Wednesday, May 27, 2015


I am struggling under the burden of 5 classes.  I feel like I can’t keep up.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me but this is really, really hard and I keep having setbacks.  Maybe I'm trying to race through stuff to keep up.  I don’t read instructions correctly; I don’t understand the assignment – I am dealing with criticism of my efforts and it’s hard to bear.  I am guilty of some kind of sick perfectionism that I have to let go of or it will eat me up inside.  It is causing me to feel bitter, especially towards one of my instructors.  I know I am in the wrong when I feel this way.

I know the Lord knows I am trying.  I am making positive changes and good things are still happening to me as a result of my studies – I am growing in knowledge and changing in ways that are really good.  I am faltering right now a little in my resolve to keep going and giving it my all.  In my prayers this morning I begged for strength and grace to help me keep going, keep plugging along.  I went to and typed in “perserverance” and this talk from Elder Marvin J. Ashton came up called “Who will forfeit the Harvest?”  This talk is mainly about keeping our testimonies bright and strong, but I likened it to my own situation and felt like I could apply his closing paragraph to myself as a student.  My comments to his assertions are in red.

“Most of all, we forfeit the gift of eternal growth and progress. May we avoid the stony places of (1) unwillingness to accept human qualities, My instructor is human.  BYUI has entrusted him with the responsibility to teach.  I need to accept his ability of communication and not think unkindly of him because he isn’t meeting my expectations.

(2) unwillingness to accept change, Some classes are going to be harder than others for me.  That’s just the way it is and I can’t expect to be Patty Perfect in all of them.  That is not realistic.  Whether its difficulty in grasping concepts or difficulty communicating with an instructor, I have to learn to be flexible and make the best of every situation.

(3) unwillingness to follow instructions. There is no sin in misunderstanding something – it is only a sin when I rebel.  Pray for understanding.  Pray that I can follow the instructions and do my best.  If I have done my best, and have tried to remain humble and teachable, if I have reached out and made the best effort possible to understand, then I have still benefited from the exercise regardless of the outcome grade-wise.

, and (4) unwillingness to be totally committed. 'Don’t quit now!  I’ve come so far.  There will be setbacks; that is life.  Endure to the end.  That requires total commitment.  Even when I feel criticized.  Even when I feel discouraged.  Even when I’m tired.  Even when I don’t understand.  Even when I feel like this is busywork, even when my teacher is being nitpicky, even, even, even.  This is a good and worthy effort and I’m getting a BYUI education from the Lord’s University.  What a privilege!  What a blessing!  What a lucky girl I am!

By so doing we can establish deep, strong roots and thus reap the harvest our Father in Heaven wants for all his children.”  By doing these things, I am reaping the harvest of intelligence; I am growing in patience; I am learning how I can better serve others; I am learning to stretch myself;  I am learning small-L leadership; I am seeing what I am capable of.  I’m learning truths that I will take with me into eternity.  I am starting to catch a glimpse of myself the way my Father in Heaven sees me.  That is my most precious learning experience of all.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Mushrif Central Park

Hubby and I spent last Saturday evening exploring the recently opened Mushrif Central Park.  Parking was plentiful, and after the 5 dhs admission fee, you’re free to wander the many garden paths that wind through fountains, play areas, and a mini-zoo.  On Saturdays starting at 4pm, Ripe Market puts on an open market reminiscent of street markets in the US.  Vendors are selling locally handmade crafts, one-of-a-kind gift items and accessories from different parts of the world, organic fruits and veggies, interesting packaged food and health items, as well as many food and drink vendors.

It was a perfect night to be walking around the park.  A guy played acoustic guitar, and did awesome covers of Jason Mraz.  Hubby and I had some quesadillas from the “Barbacoa” stand, and for dessert he had some Dutch pancakes that were drowning in Nutella; I opted for frozen yogurt with blueberries.  The food is on the overpriced side, but it was nice to find a little table and chairs to eat out on the grass and listen to “Jason” while we ate.

