Trip to Lebanon and Jordan

By Richard Salbato


For the first time in almost three years I left Fatima for a vacation.  Four times my friends in Jordan have invited me to their home and each time I have refused because of money.  Each time they offered to pay all my travel expenses but my pride did not let me do this.  There were strong reasons why God wanted me to go, but He had to find a way to force me before I would make the trip.  You see, my friends there are close friends to Myrna of Damascus of whom I wrote about in At Easter Myrna received again the stigmata of Christ and I knew it would happen, but could not go for lack of money so my friends in Jordan offered to pay for my trip.  Again I refused.  But then God send a new friend to me that needed some help in Lebanon and Jordan and I knew people of influence in both these places.  He offered to pay all expenses if I could help him and introduce him to these people. And this was acceptable to me because (although I was getting help) I was also helping.  My friends in Jordan were very excided to see me because it had been almost 15 years since I had seen them and that was the year I lived in Damascus, Syria.


But the help I wanted to do for a friend fell through and again I had to tell my friends that I could not come.  The disappointment was too much for them as they had made many plans for me.  I had to find another way to go.  Finally it was resolved as all I had to do was get there and they would take care of everything else, even to picking me up at the airport. 


I arrived in Lebanon and was taken to the best hotel in Beirut, a 5 star hotel on the mountain with a view of the Mediterranean and all of Beirut.  To see the beauty of this hotel see . I have been in 29 countries and many hotels including what is advertised as the best in the world in Thailand  called the "Oriental" but this hotel and the next two were much better than that one.


 I attended a Catholic fiesta down the hill from the hotel on the first night I was there and saw first hand the faith of the Christians in Lebanon.  What most people do not know or have forgotten is that for most of Lebanon's history it was almost all Christian with very few Moslems.  Today the Moslem population (after the invasion of Syria a few years back) is still less than 35% of the population. 


What surprised me was that everyone at the airport, the taxi drivers, the hotel personal, even the cleaning ladies, spoke English.  And everyone was so polite and truly were glad to see me visiting their country.  They were proud of their heritage and were happy to show it off.  No one, and I mean no one, tried to con me or push their goods on me.  They were just there to help and to make me feel at home. 


Beirut was bombed out by Syria and Israel only a few years ago and looked like a war zone.  But today you almost cannot see any signs of the war, since they have re-built almost everything and in most cases better than it was before.  Lebanon is the bread basket of the Middle East with a vast flat plain irrigated by the rain runoffs from the mountains all around it.  This plain produces some of the finest vegetables in the world and in huge quantities.  Lebanon was once known as the playground of Europe under the French and is still one of the great places of the world for vacations and beaches.  What impresses me the most is the warmth of the people, even in the streets.    


My friends knew in advance that I wanted to investigate a new miracle of Our Lady in Lebanon and had a private car made available for me to take me there, which was two hours from Beirut in a little town in the side of a mountain called Bechwat.  This miracle deserves a separate Newsletter which you can read after this one  The New Miracle of Our Lady of Lebanon.  Something I must say here though is that God is working hard in Lebanon and the world should take notice of it.


The hill my hotel was on is called "the mountain of Our Lady" but I could not find out why.  Some said that Our Lady and St. John stayed there on their trip to Ephesus but I think this is speculation.  Nonetheless, everyone, even Moslems, consider it Our Lady's mountain. 


I then went to Jordan and to the capital city of Amman.  I knew that my hosts were well know in Jordan but I never expected what happened.  Everywhere we went my driver simply showed who he worked for and doors opened to everything.  I stayed at a 5 star hotel, the Marriott of Ammon, and was given Executive Lounge keys. 


I knew my hosts were well-known in Jordan. But when they came to the hotel and treated me to dinner, I also saw how much they were loved and respected by all the people of Jordan, in all walks of life.

I was invited to their home the following day. It is a lovely home, comfortable, not gaudy or designed to impress, but hospitable and in good taste. Impressive as it was with its pools and servants, there is an air of welcome, hospitality, and simplicity that one rarely sees even among members of the middle class. As a special gesture by them, dinner was prepared personally by my host and never have I had such great food - food that is time-consuming to make, and with tasty Middle
Eastern specialties. 


But the wealth of my hosts is not why they are loved.  They spend all their time helping people and the country.  It is their warmth, their hearts, their love of people that make them one of the most loved family in that part of the world.  I saw this in the people who worked for them, in the people in the streets and in the far out regions I was taken.  Everyone knew them and everyone loved them.


Jordan surprised me so much that I am doing a separate Newsletter on it, see To Walk Where Christ Walked, Jordan .

I only write this Newsletter to lead up to the next two because I do not want to explain my hosts in the next two articles as they should be just about the miracle of Lebanon and the beauty of Jordan and not about me and my hosts. 


I would only like to say here that there are no people in my life that I love more than the family that welcomed me in Jordan and not because I have known them for 15 years or that they treated me so well, but because I see in them the love that God asks of all of us and it warms my heart to see it the way God wants it to be.  You can have all the money in the world but when you give of yourself, your time, your love, your very life, then you truly love, and this family does all these things. 


I have come back to Fatima bringing a warm love that I did not have before.

Rick Salbato