We have been in Bahrain a little over two months. If someone were to ask me if we are happy we moved, in the big picture, absolutely. It is an opportunity we are grateful for and hope will impact us all positively. Catch me in a moment of frustration, sadness or confusion, and I might falter for a moment.
Moving is not easy.
Moving with two little ones, one who is very sensitive to change and newness, is not easy.
Leaving beautiful friendships and meaningful community is definitely hard.
But here we are, unbelievably so! And each day we do our best to make the most of the opportunity in our midst. We can see the bigger picture, the impact such a move can have on young minds and worldviews, not to mention the surprises that await us each day. I find it intriguing that you never know who you might meet, where they are from, what brought them to Bahrain, the many places they have lived prior to coming here. I find delight in hearing Cayden’s word of the day in Arabic and seeing the pride in his eyes as he shares it. I chuckle when I go to the garden store, the closest one being 25 minutes away, and witness the faces of the workers there as I lift the pots and plants myself onto the cart. Sometimes it just hits me like a sudden thunderstorm on a summer’s day: I am in Bahrain. We are living our dream. Our dream is now the kid’s reality.
We have been in our new house for a couple weeks now. We are very happy to be out of the confines of the hotel room, and into the spacious rooms of this beautiful house. Amwaj Island is unique to Bahrain – inhabiting it is a large expatriate community, although many Saudis and Bahrainis buy or rent property for their weekend retreats and getaways. The light blue-green ocean waters are beautiful and soothing, especially in contrast with the bustling traffic of Juffair. We are still waiting for our household shipment to arrive; it was scheduled for November 15th but it is looking more like the end of December. The house is furnished enough, but we do look forward to making it more “us”. The kids are doing okay sleeping in the same bed, but I am sure it will be Christmas all over again when they get to sleep in their own!
Cayden, though he still cries sometimes when I drop him off at school, has been a different little boy. The hotel was just too confining for an energetic five year old boy, and now that he has room to run, a trampoline to jump on (an early Christmas present for the kids) and a beach to dig for crabs in, he is much more like the Cayden we knew in Ventura. He said to Josh the other day, “I am getting used to Bahrain. I like my school.” He is playing baseball every Monday afternoon and enjoying Arabic everyday at school. He is the only one in his class who has been given this opportunity, and we are grateful. Anya and I help every Monday for a couple hours which is always a treat.
While it goes without saying that our desire is that our kids will acclimate to this new life with joy and open arms, there is also a sadness in my heart that their memories of where we have come from, especially Anya’s, will fade over time. We work at keeping the memories alive by showing them pictures, videos and sharing stories of friends and family in the States. A child’s perception of time is so much less developed, and for Anya, she must feel like we have been here forever.
Of course the sadness in my heart is for my own losses as well. Somehow you wish it were possible to bring with you all the things and people you love about one place to enrich the place you find yourself in now. To add it to all that is good and lovely to make the place even more so. While I believe it takes time – a friend here told me six months – for things to fall into place and to attain a measure of ‘settledness’, we are enjoying the first months here in Bahrain.
Instead of waiting for our house to be completely furnished and finished, I decided to host a party in celebration of Josh’s birthday, to bring the warmth of new friends into this house in order to make it more of a home. Success. Many families from Cayden’s class came, as well as teachers from the school, neighbors, and my dad. As he pointed out, it was like a mini U.N. – Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Argentina, Greece, the U.S. and Lebanon were all represented!
The base had a fun family Christmas celebration with an outdoor choir and nativity, complete with a fully adorned camel, Santa Clause and snow. Not real, of course. Speaking of snow – or weather – it is now very pleasant here, and will remain so until it begins to get hot again around May or June.
We are getting ready for an 8 day trip to Oman. We have heard it is a beautiful country which has maintained much of its history and heritage, in both its culture and its architecture and we look forward to seeing its many riches including ancient forts, lush mountains, a turtle sanctuary and bustling souqs. Historically, souqs were held outside of cities in the location where a caravan loaded with goods would stop and merchants would display their goods for sale. Souqs were held when there was a caravan or more available. At that time, souqs were more than just a market to buy and sell goods; they were also major festivals and many cultural and social activities took place in them. We will celebrate Christmas in Bahrain, and anticipate my mom and brother’s visit at the end of December for a few weeks.
I will leave you with some pictures until the next post……..