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.