After dinner we walked along the footpath that circles the park and guides through flower gardens, and several different play areas for children.  In one area is a climbing structure, another play area with swings and more climbing/active equipment to play on, and another area representative of a wadi, with rocks to climb on, a pond to play in and Emirati style tents to duck in and out of.  This area is right next to a small zoo which has a camel, sheep, goats, donkeys and a cow.  Children are running back and forth feeding greens to the animals who seemed eager to partake.  There are lots of opportunities for photo ops – be sure and take your picture “lifting the moon”.

There is a large green space in the center of the park, and while we were there, a large yoga class was taking place.  There’s also a sit-down cafĂ© at the park where you can grab a sandwich and a refreshing mocktail Mojito to cool off with after your walk.

This is the perfect place to bring families or friends, and is such a pretty place for a walk.  My only disappointment about Mushrif Park is that it doesn’t open until 10:00 in the morning.  It would be nice if opened early, say 7:00 am, especially in the summer months so people could get out and walk before the heat becomes unbearable.

This is definitely a place you can visit more than once and see and taste something new each time you return.  We will definitely be back!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Fighting off the Weepies

I am fighting the weepies today.  It’s officially been 3 months and 8 days since I took off from McCarran Airport to LAX, and then on to Abu Dhabi.  I felt a little anxious for the first couple of weeks or so, and daily questioned, “What have I done???”, but I managed to ride that out and settle into a new normal.  I kept busy with my schoolwork, started making some new acquaintances in some of the women’s groups, started a quilt, started transitioning from working girl to expat wife and I thought I was doing ok.  The past several  days I have just had “that feeling”… that feeling where you feel yourself slipping into a funk, not entirely sure why.  Knowing I need to snap out of it soon before it gets away from me.

So I sat down to my sewing table this morning, and thought I’d listen to some Christian music to soothe my heart a bit, and put on a playlist that I haven’t listened to in a year or two… this is the first song… and then the floodgates opened. 

My Nest   (by Janice Kapp Perry)

The day has come for you to go
I've watched you closely so I know
I recognize your restlessness
It's time for you to leave the nest

I've taught you much of what you know
It's been a joy to see you grow
You fluttered first, then learned to fly
While I was flying by your side

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

You've had brief chances to explore 
That left you eager to see more
You've taken tiny solo flights
but always close within my sight
Enjoy the rhythm of your wings
the freedom soaring always brings
But in that endless span of sky
be careful where you choose to fly

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

I'm trusting you now
to the Father's care
for when any sparrow falls
He is aware

A part of me
will fly away
As you leave my nest today
But part of you
will stay with me
You will always be a welcome guest
Within my nest

I am grateful to have been so blessed
To have sheltered you
in my nest

So is this what is bothering me?  That I am over 8,000 miles from 4 precious, responsible, independent young adults and am I mourning the loss of a nestful of kids?  It hasn’t been that long ago that I was a hands-on mom.  It’s been almost 4 years… Or is it that I miss mountains and pine trees?  Or being able to be a 4 hour drive from my parents?  Or maybe because I’m not gainfully employed anymore and the hard work I expended on the job is not going to account for much the farther away my last day at work gets from today… maybe it’s a combination of all of it.  Maybe it’s just been a long, long time since I had a good long cry and my tear ducts needed to know if they’re still operating properly.  And yes, I miss my family something fierce and my heart hurts not being there.

Rather than wallow, I thought I’d feel better if I wrote this down.  Get it out of my system.  Deep breaths and shoulder rolls.  Now I’ll pick up that quilt and get back to work on it – if a tear or two drops on it it’s just a way to physically infuse it with a little more love. 

There’s a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, that says, “…Wherefore, lift up thy heart and rejoice, and cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” (D&C 25:13)

Gordon B. Hinckley said this about that scripture: “I believe he is saying to each of us, be happy.  The gospel is a thing of joy.  It provides us with a reason for gladness.  Of course there are times of sorrow.  Of course there are hours of concern and anxiety.  We all worry.  But the Lord has told us to lift our hearts and rejoice.  I see so many people, including many women, who seem never to see the sunshine, but who constantly walk with storms under cloudy skies.  Cultivate an attitude of happiness.  Cultivate a spirit of optimism.  Walk with faith, rejoicing in the beauties of nature, in the goodness of those you love, in the testimony which you carry in your heart concerning things divine.

