Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Where have you been????

Hello friends!!!  Yes, I'm still alive and well on the Island of Bahrain!!! I didn't realize how long it had been since my last blog;  it wasn't  until so many sweet people started asking me if they had missed it.  Thank you all for even caring and reading this; it makes me warm inside to know that we have not been forgotten.  :)

It's been five months almost to the day since we arrived in Bahrain; the place some people call Fantasy Island, tongue in cheek,and I have to admit that I am actually starting to believe it!!!  As I read my last blog, I realized I sounded a little sad and meloncholy; well I'm happy to report that I  have settled in very nicely into this amazing life experience God has deemed to bless Dave and me  with!!!  We continue to be in awe of the magnitude of God's love and goodness towards us and many times we look at each other and say "pinch me!"  Sometimes we even ask "Why us?"  Truly we are not more worthy than anyone else of this amazing life, and yet it is a constant reminder of God's love for each and every one of us.  None of us are truly worthy of all the blessings He gives us each day, and yet it pleases Him to shower us with blessings!  The blessings are different for every one, at different moments in time, but one thing we can be sure of is that He desires our life to be awesome!  I am constantly reminded of Jeremiah 29:11, "for I know the plans I have for you; plans to bless you and prosper you..."  I never doubted that it was God's will to bring us here; I just never knew it was to bless us so abundantly, and I am so glad we submitted to His will for us! 

As you can guess from my lapse in writing, I am finding many more ways to fill my time.  It is very strange to see the sun rise at 4:30 a.m. and it is also very hard to sleep through it!!!  My body automatically wakes up to light so unfortunately, I wake up around 5:00 a.m. every day, regardless of how late I stay up.  But after a few weeks of trying different ways of sleeping in a little longer, I just decided to give in and take advantage of it.  So now, I wake up and I make sure to get the important things out of the way; I have my cup of coffee; read the daily readings, pray/journal, check my email and Skype with my daughters, family and friends, and by the time I'm finished, it's only 7:00 a.m.!!!  Since I got my AFN Box , I've been able to watch American TV; DWTS; The Voice and most recently, the NBA Playoffs.  I can watch them live at 5:00 a.m.!  Awesome!  I've also started swimming in the canal since the mornings seem to be very warm.  We bought a kayak and that is another favorite thing to do.  I kayak around our neighborhood - Floating City.  When all is said and done, it's still only maybe 9:00 a.m.!!!  I'm telling you, I get so much done simply by waking up so early!!! 
Me and Bella in our Kayak

So what do I do with the rest of my day???  Well, to be honest, I love NOT having anything on the agenda.  Most days I go to daily Mass at noon.  Most of the time, Dave will meet me there and then we go and have lunch together afterwards.  Then I'll run errands on base or in the area.  Other days I just enjoy time reading, taking in some sun while listening to my praise and worship music, or I'll go and have lunch with friends.  Dave is usually home early; 3-4 pm on most days and we have dinner, relax playing cards, take Bella for a walk on the beach or kayak together.  The weather has been so nice lately that when Dave works late, we'll order a pizza or grab our dinner and go eat it at the beach while the sun goes down.  Yes, I will stop talking about my life now because I realize it sounds to good to be true - but God is so good and I would not be telling you any of this if not simply to boast in the Lord and His goodness! 

Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4

Dinner on the beach

And as good as this all sounds, I want to share with you a greater gift God has given me; one that I truly believe has made it possible for me to see and embrace this amazing life, because without this gift, I'm afraid that despite everything we've been blessed with, I might have fallen in to despair or would have perhaps embraced a very different way of life.  And what is this gift?  The Cenacle.

The Cenacle (from Latin cenaculum), also known as the "Upper Room", is the site of The Last Supper. The word is a derivative of the Latin word cena, which means dinner. In Christian tradition, based on Acts 1:13,[1] the "Upper Room" was not only the site of the Last Supper (i.e. the Cenacle), but the usual place where the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem, and according to the Catholic Encyclopedia[2] "the first Christian church".

You may remember that I mentioned in my last blog that a group from our church had come over to bless our house and pray with us - they are The Cenacle! 

When I first arrived and went to confession with Fr. Bob, he told me I HAD to join The Cenacle.  As I continued to tell him about my life in El Paso and what was closest to my heart, he kept saying "Aww man, you need to join The Cenacle!"  Alright, I get that Father, but what is The Cenacle???  And why did I need to join and would they even have me??  Well, as it turns out, I needed to join them more than I realized, reminding me once again that God knows what we need, even before we do! 
Me and Dave with Father Bob

The Cenacle is a group of some of the warmest people I know; they meet every Friday after mass in different people's homes to pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy.  Everyone brings a dish and we share a meal.  They are some of the most devout group of people I've met and they are fervent about praying for Priests and Vocations as well.  As a matter of fact, there are two families in the group who have brothers who are Priests.  Along with the Rosary and the Chaplet, I have been learning lots of new prayers that they pray as well.  While it may seem like "alot of Jesus", as Fr. Bob would say, it actually goes by pretty quickly, to my surprise.

