Many people are asking how the recent explosion in Lebanon will impact us returning and our lives there and our work? These are questions that we don’t have answers to. However, there is one thing we do know, that one year settled looks and feels so much different than two months settled. The spaghetti like roads, with mazes in between apartment buildings are now familiar pathways. The flowers planted and the ivy growing give root to the word, home. The church bells that ring just a block from our home remind us that we are in a new land, with the call to prayers from the mosque in the distant background. The friends we have become more special as we begin to form a foundation of shared memories and experiences together. I am grateful that my heart is finally at peace with over a year of great transition.
My graduate class work is pushing me to know what is going on in the Lebanese nursing world. I had the recent opportunity to meet with the head of the Order of Nurses in Lebanon (ONL), the voice for change in Lebanon (ONL is similar to our State board officials where we are registered as nurses in U.S.). Dr. Doumit is passionate about raising the bar of the nursing image in Lebanon. Issues on the table are salaries, paid vacations, stability in the workplace, safety in the workplace, retention of nurses and advanced nursing opportunities. Evidence based studies have been performed in the recent years that speak into the push and pull of why nurses leave to work somewhere else and what would attract them to come back. There are three times as many doctors as there are nurses in Lebanon and it is not a respected profession. However, Dr. Doumit and her team hope to change that, as I do.
I have been writing down things that I appreciate about Lebanon to help shift my feelings. Specific gratitude has had a significant impact on my attitude in the vast transition that we have traversed. I will share a month’s worth of specific things I like about Lebanon. This has been a great activity as it is easy to get discouraged in a nation that is in severe economic crises, a persisting revolution and a people that will tell you over and over that they have no hope (and now add to that daunting list, the devastating explosion).
The fruit is incredible. We have enjoyed experiencing seasons again. Every evening there is a gorgeous sunset. The mountains are refreshing and dotted with quaint villages. There is no rain for 4-5 months, so when it comes the earth drinks in. We live near a pine trail that is renewing. We have a sweet little backyard that has become a flower haven. With a two-minute walk we can always catch a glimpse of the sea. Most evenings, as the sun sets it leaves amazing red shadows on our living room wall and on the back wall of our garden.
The people are what make a country and a home. We are enjoying making friendships and memories with both nationals and expatriates. There is a richness to the Lebanese culture and learning about it. I have been impressed with the level of higher education here in the academic settings. Our homeschool friends have been a great support group. The refugees steal my heart every time I am with them. It was a blessing to have had concentrated time with Jacob and Nathaniel before they leaped from the nest this summer. The teens are another part of the people here who I am grateful for and pray for often.
In pure human pleasure it is nice to live in a country where there is yummy food, nice shopping (if you can handle the exchange rate and the floundering Lebanon pound which changes daily), lovely places to eat and visit, vegetarian food, and one of our favorite treats, which is called a fruit cocktail (nonalcoholic). It is also a blessing to not live quite so third world as we did for the last 8 years. We also appreciate having access to excellent medical care.
In seriousness it is strengthening to be doing what we feel God is asking us to do. Living here stretches me. There are many opportunities here that were not present in Papua, for involvement. There are lessons that can only be learned here in Lebanon and the Middle East. There is sharpening in the journey and affirmation.
In closing, I have been enriched by a study I just completed by Priscilla Shirer on Jonah, she states, “The interrupted life is a significant life.” Moving to Lebanon has been an interruption in what my plans were, but at last I accept this season we find our selves in. I am no longer running to the Ninivah (in my heart), but I willingly embrace, that for now, we are to return to Lebanon. Our home.
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