The sense of calm I feel as I focus on these words is almost palpable.  Where’s my pincushion?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Facebook Group for Home Decorating Finds in Abu Dhabi

I started a new Facebook Group called Abu Dhabi Decor and More.  I'm hoping that it will be a resource for finding eclectic decorating items and furnishings in Abu Dhabi.  I really love vintage, and I don't know if there's much of it here or not, but I'm sure there are other people who like to upcycle and refurbish things and rather than wade through the baby clothes and electronics on Dubizzle and in the other buy and sell pages, this one is just for Home Decor and appropriate furniture (a mattress might be considered furniture, but it's not decorative).  I'm hoping that it will generate some interest for those trying to decorate an empty apartment or villa, and also for those that are ready to leave Abu Dhabi, and want to sell their decorative items.

I'll also be posting any interesting shops or sales that I come across and hope others will do the same.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tolerance and Mutual Respect - Not the Same Thing

I am wrapping up a semester in my Family Foundations class.  This class has been spent studying the Proclamation on the Family in detail.  Our final unit has been on the importance of defending the sanctity of the family.  There is a lot of buzz in the news lately about tolerance and intolerance and bigotry.  Oftentimes it seems that tolerance means we are obligated to be accepting of others and that we have no business voicing an opinion or feeling different than another person – for to do that would be “intolerant”.  We might be labeled a bigot.  Nobody wants to be labeled as a bigot, so often we are cowed by one who might more passionately and aggressively want to get their point across.

I believe tolerance is an overused word.  Boyd K. Packer said this about tolerance: “The word tolerance does not stand alone. It requires an object and a response to qualify it as a virtue. … Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of the word tolerance. It is a very unstable virtue.”

If we could for a moment, remove the word tolerance from our vocabulary and replace it with the phrase, “Mutual Respect” – I believe this would be a win-win for both parties.  This is to allow both parties an equal sharing of viewpoints.  It requires a listening ear and an effort to understand what the other person feels so strongly about.  It requires us to “walk a mile in their moccasins”.  And if need be, it allows us to make the choice to agree to disagree and still be friends.

Dr. Alwi Shihab, a Muslim scholar said this about Mutual Respect: “To tolerate something is to learn to live with it, even when you think it is wrong and downright evil. … We must go, I believe, beyond tolerance if we are to achieve harmony in our world... We must respect this God-given dignity in every human being, even in our enemies. For the goal of all human relations—whether they are religious, social, political, or economic—ought to be cooperation and mutual respect.” 

Tolerance is conditional.  One can generally only be tolerant as long as those around them are in agreement.  Mutual respect is unconditional and can elevate the integrity of a discussion or debate.  It does not force its opinion down another's throat.  Mutual respect accepts that the other person is not obligated to see things the way you do.  Mutual respect seeks to play fair.  Granted, both parties must be willing from the outset to agree to being respectful or our conversation sinks into contentiousness, but isn't Mutual Respect a good goal to aim for?  It could change the world.  If only.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Ward Picnic in the Park and Pioneers in India

Before it starts to get really hot in Abu Dhabi, we had a pancake breakfast in the park as a ward (church congregation) activity this morning.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the massive, industrial-sized tub of Nutella that was there – apparently Nutella is really popular here and you put it on just about everything including pancakes.


Our ward is interesting because it’s made up entirely of expats – there are no native Emiratis in church because the native Emiratis are of the Muslim faith.  We have people in our ward from all over the world – the US, Philippine Islands, England, Canada, Australia, India, Pakistan… I’m sure I’m missing a few countries.  One of the brothers in our ward told us a fascinating story about how he became a member in India… it was so remarkable the way it happened and then afterwards he told us that the story has been posted on the LDS Church History website.  Basically his uncle was a scientist/expat working in Samoa, and learned about the gospel from a missionary couple – the sister was dying of breast cancer and asked her husband to give Dr. Edwin and his wife her set of scriptures if she died – which he did upon her passing.  Dr. Edwin ended up coming back and sharing the gospel with his family – as a result, 22 people were baptized in one day, and our friend was one of them.  There are now over 12,000 Saints in India.  The Lord’s timing is so amazing.  There are so many instances in my own life that I have questioned “Why this – why now?” and through the gift of hindsight, I can see the Lord’s hand in the details.
In church yesterday in something totally unrelated, one of the speakers mentioned a saying that goes along the lines of “one decision can affect 10,000 lives”.  Clearly, that bears true in the actions of the missionary family in Samoa making the decision to share the gospel, the decision to accept the gospel by Dr. Edwin and his family, and then his decision to share it with his extended family.  These decisions truly did affect 10,000 lives.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Mother's Day is Saturday, 21 March in the UAE