I have to say that our first experience with this was at our house blessing.  They were so excited to come and bless our home - there were about 30 people here that day and Dave and I had no idea what to expect or what exactly they would do.  When they pulled out folders for everyone to recite prayers and read from, I got a little worried.  Mainly for Dave - he's not one for long prayers and these booklets had like 40 pages of prayers!!!  And for myself too because although it may surprise you, I'm not too keen on organized prayer groups like this.  I get easily bored and I've struggled with communal prayers like this; I just feel more attracted to spontaneous, personal prayers.  But we were so happy to have them there and so touched by their warmth that we truly enjoyed it.  But every week???  What did we get ourselves in to??  We went the following week, more out of gratitude for the beautiful turnout at our house, but after that, I wasn't sure if we would stick with it every week. I mean, was it necessary??  Does God ever make mistakes??

The Cenacle at our House Blessing

The next week I had some serious moments of crisis.  First, Dave began to have problems with his eyesight and he confided in me that he thought his retina was detaching in his right eye.  His left had detached 5 yrs. ago in his left eye and thankfully, he was aware of the symDptoms and scheduled an appointment the next day.  Sure enough, he was right and that led to an entire day of referrals from one Dr. to the next.  I was tempted to call our Dr. in the States since I knew how delicate and important the right care was but there was no time.  This kind of problem does not wait and after having seen my neighbor in El Paso lose his eyesight because he waited too long, I just had to put all my faith in God; trusting that He would provide the best medical care for Dave.  They scheduled surgery for Saturday afternoon.  In the midst of all of this, I found out that one of my dearest friends had been diagnosed with cancer.  We had been waiting for results and when I got the call saying, "It's not what we wanted to hear", I broke down in tears.  For only the second time since I've been here did I break down sobbing; heartbroken, and left wondering WHY God would not allow me to be at home to help my dear friend through this battle she would have to face???  This all happened on a Thursday and by Friday, I was emotionally drained and that's when it hit me - The Cenacle!!!   They would be meeting that day and boy did I NEED to be in prayer that day!!!  I went alone while Dave was trying to get his work and other things in order before his surgery.  Of course, they all asked for Dave.  When I told them about his ordeal, they all began to offer help.  When I told them he would be at home with his head hanging down for 7-10 days, they immediately offered a massage table where he could lay with his face down.  Within minutes, they had gone and brought the table and loaded it in my car and sent me home with tons of food for Dave.  I offered up my Rosary and Chaplet for Dave and Elsa and I left there feeling 100 times better!!!  As the weeks followed, I couldn't wait to go to The Cenacle; it is where not only I found comfort in the routine prayers but where I felt embraced by the love of God in all those people there.  Truly, God's wisdom is infinitely above my own because He designed that we be ONE in His Church.  The Body of Christ in the Church is made up of all the individuals in it - we were created to work together to manifest His love to others through the Church and there is no better way to do that than to come together as a community and share His love for one another!  WOW!  How well God knows my heart; my weaknesses and my desires!!!   Desires because as I've said before, one of the hardest things to leave behind was my community of faith; my church family; the body of Christ that had nurtured me and loved me in Christ for so many years!  And how many times have we not heard that the Church is universal; that God is present in His Church throughout the world - even in a Muslim country!  Christ is definitely present in His Church here in Bahrain;  in The Cenacle, where He led me because He knew how much I longed for a faith community; for that Christian fellowship I thought I had left behind.  And He knew that I would need them to hold and comfort me in my time of despair; to strengthen me and to remind me that GOD always provides every little thing that we need - even when we don't know we need it.

These people are my friends; I see them weekly but also at daily mass; they have embraced us and made us part of their families; there is always a birthday party; a going away party; an anniversary to celebrate.  But mainly, I just enjoy gathering with them on Fridays and praying with them.  If there are a few days where I  neglect my daily time with the Lord or feel that I've neglected my prayer life, I find it comforting to know that come Friday afternoon, I will get the chance to make it up and be refreshed and renewed.   Oh....and did I mention the great food????  I guess it wouldn't be a Cenacle without delicous food, now would it????  I would be remiss and ungrateful if I didn't say how much I've enjoyed tasting the delicious meals from the Phillipines, India, and France and I'm picking up some great recipes too! 

There are times when I feel as if I should be doing something more - finding a way to serve Him; to share Him with others around me, but somehow, the timing does not seem to be right.  I will be going to the US in a few short months - TWO to be exact!  It doesn't seem right to start something now that I would have to drop for the five weeks I will be gone.  YES, five whole weeks in the US with my daughters, my family and friends, and my new GRANDAUGHTER - Anabella Marie!!!  OMG- my heart wants to explode as I write that!  But don't be fooled; God finds ways to keep me busy in His service; I continue to Lector every week at Mass and isn't it funny that somehow, He has found a way to put me back in Youth Ministry for a limited time.  Yes, that's a great subject for my next blog....let me just say that next week I will be going to the Czech Republic to chaperone a Mission Trip.  The Czech Republic - is that crazy or what???  And how did this come about???  How did GOD come up with the idea of putting another El Pasoan here in Bahrain and bringing us together in service to Him???
Do you know who this is?

 Stay tuned for my next blog........in the meantime, know you are loved and be blessed!!!