I never dreamed I would live in the Middle East.
I had no desire to live in the Middle East.
Not even one little drop of curiosity. Only fear and complete lack of interest were my emotions.
So, imagine, that in the past 2 months I have spent the better part of a week in 5 different Middle East countries. Each one, uniquely delighting my heart and awakening new dreams that I never imagined could take place. I will share a few quick glimpses of precious encounters in each country.
Dubai was the first country. It’s glitz and glamour were a striking contrast to Lebanon’s raw and real. I was in long days of training there, but on one evening gracious hosts took us to eat overlooking the amazing fountain displays and laser shows.
In addition, we snuck in a day at the impressive World Expo. However, the highlight was meeting up with my cousin Aaron who lives and works in downtown Dubai. My Uncle and Aunt had just flown in from the States. Aaron paid for my taxi ride back to where I was staying, an hour away. He asked me to use the money to bless someone else. The very next day I met a stranded Ukrainian couple who had flown to Dubai for a holiday. Unbelievable, the day after they arrived in Dubai the war broke out. It was so special to be able to press the taxi money into their hands that Aaron had spared me. In addition, an amazing answer to prayer happened in Dubai…but I will save that for a separate blog.
Two weeks later, I was jetting to Jordan with Darron. There were many days spent with precious people who are putting their whole hearts into making a difference with others. Meals shared, conversations had, time walking and driving the streets, do much to awaken dreams for a country that before was just a place on the map.
Back to Lebanon and over a long weekend we had the pleasure of showing a family around Lebanon, who are planning to move here. Most people are trying to leave Lebanon because of the desperate economic situation. Yet, this family went through the devaluation of money in Venezuela, so they are not intimidated by what is happening here. When most people come to Lebanon, they want to see the ancient ruins, or the old souks (markets). However, one of their daughters had never seen snow, so this was hands down, a dream, at the top of their list. We had a fun day taking them only an hour from our home to very deep snow, in April.
As this family flew back to their host country, we flew to Iraq. There I enjoyed looking through the old photo albums that told the story of a thriving church in cities where no longer a church is allowed. The photos shouted years of fellowship and community, and now 98% of those people have left the country. It was special to bond more with the 2% that have stayed. In addition, I had the amazing opportunity to travel out to “Adventist Help Hospital” one evening, where an emergency room is being run every night in an extremely large IDP (internally displaced) refugee camp. This ED is looking for foreign doctors and nurses who want to do 3 months of volunteer work. Soon they hope to be open 24 hours. It was thrilling, I dream of going back soon and teaching different health programs that they can use throughout the camp.
Two week later found me in Turkey. For a change, Darron followed me and took a few days of much needed R and R. There we had the amazing opportunity to travel to a little island by boat and participate in a Health Expo. Every year, thousands of Turkish people and tourist come and put a string up the mountain to the church as a way of giving thanks. What made the Turkey trip just thrilling beyond my imagination was that our oldest son Aubrey and his wife (Mia) joined us. We flew onto Cappadocia together. Cappadocia is known for its underground city, unusual rock formations and hot air balloons. Mia was ready with her camera and dresses to capture incredible photos. Memorably, Mia and I experienced a Turkish bath one afternoon. We have stories to tell!
Aubrey and Mia flew back to Lebanon with us and in 3 days we did a whirlwind tour of some of the highlights here. What a treat. As they flew back to America, 12 hours later I flew to Bahrain. There I had the amazing opportunity to work with 2 co-workers and train 33 people in CREATION Health, Breathe Free 2 and Health Expo. It was fantastic to teach live, and not on Zoom! Right before heading home, we slipped into a beautiful mosque. To go inside, us ladies had to cover up. The guide who showed us around did an excellent job of explaining things and this will remain as a highlight to me of our time in the Middle East and Bahrain.
I am so blessed to have this opportunity to travel where I never imagined or dreamed. It broadens my vision and expands my heart to love instead of being afraid. Sometimes we must trust God with His leading, even when we don’t understand it. Even when we cry against it. He has a way of making everything beautiful in His time.
If you are struggling with trusting God with how He is leading, may you be encouraged by my journey through 5 countries in the Middle East.