Archive for April, 2010

Traveling in the Middle East is difficult even in the best of times. The roads are ancient, the weather hot and dusty, and with the political situation in constant flux, it can be hard to know where one stands.

But when I was trying to fly home from my trip to the Middle East, I was confronted with a geological phenomenon too! It took a few days longer than planned, but I finally made it home from Jordan. Can I tell you, I sure am happy to be with my wife and son again!

As I mentioned at the start of my trip, I’ve been without a good internet connection. So I was antsy to get back to a one so that I could start sharing my stories with you. Imagine my dismay as a cloud of volcanic ash spread across Europe—shutting down airspace and blocking my route home!

Luckily, with a bit of maneuvering, I was able to find a direct flight back home—from Tel Aviv, Israel. I was in Amman, Jordan, so with the help of my friends and CNEWA colleagues, I was able to drive to the open airport in Tel Aviv and get on a flight to the U.S.

I won’t go into too much detail about what happened at the Israeli border, but with customs stamps on my passport from Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, there were some suspicious officers with questions before I was allowed on the plane.

Thank goodness, I did make the flight, and more than 10 hours later, touched down at JFK airport. Even though I’ve been to the Middle East before, this trip was special. It brought me new insights and inspiration, and I can’t wait to share them with you, so stay tuned!


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We plan, God laughs

I promised exciting stories of life in another culture—at least for my two week visit. And I promise those stories will come. But life here is unpredictable. I don’t have reliable access to the Internet, and with the colorful stories I have to tell, I want to wait until I have good time to unleash all the details and photos—really do the story justice.

Until then, rest assured that my eyes and ears are wide-open.


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Today, my post is titled the same way as my blog. Recently, one of my readers and dear friends asked me why I had chosen this title. So I told him a little story…

Do you remember when I was in India?  At one of the schools I visited, the little girls put on a performance of traditional dance. It was so beautiful and I could tell they’d worked so hard. Then I learned that a few months earlier, children at another school had tried to prepare a similar performance for CNEWA staff who were coming to see the school.

Weather delayed the tour, and our staff didn’t arrive until it was very late. The school was deep into a rolling blackout—common in these poor rural villages. They didn’t have power and probably wouldn’t for another three days. The children were so disappointed! How could they welcome their special guests with the dance if no one would be able to see them? But Thomas, my friend and the Regional Director of  CNEWA India, had an idea. He rolled his SUV up to an open space, and flipped on his headlights. It wasn’t as bright it might have been, but it was enough.

The children danced and sang, and in the end, everyone was so proud of each other. Thomas told me how special that night was for him and for the children.

It’s such a good example of what I hope to be doing at Catholic Near East Welfare Association. We’ve all heard the stories. Children are hungry, adults are unemployed, there isn’t enough medicine—and what can we do? None of us by ourselves can make a real difference. But still, I can light my candle. And you can light yours too. And together, you and me and everyone else holding our candles high can really show God’s light to the world.

Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.—Chinese Proverb

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