I’m in love.

When I moved the summer of 2013 into the basement of a lake house near Northwestern the semester before I graduated, i stole something; sort of.

 

The girl who lived there before me left a gigantic collage on the wall in the bathroom of images and quotes. One particular piece caught my eye.  It was written on a torn-out page of a novel:

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“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” I tore it off the wall and saved it. Its been hanging in my room ever since. When I would read it, i prayed that the Lord would start softening the hearts of the people in the city that I would end up living in overseas. Little did I realize how true that quote would become to me in the coming years.


I’ve now been home for almost 4 months. Beirut you have an unbelievably deep place in my heart.  I miss it as much as I did when the tears rolled down my cheeks staring out the window of the airplane while the sun rose over the dimly lit city. Leaving Lebanon with no definite return date was heart breaking for a long three weeks before departure, but even more real as we got higher and farther from the city. I had just spent an incalculable amount of myself building a life the previous ten months so far from anything I’ve ever known because the Lord worked in my heart through countless prayers for years prior.

When I got back to America, my neighbor asked how it had been and after telling him he said that he could tell how much I loved it. That my joy showed through my smile and that it was evident it was where I was meant to be. He said he was so glad I found a place where I could feel that.

A few weeks ago I met with a pastor at my church who said, “I just don’t get why you love it so much. Its so clear how passionate you are.” It was encouraging to me that my love for the Middle East and what had happened in the last year was so evident to people around me. What an incredible answered prayer to be given the opportunity to not just tell others but show them how God works in our hearts. 4 and a half years ago I had no desire to go anywhere outside of America but one little girl changed everything for me.

Tonight as I read the quote hanging on my wall, tears roll down my cheeks again, baffled at how much has happened in a year. I think I finally understand what Paul means when he wrote:

11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,[a] that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. Rom 1:11-13

I feel this tension of being so far from where I want to be, yet obedient to God’s call to stay right where he has me. I am excited and expectant to where God will lead me in this journey, how he will use me and I try to pray this same quote to effect me in Huntington for the next year and a half like it did in Lebanon.

Dependence, “I Need Thee Every Hour”

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This last month has been one filled with trials and temptations. I have experienced lows in new ways that I have not in the last 25 years of my life.

Over a year ago, during our church’s prayer week my pastor shared about how he set an alarm on his phone for every hour to play “oh how I need thee, Every hour I need thee” you know the song? I was so encouraged that I have not forgotten that Sunday. This last month more than ever have I felt the need to be dependent on God every hour. When you are in the season of developing a ministry team and raising support, you are smiling ear to ear one hour with excitement and crying the next. I’m pretty sure last week there was a day when I experienced all 18 emotions on my feelings chart. Its a testing, trying and rewarding season of depending on the Lord for grace, for love, for boldness, and learning to live each moment for its most.

We are not promised tomorrow, but how much of how we live is based on the next event, party, weekend, job, semester, paycheck, etc.? I struggle with longing for the next season, especially now when I am working toward being on campus full time in the Spring. I am so, so, so excited to be at Marshall University but I’m not promised life until February. What if this week was all I had? I want to make sure I am living this moment to the full. I cannot wait to see how God meets me in new ways each day that I wake up with breath in my lungs and a heart that continues to beat.

This morning I woke up ready to see people, call people and enjoy the moments in front of me which is a miracle after going through a month of struggling to get out of bed, having little motivation to do much of anything, let alone my job. I woke up today ready to eat well, get exercise, spend time with Jesus, do my arabic homework and cast my vision so that people will invest deeper into this ever expanding kingdom.

Early this week I asked the Lord to bring me to a new place of trusting him and instead of a trial this week, like I expected to face, I’ve had new joy, new hope and an excitement that can only be from him. He is so good to us. Do not forget to thank him for sustaining us each moment. We really are hanging off a cliff, but we act like we are walking through corn fields in the middle of Iowa instructing those around us to bend as we ask them. The lord brings us to a place where he shows us that we need him, and oh what a place that is.

