To Dubai and Back

To Dubai and Back. . . .

In late April I flew to the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, a lovely place which is rapidly becoming a tourist destination due to its sunny climate. It has beautiful beaches, and it has amazing and unique buildings, including some of the most beautiful resorts and hotels in the world. If you add in the great shopping at some of the world biggest and fanciest malls, one of which includes a winter wonderland complete with skiing and penguins, you will know why many people choose to visit Dubai.

None of these wonderful places is why I went. I went to see my best friend from high school and her husband, who have been living and working in Dubai for the last fourteen years. They will retire in June and leave Dubai, so this was my last chance to visit them and see Dubai from a non-tourist point of view. I loved the amazing buildings and I fell in love with Arabic mosaics and designs. I found shopping in the malls and the traditional “gold and spice souks” to be a great adventure and lots of fun, but I went to Dubai for the people. Maggie and I were able to share memories of our mothers that only we have—what a blessing for both of us, now that they are gone.

I was able with Maggie and Russell’s help, to see a side of Dubai that most tourists will not see. I visited with young Emerati women, all robed in black from head to toe in their math class taught by Russell. I had tea with Maggie’s fellow teachers and friends at the Dubai American Academy. I met the attendees of a baby shower, both male and female, who included people from almost every European country who had come to Dubai to work in a variety of fields from engineers to bakers. That evening I was part of an international community gathered to celebrate a baby and her parents.

Far from being fearful when riding the Metro by myself, I felt safe and welcome. Everywhere I went I felt free to be my usual friendly self and had a number of interesting conversations. People I met wanted to know where I was from and were happy to tell their own stories. In many ways it was a very strange land and I was a stranger, but I was welcomed, sometimes because of Maggie and Russell, but often just because I stopped and asked a question. For a week, I enjoyed this great adventure and I look forward to traveling to some other amazing place in the future. My world is now both larger and smaller. Just fourteen hours away by plane, I met people loved by God, who had stories to tell. Thanks Maggie and Russell for this great time!

May we all be blessed by those strangers we meet who become friends and may we always give thanks for our amazing differences and our amazing similarities! Please watch the Pew News for when I will be sharing my amazing pictures and stories.

Pastor Jocelyn