Trying out Turkish/Arabic Coffee

Trying out Turkish/Arabic Coffee

Being the one of this pair who likes coffee, I wanted to share a little photo introduction to one way of making it that I really enjoy.  Coffee, Arab-style:

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First, put the grounds in the kettle (one heaping teaspoon per cup, ground into dust) and sugar if you’d like. Add water for previously counted cups…

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Second, heat it on the stove until it all boils a bit…scoop some of the cream/grounds off the top and put it in the cups. Then fill the cups…

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Third, sit back, let the grounds settle to the bottom of the cup, and enjoy!

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Lastly, STOP before you get to the bottom…or don’t and pretend your a catfish…either way, get yourself a little more!

posted by: caleb

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Two-plus Weeks

Two-plus Weeks

We’re ankle deep in flash cards.  Not knee deep yet.  But at this rate, I’m sure we will be soon.  Language school (“how-to-communicate-class” as I try to think of it) is where we have spent a lot of our time over the last week.  Today in class, I was so surprised to realize that I could actually recognize quite a few words in our vocabulary list (and blown away to see how many more Nicolette could actually use!).  And while I am surprised to actually feel some sense of progress, I realize, too, that to any Arabic speaker, I probably sound like a one year old making strings of non-sense sounds.  Nevertheless, communication is coming…even if it is “shway, shway” [slowly, slowly].

Speaking of communication, our internet connection has been really, really bad for the last 3-4 days…and then this morning, it has been a lot better. Rumor is that there was a pretty wide “outage” over the weekend in this region.  Which kind of reminded me of that really weird outage in January…???  I haven’t found any articles yet that have mentioned what happened.  Anyone else seen anything?

One of the fun things about being new here (for me at least) has been wandering around the area and just getting acquainted with the neighborhood.  One surprise has been the availability of certain products/foods from home. Thank you, Mr. Globalization.  So, I snapped some pictures with my handy in-phone camera to document some of what we’ve seen!  Okay, captions on top for these pictures…

For all you Starbucks fans, meet the two-story Starbucks in Hamra…very nice.

Oreo fans…meet Mount Oreo!  15 tubes +3 free in specially marked packages!!

I have to admit, I would not have expected to see this…probably in a hundred years. Right after I spotted these Blue Bell tubs, I felt an overwhelming urge to ask, “What part of Texas is this, anyway?!”   Everybody sing it: ~the stars at night, are big and bright…~

[For those of you still wondering…Blue Bell Ice Cream is to Texas, what apple pie is to America…part of our orientation during the first days in seminary was tasting Blue Bell for the first time.  I’m not even kidding!!]

From what I hear, this one one was a very rare find.  Not common at all, but find it we did…and quite a bargain at 9,995LL per 16oz ($6.65)!

And lastly, the sign says it all…


posted by: caleb

change in plans?

change in plans?

If you’ve been watching the news at all over the last couple days, I’d imagine this question may have come to your mind concerning us and our plans. Let me just say up front: Our plans right now remain unchanged. We are still hoping to be in Beirut by mid-September starting language studies. Does the current situation scare us? There are a couple of answers I often give when posed with that question…the first is in a post Nicolette wrote up not so long ago on fear. The second answer I will often give is: yes. of course. But the current situation is also a reminder of why we want to work in this part of the world…we want to be a part of bringing about true, lasting Peace straight from the Source.

Is it “safe” moving to Lebanon? We are often asked this question, and the sentiment behind it encourages me. I…We very much hear and appreciate your concern and care for us. We certainly don’t tackle the issue of safety lightly. A year or two ago, a very dear friend of ours blogged about the issue of safety as he, his wife, and baby girl prepared to move to another chaos-prone country. His post so clearly echoes our thoughts on the issue that I have included it below for your reading pleasure. His answer to the question, “But is it safe there?”:

The answer has several parts. First, we believe the safest place we can be is living in obedience to God. We believe that God created us to share the Gospel with people who have never heard. When Jesus gave the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,” he coupled it with a promise, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19–20).