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I’m Never Growing up

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My roommate has a friend back home who is taking 6 months off from regular life to hike the Appalachian Trail, his girlfriend however is not to trilled about this cell-service free adventure in which she won’t be able to communicate with her love.

Sometimes I get lost in what I think is the valley of sanctification but sanctification is never a valley. Sanctification is not the points of this guys adventure where he doesn’t have cell service, sunlight and ability to see up ahead and far behind. Sanctification is definitely part of those, but sanctification is also during the sunlight, during the adventure where you can see ahead, and where you can see how far you’ve come over the treetops.

Sanctification is a constant process, it comes and goes at different rates, speeds, weights and emotion. Sanctification is constant but never in the same degree or amount.

There was a night a couple of months ago that I posted on Facebook about never wanting to grow up. That night, I had this overwhelming sense of wanting to escape the weight of understanding how life works. The older I get, the more foolish I realize so many of my previous decisions have been, how fickle my heart is, and how heavy the seriousness of hurt is in this world. I see how painful death and war are, how much anxiety comes with not being able to provide for a family, or even yourself. I continually feel like I’m on this learning process that I can’t ever get right. As soon as I see progress, I see failure somewhere else.

This growing up is never an achieved state, I’ve been convinced. Growing up is most often associated with a dream job. Growing up can also be thought of as desired freedoms, marriage and with having ownership of new things, but when do you ever reach it? This… “grown up” age is only when you have someone who looks to you as it? My little sister is 10 years younger than I am… she has thought of me as grown up since she was in kindergarden; I was only 15. When you hit 18? 18 in America is classified as an adult but 18 in Lebanon is when you start practicing driving and can get a job.. I’d hardly call that grown up. How about when you’re married? I have friends who are married who still spend every weekend being babied by their parents. When you have kids? Maybe… but I’m not sure it makes a difference, some of my mommy friends call their moms in panick because their infant won’t stop screaming.. they still don’t know what to do in difficult situations. So is being grown up able to handle yourself ok? The people who say they “can handle their own” are the people everyone else snicker at behind their backs while rolling their eyes. Are grown ups those who don’t need advice? So… having the highest known knowledge about a given subject, without anyone older or wiser to look to? Is that what people would have said about Jonathan Edwards when he preached in churches as a teenager? The list could go on..

Teenagers, college students and adults have been caught with the Neverland fever of saying “I don’t want to grow up.” The model that the movie Peter Pan leaves people with initially is this desire for childlike carelessness despite the ending that gives a question of whether or not curious imagination is trapped in the minds of children.

I think we are all aware that imagination comes in new forms for adults, whether that be in the form of writing novels, state-of-the-art architecture, advancement of Nike textiles, or new teaching methods but is our desire for freedom and greater responsibility really what we want? What we are looking for when we “grow up”? When we are caught thinking: “when I grow up…” are we merely buying time to acquire the things we desire?

When I say ‘I swear I’ll never grow up’ I certainly don’t mean the rejection of those desired things or progress and moving into new seasons of life. I want to get married and have a family of my own someday, just as much as the next girl. I’m not trying to shy away from accepting my past mistakes, or this growth into a state of imagination block most adults claim only kids escape.

I recognize that we all want more time, another chance, and plenty of do-overs despite the so-called “holy” answer “I don’t regret anything, because everything that’s happened to me, or I’ve chosen makes me who I am today.” I’m not talking about this crave for more creativity or chances to start anything over, and I’m certainly not talking about a gain for wisdom but precisely attempting to run from it. I am talking about a need for shifted perspective, which comes from wisdom, not the lack of it. I wish I could convince myself of that.

When I was in my first two years of college I looked at those who were on staff with the campus ministry I was apart of as having reached this level of holiness. It seemed like no matter what sins they confessed publicly, they still had it all wrapped in a nice box that made it seem like it was hardly a dent in their pride to admit how selfish, foolish, angry, or jealous they were last week, yesterday or even this morning.

