Abu Dhabi

Postcards from St Andrew’s Church, Abu Dhabi

At St Andrew’s Church in Abu Dhabi, I met and entertained many children. I feel that “the sky lovingly smiles on the earth and her children,” quoting Sir Henry Morton Stanley.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Jesus cross

The present St Andrew’s Church was built in 1984 on a land generously donated by the Late H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan of the Al Nahyan ruling family. The area is known as the Churches area in Abu Dhabi.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

The website of the St Andrew’s Church mentioned that “somebody once described St Andrew’s church as Evangelical in the pulpit, Catholic at the altar and Charismatic in the pews”, to highlight their diversity.

It is likely that baby Ren will be interested in the St Andrew’s Playgroup (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, between 9.30am and 11.30am) with the entry fee of AED 15  per parent/carer, for children regardless of nationality or religion.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

In the autumn 2014, I started to study the Bible daily and have crafted prayers or made simple take-home messages. Once I complete studying the Bible, I plan to study Al Quran, as envisioned in our lifelong curriculum.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

♥ ♥ ♥

In the summer 2003, I almost became an angel as a mascot for inter-school games. Siew Hwey had kindly made the feathery-like cotton wings and the angel halo headband, but in the end those items were not used.

Patience is a virtue. Never lose hope. The universe will choose the right time and the right place to answer your desire. You kind, loving, inspiring desire is your prayer.

This afternoon, I became an angel – without wings, who told a Christmas story to children. I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve children – our hope for the future, and to share messages of love and hope. Yes, a messenger of everything lifeward and positive. The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos, which means ‘messenger’.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart audience

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart hi angel
The little girl was excited to see an angel. 

Thanks to Dewi for firstly inviting me to contribute in the early Merry Christmas celebration, Laura for the help with the costume, the storytelling equipment (torchlight and colorful pictures) and the gifts for the courageous and lucky children who did well in the post-story Q&A session.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angel

According to Jerry A. Coyne PhD, 77% of Americans believe in angels. Do you believe in angels and miracles?

Upon seeing me in the angel costume, Alice (a little girl who just went to Moyenne Island, Seychelles) remarked, “she is not an angle, she is a girl.” It stroke me. Later, Alice told me that she loves the story told by the angel – me.

Perhaps, real people in angle costumes only work for toddlers. A young toddler whose name is Atara, curiously tried to touch me. She loves the pendants of my necklace too, as I realized when I carried her.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart angels dance

From the pamphlet, I also learned about a mnemonic of LIGHT.
L = Love (kasih)
I = Integrity (integritas)
G = Generosity (kemurahan)
H = Humility (kerendahan hati)
T = Truth (kebenaran)

♥ ♥ ♥

Here is a recap of Christmas service for the children.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart  christmas tree

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart candles

The first song was Jingle Bells.

Dashing through the snow
In a one horse open sleigh
O’er the fields we go
Laughing all the way
Bells on bob tails ring
Making spirits bright
What fun it is to laugh and sing
A sleighing song tonight

Reff:
Oh, jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh
Jingle bells, jingle bells
Jingle all the way
Oh, what fun it is to ride
In a one horse open sleigh

A day or two ago
I thought I’d take a ride
And soon Miss Fanny Bright
Was seated by my side
The horse was lean and lank
Misfortune seemed his lot
We got into a drifted bank
And then we got upsot

Reff

I always love the classic Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconcile.
Joyful all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies;
With the angelic host proclaim
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King.

Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail, the incarnate deity,
Pleased as Man with Man to dwell,
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hail, the heaven-born Prince of peace!
Hail the Son of righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die,
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing sung by a children’s choir:

A way in a manger

You can listen to a story entitled “Let Your Light Shine” narrated by Jing@servicefromheart.

Happy birthday Jesus (with a link from Laura)

Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the tinsel and lights
And the presents are nice
But the real gift is You
Happy birthday, Jesus
I’m so glad it’s Christmas
All the carols and bells
Make the holiday swell
And it’s all about You
Happy birthday, Jesus
Jesus I love You

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart cake

Silent Night

Silent Night by a children’s choir

Silent night! holy night!
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace!
Sleep in heavenly peace
Silent night! holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia
Christ the Saviour is born
Christ the Saviour is born!

♥ ♥ ♥

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart children smiles innocent

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” ~ Denis Waitley

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart

While I greatly love to take photographs of people, they are also among the most challenging ones, especially children. There are a number of shots of mine that captured the joyful or amazed expressions of our little friends, but the photos turned out to be out of focus.

This morning, a girlfriend flying to Abu Dhabi today inquired me what things that I want her to get for me from Kuala Lumpur. At that time, I want nothing, but her safe flight.

However, after going through some of the photographs that I took at the St Andrew’s Church, how I wish I could have a light-field / plenoptic camera manufactured by Lytro, founded by Yi Ren Ng PhD. I hope that its price of US$399 will decrease so that more people can afford it. This is going to be my Christmas gift wish list!

By the way, I enjoyed Ng’s Stanford thesis and summarized it in a wordcloud.

Christmas Postcards St Andrew's Church Abu Dhabi UAE servicefromheart Ren Ng light field camera thesis Lytro

With love,
ServicefromHeart
20141206

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Postcards from Abu Dhabi with some tips from Ask Ali

Saying Marhaba (Hello) or As salamu alyakum is a way to greet local people here, so please allow me to greet you with a Marhaba!