Does the presence of the Triune God insure that we won’t get hurt or die? No. The night before he was executed, Jesus told his disciples, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). Being a follower of Christ involves a willingness to follow in his footsteps. We can’t “leapfrog” over the cross to the resurrection. Too many of us have unwittingly bought into the Prosperity Gospel that promises heaven right here on earth. God’s promises will come true, but we err if expect the blessings without the hardship. Jim Elliot, slain missionary to the Wadoni People (formerly known as the Auca Indians) famously said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

Second, safety is an illusion. No place is safe. Living in America is not safe. Driving in a car is not safe. Eating at a restaurant is not safe. People go to great lengths to find security, but all in vain. People buy SUVs, install alarm systems, and live in gated communities in an attempt to find security.

We don’t like to admit it, but none of these things can keep us safe. Deep down we all know that tomorrow we could lose our jobs or the ability to work, the stock market could crash, we could be diagnosed with cancer, or a hurricane, tornado, drought, or earthquake could strike. The Bible says, “You are a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (James 4:13–14). We have no guarantee of tomorrow, and we can’t avoid risk.

So since risk is unavoidable, why not be intentional with the risks we take? Why not take risks that glorify God? Let’s take risks that produce everlasting results.

What is the difference between faith and foolishness? Foolishness is taking risks that have a temporal purpose. Faith is taking risks that have an eternal purpose. Faith takes risks in obedience to God’s commands. Foolishness is focused on self. Faith is focused on God and others. When we put all of our eggs in God’s basket, we find that it’s really not a risk.

…That’s sort of a long answer to the question, “Is it safe.” For us, it is a calculated risk that we think is worth it. Our confidence is in the Lord who has led us to -[this country]-. No matter what happens, His goodness never fails.

There is a peculiar tension between faith in God’s goodness and the logical responses we feel watching CNN at night. Conflict in Lebanon seems, at times, to be as sure as the fact that the weather changes (at least outside of Arizona, where it will be 100F from this Friday until next fall, I suspect). The current situation, if it continues, may force us to do language studies elsewhere. But it may be sorted out and life brought back to “normal.” Our plans remain unchanged at present. Our hope remains firmly fixed on its Source.

posted by: caleb

spring 4-wheeling

spring 4-wheeling

In a last ditch effort to try to help Nicolette gain a new appreciation for the beloved Sonoran Desert…I thought I’d take her on a short little “photography” trip to see the “wildflowers” in the desert last weekend. There are, supposedly, a few flowers left which makes for a bit of “girl appeal” in an otherwise harsh place. And we (read “I”) always enjoy a nice drive through the desert. Sounds like a win/win, right?!

Well, she humored me by going along for the ride and we had a bit of an adventure. Getting there we had to dodge traffic backed up on US60 because of a major golf tournament and, a few miles later, because of the Renaissance Festival. The wildflowers seemed pretty parched…but they were pretty pretty ;) too.

While we were snooping around looking at flowers, we found a couple old abandoned mine shafts with bits of turquoise in the tailings piles. The second one I crawled into was much deeper than the first. Inside, there were two vertical shafts that dropped down another twenty feet or so, I think.

(above and below: entrance to the mine)

She sat here at the entrance waiting for me…something about being afraid it might collapse?! It’s a good thing one of us has some sense of caution. ;) Well, pretty far back into this horizontal shaft, I found skunk…his (or her) tail is sticking out from behind a rock in the picture below. Seeing the skunk spooked me at first…I thought I was about to get fumigated. But, I snuck back in a snapped some more pictures.

(can you spot him?)

I posted some more of those pictures on facebook…so, to see the rest of that album, click here.

