Friday, September 16, 2011

Beach, Becalm and Beans

Have you ever feel like time is passing quickly and that you’re missing out on things, only to realize that in fact time isn’t passing as fast as you thought and you’ve experienced way more than most?! This realization is what happened to me recently. I was starting to feel like I was missing out on all there was to see and do in Doha. I was starting to feel that my time here was passing quickly and that before I knew it this adventure would be over and the only thing I’d have gained was work experience. Then, I met “Mr. Donut.”

Mr. Donut and I met while I was driving from the grocery store to work to drop something off. He saw me driving and singing in my car to some very loud, very American rock music. It was me blowing off some steam and just recapturing joy through music and not having a care in the world about what was going on around me. I was “in the moment” of the music. Of course, I also was trying to be very aware of the other cars on the road and that’s when I noticed a handsome local man smiling at me and gesturing (in a friendly way!) to me. I politely smiled and laughed having been “caught” in my moment of singing in the car. He seemed to persist in his polite gesturing and seemed to be offering me something he had in his car with him. I, being a cautious woman, continued to politely smile and drive towards where I knew I’d have plenty of people around. In most situations like this, the other person usually drives off in the other direction (this isn’t the first time I’d been caught singing). But, Mr. Donut followed me all the way to work and parked next to me. As I got out of the car he engaged me in conversation and offered me the cookies he’d been showing me, as well as to take me to dinner. Not wanting to be rude and offend him, I reluctantly accepted the gift of cookies, exchanged numbers and went into work. I immediately told my co-worker about the experience and had a good giggle about how these things always seem to happen to me randomly. But I also was intrigued by this man and texted him a thank you for the cookies and invite to dinner.

Mr. Donut and I texted each other a few times, he stopped by work one morning with 18 donuts (who needs 18 donuts? This sweet gesture is how he got his nickname), and we set up a time to get together. I must admit, I was really curious about getting to know a local man who, when I met him, was wearing a thobe and driving a Lexus SUV (though he also owned a hot new Camaro!). He was also around my age (a rarity in my new circle of friends).

The day that we spent the majority of our time together, we went to the other side of Qatar, Zekreet to be exact. Sure, I was a bit nervous at first about hopping into the Lexus and wandering off to the desert with him (Lindsay was on high alert for my “help me” text should the need arise), but soon I was at ease and we had a great chat. I was amazed at how he seemed to be so unlike my initial impressions of single men in the Middle East. He was respectful of me (a woman!), spoiled me with gifts (without seeming to want anything in return if you get my drift), insisted on paying for everything everywhere we went and always seemed to be concerned if I wanted or needed something (Water? Tea? Hungry? Air conditioning at the right temperature?).

That day, we went to two beaches, drove to see the camels being trained for the races, ate at the Souq, hung out by the water on the Corniche, took some photos and just had a great time talking together. We shared stories about our past, our families and things we wanted for the future. It was almost too comfortable really…though it was just the kind of day I needed to have at that time. 
Zekreet, Qatar
Zekreet, Qatar
Camels off to be trained for racing
Notice the trainer is barefoot and smiling for his photo!
Just past the Lusail area...That "home" used to be the previous Emir's
Tide was coming in when we were there
Doha...Artistic View

Doha Skyline

So after a few times of getting together I was starting to wonder…how this would ever really work. He was a Muslim after all. He’s a local (we certainly got looks when we were out and about from other locals…much like I imagine any mixed race couple would have in earlier decades in the states). I figured I would let it play out and just trust that God knew what I needed most for now, but also guard my heart a bit. And of course, after just about a week of knowing Mr. Donut, he said that while I was wonderful, that due to family reasons he could not continue to see me. While I have my suspicions that this may not been 100% the truth, it was sweet all the same. (Maybe he did want something for those gifts afterall!?) I bid him farewell, offered to return the gifts (beautiful necklaces and earrings…he told me to keep them) and wished him well. This mature, handsome, local man and I parted ways…and it was ok because it was meant to be that way and I had learned a lot during our time together.

What did I realize? I’ve been here three months….time is passing just as fast as it always has and always will. I also realized that I have seen and done a lot in Doha since arriving. These three months have been filled with lots of work, yes, but it has also been filled with a lot of unique experiences that I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life. That this time is shaping me into the person that God wants me to be in the future. God also recently reminded me that He is ever-present with me, even in Qatar. That while I can’t seem to find a church to call home and have that traditional community of believers, that I am still not alone.

You see, I tend to be a bit of a restless soul or a renaissance soul I’ve been told. Someone who always wants to be moving, accomplishing, achieving, getting what is best out of life and me. I fight for it. It’s not always a bad way to be, but it’s not always productive either. I find myself getting sucked into situations that probably would turn out a lot better if I were to just be still and let God do the work without me mucking it up.

This message came to me loud and clear one night on the way home from a really long (somewhat stressful) day at work. I was spent, emotionally and physically. I just wanted to go to bed and sleep for a long time (not gonna happen anytime soon). I plugged my iPod into the car stereo and hit play…God knew I needed to hear the song “Word of God Speak” by Mercy Me. As I sang along (yep, still doing that), I could feel that God was speaking to me and telling me to be still, becalm. He was reminding me that though I’m all the way on the other side of the world from all that is familiar…that He was right here with me and therefore everything was going to be just fine…. I needed to let Him do the “fighting” for me and be still. I cried tears of joy and relief, much like I always do when God decides to remind me that I’m in the palm of His hand and He’s got things in control, that I can relax and rest in Him. (Of course, because I've put this out there, I'm sure this refound peace will be challenged, so please pray for me!)

I know this blog post is a bit different than some of my others, but I thought I needed to share this part of the journey as well. I’m realizing that this journey is much bigger than just work experience and living in/experiencing a different part of the world. It’s about me being open enough to experience the things that God has planned for me to shape me into who He needs me to be for the people and places he is guiding me towards. He’s putting people in my path to teach me things about myself and others…all for His good and His glory. Pretty cool beans, huh?!

Heehee…see how I did that...I mentioned beans…that brings me to the recipe portion of my post. It’s one of my new creations that I seem to be surviving on these days. There is a lot of rice and mystery meat being offered in these parts. While I’m all for adventure and trying new things (remember, I tried camel!), some of these new things don’t play well with my body…so I had to find something familiar. I came up with this recipe while wandering around the grocery store and craving an avocado salad that my friend Jane had made for me before I left California on this adventure. I did my best to remember most of the ingredients and tried to recreate it. I know I didn’t quite hit the mark, but it is a darn tasty substitute when I can actually find avocados (here today, not the next, but just wait a week, they’ll be back..oye!). This “salad” consists of all things familiar and known…it’s super easy to make and tweak with whatever you like and can find…which, changes for me all the time. So, I’m giving you recipe as I’ve made it twice now…seems these ingredients are becoming consistently available in Doha. Give it a try, tweak it to your liking, and just realize…it’s better than mystery meat any day! (Sorry no glamour shot of the's not much to look at anyway!)

Doha Avocado Bean Salad (DABS?)
1 ripe avocado, diced
A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
1 shallot, sliced finely
1 can of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can of sweet kernel corn, drained
A helping of black olives (mine need to be rinsed because they’re packed in olive oil!)
A healthy drizzle of Italian salad dressing

Toss everything together in a large bowl. Serve.
I like mine with crackers or tortilla chips, though I struggle to find good tortilla chips here.

With Love,

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