Friends, do you remember when we first arrived here in the UAE and I was kind of a mess? Do you remember that? I was a grieving, culture-shocked mess. So, I poured my heart into blog posts and was generously lavished with love, support, and encouragement from across the ocean. I remember one particular post where I was frustrated from having no running water and no internet and no vehicle and no where to go anyway, which was great because it was 5000 degrees outside and while I poured my desperation into a blog post, I remember that I miraculously remained hopeful. I even said something to the effect, that I wanted to share all the difficult parts from the beginning, because I truly believed it would get better, and then all my loving readers could rejoice with me when those better days came. Do you remember that?
Because those better days did come! And my loving readers did rejoice with me. Thanks loving readers! This is where we find ourselves a year and a half later:
We have found wonderful community here in Al Ain. We have been embraced by new friends and neighbours and colleagues and homeschoolers and a church family.
We’ve found physical activities to engage in. At different times, one or all of us have enjoyed golf, rugby, dance, yoga, drama, DI, ice skating, tennis, swimming, wide games, kick ball, dodgeball, volleyball, basketball, and most recently, lots and lots and lots of walking.
We’ve found lots of things to love about our city and region. We can go to movies, go to the pool, go to the mall, go to the desert, go out for dinner, go to the mall, go to Dubai, go to Abu Dhabi, or go to the mall. And when it gets really, really hot, we can always go to the mall. Sure, the activities are a little different from what we were used to, but we’ve adjusted and found fun things to do as a family.
We’ve embraced the slower pace of life in an Arabic country and are really appreciating the emphasis on relationship. Dwayne is home every day by 2:00 and rarely has prep or marking to do, and never has evening or weekend work commitments. We have oodles of time together as a family and time to relax with friends, and in this day and age, that is no small matter.
We’ve hosted family and friends from back home four times and not only had the joy of seeing them face to face again, we had the privilege of showing them around this beautiful region and participating in a pretty life-changing trip for all of them.
We live below our means, we’re not in debt, and we don’t stress about money. This is another one of those “no small matter” things.
We’ve had time and opportunity to reflect on our gifts and skills and how we want to live our lives. I am 4 months away from finishing my Natural Nutrition diploma, which I know I was able to tackle because of our move here. Dwayne is brainstorming new career opportunities and we are both dreaming about how our future may look different from what we once expected.
We’ve discovered more of the big wide world out there. We’ve visited 8 new countries since we moved here and, for me, those trips will remain one of the best rewards for all the difficulty along the way.
We’ve expanded our worldview and developed a heart for people whose suffering never really crossed our radar before. We’ve also seen the great need here for our gifts, our message, and mostly, the love of our great God.
The better days did come. Of course, there are still plenty of drawbacks to living in a new and different culture and far away from family and old friends. But all I can do is give thanks to God for what he has shown us and taught us, and how he has provided for us and changed us.
For those reasons, and more, we have decided to stay in Al Ain another year. Can you believe it?!? Based on my first 3 months here, did you think this day would come? The day we would willingly sign up for another year after the initial 2 year contract was over? I can’t believe it, because there were days when we didn’t think we could see the first year through, let alone a third. But here we are. And my gratitude flows in many directions these days. I’m thankful for Dwayne because he’s a superstar. It takes a very strong man to persevere, adjust, and stand in the face of such daily opposition. He is my hero. I’m thankful for the people who have embraced us here and make our daily living a joy. I’m thankful for the people who have remained rock solid for us back home and make our relationship a priority, even from the other side of the planet. And I’m so thankful for God. He is transforming us in ways we could not have anticipated and as always, he reminds me that my true home is with him and my only daily mission is to follow his lead.