Check List

25 07 2009

A quick word before I share some of the wonderful things I’ve done and seen in the past week.  It is with great sadness that I share the news I just received – the passing of my beloved grandfather, Cecil Smith III, who for years wrote for the LA Times and instilled in me a love for writing.  It is in memory of him and his love of all things global and adventurous that I write this brief update.

– Arrive in Amman: check.

– Rent a car, purchase a “map”, and drive the winding and Arabic-signed streets of Jordan cities and villages: check.

– Wander along the Jordan River and visit the site where Jesus was baptized: check.

– Take in the expanse of the Promised Land, from where Moses did atop Mount Nebo: check.

– Get lost in random Jordanian village, only to be led by an overly friendly village man to a delicious Turkish meal and tea in the back of his hardware store.  Throw roadtrip schedule out the window: check.

– drive through the WILDERNESS: check.

– wander the majestic rock carvings and canyons of Petra, by candlelight: check.

– make friens with other tourists: check.

– drive through the WILDERNESS: check.

– watch the sunset over the red sands and mountains of Wadi Rum.  Camp under the stars in the Jordanian Desert: check.

– drive through the WILDERNESS: check.

– eye the Red Sea as we drive through Aqaba: check.

– float in the salty waters of the Dead Sea.  Rub mineral-laden mud all over me.  watch the sun set over Palestine: check.

– wander the souqs of ancient Damascus, stroll Straight Street, visit the house of Ananias where Paul was healed of his blindness and the part of the wall where he was lowered down in a basket to escape the Jewish leaders who were after him: check.

– enjoy the Middle East: check.


My Weekend

6 07 2009


– Met with a Shiite Sheik for dialogue about his life and religion.

– Met with a Muslim follower of Christ about his experiences.


– Climbed a Crusader castle in Sidon.

– Learned how old school soap was made at the Soap Museum.

– Wandered the alleys of the ancient souq (market).

– Drank a LOT of water.

– Drove to Tyre and checked into our little hotel on the Mediterranean Coast (ie, sea right outside my window).

– Lounged on the rocky shore and watched the sun set over the sea.

– Counted UN vehicles scattered throughout the city.  Lost count.

– Dined at a Lebanese restaurant.  We arrived at 10pm.  The place was empty.  Party (and live Arabic music) started at 11.  The people, arak, and hookah started flowing by 12.  We left at about 12:30 and were apparently the only ones with such a silly idea.  Arrived back at our hotel by 1am to a loud and vibrant crowd at the beach hut below.  The reggae (which apparently goes with “beach” in every language) boomed loudly until at least 3am.  These people know how to party.


– Usual breakfast of labneh (really thick yogurt), pita, and fresh apricot jam.  Read how Jesus healed a persistent woman’s daughter in this same city (See Mark 7:24-30).

– Wandered the ancient port – the same one the Apostle Paul arrived to when he spent a week in Tyre (Acts 21:1-6).

– Strolled through ancient Roman ruins and skipped across the largest Roman hippodrome in the world.

– Entered the border region between Lebanon and Israel/Palestine.  Drove along the border, on what could barely be described as a road, through villages destroyed by the recent war.  Some being rebuilt.

– Met a Christian UN peacekeeper from Indonesia.  Looked inside a $6 million UN tanker.  Wore a UN peacekeeper’s helmet (it’s heavy).  Looked out across northern Israel/Palestine (the Valley of Kiryat Shmona).

– Climbed through the rubble of the notorious prison of Khiam, where Lebanese prisoners/civilians were tortured by Israeli soldiers.  Now a museum run by Hezbollah.  The Israeli Air Force destroyed it in the 2006 conflict.  We all pretty much wanted to throw up after seeing the consequences of hate, violence, conflict and revenge.  As I walked all I could say was “Lord, have mercy.”

Prayer Requests:

-After so many hours in the van on really rough roads, I woke up today with really bad vertigo and had to stay home.  Keep praying for my health.  Though I am seeing answers from my last health request.  thank you!

– Starting a new practicum placement this week.  Pray for God to guide me specifically for how I should spend my time at the Karaghuesian Center.  Will likely be spending time with teenage girls who have dropped out of school.  Pray for God to use me to influence their lives.

– Only two weeks to go – keep praying that God will draw near with his presence, and that I will keep learning for his kingdom!  I have been really encouraged and spurred on by each note, comment, email and prayer.  Seriously, thank you so very much!  I’m praying for you too!

ps: i’m having trouble now uploading pics to my blog for some reason.  not sure when i’ll have time to figure out how to fix it.  so sorry!  hopefully you can see my uploads on facebook!