To me, it seemed like they always had their sin managed in lunch tupperware with everything in its own separate clean section. I wished so badly I could talk about my sin without being embarrassed, feeling guilty and even more than that, I wished I could share it in a way that made me feel as good as they looked.

How foolish am I to believe any of those things? Sin should never be taken lightly and should never be wrapped in a pretty box. I can’t speak to how any of those women felt in sharing about their sin but now that I’m in a place where I spend time counseling women in college I’ve found how silly it was that I thought those things about the women I held up so highly. I’m no holier than I was 5 & 6 years ago when I so badly wished I could look like those women sounded. My sin is just as much in my face now as it was then but the one thing I do have is a greater understanding of the grace in which we have through Jesus Christ.

God becoming man, walking on this earth perfectly and then dying in my place 2000 years ago is an absolutely unreal grace. Despite what the women felt, I’m sure their intent in sharing their brokenness was to insure that I saw Jesus as more beautiful. Their desire is for me to take my guilt, shame, embarrassment and brokenness to the cross in order to make me whole again, righteous and free from the slavery to opinions other than God Himself. This sanctification never stops, and neither does the acquirement of knowledge unless unless you lock yourself in a white walled room for the rest of your existence and even then I’m not so sure.

The process of God making you more like Jesus is painful, messy and hard but it is full of joy knowing you are being made like the greatest love of our lives.

This process is life long journey and adventure that allows you to keep going through the dark times, through pain and through moments of utter despair. When we don’t understand we can still look to the God of life to carry us through. He promises never to leave us nor forsake us and to be with us all of our days.

Sometimes I still get caught with this desire to run away from the life I’m living, the pain I’m feeling or the darkness I see all around me but I know that with the knowledge of hurt, pain and suffering all around the world, I also can grow in understanding the majesty of the King of Kings. He is always our comforter, our provision, and our sustenance. Today, as I continue to grow up, I chose Jesus. I chose to move toward the author of life as the world swirls around me, I chose to ask the God of the universe to give me grace in time of need and to continue to reveal Himself to me. I’m never growing up, but I am growing in understanding of the God who IS good, IS near and is always able despite my understanding, fear and doubt.

Healing at Home

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I’ve been home for 2 months now and have days that are up and down. My most standard response to “are you glad to be home?” is most certainly, “I’m learning to take one day at a time” while smiling softly and nodding my head.

I’ve heard countless times from my step dad the bible verse in Matthew that says “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will take care of itself.” I’ve been told not to get ahead of myself being a dreamer of the future, an easily excitable event planner and one who almost always has a 10-year plan. That 10-year plan was to be in the Middle East. I thought that I loved it there after an 8 week visit in 2011 but little did I know how much my heart could grow for such a place in as little as 10 more months this last school year.

In my future being changed, I have learned more than ever to hold my hands open to the Lord’s ways of sanctification and change. I’ve never had a more unclear future. I do have the next 2 years or so mapped out for me, but still so much is unknown and there is a lot to learn and grow from.

When I lived in Lebanon I didn’t realize how the unwritten cultural standard for marriage being so much greater, both in financial stability, age, wisdom, and provision was as big of a difference from my private Christian school culture of young marriages, that is, until I arrived back home. I had forgotten what it was like to be around married couples my age. In Lebanon I spent a year with singles who didn’t talk about marriage like it was anything to be grasped in the near future. It was like being in High school again, marriage wasn’t even a question until “after college”. When I arrived home and came back to small group, a group that 3 years ago was all singles, and when I left, was 80% singles had turned into mostly marrieds, engaged couples and serious dating couples. Where had my free friends gone?

It has made me feel so much more lonely than I expected to feel in the community I had loved and missed so much while abroad. It was tempting to pull away while wallowing in this difference; a group that I no longer felt apart of in the same way. I have to fight the urge to believe the lie that this is not God’s best for me.

