Yesterday, All My Troubles…
Yesterday I was thinking about the decisions that may lie ahead. I was frustrated that, though I got a job it is not in Dubai. I admit even to the covetous thought of “How come career things seem to work out perfectly for some people. Things just fall into their laps. My ‘perfect’ job never comes…” It was with some of this attitude lingering in my head that I set out for Jebel Ali looking for the only Greek Orthodox Church in the area.
My recent spiritual journey has brought me closer and closer to Orthodox Christianity. Little is known in the West about Orthodox Christianity. It has most often remained the church of Greek and Russian ex-pats in the U.S.A., very rarely crossing its cultural and lingual barriers. In recent years, however, an increase in Western converts and the establishment of the Orthodox Church in America have filled the web and many communities with information and services in English. The Orthodox Church in America is part of a world-wide Church that includes the Greek, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Ukranian, Arab and countless others around the world. (In AD 1054 the pope in Rome excommunicated the bishop of Constantinople, creating what is called the Great Schism resulting in two Christian Churches, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Before AD 1054 the Christian Church had remained one undivided Church, no different denominations.)
One of my wife’s friends in Dubai is from Lebanon and is an Arab Orthodox Christian. When we arrived in Dubai, we asked her for information about the local Church here. She has tried contacting her cousin, whom she knows attends, but to no avail. Countless inquiries and web searches have turned up very little and we still have not found out where the Orthodox Church meets. I found out that they are in the final stages of finishing their own church building and that that building is somewhere in Jebel Ali, an area just outside of Dubai. We did hear from someone that they think they are meeting in an evangelical church in Jebel Ali.
I have noticed in my travels to India and now here in the U.A.E. that information is not always as readily available. Communities and groups of people can be very insular and if you do not know someone in the community it will be very difficult to find out information about it. The web is not utilized as much and there is no such thing as the Yellow Pages.
Yesterday I decided to take matters into my own hands. I drove the 40 minutes to Jebel Ali myself. I found the church compound area where, very tightly built next to each other were the evangelical, Catholic, Anglican, Mar Thoma and Jacobite Syrian churches. This is were we were told the Greek Orthodox church meets, renting space in one of these churches. I went around to each office. None knew where the Greek Orthodox meet. They only knew that the building being finished, the one under construction in the compound was the Greek Orthodox building. Where they currently met, no one knew. Someone said they “thought” “maybe” they met in the Catholic Church in Sharjah, an hour north of Jebel Ali. My calls to the office of the Catholic Church in Sharjah went unanswered.
Upon leaving the church compound I talked with two men from Bangladesh who were offering to wash my car for money. Right next to the church compound is a workers’ camp, a large sprawling compound with small rooms and a store where construction workers live. These men lived there and had been in Dubai for three years. Construction workers here in Dubai get paid very little, live in these cramped camps and work in incredible heat 115-120 degrees Fahrenheit, at times. Though these men worked for a company they were also asking me for any additional work I may have for them. I wished I had work to give them.
Though my search for the Church was fruitless, I left Jebel Ali yesterday with great thankfulness to God in my heart. Who am I to groan about having to take a nice, kooshy, air conditioned job in Fujairah? I enjoy such a great life compared to so many others in the world. Those humble, hardworking men from Bangladesh, happy just to have any work, no matter how hot and difficult, brought me back to reality…brought me back to mercy.
Yesterday, all my troubles…