Thursday, July 12, 2012

One Month. Four Countries. Countless Memories.

Well, my trip has completely come to a close. I have been home for a week today. Both my flights went well. Nothing significant happened on either of them. I am just trying to settle back into life at home, after college. And work through the jet lag of course. It seems to be much worse this time around, although, I do not have Diane here to drug me and help me through it either...unfortunately. Hopefully it will finish it's course through me sooner than later. I am at the coffee shop today. Trying to complete my resume and cover letter as well as close out this blog and edit and upload pics. Reflecting on this trip is bittersweet. I miss being there, I really do. I also miss Diane, she always kept me laughing. God was so good to me, I mean really, it was only a small piece of the world, but I saw it and just deepened my passion for seeing the world and serving God's people. This trip is over, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store next. Thanks all for following my adventures. Keep an eye out for pics as I am editing and will be putting online soon. But for now I am still amazed at the fact that I spent one month out of the USA, saw four countries and have countless memories to remember it by.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Last Day Reflections: What an awesome Creator we have!

Well, today is my last day here in the UAE. I fly out tonight at 10:35 pm, have a layover in Atlanta and arrive in Louisville tomorrow at 9:45 in the morning. I can't believe it has already been a month and that I have to leave. Seems like just yesterday I was nervous about getting on a plane for 14 hours, and now I am about to do it again, only difference, I am far less nervous. Last night Diane, Drew and I went to eat at the Mugg and Bean one last time and I bought for them this time, I hope it showed a little bit of thanks and appreciation for them having me for the month. I am so thankful, more than they know. This has been more than anything I could have ever thought up. I didn't want to go to bed last night because it was my last one here, and I really didn't sleep well, but I had an awesome view of the full moon on the ocean from my room so that was wonderful. As I write this, I am sitting on the balcony, just enjoying the sun, the heat and the beautiful view from our flat one more time. Diane should be home soon, I have finished up laundry and packed. I went down and enjoyed the pool one last time today, that was sad. Diane and I will head to the airport around 7 tonight and I will get there around 8 or so. I am not really looking forward to going through passport control and all the stuff the airport involves, but oh well. I have been to 4 countries this past month, The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and Oman. And on the day after the anniversary of the birth of The United States of America, I will be back there. I am blessed! Each country I visited was unique and beautiful in its own way. I still can't believe saw Jerusalem either. Wow. Diane has been so good to me, and very generous, without her, I wouldn't have been able to be here or see all that I did, I am very thankful the Lord provided this opportunity and blessed me with Diane as a wonderful host and friend. This world has so many beautiful places, countries and people. I have experienced just a little of that on this trip. What a wonderful, beautiful and amazing creator we have. There are so many people different from me and it has been somewhat challenging but very fulfilling to experience another's culture and ways of life. God created it all and all of us. He is so awesome people, so awesome! I will post one more time after I arrive home, to tell about the 17 hours worth of flights and to close out my experiences with this amazing trip. I am not really ready to leave, but I know I need to get back home and continue on with being a college grad. Thanks for the wonderful graduation trip Diane! I had always dreamed of seeing the world and traveling internationally. This is only the beginning and you helped make that possible! I am blessed. Thank you God!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dubai, Dancing Fountains and Oman.