I’m learning this summer that its okay to need people, its okay to be an extreme extrovert and be energized by being around others. Its okay to not want to be alone and for the need to schedule time around people or go to coffee shops, target or the library just to avoid being alone. I fall into thinking that God should be enough. King David cried out in the Psalms, “whom have I in heaven but you God?” I have clung to that verse in despair, convincing myself that I don’t need anyone else, that God alone should be enough. God created Adam out of an overflow of Love and Adam lived in a garden of perfection, without sin and without pain of longing. God said it was not good for him to be alone. Its okay to need people.

I stopped watching TV regularly when I was a sophomore in high school because my schedule and homework was too much to be consistent for one show. Ever since then, I wasn’t really a TV watcher but I started watching a show online in Lebanon that was really addicting. I downloaded the second and third seasons alongside the first season of a sister show for my time back here in America. When I came home I started filling my nights with these shows. I realized this week that I had been believing the lie that I could be alone for countless hours and still be “energized”. I tried to convince myself that I was becoming more introverted because “introverts don’t need people” and thats what I thought I wanted. I wanted not to need people, that I could be self sufficient. I wanted to believe that I didn’t have to hurt anymore from missing certain people. If I don’t need people, then I don’t have to get close enough to miss anyone. The emotional draw to the characters in this show, watching their stories unfold gave me a false sense of being with people. I was investing energy and emotions into this plot that isn’t real. Sure, I processed some things about the way people think, the way they hurt, how they deal with conflict and see the world but the nights I didn’t immediately pass out from exhaustion after turning it off, I would lay awake and feel completely empty.

TV can give you a very false sense of love, acceptance, and belonging. I’m finding myself stuck in a rut of trying to be satisfied in fiction. Reading can do the same thing, you can invest yourself in a story, feel alongside the main character and get wrapped into a fake world that distracts you from the hurt, and pain of real life.

You E/i N/S T’s out there are reading this shaking your heads at my ability to be emotionally attached to something so illogical but being a feeler is not a weakness. Being able to empathize and sympathize in ways that thinkers typically don’t is a gift despite my best efforts to wish away my feelings when I want them to disappear. I am not ashamed of my ability to feel, but I do wish things were a little more black and white. I wish I could find the best possible solution to the problems at hand and step by step work towards a solution but my brain and heart do not always work that way. I am becoming something greater, a vessel of God’s love in ways that need to be controlled. I struggle with controlling the things around me and one way I am learning to channel that desire is over my mind and over my feelings. Sometimes it is sheer chaos inside me but God is faithful and I am learning that I need him every hour. He is teaching me to take one baby step at a time.

**introverts do need people, please do not mistake the monologue of my faulty thought process for misinformation.

for more information on personality profiling here is a page on feeling vs thinking. Here is a page on Introverts vs extroverts.

A Humble Move to Huntington

Eight months ago I posted this picture on Instagram:

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I posted about turning twenty five and how I had fulfilled my biggest dream; I lived in an area of the world where people didn’t know who Jesus was and why he came to die. I also wrote this to encourage those reading who had not yet fulfilled their dreams:

I’ve come to see that wherever you are is where God most wants to sanctify you. Life is not about chasing your ideals or finding them but being open to what is set before you and committing to pursuing Godly character over perfection of your dreams.

Little did I know that this post would be a foreshadow of changing those big dreams of mine in the coming months. I am not heading back to The Middle East early 2016 anymore but I am not done chasing my dreams, in fact, dreams can be chased in a lot of places. My dreams will be chased by college students I hope to mobilize to care about the world, like I have learned to.


When I sent in my application to move to Lebanon long term, it was with every intention (and the only for that matter) to be placed Internationally in the Middle East, since I had loved my study abroad year so much. I had my interview towards the end of May and found out 3 weeks before leaving the country that I was being recommended without other option to be placed on a stateside campus for development. As you can imagine, I was heartbroken and not very thrilled about having to leave in 20 days without a return date to the life and community I had spent the last 10 months building.

