Sunday, April 14, 2013

Past and Present Blessings

My Lenten time alone with Jesus came to an end too soon! After Easter Sunday, I felt sad at thinking that my special time with Jesus was over.  It was back to "ordinary" time; back to the things I gave up, etc...   And I realized that I was NOT ready to give up that special time with Him each day yet - no, I wanted that special time to become my every day "ordinary" and so I continue to sit, talk, listen and journal.  I had not blogged because I was trying to think of what you might want to hear about now.  What could I share with you that would not bore you?  What would be worth giving up some of your busy time to read anyway?  Well, this morning I knew what I wanted to share with you.

But first let me say that I have been experiencing more of the culture.  I finally went to the Souk - the traditional market place where you can buy everything from souvenirs to custom made clothing, men's suits and traditional abayas.  It's a little intimidating because they all want your business and they stand outside their shops and in their best English say "Come!"  It makes me want to laugh because it sounds more like a command than an invitation and sometimes their voice sounds stern and gruff, even though it is not meant to sound that way.  Our maintenance man does the same thing.  He wants so badly to pet Bella and I'm happy to see that he's not afraid of her, but every time he sees her, he says "Come! Come here!"  and she runs under the table!

We also visited the King's Camel Farm.  He has over 600 camels!  Why?  I have no idea but he allows people to go and see them for free.  A worker will jump out of nowhere and give you some greens to feed them and then allow you to take a picture on one of them.  I took a picture on top of a camel who was 6 months pregnant.  She was sitting down when he took me to her but he didn't tell me she was pregnant until after he had me sit on her; I asked him not to make her get up because I felt bad putting all my weight on her in addition to the extra weight she was already carrying!  But I got a nice picture of Ariel - the 25 year old Momma-to-be. 
We also went to the Bahrain Museum and Fort where archaeologists discovered 7 distinct foundations, which have been dated back to 2500 BC!! To see names like "Mesopotamia" and "Chaldeans" and the land of "Ur" gave me goosebumps! These are all mentioned in the Old Testament and I can't believe I'm walking on anything remotely related to that time in history!

 Here is the Facebook link if you want to see more pictures.

At the opposite side of the spectrum, we also experienced more of the luxury and excess of Bahrain - the International Boat Show held right here in Amwaj where we live, at the Marina.  Yachts, water toys and some of the most expensive cars I've ever seen!  No, we didn't buy one, but we had fun dreaming and you can see more pictures here:

I was blessed to buy a car so I have started to drive!  I realize that patience and defensive driving serve me well.  I usually drive during the days when everyone is working so traffic is light but I've been able to move around; I found my way to the main Mall and have bought a few things for our home.  We invested in some rugs to keep the carpet clean and little things to make it feel more like "our" home since our household goods have still not arrived.  It's been 3 months!!  They said it would be two but now it's turned into three and it's very frustrating not knowing when the winds will blow that ship in to dock!  On a positive note - I'm happy to see that we've been able to survive on the 2 suitcases we each brought when we came.  Sure, I've bought a few pairs of shoes and some clothes that are more suitable for Spring than the winter clothes I came with, but it's been minimal and I love that we've been able to keep it simple for this long!  Dave says he hopes the container is at the bottom of the sea somewhere so we can collect the insurance money, but I want my things! 

But the highlight of having a car is that I've been able to attend daily mass a few times a week now!!!  I kept saying how much I missed going to daily mass so I figured there was no excuse now.  It has been a blessing.  I don't know why but I'm constantly aware of the devotion and determination it takes for these men and women to attend daily mass.  There are many service men and women mixed with TCNs (Third  Country Nationals, ie...Indian and Filipinos) who work on base.  The TCNs only get 30 minutes for  lunch so they basically give up their lunch time.  Father gives Mass at record speed - 20 minutes!!!  But I think it's because he's aware that the people there will have to gulp down a quick bite to eat after mass so he wants them to have as much time as possible left to do that.  I'm not sure what the word would be to describe what I feel in seeing people place such an importance and dependence on God for their daily lives.  I don't mean to take anything away from those who are retired or don't work or are self employed and can set their own hours to attend daily mass, but when you see someone rush over on their lunch break, or give it up completely to be nourished instead by the Word of God and the Eucharist, I am just in awe.  I guess I feel humbled; grateful, blessed and renewed in hope for our world.  I don't know how to express it so you can fill in the blanks - all I know is that it's good for my soul! 