Last week was a very, very great week. Friday and Saturday is the weekend here and the work week is Sunday through Thursday. Sunday through Wednesday I stayed home alone while Diane went to work and Drew went to class. It was nice. I went down to the pool everyday and swam a mile as well as tanned. Diane was off work on Thursday so the two of us had a great day out and met Drew for dinner in Dubai after he got out of class. We first went to a place called Nails and got manicures, pedicures and shoulder massages. I thought my eyes were going to roll into the back of my head it felt so amazing. I had on closed toed shoes so they made me wear little slippers out. It was quite humorous. Diane and I then headed to Dubai. This was so much fun. She took me downtown and showed me the oceanfront apartments where she used to live as well as other sights in downtown Dubai. We went to a resort called Atlantis right on the Indian Ocean. I took some pictures and awed at the beauty. Next we went the Jumierah mall and resort and I held a falcon. This was too cool. I got to pet it and buy some souvenir pictures with it. We walked around the mall a bit and i bought a few other souvenirs. Then it was time to meet Drew for dinner. We ate at one of Diane's favorite restaurants called Toscana. It was Italian and very delicious. We had three courses and ate way too much, but i enjoyed every minute of it. After we finished dinner Drew headed home because he was very tired from him class and Diane and I headed to the Dubai mall to watch the dancing fountains. This was a sight to be seen. It you ever get to Dubai, please go watch the dancing fountains, you will not regret it. They dance to a different song every twenty minutes. I loved it so much the first time we stayed a watched a second time. We were going to go up into the Burj Khalifa, which is the tallest building in the world, but it was booked until 10:30 and we didn't feel like staying out that late, but Diane said I would get up there before I left, so I was cool with that. As it gets closer to time for the fountains to dance, the Burj Khalifa starts to twinke with lights, way cool! So it is official, I have been to four countries in under a month! Diane and I headed to Oman on Friday. She wanted me to see how beautiful the country is, so we headed out early Friday and made the 5 hour drive to Oman. The landscape change is crazy! As you make your way towards to border of Oman the UAE becomes filled with reddish sand dunes, but once you pass the border of Oman it turns into rocky mountains, that look like they used to be either the ocean floor, or from the moon. It was amazing, and they just get taller and taller the farther into the country that you go. We crossed the border with no problems, got the stamp in our passports and kept going until we found our hotel, which was somewhat hard to find, but an Omani man that we stopped told us to follow him and took us all the way there. He was very nice! So we went up to our hotel, unpacked a little and got a taxi driver, Mr. Harub, to take us to the old souks to go shopping and to look around at night. I bought a few souvenirs for a very good price and just got to take it all in. Shops like this tend to make me a little nervous because there are so many people and they are all trying to get you to come into their shop, but Mr. Harub stayed with us the entire time and helped us to not get lost. He was very nice and I enjoyed seeing everything so, so much! He then took us to get dinner. We had chicken schawarma and it was wonderful! Then he took us back to our hotel and we headed to bed. We were worn out. The next morning we went down to breakfast at the hotel and headed out for an adventure of our own. We got directions down to the Corniche (boardwalk) and looked at the ocean front. Tried to see some dolphins, but didn't. We just drove around the city for a while. It was most certainly an adventure, most of the time we had no idea where we were, but we knew the vicinity and enjoyed every minute of it. Diane has been there before so she wanted to take me to see this 1000 dollar a night resort on the ocean. It was a sight in itself and the view was amazing. God sure is an awesome creator! I took some pictures and we were on our way. In Oman there are literally roundabouts everywhere, almost all of them have some sort of statue or sight in them as well. So we had fun "weeeee"-ing around them and looking at the sight in the middle of them. I have never seen so many roundabouts in my life! Then we hit up a store, got some sandwich stuff as well as fruit and drinks and had a healthy lunch on the way back. It was such a fun little overnight border trip! I loved seeing Oman so much! We got back to Abu Dhabi last night after coming back across the border! Today I went swimming again and I am just waiting for them to get home. Tomorrow I have a hot stone massage and who knows what else it will bring, but I am excited to find out! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Amman, Petra, and The Holy Land.