This week in my Family Foundations class, we have been studying about how we can have happy families, and the responsibilities that parents have to each other and for their children.  Don't leave without watching the sweet video about motherhood at the end of my post.
We believe that a document called the The Family: A Proclamation to the World, holds the keys to creating a fulfilling and joyful family life.  In particular, we focused on paragraphs 6 and 7 this week which read,

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.”

As an empty nester, I miss those days when my house was full and noisy and my kids and their friends were running around.  It takes some effort to still “nurture” adult children from 8,000+ miles away.  However, those principles of “faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work and wholesome recreational activities” are something I believe we will be practicing throughout the eternities… it won’t end if we don’t want it to – as long as we keep making the effort to live those principles.

Mother’s Day comes a little earlier in the UAE than it does in the US.  We will celebrate it here on Saturday, March 21st.  So Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, Aunties and Sisters who mother us and others.  I hope this little video helps you to know how precious you are to our Father in Heaven.



Monday, March 9, 2015

Picnic in the Park

Last week my husband and I were invited to a real Middle Eastern barbeque in the park with some of his coworkers. 
Middle Eastern people are about the most hospitable I’ve ever met.  I only use the term “Middle Eastern” because this group, while all living in Abu Dhabi are from many different countries in the Middle East – Syria, Morocco, Egypt, etc.  They are basically expats as are we.  They went to great lengths to make sure Hubby and I were comfortable and certainly well fed!  Most of them were quite a bit younger than we are – I couldn’t help but notice many similarities between them and young people at home.  They laughed, joked, smiled, played just like kids back home.  I had to ask myself, “Why wouldn’t they?”  I guess it’s easy to come someplace new with pre-conceived notions and have them flipped upside down and backwards.

One of the funny things that happened was one of them asked how long we had been married, and I didn’t quite understand the question, and thought she asked, “How long have you been in Abu Dhabi” and I answered “two months” – they laughed because we didn’t look your typical newlyweds… when I realized what I had said, we all had a good laugh about that.

A typical picnic/barbeque at a park in the UAE consists of setting out rugs and cushions and everybody sits on the ground.  They were kind enough to offer us folding camp chairs!  The barbeque is meat on a stick – Shish Taouk, which is really yummy marinated chicken, ground spiced lamb on a stick, and tender, succulent beef on stick.   Plenty of Arabic bread which is the size of a large tortilla, but more like a thin pita bread.  I basically made wraps with the meat and hummus, baba ghanoosh (made from eggplant), labneh (tastes kind of like garlic, sour cream and greek yogurt all mixed together) and a variety of pickles.  I also tasted stuffed grape leaves for the first time, that were stuffed with spiced rice.  Lots of nuts and sunflower seeds and ketchup-flavored potato chips (which surprised me - they're good!) were passed around to snack on.  Also the most delicious and I mean DELICIOUS Moroccan cookies… I’m desperate now to find a Moroccan bakery so I can get some more.  For dessert we had a couple of delicious cakes, a Zebra cake and a cinnamon layer cake.  My mouth is watering right now as I type.

Another custom at picnics is “smoking shisha”.  This is basically smoking fruit flavored tobacco from a hookah pipe.  Our friends were eager for hubby and I to try this.  We had to repeatedly turn them down… I explained that it is against our religion to smoke and we got in a very interesting conversation about why Mormons don’t drink or smoke with several young women.  One of the young women told us, “This is a very good thing.  It is the same as our religion.  Although many people ignore this as you can see, however we are taught against putting any unclean things in our bodies.”  I felt really good to be able to talk to her a little about my beliefs regarding health and it was nice to hear how she felt about it as well.  After that they were very supportive and told the rest of the group, “No, stop asking them!  They are trying to honor their religion by not doing it.” 

