Monday, June 20, 2016

World Refugee Day

Syrian Refugee tents in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon

Today is World Refugee Day and after my travels in Lebanon the harsh reality of the refugee experience feels much closer to me. As one drives around the Lebanese countryside there are tents sprinkled all over. In fact, more than 1.2 million Syrians have poured into the country since the start of the Syrian conflict, an amount that equals about 25% of Lebanon's total total population. I just can't imagine how difficult it must be to feel like you have to leave your community because of war or economic hardship. I pray that the world invites these people in and helps them heal and that we figure out ways to spread economic prosperity and peace, so that in the future there will be less and less need for migration.

Click here to see a UNHCR Profile of the Refugees in the Bekaa Valley

Click here to see a good piece on Vice about the Syrian refugees in the Bekaa Valley

Monday, June 13, 2016

Photos from Lebanon - May/June 2016

My trip to Lebanon may have been interupted by my surgery and hospital stay, but I still got to see a lot of the country including learning about the complicated history and politics, enjoying the vibrant social scene in Beirut, traveling around the country to see Roman ruins, the onslaught of refugees all over the countryside and the balkanized border with Israel, searching for street art and wine tasting at a local vinyard. Not bad for a country the size of Connecticut!

Click HERE to see pictures from my trip to Lebanon

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Refugees in the Frankfurt Airport

And yet another news story happening live before my eyes... I just burst into tears in the Frankfurt Airport watching a large group of refugees gathered with a representative from the International Organization for Migration. As I feel the excitement about finally being able to go home, to my safe, warm bed and loving family, I feel extra pain for all the people who are not so lucky. I hope these people will be welcomed by their final European destination and be able to find new homes and quickly find a sense of balance and safety.

Lufthansa Business Class

Hard to say whether it was worth emergency surgery and a week in a hospital to make it to the Lufthansa lounge and an upper deck business class seat in an A380??? Nah, who am I kidding? It's easy to say, YES! I feel like a country bumpkin though because no one else seems the least bit excited about all the free amenities of this kind of fancy travel. Nice things are wasted on the rich! (And thanks #TravelGuard travel insurance for taking such good care of me through all of this and giving me a flight home to remember!) #PleaseDontMakeMeGoBackToCoach

Ramadan Is Here. What Islam’s Holiest Month Is About

I left Lebanon as the sun was rising onto the first day of Ramadan, but watched the celebratory preparation in both Egypt and Lebanon. This is the 5th time I have been in the Islamic Word near or during Ramadan and I was struck how differently each area marks it. While the facets of prayer and reflection are the same, other things change. For instance in Lebanon streets and lampposts were decorated with overhead lights and colorful designs, like our Christmas street light decorations. Happy Ramadan.

New York Times, June 5, 2016

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Listening to Call to Prayer in Baalbek, Lebanon

One of my favorite things about visiting the Islamic world is listening to call to prayer multiple times a day. I like that it makes me stop and reflect on my life and my blessings. Hearing multiple mosques calls echoing over the Roman Ruins at ‪#‎Baalbek‬ in ‪#‎Lebanon‬ was a beautiful, spiritual, peaceful experience. ‪#‎islamiccalltoprayer‬ ‪#‎calltoprayer‬