After about a week of coming to terms with my placement at some university in the Mid-South region of the US (NC,SC, KY, TN, WV) I was given a job opportunity from Pastor Charlie to stay in Lebanon instead of solely spending time with university students. Pastor Charlie is very convincing, and incredible at casting vision. I was almost set for the next week and a half to take his offer to work for RBBC (Ras Beirut Baptist church) as one of his assistants; running all the social media for church and being sort of a blogger/reporter on the different ministries that are apart of RBBC and its sister churches in Spain, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and South Sudan while still getting to spend about 1/2 my time on campus and working with Athletes In Action (AIA, the soccer ministry).

I had multiple conversations with different people and all of them pointed me to taking this new job because its everything I’ve ever dreamed of doing; soccer ministry, working with the orphanage, discipleship on campus, writing, traveling, taking pictures, and living among the unreached. I was so excited to be apart of a new way to testify to God’s faithfulness to His kingdom in multiple parts of the Middle East. I don’t have a deep sense of loyalty to this university program and don’t love all of its attics for fruitfulness and thus, this job at RBBC seemed to be much more up my alley.

I still wasn’t sure about it and feeling anxious about trying to pack with a decision not yet made but after church on Sunday, (the day before I was leaving) I went to talk with Nicolas and his wife Jen (the Life Agape National Director) which helped make my decision. He asked me earlier in the Spring when I told him I wanted to stay long term if I had a confirmation from God’s word about this decision. I sheepishly quoted “make disciples of all nations?” and he chuckled and encouraged me to spend time in God’s word until I was sure.

When I went over to their apartment for lunch he asked permission to give his opinion already seeing the tears running down my cheeks at the stress I was internally battling. I had told him I was afraid of being judged for not taking counsel to be developed and afraid for not being healthy overseas in the future. He said,

“Samm, if you don’t pursue your holiness, no matter where you are, you aren’t going to be fruitful.”

We talked more about what it looks like to put God first.

I went to be alone after that and thought “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” like it says in John 14:15 and if thats true in God’s word and the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30) then it’s more important for me to pursue holiness right now than my dream job. If this job Pastor Charlie is offering is meant for me, it will still be there after the 2016-17′ school year. I know that he won’t run out of vision, money or ideas so it can wait. I get the opportunity to be poured into for a whole year and still get to mobilize American college students to care about the world.

I intended to write sooner, anxious about what to do next but as you know, moving is busy and I never got around to it. I decided to accept my placement at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia (they are the Mid-South Lebanese partnership) and when I am done raising support (hopefully by New Year’s Eve) I will go to New Staff Training in January and then move to WV after.

Like I said, I was heartbroken to leave Lebanon but hope to return as soon as the Lord provides a way. I am not the same person I was when I left for Lebanon and I’m not even the same as I was 2 months ago when my plans were my own. The Lord has shown me so much, humbling me and giving me new wisdom about what its like to hold my hands open and for that I am thankful for each day I get to see my life is not my own.

This is not the first time my heart has been shaken by my plans being taken from me but thus, I have learned that when life starts to feel comfortable, I shall expect something to change. Life really isn’t about chasing your dreams but about being sanctified; being made like that of Christ.

“The Lord gives and the lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”     –Job 1:21

Its been a while

Hey guys,

I’ve been back in America two weeks now and am sad that I have not blogged in months.

I have learned oh-so-much this last 6 months and am a different person because of it. Thank you for being patient with my lack of writing and sharing about how God has been at work. This month I’m going to write about a number of things and start again on some new projects.

feel free to shoot me an email if you want to get on monthly newsletters apart from the blog posts. Dearsamm@gmail.com

look forward to challenging you in the upcoming weeks with thoughts on pursuing holiness, sanctification and God’s glory over our own.

