Our church in Dubai, Emirates Baptist Church International, has been around for a little over 10 years. We started going there in 1998 when it was less than a year old, meeting in a villa. God grew the church and worked in the landlords heart. He also moved tenants in and out of the adjoining villa (like a duplex) so that when He grew us, we just knocked down the common wall and moved into 2 villas. Of course, this meant that the pastor had a support column right in front of the podium but one gets use to things like that in Dubai. Traffic chaos occured when a semi mega mall was built across the street from the villa. We looked at it as if we had our own parking garage, movie stage and starbucks. Safety was a MAJOR prayer request on AWANA evenings.
There are laws governing renters and rentees, but no one really knows what they are for sure. One rumored law is that a landlord cannot kick out a tenant unless he is going to do major rennovation or needs the villa for a family member. They are not suppose to raise the rent more than 5% every other year. There are many loopholes in the law. Rents have more than doubled in the 5 years we've been here this time, so it wasn't surprising to learn that our landlord wanted to do major rennovation. We were in need of a new home. We had grown soooo much, we were in need of a new home anyway. Religious communities are not allowed to meet in schools - at least that's the rumor. However, some schools don't fall under the Ministry of Education, so we can rent from them. Al Noor school for special needs kids warmly opened their arms to us. It's a win win situation for all of us. We have a place to worship, and they get income. The unpacking setting up, taking down, packing.....reminds me of the early days at Fellowship of the Woodlands. Mind you, I didn't attend there then but have heard the stories which I'm sure are true, not rumors.
I'm not sure how many nationalities attend our church. One Friday, Pastor Dan did an unofficial survey and counted more than 15 different first languages spoken by attendees. The congregation has changed significantly over the past years. Newcomers came from all over the US and we would try to guess which state they were from. (Texas usually won). Now, we try to guess which country people are from. They come from all over the world. It's truly amazing.
Here are a few pictures from a recent service at our new location.
Praise and Worship team....
the somewhat hidden worship band...
the gym is full....
a close up.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
Camels were a novelty when we first came to Dubai 10 years ago, November 1997. We would see them around the city in trucks, along the side of the road and in the desert. Every camel we saw would bring us to a standstill and we marvelled at the sight of them. Now we have to drive at least 30 miles out of the city to see a camel in the desert. The closest we get in the city is at the camel race track. Since camels are associated with the desert and Dubai is built in the middle of one (desert not camel), I'd thought I'd share with you some pictures I've accumulated over the years.
Riding a camel is easy - getting off and on is difficult. They bend at 45 degree angles a couple of times in the process. I went head over heels for one camel:-) I don't have pictures of that and if I did, I probably wouldn't put them on my blog, but here are pictures of the process.
Baby camels can be quite cute...and come in many different colors, well at least 3.
.....speak no evil....(no they don't make these for teenagers- I've checked.....)
Smile for the camera!!!!!
Saturday, February 2, 2008
There's a part of me that feels the need to include pictures any time I post. Since I'm still learning all the aspects of adding photos, that takes me the longest to do. I've put off posting until I had some interesting pictures. Plus, I've been busy at school taking basketball pictures. I take photos for varsity, JV and the under 14 group. After school has been quite busy. Taking the pictures is the fun, less time consuming part. Manipulating them on the computer is the time consuming part.
In between games, I was able to take a trip with some friends to an older part of Dubai called Diera. It's the part of town where you can find the wholesale souk, gold souk, spice souk, etc. Here are a few pictures from the trip.
Here are my friends smelling cinnamon sticks in the spice souk. The blue stuff in the next picture is indigo for washing jeans. The last picture shows the many ways the spice souk can spice up your life!!!
As we headed home, the dry docks had a shift change. All the workers wear blue coveralls and ride their bikes to work. The picture doesn't do justice to the amount of workers going to work. It was a sea of blue.
If you have anything in particular your curious about or want to see pictures of, just let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to post about that.