This past Friday we were blessed immensely by having 30+members of our church community come to our home to pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy; share a meal and bless our home.  This will be the subject of my next blog because this is already too long and I haven't even gotten to the part I really wanted to share with you! 

So to get to the point - I've been experiencing some homesickness watching holidays and special events going on back home that were so dear to my heart. As I continue to meet more people, I'm able to tell them a little more about myself and my life in El Paso and all of that seems to make me miss it more!  This morning I had an email from my dear friend Andi Ponsford whom I have shared many, many special moments with throughout my years in youth ministry and beyond.  I came to really love her children during the years they were in Youth Group and hearing about their adult lives now; seeing how their faith is impacting them now just made me cry! Thinking back on all the experiences we shared together made me realize how much I miss them and that time of my life too!  I think it's because it's becoming very evident that my "vacation" is not going to end any time soon.  My life as I knew it in El Paso really is in the past and it will never be the same again, even if I do get to go back some day.  Life goes on, everyone back home is moving on without me, and I'm grieving the loss of my former life.  Those tears felt heavy at first, but amazingly, they quickly turned to tears of joy!  I suddenly remembered what I had just read and underlined in my daily devotional this morning;  "Be careful not to complain about anything, not even the weather; since I am the Author of your circumstances.  The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.  This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it."  I realized that while I could allow those tears of sadness to turn to resentment or despair, God could make them tears of joy if I thanked Him for every moment of my past life instead and counted them as a million blessings!  How blessed I was in my life back home!!!!   The blessings are too numerous to count!!!  And every time I remember and miss someone or something - I need to count it as another blessing - and thank God for it!!!  How many people leave a place because they "hated" it; because there was nothing there for them?  I can't ever say that!  I know, I know I said that I was leaving the country because of Obama, but I was just kidding!!!  Sort of. ;)  But to be honest, I would be incredibly selfish and ungrateful not to see how blessed I was in family, friends, and church community; how privileged I am to have the blessed memories that come from serving in ministry; how blessed I am to be able to see the blessings in my past.  It gives e confidence and blessed assurance of the blessings still to come NOW, in my new place in life and for that, I am ever grateful.  So I won't complain - not even about the weather!  And have I mentioned that it's getting pretty hot now????  Well, I may tell you how high the temperature gets, but it won't be a complaint, it will only be so that you can then turn around and THANK GOD that you're temperatures are still lower!!! 

Thank you to each and every person that has entered my life, past and present - I count you among my greatest blessings!! 

As always, blessings from Bahrain!!!! 


  1. Hi Marie,
    Thanks for your post. I read one of the books that you left behind for the Bible Study group to pick from. It was volume 7, Directions for our Time. In the introduction Anne states the following: "Various circumstances compelled my husband and me to move with our children far from my loved ones. I offered this up and must say it is the most difficult thing I have had to contend with. Living in exile brings many beautiful opportunities to align with Christ's will; however, you have to remind yourself that you are doing that. Otherwise you just feel sad."
    I read this at a "sad" time of my life, and it helped me to refocus on the fact that Richard and I are here because we followed what we believe was God's will.
    So may God's blessings be abundant for you, Dave and all your loved ones! And may your focus on His will continue to drive your heart more deeply into His.

    1. Thank you Barb! We have so clearly seen God's hand in this move every step of the way and so it was easier to accept, but I need that reminder again from time to time. I have more joyful days than sad days for sure - but I'm only human and love and miss you all back at home. Thanks again for sharing - my blessings to you and Richard.