It was such a nice afternoon and I have to admit, it shattered a lot of stereotypes that I have held about Muslim people.  To be honest, I've had little to no interaction with Muslims until I moved to Abu Dhabi.  I know that we are all children of our Heavenly Father and that he loves us equally.  These are my brothers and sisters.  The news constantly reminds us of the people in the world that are doing bad things, but in the day to day world I believe that most of the people that we come in contact with are trying to do the right thing and be a good person.  Those are certainly the people with whom I shared a lovely picnic with last week.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Gettin' my crafty on...

Finding arts and crafts supplies, materials and finding other people who like to do it is a challenge here in Abu Dhabi.  Quilting fabric is also challenging to find.  I'm starting to make little discoveries however and I thought I'd share what I find when I find it.  Here is a link to some classes from a blog that I saw posted on Facebook:

Creative spots in Abu Dhabi from Abu Dhabi Confidential

A small craft shop I discovered in Abu Dhabi is Craft Corner.  It is located next to the Marriott Hotel, which is next to the WTC Mall.  Craft Corner is on the first floor, in the Lulu Refreshments Building.  It is tiny, but they have a fair supply of scrapbooking papers and I think pretty reasonably priced.  Also some scrapbooking embellishments.  They have some acrylic paints as well.  The woman behind the counter was extremely kind and helpful and I will definitely go back there.

Thanks to my intrepid husband, we tracked down two quilt shops and a scrapbook shop in Dubai (Jumeirah Beach area).  They are all very close to each other.  The first stop was Classic Quilts, located in the smallish shopping mall, Jumeirah Plaza.  I have to remind myself that this is not the US and to be grateful that I found anything!  A lot of their fabric seems so expensive to me.  They did have some beautiful Indonesian batiks that run about 20 dh/meter(approximately $5.45) which I think is a good price, just not a huge selection.  I stocked up on sewing machine needles, got some batting (that was really expensive - gasp) and several fabrics.  They sell Bernina machines and accessories.

Our next stop, I'm guessing approximately 3-4 km away from Classic Quilts in the Town Centre Shopping Mall was Craftland on the first floor upstairs (note:  Ground floor=first floor, first floor=second floor and so on in the UAE).  Very cute store with mostly sewing/needlework supplies.  They also sell Brother machines and accessories - good to know as that's the kind of machine I have.  Lots more fat quarter bundles, jelly rolls, charm packs, etc at this store.  They also have a good selection of ribbon embroidery kits and supplies.

A wonderfully unexpected surprise was Paper Lane, a good-sized scrapbooking store which was right around the corner from Craftland.  After years of scrapbooking and card-making, I've kind of hung up my scrapbooking hat and switched to digital, but I had to have a look at the lovely papers and could have gone crazy, but I controlled myself.

I hope to find more places to "get my crafty on" as I get to know Abu Dhabi better.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Happy Wife, Happy Life

That's what my husband likes to say, "Happy Wife, Happy Life".

Today we celebrate our 30-something wedding anniversary.  There have certainly been times when we have struggled and no doubt annoyed each other.  I know when we work hard at making the other person happy and comfortable and think less of ourselves and our own wants, we get along wonderfully.  Funny how that works?

I have been learning a lot this semester about covenant marriages.  That is the kind of marriage that I have.  Bruce C. Hafen said this about covenant marriages:

"Three summers ago, I watched a new bride and groom, Tracy and Tom, emerge from a sacred temple.  They laughed and held hands as family and friends gathered to take pictures.  I saw happiness and promise in their faces as they greeted their reception guests, who celebrated publicly the creation of a new family.  I wondered that night how long it would be until these two faced the opposition that tests every marriage.  Only then would they discover whether their marriage was based on a contract or a covenant.

Another bride sighed blissfully on her wedding day, "Mom, I'm at the end of all my troubles!"  "Yes," replied her mother, "but at which end?"  When troubles come, the parties to a contractual marriage seek happiness by walking away.  They marry to obtain benefits and will stay only as long as they're receiving what they bargained for.  But when troubles come to a covenant marriage, the husband and wife work them through.  They marry to give and to grow, bound by covenants to each other, to the community, and to God.  Contract companions each give 50%.  Covenant companions each give 100%.