A Samm-I-am Top Ten

This year has been one of learning. Learning language, Learning culture, Learning how to do a team again, learning how to adjust, and be flexible, how to obey and listen. I’ve learned so much this year so here are the top ten things I’ve learned about myself:

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1. I like Free time in the morning. I like schedules and lists and I like those being made for me because it forces me to do things I wouldn’t schedule for myself. I really like staying busy but what I didn’t realize about myself is that once every two weeks I really need a morning to get things done and be productive on my own accord. I realized that on days when I have assignments, emails and blogs to catch up on, (typically the first tuesday of the month) I can’t start until my laundry has been started, the dishes are done in the kitchen, the living room has been tidied and the trash has all been taken out. I started to learn that I’m much more productive in the morning, and when I have a morning once every two weeks, I function on a team and in life much better. As an extrovert, its really difficult for me to take alone time, and because often alone time drains me, if its spent in the morning doing busy work while enjoying music, it goes over much better for me.

2. I’m gifted in discipleship: I realized that I am of so much more help in encouraging others who are like-minded to me than challenging those who aren’t. This has been a huge help to me so that I’ve been able to see my need to grow in the area of asking questions and being a listener and how to get outside my boxed framework of a worldview.

3. I have ability to adapt to new culture. I’ve learned that I’m not as stuck in the mud as I perceived myself to be. When I arrived here, within 3 weeks I was sure I wanted to stay and haven’t had any hesitations since. I made friends quickly, found a group of people to hang out with and was ready and willing to explore new things that some others had trouble with.

4. I get car sick: I’ve never been car sick in my whole life. In fact, I usually read in the car, do homework or other book puzzles. Since we got back from Europe, anymore than 15 min in the car is a total nightmare. I can no longer read, play games on my phone, text or even look down at my phone; I get nauseous, a white face and shaky hands. Thankfully I didn’t pass out the one time I thought I was going to but still am working on getting to the root of the problem I’ve had the last two months.

5. I miss the radio. I never thought I would say that but I do. especially internet radio: Pandora.

6. I operate under a guilt/innocent mindset. I knew that my culture operates under whether or not someone is guilty or innocent and the culture i would be moving to operates under shame and honor but I didn’t realize how much of myself was stuck in this frame work. I gasped (not dramatically, just slightly) at someone dropping things in the middle of a walkway on campus. My reaction was surprise, because it wasn’t anyones fault. I started walking toward this gentleman to help but he looked at me, looked down, grabbed the stuff quickly and hurried off. I was confused until my roommate reminded me that in this culture, I had shamed him by gasping, pointing out a flaw was shameful, regardless of the act not having fault. In my culture he was innocent, and in need of help, in his, being short of perfection, or normality, he was shamed.

7. Modest is hottest. My mama taught me this from very young. Let me tell you, it has an entirely new meaning. Modest is HOT-est… I’m practically melting over here from the sweat that is produced from my skin being covered in too many clothes. I didn’t realize how much I love wearing shorts and how freeing it is to dress as I please. Jesus sacrificed much for me, I can learn to be hotter because his grace is sufficient for me.

8. I am afraid of people. This year, I’ve been more afraid of dealing with conflict than I ever thought I was capable of. I realized that I look at people either better or worse/ higher or lower than me. I either need to impress them to win their approval or impress them to keep their approval. I am often enslaved to this mentality that someone needs me to be something for them and therefore I must or i lose. They never lose, just me. Its been a web of lies that I’ve been processing and a good opportunity for me to see how freeing Jesus is. Jesus gives me hope to say I am bought with the blood of Christ, it is finished, there is nothing left to prove. He took my inadequacy and made me worthy by dying for my imperfections and giving me his purity.