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. I've been so busy, visiting other countries and well Jerusalem! Since my last post, I have done so much! Last week, I spent the rest of the week preparing for our flight to Amman, Jordan. I knew we would be visiting Jerusalem and I must say I was nervous, mainly just about being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Diane reminded me that this could happen anywhere and I just kept thanking God for the opportunity and praying that He would be my shield and give me peace. He definitely did! We arrived at our hotel after a three hour flight and an hour taxi ride. There was even a Michigan license plate at the Amman, Jordan airport, not sure how it got there, but that was cool to see. We slept like rocks and got up very early to go to Petra the next morning. Now this was a three hour drive from Amman, so we settled into the cab. Once there, we got a tour from Mr. Mohammed on horses all the way to the top. We saw Aaron's tomb from a distance as well. This was a breathtaking experience and something that no picture can do justice. We met a man at the top who sold us water and little treasures. It was so hot this day, Diane, was not feeling well and started to scare Drew and I, so it was time to go. Our cab driver, Mr. Samur arrived and took us home. We were all starving when we got back to the hotel, then we went to bed before 8 PM and prepared for our day in Jerusalem. So my one day in Jerusalem, is most certainly a day I will never forget as long as I live. We got up at 6 AM. Had breakfast and got a cab for the hour drive to the border. Our driver, Mr. Ahmed, was awesome and I was blessed to hear some of his story. He dropped us off at the border and told us he would meet us there that same night at either 7:30 or 8pm. So we were off, got our stamps in the passport out of Jordan and caught the bus to The Israel border. One problem, the border closes at 8 PM and we were stuck in the bus at the border for 2 hours before they gave our driver the "ok" to pass through, I was starting to panic, just didn't know what was going to happen. Diane started talking about having to spend the night in Jerusalem and that made me even more anxious. Once we crossed the border by van, we had to wait in line to get into the country and such. This was an experience in and of itself. We finally made it and caught a scharoot (I know this isn't how it is spelled, but it is how it is pronounced. It is a taxi for lots of people, like a short bus. haha) and we were literally in Israel and on our way to the Holy Land of Old City, Jerusalem. At this time, my tummy was churning with all sorts of emotions, from excitement, to awe, to shock, to nervousness and everything in between! I just really couldn't believe I was there! We entered through the Damascus Gate in the Muslin quarter and had shawarma for lunch. It was very good. We then wondered around until we found the Western Wailing wall. I was blown away. Went up to the wall, with my head covered of course, and just prayed. Took a few pics and we were on our way. We asked about the Dome of the Rock, but it closes at 11 AM on Sundays, so we missed it unfortunately. We then continued on. Went through the many vendors and were encouraged to by something from them all. We stopped in a few. Other things/events occurred while we were walking through, but you'll have to ask me for the story. I was not too brave in this area, because I just never knew what was going to happen next. We finally came to The Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This was my very favorite part. I was just in awe and disbelieve that I was in this place. I almost cried a few time. Got to touch the slab that Jesus was cleaned on as well as go inside the tomb where he was thought to be before He rose from the dead on the third day. We bought some post cards and stamps and sat in a coffee shop to write and address them, then found a mailbox and sent them out from Jerusalem. Then we found a taxi to take us back to the border and we were on our way. We were all tired, hot and had just about had enough since we didnt have a tour guide or anything and didn't want to end up there overnight when we had a hotel reserved in Amman and needed to get back across the border before it closed. It was an amazing experience but a little disappointing and not at all what I expected the Holy Land to be especially since I have wanted to visit there as long as I can remember. But don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed myself and wouldn't trade the experience and the opportunity for anything! If I ever go again though, I will probably plan with a tour guide. We got stamped back into Jordan and had dinner at a great Italian restaurant. Then went back to our hotel, cleaned up and went to sleep. The next morning was our last day. We went to Mount Nebo, where Moses was supposed to enter the promised land. This was way too incredibly cool. Made me want to go back and read Exodus, so I am! :) We visited this mosaic place there as well, it was so amazing and they were all filled with so much talent. Then we went to The Dead Sea. This was awesome! Ever since I learned about The Dead Sea, I had dreamed of going there and I finally got there. It was just so buoyant, I floated with my hands behind my head and my ankles crossed! Then Diane and I put on black mud, which is supposed to be really good for your skin with with salt water. We rinsed it off in the water. The only problem with it was how salty it was, I knew this was going to be the case, so I tried to prepare myself, but if you know me, you know how much i thoroughly despise the taste and smell of salt, also it burned, really bad, but it was all worth it, this was a great day! Then we had lunch at our hotel and headed back to the airport to fly back to Abu Dhabi. It was a great flight and an incredible, once in a lifetime, whirlwind weekend! My favorite scripture passage became so real and provided me with such peace on this trip. Psalm 73:23-26 "Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel,and afterward you will take me into glory.Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail,but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." God provided me with such peace in His promises to be with me, while I visited His Holy Land. I am still in awe that I was even there. I am so thankful that He provided me with this opportunity with Diane and Drew. I am thoroughly blessed by Him and this trip. We spent the rest of the week recovering and went out to breakfast at the Mugg and Bean this morning. Very delicious. I am off to see what the rest of the weekend has to offer! Thanks for reading and God bless!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Humbled and Thankful! Baba Ganoush!