This is the first post from our adventures in Middle East, starting from United Arab Emirates (UAE) where we arrived in the scorching and highly humid summer 2014.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Corniche
Our first summer in Abu Dhabi: admiring 123-m flagpole on Marina Island across from Marina Mall. 
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel
A bird view of Abu Dhabi City from Grand Millennium Al Wahda Hotel, where we lived happily for almost 4% of our days this year.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque where we learned from a funny tour guide who is also a civil engineer.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Madinat Zayed
Madinat Zayed

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Abu Dhabi Mall
Abu Dhabi Mall

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Marina Mall
Marina Mall has a Carrefour.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Khalidiyah Mall
Khalidiyah Mall where I attended a worship in a cinema for the first time of my life.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island Sun Sky sea Gate Towers
A bird view of Reem Island, where we live in 2014.
Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
The Gate Towers reminds us on Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Gate Towers like Marina Bay Sands
Another view of the Gate Towers and their reflections on the Arc Towers.

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Dramatic reflection of sunrise as viewed in Reem Island is always inspiring. 

 

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart Reem Island
Night view of Reem Island.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart public bus
Public buses e.g. bus 54 of Abu Dhabi cost only 2 dirhams / passenger.

Travel Journal to Abu Dhabi UAE by ServicefromHeart St Joseph's Cathedral Catholics
St Joseph’s Cathedral of Abu Dhabi.

Hand shakes
Remember to shake firmly. If you are a man, it is impolite to offer your hand to a local woman. If a local woman offers her hand, it is then OK to reciprocate. Some Arab men will shake non-local women’s hands, some will not (it is ok too)!

Learn some Arabic words. Based on my experience living in Abu Dhabi, one can survive in Abu Dhabi without knowing Arabic, but it is always wonderful to learn some Arabic words.
Yes : Na’am / Aywah
No : Laa
Bon appetit : Bel Aaafiya
My name is : Ana esmi
Congratulation : Mabrook
Thank you : Shukran
Sorry : Asif / Asifa

Respect – a universal value – for each other’s differences requires open-mindedness, tolerance, adaptability and obedience. Although I have not lived long enough to give wise advice, I have found that respecting yourself and other people (regardless of their social, economic, education status) is among the best policies. Ask Ali also highlights that it is “illegal to defame any member of the ruling families of any of the emirates.”

Be thoughtful. “Even if you must compromise, don’t embarrass your Arab colleagues in public.”
Depending on the context, the opposites may be right.
In Arabic culture, it is impolite not to answer a phone call during meetings.
In Western culture, it is impolite to answer a phone call during meetings.
What if you are in a meeting with both Arabic and Western colleagues?
I remember a meeting that I attended in my first week working in Abu Dhabi. Half-way through the meeting, a phone rang. The most important person (who was originally from USA) said, “I’m glad it’s not mine.”

Arab people may raise their voices when they speak, not out of anger, but to emphasize a point.

Trust Arab people like to do business with those they trust (those whom they know or wit whom they have friends in common). Arab people don’t like to do business over the phone or without initially meeting you.

Local values that I hope to learn more:
respect
generosity / ikramiya
modesty / humility
trust

***

Social media that I follow:
www.emiratweet.com : a virtual majlis of events, news, street talk about Emirati individuals and society.
www.sailemagazine.com : about successful entrepreneurial Emiratis.
The National : an English newspaper of UAE

***

Things that I add to the bucket list:

    1. visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the largest mosque in the UAE and the eighth largest mosque in the world. It also has a Center library. Gently step on the wool carpet (the most comfortable one I have ever had the blessing to walk on) in the main prayer hall. Admire the Swarovski crystals-decorated chandeliers.
    2. learn Arabic calligraphy as a way of learning Arabic culture.
    3. enjoy a cup of coffee sprinkled with gold leaves @ Emirates Palace with classic luxurious stairwell.
    4. attend exhibitions (and if possible, weddings) @ Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC).
    5. desert safari / dune bashing @ Liwa Oasis ~ 2 hours drive from Abu Dhabi. Imagine a roller-coaster ride over sand dunes accompanied by sunset.
    6. ride a camel.
***

First and finally, please remember the followings:

  1. Stand up when someone approaches you to say hello.
  2. Use your right hand to pick things up or accept things.
  3. Reshuffle your position (at an elevator, a doorway) to place an important person / guest to your right.
  4. Dress modestly.
  5. Remove your shoes before entering your host’s home.
  6. Refer the gulf as Arabian Gulf (not Persian gulf!)
  7. Send a Ramadan Kareem (Blessed Ramadan) card at the beginning of the Ramadan month or an Eid Mubarak (Happy Mubarak) at the end of Ramadan, to your Muslim friends.
  8. Wait until after Ramadan to approach Muslim businessmen with new ideas.
  9. Offer local friends food – a symbol of goodwill and friendship, especially home-cooked food if you know how to cook. Remember to exclude pork or alcohol (even in chocolates)!
  10. Do not touch anyone of the opposite sex. No gentle pat.
  11. Do not schedule any meeting / gathering / sport event on Fridays, at least not until after 4 pm because, to respect people’s need of praying.
  12. Do not leave your host’s home before coffee and Arabic sweets are served (or else they may feel that they have not completed their hospitality duties; hospitality is an important value here, rooted in the harsh desert conditions).
  13. Do not point your soles / the bottom of your fee towards anyone, especially someone’s face.
  14. Do not say Mashallah when praising something beautiful to an Arab.
  15. Do not say swear words.
  16. Do not post sexually suggesting, politically / religiously controversial material.
  17. Do not take photographs of a local person (especially women and families) without asking for a permission.
  18. Do not take photographs of Muslims praying.
  19. Do not take photographs of military sites, the royal family’s palaces, government buildings (e.g. airports, police headquarters).
  20. Do not eat, drink, smoke, or chew gum in public during Ramadan.
  21. Women traveling alone in taxi should sit in the back and not make conversation with the cabbies, as drivers may misinterpret friendliness.

With love,
ServicefromHeart
201410
Last updated 20141026