Shavua Tov!

From this day on, from this twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid. Give careful thought:  Is there yet any seed left in the barn? Until now, the vine and the fig tree, the pomegranate and the olive tree have not borne fruit.

“‘From this day on I will bless you.’” Haggai 2:18-19 NIV

Less is more

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We have all had to simplify our lives living here in the desert. The nearest city is around 180 minutes drive away and the journey is nothing short of exhausting.  A weekend trip to Abu Dhabi is supposed to be refreshing but any relaxation felt is soon erased by the arduous drive back to our desert accommodation.

At some point, all of us have felt that our former lives in the West have been brutally stripped away and have left us bare and vulnerable. Each of us has often questioned why we are here.

Yet something much stronger overrides this sense of exposure to the unknown and uncertainty of this lifestyle we now find ourselves in. Its name is Peace. http://biblehub.com/john/14-27.htm

Expat Desert Inhabitants have made difficult choices, sacrificing friends and family and a lifestyle back home to follow what we know in our hearts to be the right professional and/or personal choice.  If we looked at our situation with human eyes and took everything at face value, we would feel overwhelmed.

Yet, when we are in a place where we know we are meant to be, we are somewhat at pains to describe to others why we remain.  Paradoxically, we know that if we stayed in our home countries, we would feel restless and unsettled with each passing day; the silent sentiments of no longer belonging to the society into which we were born steadily consuming us.

I am blessed by new friends and colleagues who identify with the difficulties we are facing together. Chats whilst sharing cups of tea and coffee, bread, biscuits, books read, clothes that no longer fit, recipes, drives to the city, weekly car-pools to work when we all need a 30 minute lie in, recommended podcasts and albums all combine to enable us to develop our sense of community and sisterhood.

There is much joy to be found in what is sometimes an incomprehensible life when we look outwards, forget ourselves and keep going. Personally, I am often encouraged by the words once sent to me many years ago by my sister:  Look outwards; forget yourself. And those of my dad:  Keep going and don’t look back or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt! http://biblehub.com/genesis/19-26.htm

Many of us are finding talents which have been lying dormant for so long and are making jewelry or painting and sketching. Some are learning languages for travels to and from the Middle East whilst others are discovering a flare for making sour cream and guacamole (see last post: In the desert, we make our own sour cream…)

Although it may seem we have little, we are growing inwardly and outwardly.  Just as it was in the story of Jesus feeding the 4000, we learn that although things more than often do not make sense, as we continually pray in all circumstances and keep looking on the bright side, miracles happen and we find ourselves coping.http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark+8&version=MSG

Prayer:  Lord, forgive us for times when we have been disgruntled, disillusioned and disappointed about the circumstances we find ourselves in. Forgive us for the times when we don’t appreciate what we have and help us see the satisfaction of simple living. Help us understand that it is by spreading out what little we already have that more of us are blessed and encouraged. Thank you that by trusting you, we don’t need to always have and understand the answers. Thank you that you are a creative God who loves communication http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%201&version=MSG; that you invented words, chats and a wonderful world to be discovered.

Please, help us, Lord.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Thessalonians+5%3A16-18&version=NIV,

Listen to:  Mumford & Sons

Eating together in eateries…

Eateries in Nazareth

All human beings need food, clean water and shelter but here in the Middle East, cooking can seem too much after a day at work or travelling through heat-filled lands and buying produce to cook for one can prove expensive. 

Thankfully, we have many eateries where people gather to fill their bellies up on local produce and, in turn, repair their souls whilst chatting, sharing, encouraging, laughing and burping.

Recently, I had the pleasure of eating a delicious shwarma in a family run restaurant in Nazareth. These jolly bunch of Arabs were delighted to show me their home made pickled vegetables and flatbreads. I also witnessed a fiery rant between those two brothers which thankfully seemed to resolve itself quite quickly when I flashed a smile and started to ask them to ‘shawaya shawaya’ in my dodgy Arabic.

Within a few days, I found myself stuffing my face with a yummy chicken curry in Christchurch Café, Jerusalem, prepared by a group of volunteers, of which religious persuasion I am unsure and quite honestly don’t really care about as this didn’t seem to affect the goodness of the tasty feed I enjoyed.

In spite of what the media would wish us to believe, in this part of the world, we seem to all be sitting around a large, round table where we chat to (and thank God for) our Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Atheist and Agnostic brothers and sisters who are all lovingly and happily sharing their culinary skills and expertise with one another.

Drinks:  Diet Coke in Nazareth; still water & too many creamy cappuccinos in Jerusalem.

Some love tunes to listen to whilst perhaps drinking a 2011 Dalton Cabernet Sauvignon from Galileehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_RqDOaUS6M

Lord, in spite of the differences in how we perceive and express our thoughts towards you, thank you that you are both greater than that and much more forgiving than we could ever imagine. Help us to love one another and grow in inviting those whom we consider to be different to us in to our lives and our homes to share the food you give us. May we also grow in the courage to walk lovingly towards the homes and lives of those whom we may consider too difficult or different to share our experiences and love with them. Help us, Lord. Please, graciously help us. Amen.