As soon as the rest of the group headed off to the olive harvest, I grabbed a taxi down to Zababdeh. No sooner had the car risen over the hill and the town came into view than I felt a smile overtaking me. I was home.
We had lived here during some tough times, from 2000-2003. I've been back for a couple of short visits only, but the place and the people have a special place in our hearts. It was good to be back.
One of the stops had to be the Latin (Roman Catholic) School where we taught. It was wonderful to see so many of the same teachers there, and it was also amazing to see some of our former students employed there now. I also had the chance to stop by and visit with a couple (but not all) of the families who were (and are) special to us.
In the afternoon, after I had ingested enough coffee to float a duck, the rest of the group arrived, and we visited the four churches of Zababdeh to hear about their many ministries. Father Touma (film buffs, he is featured in "A Mantle") welcomed us at the Greek Orthodox Church, giving us a quick overview of Orthodox church history. We went from there to the Latin Church of Visitation. Father Nedal is in his second year as the priest here. I had met him on a brief visit last year. It was youth group night, so the grounds were full of the energy of young people (the first person I saw was Mughannam, featured in "Advent").
We went through the Latin School as well, a place and ministry so familiar to us, and then on to the Melkite Church to see Father Firas ("Resurrection"). This church had reopened during our time here, and since then Fr. Firas has continued to both renovate and expand the buildings, experimenting with different economic empowerment projects. Our final stop was the Anglican Church, where Fr. Na'el, also in his second year, welcomed us. We were treated to a marvelous dinner of maqloube (lit. "upside down") at a restaurant owned by friends of ours. They all were curious to hear news about Elizabeth and the boys, even suggesting a possible future bride for the eldest.