Lebanon/Syria Day 5: Trust

Lisa Culpepper, for the team

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3: 5, 6

This passage of scripture is familiar and often quoted, but do we really believe it? It is Tuesday, January 9, the deadline day for which we were to hear of visas into Syria. The paperwork has long been submitted; conversations have happened; advocates have spoken on our behalf and this request reached the presidential palace about five days ago. Yet we have not received a response, not a “yes,” or a “no.”

So this day of our journey began with an exercise of trust. We are called upon to trust in our God and submit our wills to God’s plan. For us, it is the initiation of plan “B,” to bring our pastors from Syria to Lebanon to speak with us and be our link to the church in Syria.

Our day of trust began with a bit of shopping and lunch and ended with a trip to Hamlin Hospital, where we met with the center’s director and took a tour of the facility. Hamlin Nursing Facility was established 109 years ago by Dr. Mary Eddy and Rev. Tounis Hamlin. Together in the cool climate of Mount Lebanon they established a TB hospital, which served pulmonary patients during WWI. In time, patients from all over the Middle East came to be treated by the skilled hands and compassionate heart of Dr. Nami Nucho. Upon his untimely death in 1955, he was succeeded in this work by his son Dr. Charlie Nucho and a dedicated staff.

Walking through Hamlin is an experience of old and new, renovation and dilapidation, where an occasional plaque and portrait speak of the dedicated service of her founders. Yet for our team who began the day with a call to trust, our inspiration came from a different source. We were inspired by Hamlin Director Sanaa Koreh, a woman of trust, vision, courage and hope.

Sanaa was a nurse in training during the Lebanese civil war, when she and others served courageously and tirelessly. She told us of serving both the injured and newborns with limited equipment. The dark nights and long days of war at Hamlin demanded the juggling of generators from one floor to another in order to keep respirators and monitors operational and patients alive.

A woman of vision, Sanaa stayed on at Hamlin as it transitioned from a nursing school and hospital to an elder care facility. Today it services 36 beds as well as a physical therapy unit complete with hydrotherapy, laser therapy, electro, traction, speech, occupational, and post-op orthopedic therapy. Presently, her vision of an elevator and a guesthouse is becoming a reality as construction and renovation for both has begun.

But this walk of trust with Sanaa did not end there. In addition to her trust, courage, and vision, she is also a woman of hope. As we walked the balconies and footpaths, enjoying gardens and mountain vistas, Sanaa stopped. “Look,” she said. “Look over here. This area will one day be a pool, and this building will be a nursing school. See that one over there? That will be a hospital wing!"

Yes, for this Outreach Foundation team, this day that called us to trust ended with much more. We have been blessed with the heart of a woman of God who fulfills her challenging and difficult calling with dedicated and faithful service. At the end of the day, Sanaa’s life inspired us to live as she does. In the face of uncertainty and disappointment, may we be people of trust, courage, vision, and hope.

Rev. Dr. Lisa Culpepper
St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, Hemingway, South Carolina