I would liken living in Lebanon over the past 2 years to wearing a belt and every few months it gets tightened by 1/2 a notch whether the owner has lost weight or not. A forced tightening. Equalling an increasing discomfort. This has mostly been felt by the 90% devaluation of the Lebanese pound, the extreme gas shortage, the lack of necessary medicines to be found, and the hopelessness expressed by most everyone living there. I strongly dislike a tight waistband and find that all my clothing, that resembles anything of this sort, rarely get worn. But sometimes we don’t get to choose what is put on us, as that is the case with all of us living in Lebanon.
For us personally, though challening, we have more than most.
Anytime I am out in the community people will ask me, “Why are you here?” It is the most common question I am asked in Lebanon by strangers. Strangers baffelled at why we would stay, when all they want to do is leave.
It is a good question and demands a thoughtful answer. One that can’t always be fully explained. I mean it would be much easier to leave than to stay. Who wants to sit in line for gas, that can only be obtained in the morning and for waiting long periods of time? In addition, sometimes the gas station will close before you reach the pump and often they will only give you less than a gallon. I am just reading that it is now taking days to find gas and up to 4 hours in line. Who wants to come and listen to the endless stories of people who had years of savings in the bank and can no longer access it or who say that this is harder than living through the war as far as available resources? Who wants to volunteer to be paid in Lebanese pound right now?
Ohh. Ohh. ME!!!!! With my hand eagerly waving in the air. Pick me!
A calling. A deep resolve. A bigger reason. This is why we are in Lebanon and this is why we stay. It cannot be simply explained. Nor casually dismissed or disregarded or abandoned, like reaching the end of the day and finally being able to take off the outfit that was too tight.
Despite the tightening, there is joy to be found! In the early weeks of June, our second oldest and our youngest sons’ were able to visit Lebanon. Despite the gas shortage, we managed to take them all over Lebanon. From the shores and Souks of Sidon, to the ruins in Byblos and Balbek, to the caves and the Cedars, to the quaint mountain towns and more. We went to the cake shop and ate enough fun Medeterranian and Indian cusine to make us all loosen the belt a notch. A fun highlight was the paraglide jump we all decided to take. It was a leap that I don’t regret. As is our leap to live in Lebanon.
For the month of July we are in the States. We cherish the intentional moments with our families. I’m having to fit 50+ clinical observation hours in as a requirement for a Masters in Nursing Education. Next week Darron and I have set it aside to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. The following week we will fly out West to hang out with our 4 guys and 2 girls (and granddog)! Then 2 days later we will be back in Lebanon. It has been meaningful to step away and gain rest, perspective, and loosen the Lebanon belt for a few weeks.
However, after 10 years of doing this oversea living thing, I can truly say that even though one may step away from a country to vacation it is still in their hearts and minds while away. That countries’ belt is still worn, becuase that belt is not a fashion statement. Ha! Not in the least. Rather it represents the people we care for that live there and who we call friends and chosen family. It also represents the nation/s that we are praying for and that are now part of our story. A story that grows richer every day depsite the poverty all around us.
We are so grateful for your prayers and your love towards us. Thank you for continuing to read and to want to know what is going on in our lives. If you would like to write back and share about the belt that you are wearing right now, we would be honored to listen. Courage to you, as we all have to suck our bellies in, and cling to faith, in these unusual days we are living in.