I have really fallen in love with homeschooling. It’s only been 14 months, but it has given me such joy, and been such a great fit for our family. How we all choose to educate our children is such a personal family decision, and is all wrapped up in different personalities and needs and circumstances. I’m grateful that we have choices, and I’m grateful that we found our way, down this very unexpected path, to home educating.
I have also, surprisingly, started to fall in love with the expat life. With being a foreigner. Despite the most obvious difficulty of missing loved ones back at home, there is a lot to love about moving to another culture. It’s such a privilege to learn about different people and lifestyles and values. And these two pieces- homeschooling and life in a foreign land- really came together this weekend.
In history, the kids and I are studying the middle ages this year, having worked through ancient history last year. This past week brought us to the rise and spread of Islam in the 6th and 7th centuries. All of us have been so interested in learning more about Islam and the Muslim faith since we’ve been here. No one more than Josiah- he is so full of questions all the time about this country, the countries surrounding us, and the faith and ways of the different people groups we’ve encountered. It’s been so good for my heart to see his curiosity rise again. And even more than that, it’s been amazing to talk about what our faith in Jesus really means. The conversations that we’ve had about spiritual matters as a result of our time here have been so real. The similarities and differences between Muslims and Christians. The different expressions of Christianity world wide, and what really lies at the heart of the gospel. The principles true Muslims strive to live out, versus those portrayed in western media. It’s been so fantastic for deepening the kids understanding and personal commitment.
So, we’ve decided to park ourselves here in this part of history for a few weeks longer than the curriculum calls for, in order to really soak up and study more about the UAE and the Muslim people. We were given some really helpful resources from the Zayed House of Islamic Culture here in Al Ain, and I often catch Josiah reading ahead because he can’t wait until we get back to our family reading.
For further enrichment, I asked myself the other day, “I wonder if there is a mosque nearby that would allow us in and give us a tour….” …..? Seriously? I temporarily forgot that we live an hour away from one of the most beautiful mosques and significant tourist attractions in the world: The Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. I’ve actually been dying to see it up close since we arrived, but in the week we were in Abu Dhabi, we were adjusting to the time change, dealing with a puking little girl, and generally trying to figure out heads from tails. Being tourists took a back seat to figuring out how to be residents. But now! Now we are residents, and we have the privilege of combining the joys of homeschooling with the joys of discovery in a new land. So off we went to Abu Dhabi. We started with some time at Corniche Beach, since the mosque doesn’t open to the public until late afternoon on Fridays. And also…. I love the beach. Any time we’re in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, it’s pretty much a given that I’d like to spend some time listening to the waves and dipping my toes in the gulf.
But then, we were off to enjoy the beauty of this place of worship for so many. We missed the guided tour, and didn’t find the self-guided tour supplies until we were almost done our time, so we still have plenty more to learn about this mosque. But, I’m sure we’ll be back, as we plan on bringing all our family and friends for a tour when they come and visit. It’s so amazing, and so close, with so much to study- it will likely become sort of a given that we take a field trip there every year. Kind of like the Chilliwack Corn Maze. Only not so muddy.