Marriage is by nature a covenant, not just a private contract one may cancel at will.  Jesus taught about contractual attitudes when he described the "hireling", who performs his conditional promise of care only when he receives something in return.  When the hireling "seeth the wolf coming", he "leaveth the sheep and fleeth... because he... careth not for the sheep."  By contrast, the Savior said, "I am the good shepherd, ... and I lay down my life for the sheep."  Many people today marry as hirelings.  And when the wolf comes, they flee.  This idea is wrong.  It curses the earth, turning parent's hearts away from their children and from each other."

This class is really causing me to think a lot more about my marriage.  I know that I am blessed to have a better-than-many marriage, but there are things I can do with greater love and effort to help us have an extraordinary marriage.

Happy Anniversary Sweetie.  I love you.


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Three Random and Happy Things

1.  I went exploring with a new friend this afternoon and stumbled upon Papa Murphy’s at the WTC Mall, woo hoo!  A little bit of home in the middle of Abu Dhabi and I don’t have to cook tonight!


2.  We also found a tiny craft shop called Craft Corner today, that is next to the WTC Mall.  And here I thought Abu Dhabi was pretty bleak as far as craft supplies, but this little store had some cute scrapbooking paper, embellishments and a small selection of acrylic paint.  I found a nice jar of copper colored paint which I was missing and needed.  Score!  I have a little more time on my hands here than I did back home and my creative juices are flowing – it’s just hard to find projects and the materials to do the projects.  I’m excited because somebody gave me a beautiful plant stand that they didn’t want and I’m going to zhuzh-it-up with some paint.  I feel really good when I get to be creative.  I think this video explains really well why we as women feel so good about being creative.

3.  I saved the best random and happy thing for last.

This cute couple is getting married in the San Diego Temple on September 5, 2015.  They just got engaged this past weekend.  I am getting a new daughter-in-law and I couldn’t be more thrilled.

We have been studying this week about eternal marriage in my Family Foundations class at BYU-Idaho.  Elder Richard G. Scott said the following:  One of the most beautiful, comforting doctrines of the Lord—one that brings immense peace, happiness, and unbounded joy—is that principle called eternal marriage.  This doctrine means that a man and woman who love each other deeply, who have grown together through the trials, joys, sorrows, and happiness of a shared lifetime, can live beyond the veil together forever with their family who earn that blessing. That is not just an immensely satisfying dream; it is a reality. Any husband and wife who have shared the joys of marriage here on earth would want that blessing. But only those who meet the requirements established by the Lord will receive that supernal gift. I bear witness that all those things that have and will bring me the greatest happiness in life have roots in the temple ordinances. Decide now to receive the ordinances of the temple at the appropriate time. Don’t let anything overcome that resolve.”

I am so grateful for my son and future daughter-in-law that have made good choices throughout their young lives that will allow them to make covenants with the Lord that will enable their marriage to last into the eternities.

I am happy.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Round Round Get Around, I Get Around...

This week I got my Emirates Resident ID card (basically like a Green Card in the States), so now I can figure out how to go and apply for my driver's license.  I say "go and figure out how" because everything is a process here.  But now at least it's legal for me to try.  That being said, Abu Dhabi has some pretty insane driving.  Pretty scary actually.  I've seen right turns from the left lanes and left turns from the right lanes multiple times.

We are a one-car family right now, and Hubby drives into the city to go to work everyday.  Up until today, if we didn't drive together, I've been using one of these to get around, which is the taxi service.

Taxis are plentiful, easy to get and not very expensive, at least not in comparison to taxis in Las Vegas!  Call 600-535353 once, talk to customer service, and then you're in their system.  Everything will be computerized from that point and you can book without actually talking to anybody.  The farthest I've taken one is about 20 miles away and it's about $14 taxi ride (50 dirham with tip, which is just rounding up - 47 dh, round up to 50).  That would be quadruple that in Las Vegas.  I call them and they are almost always down by the curb by the time I leave the apartment and take the elevator downstairs.  So far every taxi I've ridden in has been very clean except for one... not sure what that story was.  Some of them have monitors with games, infomercials, travel info, etc on the headrest in front of the back seat.  These guys drive around all day long, so I think they are prepared for any curveball (i.e. bad driver) that gets thrown at them, so I feel relatively safe.  Most of the drivers speak broken English, and know where it is I am asking to go, but just to be safe, I always print out a copy of Google Maps to show them just in case.