Yesterday was...AWESOME! After Diane got off work, she picked Drew and I up and we went to the Grand Mosque for a tour. We just walked around ourselves though, as opposed to taking a formal tour. Took some amazing pictures (none that do this beauty justice though). I have been to a Mosque before, but never one of the "Grand" caliber. I have never seen anything like it in my life and I will probably never see anything like it again. It is just so well done. So much care was put into creating this Mosque, even the top of the building is coated in real gold. My words cannot do it justice, so I will post some pictures, even though they will not do it justice either. It is a sight to be seen both inside and out. Upon going into this Mosque, traditional Abaya must be acquired from the lady working out front. The Abaya is the long black gown and headdress that is traditional wear here. As women, if mine and Diane's head's were not covered, it would be disrespectful and we would have not been allowed to enter. So we put on our gowns and headdress scarves, which were very hard to keep the wind from blowing off. When I was in the presence of this majestic building and wearing the traditional wear, all I could do was thank God. Thank Him for making me, me. Thank Him for teaching me all about the Islamic culture, because I do have things to learn from them. I was thanking Him for allowing me the freedoms I have always known being born in the States, and most of all for allowing me to know Him. God is very, very good. We had to also take our shoes off to go inside. This is true of any Mosque. After we went inside and out, took our pictures, which I will also post, we went to dinner. It was entitled the Lebanese Flower. It was traditional food to this area and quite delicious! I tried chicken shawarma, various grilled meats like lamb, and vegetables. We had pita bread with hummus (which is great) and eggplant baba ganoush (which is not great). I was trying very hard to not make a face while trying and Diane was laughing. It is the same substance as hummus. Then I tried a mint lemonade, which was very good and a Turkish coffee, which was very thick and extremely strong, I was quite wired! It wasn't very good though, very slimy. I cannot wait to try Arabian Coffee! This was a very fun and cultural experience! On our way out we saw a baby kitty so we tried to feed him some of our leftovers, he wouldn't eat them. He was very dirty and skinny so we took him to the vet and left him there trusting he would get all of his shots and get fixed and adopted. We then came home. I was having some yucky Asthma stuff and was having trouble breathing, kept taking my inhaler but it wasn't helping too much. Finally got it under control though and went to sleep pretty easily. It was a terrific and blessed day. Thank you Jesus! Today I woke up early to Skype with Jackson, it is always great to see his face and hear his voice! Oh and speaking of skype, got to skype with my bestest friend Amy Jo last night! So great to see her face as well! I am not sure what today will unfold into, but I will keep you all posted! P.S. Mother-I did my Loan Exit Counseling this morning! ;) Thanks for keeping on to me and making sure I did it, I love you and miss you very much!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Settling In! My first few days in the UAE!

