Ruth Edens – Lebanon
Coming to Lebanon has been about rebirth. Not only in my own life, but also in my new host country. This piece from my application to Global Ministries is the place where I began.

Coming to Lebanon has been about rebirth. Not only in my own life, but also in my new host country. This piece from my application to Global Ministries is the place where I began:

In this past year I have had rich experiences in my church and school, which have encouraged my spiritual and religious exploration. With the completion of my college experience I am in a time of transition from my student identity to a vocational identity – defining and pursing a calling. I have spent 16 years of my life identifying as a student. I feared everything – the pattern of my days, the easy friendships of school — would just end after school was over. But I realized that my trust was growing in God’s calling of me. Instead of believing that after graduation day the known world would fall apart around me, I know God had and still has a purpose for me.

Reading this a few months later, I am reminded of where I came from. I arrived in Lebanon a young woman out of college, curious about a new world, fearful of what was to come, and honestly fearful of what God might be calling me to do. Some of this is still true. I am still discovering my vocational identity, the new pattern of my days and how to build friendships in a new culture.

Lebanon, in a way, is also being reborn. Clearly I do not share in Lebanon’s past. However, Lebanon is learning the meaning of sovereignty, creating relationships amongst its own people and with its neighbors, and discovering the responsibilities that come with rebuilding including environmental and economic responsibilities.

Tim Rose, a missionary with the United Church of Christ who also served in Lebanon, came to visit last week. He commented on how much of the city had been rebuilt. Many new restaurants and cafes have popped up since he was last here.  Lebanon is being reborn physically through the reconstruction of old buildings.  Its architecture, a mixture of West and East reflects its mixed culture.

I am also being reborn. I am exploring my vocation and my status as an adult for the first time. I am dealing with the “adult” responsibilities. The simple acts of turning on the hot water heater, negotiating prices, hailing a cab to get to my internship are all new responsibilities, tasks that I have to do.

I am trying to negotiate this culture. I am trying to learn how to be a westerner in the Middle East. This is not something I can overlook; I am a young American woman in the Middle East –in Beirut where East meets West.  I am learning this balancing act: keeping one foot at home and one foot here. I still have not made the full transition. Something that has struck me in this adventure is that we learn more about ourselves when planted in a new environment. My social norms, my faith, the old patterns of my life have all been challenged at one point or another, and I am learning to negotiate these challengeson my own. Just as Lebanon is learning on its own how to be a heady mixture of East and West and still be at peace.

Ruth Edens
Ruth Edens serves as a Global Mission Intern appointed by the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. She serves as program staff of the Forum for Development Culture and Dialogue based in Beirut, Lebanon.