Today I tried something different - I took the bus for the first time.
The bus stop is about a 5 minute walk from our apartment... we are on the edge of the island, so we are a terminus... which is great when you're leaving because the bus is pretty empty and you can pick your seat.  Typically in Abu Dhabi, women sit in the front of the bus, and men sit in the back.  They don't sit together.  However, as the bus gets more and more crowded, there are a lot of people standing, and the men get pushed towards the front and women towards the back.  The best thing about he bus is that it is only 2 dh!  about $0.55 to go all over the city!  I will confess though that today when I waited to go back home, my bus was packed like sardines, so I opted for a taxi instead.  Sorry, but I'm not that thrilled about being up close and personal like that.  At least I save a little money going one way on the bus - it wasn't bad, and the stops are all on a digital screen back and forth between English and Arabic, so it was very clear where we were during the journey.

If you would have told me 9 months ago that I'd be jumping in and out of buses and taxis in Abu Dhabi, I wouldn't have believed it.  I was doing all right in Las Vegas - I was finally starting to get used to living there after 11 years in Minnesota.  This is such a crazy huge change for us... kind of scary, kind of overwhelming.  It reminds me of a talk by President Thomas S. Monson called "Finding Joy in the Journey".  In that talk he mentions that change is inevitable, to live in and enjoy the moment, to be grateful and to follow Jesus Christ.  We are going through a big change now, and I can stress about it and wish things were the way they used to be, or I can learn about and appreciate this new place that I am in now.

Let us relish life as we live it, find joy in the journey,
and share our love with friends and family.
One day each of us will run out of tomorrows...
Brothers and sisters, my sincere prayer is that we may adapt to the changes in our lives,
that we may realize what is most important,
that we may express our gratitude always and thus find joy in the journey.
Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Sugar Sugar, Honey Honey

The past couple of weeks in Family Foundations class we have been tasked with setting a health goal.  My goals were give up sugar for two weeks and walk 9 days within the two week period.  The walking I will accomplish.  However I've already blown the sugar goal.

You see, I live in Abu Dhabi.

Satan's Sweet Shoppe.

A short elevator downstairs brings me to Spinney's which is our mini/mart grocery store in our complex.  Not so mini however, that they don't have a full slate of British/Dutch/German chocolate bars, European cookies (or biscuits as they like to say here).  And that's just the pre-packaged stuff... they have freshly baked donuts and cakes, etc. in their small bakery section.  If that doesn't suit me, I can walk next door to Costa Coffee, which is the UAE version of Starbucks and there are shelves of muffins and tarts to go with the yummy hot cocoa.  Luckily I'm a little too cheap to indulge there.

Then there's the local grocery store/French super-Walmart store called Carrefour.  Carrefour has a little of everything, and since it's French... they don't just have a bakery, they have a PATISSERIE... yep, just saying the word Patisserie starts off my salivary glands.  It is surprisingly inexpensive.  You can get a whole tray of Arabic baklava for about 5 dirhams which is $1.35.  And if you want something a little more common than a French pastry, at the front of the grocery store is a Cinnabon and a Baskin Robbins.  Remember, this is just the grocery store.

Now let's move on to the malls.  And malls are everywhere in Abu Dhabi.  Malls have cheesecake kiosks.  Yes, kiosks... in addition to bakeries, and ice cream shoppes and gelato shoppes and donut stores and Belgian Waffle shoppes and the list goes on.  Candylicious is a big candy store chain here where they even make their own candy sticks and canes in all different flavors.  The candy-making lady was nice enough to pose for a picture.
All I'm saying is that Abu Dhabi is not exactly the easiest place in the world to conquer a sweet tooth.

And I really do want to conquer it.  Because I don't feel very good.  My joints ache (inflammation from sugar), if I eat too much I'm tired and it's hard to concentrate (carbo coma from sugar), and it makes me feel depressed!  So it should be easy to quit, given those reasons!  However, I still struggle.

