who is taking us.

Overall, I’m really enjoying the hospitality of so many here, and am learning, learning, learning.  The days have been draining – we leave at 7:30 every morning and don’t return often until 9:30 or 10:00 pm every night.  But, I’m finally starting to feel more settled and find my rhythm.  Things take a little less energy now, which is good.  And, I have, after two full weeks of study, finally learned the Arabic alphabet!  I’m also trying to pick up a few Armenian sayings.

Please pray for me in the evenings/nights (my morning times) for digestive health (ha – yeah, I just blogged that).  Actually, the whole team has been having a lot of trouble for over a week straight now, and the mornings are the hardest for me.  It’s getting a bit wearing for us.  Many have been down for the count in the last few days.  Also, please pray for good recharging time and that I will find/create more alone time with God.  Seriously, things have just been nonstop, and I am really craving some spiritual refreshment.  Also, I’m really struggling with feeling inadequate – please pray that God will speak to me about this.

I miss home!  (And that means, I miss YOU!).  Actually, we’re about half-way through now…so I will see you soon!  I am praying for many of you, as God brings you to mind.  Hope to write more soon!

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