Thursday, April 28, 2011

More Easter

“Morning has broken, like the first morning Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird” – Cat Stevens

Just a few pics of the kids with their Easter treasures
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20110422 [IMG_2016] - Easter  20110422 [IMG_2018] - Easter
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

"He lives my kind, wise, heavenly friend..." - I know that my redeemer lives

In celebration of Easter, here is a photo from our recent trip to the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem.

Guess What? HE wasn't in the tomb ;)

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not in Kansas anymore...

"Sign, sign. Everywhere a sign.
Blockin' out the scenery. Breakin' my mind.
Do this. Don't do that. Can't you read the sign?" - Five Man Electrical Band

Almost every day we see signs that are unusual. Of course there are lots of signs in Arabic... and that is unusual (for us Americans), but even the ones in English can be strange. Sometimes they are fascinating, sometimes funny, and sometimes they are just plain weird. Both Yvonne and I get a kick out of the signs, so I'm going to start sharing some of them.

To kick things off, here is a sign you probably won't see too often in the U.S.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mosqued in Mystery

“Your surprises wear disguises

All of your truths masquerade around on Hallow's Eve

So I'll never know what you show to unfamiliar faces” – Matt Costa

The UAE is an Islamic country. People here have religious freedom, BUT one must remember that the government and laws support the state religion of Islam (or the other way around depending on how you look at it). Non-Muslims are free to worship their own religions, but this freedom is limited… and does not apply the same way to Muslims. The result is a fascinating environment for religious practices.
One of those fascinations is Mosques. Here, they are everywhere. There are more mosques here than chapels in Provo. They seem to come in many shapes and sizes, but most include at least one towering minaret and they all broadcast the call to prayer 5 times a day. We can often hear the call from the mosque about a block or so from our house. Some are small and simple, while others are huge and extravagant. On our 20 minute drive to church, we pass several mosques that rival or exceed the size of the Laie Temple. Not only can they be big, but they are also beautiful, and they are all a bit mysterious.
Anyone can hear the call to prayer (it is in Arabic though, so we don't understand it) and see white robed men going in and out for their worship. But, in most cases, only Muslims are allowed to enter the mosques. Since we can't go in, it has been a captivating mystery to wonder what the mosques look like and what goes on inside. Of course there are lots of places on the internet that offer good information like here... so it really isn't a mystery, but reading about it isn't quite the same as actually going inside.
Come to find out, the Sheik Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi is open for the public on certain days and times. We went with some friends a little while ago to check things out and solve the mystery.
The first word that comes to mind is IMPRESSIVE. It is Huge and beautiful. A few tidbits of info:
  • It is one of the top 10 largest mosques in the world
  • Women are loaned an abaya and head scarf so they are appropriately modest
  • Men are required to wear long pants
  • The artwork was amazing... and most of it was inlaid stone, mother of pearl, or something precious
  • It contains the largest continuous rug in the world. Some 35 tons of it
  • It is technically still under construction. They hope to be finished sometime in 2012.
Anyway, the visit was really neat. It was cool to see a mosque from the inside instead of the just the outside. Plus, it was fun to see Yvonne dressed properly ;)
Here are a few photos of our visit.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lost in Translation

“I don't understand at best,

I cannot speak for all the rest.

In the morning rise a lifetime's passed me by

What would you say…” – Dave Matthews

When my parents came to visit us on the way home from their mission, My dad called Dubai the “Emerald City”  In a lot of ways, that is an appropriate name.  We thought there was a lot of wealth in Hawaii.  I used to get a kick out of being at a stoplight down near Diamondhead and noticing that a lot of the cars around me were BMWs, Mercedes, and Audis. 
Here, there are times when I look around and there are even more of those cars, plus several cars with names like Ferrari, Maserati, Range Rover, Lotus, Bentley, Rolls Royce, It is ridiculous.  It isn’t just the cars though, there are so many ways that this city is always putting on a show.  The Malls are a good example.  They don’t just have stores, but fountains, shows, events, and entertainment.  It is almost bewildering at times… there are practically entire amusement parks in a mall.  It is a bit like the wizard and his show in the Emerald City.  A spectacle of extravagance with lights and sounds, but often confusing as to what the purpose is.  When the curtain is pulled back, sometimes you can see a different side of things.
We’ve been lucky to be able to take advantage of some promotions so that we can actually afford to let the kids enjoy some of the magical noises, lights, and rides.  They have a blast, and we get to experience the wizard’s show in different ways.
I got a kick out of this sign.   The first two rules seem to make sense.  Some of the other ones…. not so much ;)
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And here are a few photos of all the fun.
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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Birds of Prey

“Fly like an eagle, Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle, Till I'm free” – Steve Miller Band

We took the kids and went with some friends to see a show/demonstration about “Birds of Prey.” It was a little bit like those informational/educational assemblies you may remember from Jr. High… only if those assemblies were more cool, a bit dangerous, led by a long-haired guy with a crazy accent and grammar, and totally unafraid of any liability issues.  In other words, it wouldn’t happen in the US. 
It was fascinating to see, pet, and hold some pretty impressive birds… at the same time, we were never quite sure how tame they were and if they would decide to carry off one of our kids for lunch.  These photos aren’t that great, but we had fun.
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Friday, April 1, 2011


“The teachers told us, the Romans built this place

They built a wall and a temple, an edge of the empire

Garrison town,

They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods

But the stone gods did not make a sound

And their empire crumbled, 'til all that was left

Were the stones the workmen found” – Sting

I knew I wanted to visit Jordan to see Petra, and of course I knew what to expect when we visited Jerusalem.  What I didn’t realize before our trip was some of the other amazing sites in Jordan.  This final post (part #3) about our recent trip, will be focused on Jerash, but may also include a few other cool sites we enjoyed.
This first photo wasn’t taken in Jerash, but I thought it was a cool one to share.  It is from some Roman ruins at Umm Qais.  Some believe it may have been the site (or near it) mentioned in the gospels where Christ casts the evil spirits out of a man called Legion and the spirits then possess the bodies of pigs which then jump off a cliff into the sea (or something like that ;).  From the photo, you can see Israel, the Sea of Gallilee, the Golan Heights, and possibly in the distance to the right, Syria.  What you don’t see are any pigs… I’m guessing they avoid this place now.
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We also got to explore the very cool Ajlun Castle.  It was built by Arabs under the command of Saladin to protect the country against attacks from the crusaders.  I would not want to be dodging the ammunition Yvonne is holding as it was catapulted from behind walls 10 ft. thick.
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One of the main attractions of almost everything in Jordan was that we were pretty much free to explore (climb on) about anything we wanted.  Often in the US you are “encouraged” to enjoy something from a distance or from behind a gate or glass… Jerash was a little more hands on.
20110129[IMG_1716] - Jerash
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