I came across this quote today from Ezra Taft Benson:  "The condition of the physical body can affect the spirit. That’s why the Lord gave us the Word of Wisdom. He also said that we should retire to our beds early and arise early (see D&C 88:124), that we should not run faster than we have strength (see D&C 10:4), and that we should use moderation in all good things. In general, the more food we eat in its natural state and the less it is refined without additives, the healthier it will be for us. Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression... Rest and physical exercise are essential, and a walk in the fresh air can refresh the spirit. Wholesome recreation is part of our religion, and a change of pace is necessary, and even its anticipation can lift the spirit."

Maybe instead of giving up sugar for two weeks, I just need to take it one day at a time... I've done it before so I know I'm capable of it.

I know Heavenly Father created me to be vibrant and healthy, and that Satan wants me droopy and sluggish feeling.  I'm not as effective in being an active participant in the work of the Lord when I don't feel my best, and I know that Satan is acutely aware of that fact.  So I will give it a go again, and again and again if I need to.  The Lord doesn't want or expect me to give up trying.

Philippians 4:13 is my go-to scripture... I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Lovely Women

This week in Family Foundations we're studying gender and eternal identity.  A quote that I read today left an impression on me:

A woman not of our faith once wrote something to the effect that in her years of working with beautiful women she had seen several things they all had in common, and not one of them had anything to do with sizes and shapes. She said the loveliest women she had known had a glow of health, a warm personality, a love of learning, stability of character, and integrity. If we may add the sweet and gentle Spirit of the Lord carried by such a woman, then this describes the loveliness of women in any age or time, every element of which is emphasized in and attainable through the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “  Jeffrey R. Holland, To The Young Women, October 2005 General Conference.

As this is a new year, and I am always looking for ways to improve myself, I think that while I have most of list of characteristics as described by Elder Holland, I can take his list and examine how I can improve upon these characteristics.  I have quite a way to go to get to the glow of health part!  There are many women in my life that are truly beautiful because they possess these particular qualities in abundance.  I remember when I was younger, a woman moved into my ward.  I'm ashamed to say my first impression of her was, "She is quite a homely woman."  As I got to know this person, her kindness and personality soon made her sparkle for me.  From the time she moved into the ward to the time she moved out, she became lovely in my eyes.  Physically, nothing really changed about her.  It was me that changed.  I was the beneficiary of her generous spirit and I was able to see her with new eyes - I think I caught a glimpse of how Heavenly Father saw her.  I realized then that beauty really does come from within.  We can all be lovely, every one of us.
This reminds me of the scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7, "...for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart."
The Lovely Women of my family

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Capstone Project

I am taking a class called "Family Foundations" at Brigham Young University Idaho and I've been assigned a Capstone project to work on throughout the course of the semester.  I had a variety of things to choose from for this project, but the project idea that resonated with me was starting a blog.  For privacy reasons I won't be listing my name here, but Family and Friends know who I am - if you have a burning desire to know my true identity, feel free to send me an e-mail and let's talk about that.  I tried to pick a name that was representative of how I feel about things... I'm looking forward to the adventure of living somewhere different and seeing new parts of the world... but at the same time the people I love are always on my mind and heart no matter where I'm situated.

I've been assigned to share insights about the things that I am learning throughout the course of the semester.  I also thought it might be a good way to share news with my family and friends about what the heck the Hubster and I are doing over here! 

Over here happens to be Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

When we tell people about Abu Dhabi, many of them have a confused look on their face because they're not sure where in the world Abu Dhabi is.  But if I ask them, "Have you ever heard of Dubai?"  They smile and nod their heads and seem to know where Dubai is.  Then I tell them Abu Dhabi is about 90 minutes away on the freeway from Dubai.  Since I've only been here in Abu Dhabi for two weeks, I haven't made the trek yet to Dubai, but it's on our bucket list.

Here is a picture of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.  We live about a mile away from this.  It's huge, like a big Taj Mahal looking building.

We haven't toured it yet, but that is also on our bucket list :)

So to get back to why I'm supposed to start this blog in the first place - my Family Foundations class.  It satisfies one of my religion course requirements and we are basically studying in detail the tenets of the Proclamation on the Family - this is a statement from one of our prophets on the theology of the family as believed by Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). 

Tomorrow is Friday in Abu Dhabi, which is the observed Sabbath day here.  I will write a little more after church tomorrow about what I am studying, but for now I just wanted to get this blog up and running.  Stay tuned!