9. I only deal with blatant conflict. I was asked during some team counseling in January about how my family deals with conflict and I realized, in a lot of ways… if its not blatant, we sweep it under the rug. I was taught to pick my battles, and not assume every offense is a war. Its a really good thing to live by, unless of course you sweep hurts and sin and other types of conflict under the rug unless a voice was raised, a naughty word was used or an attitude was acting up and someone else heard it. I have grown bitterness in my heart in some ways because I don’t deal with things, I sweep them under the rug I call “a battle”.

10. I sense more than I act from intuition. I took my myers briggs at the beginning of the school year and tested N (ENFJ) and have since tested S twice. I’m still learning about personality profiling but it means a good amount of things. you can find an explanation here.

hope you enjoyed. 🙂

Lebanon Top Ten Take Two:

I’m so sorry its taken me so long to get things up here! I made friends the first month here and they were strengthened in October and therefore… I kept myself busy in November by being with them instead of being productive on here. Oops!

This is what I have learned in the 5 or so weeks I’ve been away from the blog:

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When the temp drops to the 50s, everything thereafter needs heat. This week its been back to the high sixties and low seventies and I get excited to sit inside coffee shops only to my dismay that the heat is on and I’m better off outside in the shade. I love it here none-the-less but it definitely doesn’t feel like its December. Christmas still feels far away. On a happy note, I’m pretty sure we are going up to the mountains to stay in a lodge surrounded by snow for the Christmas Holiday.

2. Kids don’t really have bikes or outdoor toys because there isn’t room for them to use them in the city but at the markets, all the kids have scooters which is really funny. They get in everyones way but are having a good time. I can’t wait until I can speak arabic well enough to make friends and laugh with them.

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3. Most Lebanese think stuffing is gross, so I was happy because for thanksgiving I was able to eat all the left overs 🙂 We had two thanksgivings, one for just our program on the actual day to feel more familial and then one we hosted for all of our friends to come.

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4. For birthday’s, if you are close with someone, you get them a present so for my birthday (tomorrow) at my party (last night) I received a number of really awesome gifts. I was so blessed by all my friends and thankful for some many awesome people that came over to celebrate. We had a Christmas themed party which will be posted on here and Facebook later this weekend.

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5. Halloween in Lebanon is Dec 4th, but they celebrate it on the following weekend. Its for “St. Barbara”, not sure what she did or who she is but you eat lots of certain kind of desserts and kids dress up just like we do on Oct. 31st in America.

6. For one of the girl’s birthday in my program, we had a “wine & canvas” type party (at her request.) I bought 11 canvases and taught the class on how to paint birch trees. It was really fun and we painted a lot of really cool pictures. This will also be up on the blog soon.

7. I’ve been visiting different campuses in the last 5 weeks and am excited to share a new part of my blog about each one. Probably more to come in Jan and throughout the Spring.

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8. Most girls in America know how to use a straightener and own one. Here in Lebanon most girls leave their hair how it is naturally and only get it straightened if they go to the salon. Its actually pretty cheap here to get your hair “brushed” which includes: washing, blow drying, brushing and styling. Some women get it done once a week but most college students leave it curly so the days I wear my hair natural are the days I get mistaken as lebanese way more often.

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9. Traffic is CRAZY. There are about 1.5 million people who live in our city but it doubles during the day so coming into the city without real highways (as we know them) and going out at night is absolute chaos. The other night I was meeting a friend at the mall just outside the city and although I thought leaving a half hour early was plenty of time, it ended up taking a whole hour. To get home it took 13 minutes, only an hour and a half later after being at the mall for dinner.

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10. Students who come from Christian backgrounds are really involved in their churches and instead of having “youth group” on Wednesday nights like most in America, Shabibeh is on Saturday nights. Its usually around what we call dinner time, 6pm but everyone eats after. I’ve accustomed some to the Lebanese eating times but it depends on the day. Breakfast, if you eat it, is at 10; lunch is between 1-3 (sometimes 4 or 5) and then dinner is later like 9-10pm. This was really hard for me to get used to at first.

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Thanks everyone for reading! Really exciting things happening here in the Middle East. Will report again soon!