I had been waiting almost a year for this day to come. The day I was going to leave the USA for the first time. I was going to fly in an airplane over the ocean for 14 hours, to visit a dear family friend in the United Arab Emirates. Abu Dhabi to be exact. So, I was busy packing, trying to make sure I was bringing all of the right things and none of the wrong things. Mom and Dad dropped me off at the airport and I was on my way. It wasn't until then that I became nervous for the first time about this trip. I was flying from Louisville,KY to Atlanta, Georgia, and then from there, straight to Dubai. The first flight was swell, and easy. It lasted about an hour and a half and I slept the entire time. Once in Atlanta I had to hop on the subway train to get to the International terminal. That was easy and quick. We boarded the plane almost right away. I was seat 47 A, or by the window. This did not turn out to be such a good thing on a flight this long because it was hard to get out of the isles to stretch and go the the restroom, but I managed. I sat next to a little girl from Pakistan, she was five and incredibly, if neither of us had fallen asleep she would have talked my ear off the entire fourteen hours. The other person in our row was a US Marine heading back to Afghanistan after a three week break at home. Three meals were served, but I probably slept at least 11 of the 14 hours. The flight was very smooth and really didn't seem to bother me. When I arrived in Dubai, I had to go through Passport control, this took entirely too long. then I had to pick up my bags and find Diane and her son Drew. My incredible friends and hosts. The only problem was, I couldn't find them. It took me almost an hour after I walked through the exits to find them. I was starting to get a little worried, but I stayed calm, asked a man at the airport for help and he took me inside to look for them, and we we finally found them. We all three thanked the man and we were on our way. Dubai is around 45 minutes away from Abu Dhabi, where Diane lives, so as we headed home, I got to see Dubai at night, which is quite a sight in itself, so full of lights and tall buildings. When we got back they showed me around the apartment and then it was time for bed. Because of the jet lag I was only able to sleep two hours. I lied in bed looking out my window walls at the ocean the lit up circular building that is quite a sight, pretty awesome! I did a lot of praying, just thanking God for getting me here safely. I got up a little before seven the first day. Drew and I took Diane to work and then just drove around the city, looking at different sights. We had to go to the mall to pick up an adapter for my computer and phone. We then picked Diane up from work and she took us to a fantastic restaurant for dinner. It was here that I learned the proper way to greet a Middle Eastern woman and had to practice. You kiss the left cheek, then the right cheek, then the left again. I felt a little funny and I's sure it was awkward, but hey, I am learning. We then went to a shopping center and Diane bought me some perfume and we looked at the bling bling gold stores, crazy stuff over here. By this time I was very jet lagged and sleepy. We came back to the apartment, started to watch a movie. Diane gave me some meds to help me sleep. This time I slept 5 hours, which was better than the two the night before. The second day, Diane worked for a while in the morning, then came back, picked Drew and me up and we went to breakfast at then to a movie. Diane and I saw The Avengers, which was very good and Drew saw Promitheus. It was a little hard for me to stay awake, during the movie, but I did it. Then we came back home, Diane cooked dinner and I crashed early with the help of her meds again. This time I slept for 9.5 hours. It was glorious. Day three we went to Dubai. First we went to the Mall of the Emirates. We were going to ski in their indoor resort, but my asthma started acting up and cold air exasperates asthma, so we just ate there and then went to the Dubai Mall and went to the aquarium and indoor zoo. It was so amazing and majestic. Took some very fun pictures and headed back home. It was such a fun day! Again, took some meds, to get me on a normal sleep schedule, this jet lag is mean. I slept almost 8 hours last night and skyped with my man for the third day in a row! It was so fabulous to see his face. I love that boy, Jackson. Working on finding a time to skype with Mom and Dad and Hannah and to wish my Daddy a happy Father's Day. Diane was very sick today, Drew didn't feel too well and neither did I so we all stayed in today. Diane did take me to the spa today though. I had a full body massage. Which, was...a new experience to say the least, and once I got over the awkward, factor, I realized how great it was and felt. Then we went to the grocery, bought a whole bunch of ice cream and came back home for dinner and ice cream. We are going to stay in tonight and just chill. I am starting to settle in and love it here. The pictures I added are the view from Diane's apartment, at night and during the day and one is of me at the aquarium. Right now I am writing this while sitting on the balcony outside of my bedroom and watching the sun set on the ocean. It's beautiful and I am so thankful to be here! I am planning to keep this up to date so all of the posts aren't as long as this one. I forgot the cord to my camera, so no pictures for now. :( So thankful to the Lord for this opportunity. I thank Diane and Drew for their hospitality and love. Thank the Lord, for bringing me here safely through all the flights and once again I pray for peace for my Momma and pray she isn't freaking out. I love you all at home and will see you when I am home! I am having a BLAST so far. Thanks to everyone, family and friends, at home for your prayers! I love you all! :)