We talked a bit more about ministry plans and basically have a decision made. Be looking to your inbox or mailbox for more info on that.

posted by: caleb

A quick little update

A quick little update

for some reason, the government here has blocked wordpress, so thanks so much, mom, for posting this for us!

sorry we haven’t been posting as often as we would have liked… either we’ve had internet access but no time, or when we did have time, no access! and now, internet access, but our blog is blocked! :)

this trip has been so eye-opening. i think we’ve gotten a pretty good view of life and ministry in both beirut and amman, and (unfortunately?) it’s going to be a very difficult decision. lots of opportunities in both places that we’d love to be involved in… every day it seems we are leaning in a different direction! :) we are in our third country now, just starting to get a feel for things, and i have a feeling the decision is about to become even more difficult!!! :)

a fun little story… our last night in amman, caleb had the opportunity to share a bit at a “breaking bread” service at a small church. he did a great job, talking about how the Lord’s Supper really is a symbol of unity amongst believers everywhere in all situations. he started with an image of a dish we had tasted earlier in the week. he was describing it, but i guess the word he used wasn’t the common name, and so it started a huge discussion (in the middle of his message! :)) about what the food was, how it was made, whose grandmother made it best, and when was the last time so and so had made it! even caleb’s translator got in on the discussion… it was so funny!!! :)

we have lots more stories to share when we get home… and pictures as well! thanks for praying!!!

posted by: nicolette (via karen!)

arrived! shwarma and a taste of Amman

arrived! shwarma and a taste of Amman

Welp, we’re here in Amman, staying at the Abjar Hotel…a great hotel (and you can check it out on Google if that strikes your fancy!).  We arrived Thursday morning and jumped into getting to know our friends here, the work at JETS (Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary), and the story of the churches.  Sweet.

Last night, we took a walk down to some shops and little mall near our hotel to get a bite to eat.  2 Chicken shwarmas wrapped in a warm pita with tahini sauce and pickles worked in and a liter of water for less than 2 Jordanian Dinar…now that’s a tasty snack!  We hopped across the street to a nice little sweet shop and bought a small plate of baklava. I tried to order kenafeh, but I could really communicate that very well…so we enjoyed some delicious baklava, one kind was so delicate and tasty…I’ve never tasted anything like it.  Chalk it up to fun surprises in a new culture!!

Oh yeah, one thing I didn’t get to mention…the day before we left Beirut, we actually had the privilege of traveling over Mt. Lebanon on the Damascus Road to visit some really well preserved Roman ruins…in a town called Baalbek.  The ruins, I think, are some of the most well preserved ruins from that era…there was SO much of the temple still left standing, you could get a very clear picture of the scale of the project (100,00 slaves built over the course of 150 years on top of ancient Phoenician ruins).  Our guide told us he had been giving tours at these ruins since 1960!

At any rate, that’s a little snapshot of what we’ve been up to…definitely a lot more stories to tell than what we’re able to capture here.  Our internet access has been a little limited, hence fewer postings.  Thanks for the emails!  We’ll do our best to answer as we get a chance!!

posted by: caleb

a little more about the “old” guy (see previous post)

a little more about the “old” guy (see previous post)

His name is J. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, and his visit to Dallas Theological Seminary was timely, to say the least. The title of his message in chapel that Thursday in November was “The Fullness of time for Muslims.” The question he asked concerned how Jesus would cross socio-politico-cultural boundaries to reach Muslims, and his text was Jn 4:4-30, 39-42.

One of the many points that he made which stood out to me was one that I remembered from my internship in New York. There is an Arab proverb that goes: To make a mistake and then to admit it is to make two mistakes. The whole paradigm of repentance that we think of takes on a WHOLE new meaning when you think of it light of this proverb.

I remember talking about Dr. Woodberry’s visit before he came. And if I remember right, she seemed somewhat nervous about hearing him speak, because she suspected what he would have to say would be convicting. What I recall from that conversation with Nicolette was trying to do my darndest to only ask questions and not tell her how much I was hoping that he’d have an impact on her. And then to see that conviction grow in her…wow!

posted by: caleb