So our summer trip is not over (from Scotland we took a ferry boat to Amsterdam – so stayed tuned for that trip!), but I couldn’t continue without reflecting on the past couple years of my life . . .
About one year and one month ago, Scott and I boarded a plane to Abu Dhabi. Tears filled my eyes as I said goodbye to family, and as the city of Buffalo disappeared from the airplane window I found myself full of nerves and anticipation. I knew we were making the right decision but found myself wondering – “how did I get here, on this plane, about to live in another country?” I still get excited when I think of that journey – the unknown before us and an adventure on our minds. We have learned so much about the UAE since then and now it is home. At the end of a month back in the states we have found ourselves returning to our cozy apartment in Al Ain and settling back into our life here. I still can’t believe the difference a few years make . . .
Back in 2011 I can still feel the pain and sadness that hit me like train as I opened the mail to find a layoff letter signaling my unemployment. I was devastated. My job was rough but after two year of teaching with the Buffalo Public Schools I felt like I had finally figured it out. I was looking forward to starting again, to paying off loans and saving for a house, to a cool fall and snowshoed winter. I just sat on the porch and cried. I woke up for days, at first like normal thinking “I should start planning, buying school supplies, etc.” only for the realization that it was all over to hit me again – and morning after morning started like that – normalcy, realization, tears. Once the reality of it all sunk in, I filed for unemployment (which without we couldn’t get by) and started looking for jobs. Unfortunately the school district waited until the last minute to hire meaning all education jobs were filled. On top of that everyone was looking for English teachers so I was lucky just to see postings for substitute teachers. So while trying to find even a part-time job, I decided to finish my Master’s degree in English and go full-time. Most of this year was spent reading for my classes on the couch with the cat snuggling on my lap (just like the picture above). I only did find part-time work during that whole year and was constantly pushed between feelings of great hope and feelings of great despair. Through the unemployment office I saw a posting to teach abroad through the company Teach Away. Teaching and living abroad had been a dream of mine and Scott’s since college but debt always squashed that dream. With this posting, however, we would be able to not only live and teach abroad but we would be making more money! This was a huge sacrifice for Scott because he loved his job in Buffalo – but he also saw that I could not find a stable job and knew this would be best in the long run. So we applied, interviewed on the phone and in Canada, and got the jobs! Before we knew it we were packing up our lives, selling our furniture, and saying goodbye. Which brings us to 2012 . . .
Coming to the UAE has filled our year with so many emotions. From a stagnant unemployed struggle in 2011 to a series of highs and lows while adjusting to a new way of life and a new culture in 2012. Peace soothed the bitterness I carried from unemployment, boredom disappeared as we explored new places, countries, and languages, and my heart expanded as Scott and I fell more and more in love. Our future is still unknown, especially with the economy as it is, but for now we know where we belong. We have been blessed in ways unimaginable to us. Let me give you some examples . . .
We have been on 19 planes in the last year – including these ones:
We have experienced 4 different religions and 5 different languages.
We have driven though deserts and taken ferries across oceans.
We have formed friendships with people from all over the world.
And we have been to 7 countries in just one year . . .
The UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: our new home
OMAN: beach, turtles, forts
Click here for more about Muscat and turtle watching in Oman
NEPAL: temples, mountains, lakes
Click here for more about Kathmandu and Pokhara in Nepal
Thailand: street food, boxing, beach escapes
Click here for more about Bangkok and Krabi in Thailand
Qatar: museums, corniche, souq
Click here for more about Doha, Qatar
Scotland: castles, northern islands, and distilleries
Click here for more about Scotland
Amsterdam: canals, bikes, beer cafes
Click here for posts about Amsterdam!
I cannot believe that all of that was done in the last year. God has really changed things over the past couple years. Whenever I think about two years ago when I was working for Buffalo – travels and adventures like this never even crossed my mind. Never would I think that one day I would consider the UAE my home – a land of silky sand dunes, women in beautiful black abayas, the call to prayer echoing into the sky, date palms lining every road, and hazy summer skies masking the sun. I look forward to this next year with just as much anticipation as I did the moment I stepped on that plane a year ago. What adventures will we have? Where will we go? Who will we meet? Which students will we impact? Our future is still uncertain but we are reminding ourselves each day of the incredible opportunities that are before us. Through these past years – after all I have experienced and will experience – I can truly say that in both despair and joy, uncertainty and stability, emptiness and plenty, God’s love has never left.