Tuesday, September 7, 2010

An Oasis in the Desert

“They raised His banner triumphant, over the desert sod.

And we hear the desert singing, carry-on, carry-on, carry-on” – Carry On

We had our first Sunday on Friday. I know, that sounds confusing, but here in the UAE, the weekend is Friday-Saturday instead of Saturday-Sunday. In addition, they observe the “day of rest” (or the Sabbath) on Fridays. So, Sunday (church) is on Friday and Saturday is still your Saturday. Sunday then becomes the new Monday (or start of the work week). You got it straight? ;) It is still an adjustment for us, but at least some things are familiar.

One of those things is that it is great to get help from a Good Samaritan. We were wondering how in the world we were going to find the church. Even if we had an address, we have no car, it was daunting to think of loading all three kids in a taxi and give directions (just an address does not work) to a taxi driver that doesn’t speak English and may not be familiar with a residential area. Fortunately, a member of the church has swooped in like a super-hero to save the day. We will call him KW for now to protect his super-hero identity. KW has been awesome. He not only contacted us and offered to come to the hotel and pick us up for church, but has also saved the day several times already with rides, advice, and information at crucial times. We are big fans.

Anyway, we did make it to church on our first Friday here. I’ll list a few answers to what are likely some common questions about church.

  • We will be members of the Sharjah Ward in the Manama Bahrain Stake – Yes, it is a ward instead of a branch. Apparently there is also a ward in Dubai and one in Abu Dhabi
  • The church building is a large Villa in a residential area. We have sacrament meeting in the front room, with overflow in the dining room…. It is big enough for 100-200 people. All the bedrooms are classrooms or the bishop’s office. (see photo below… I know, not the best photo, we’ll try and get more later)


  • There is a pulpit, but not benches. Instead, there are padded chairs. It isn’t bad, but not quite as easy to manage all the kids at once.\
  • At first glance the ward is probably 70% Filipino and 20% American/Canadian, with the rest made up of African, European, Australian, Pakistani, and others.
  • Church meetings are in English… but there are some strong accents ;)
  • The schedule is the regular 3 hours of meetings
  • The baptismal font is outside in front of the church… Actually it is a swimming pool, but hey, whatever works, right?

Everyone at church was super friendly and very eager to meet us… well, mostly our kids. We immediately felt at home. There were 2 or 3 other new families or individuals that were there for the first time and I think everyone felt a great spirit of friendship and kindness.

It was a great meeting and nice to have a refuge of comfort in the midst of this whirlwind of changes and adjustments that we have been going through. The church truly is the same spirit everywhere on earth. The only downside is that I was asked to teach the priesthood lesson next week. I was hoping for a little longer break before …. Oh well ;)

1 comment:

  1. That's an interesting looking church!
    Glad there are some lovely members there to help you out, makes a huge difference.