Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's really cold here

We've experienced pretty much every kind of weather short of natural disasters - rain, snow, wind, hail, and warmth. If it's sunny in CA, I'm going to spend my first day home laying out in the sun. Now I understand my dad who worships the sun everytime he's in CA from his home in Wisconsin. Dad, next week we can lay out together.

Tomorrow, in the painful morning hours, we leave Istanbul. We have been blessed by this trip. It has been awesome. It's amazing how refreshing it is to be with brothers and sisters in Christ. Even just hanging out does the job. We need each other. God knows that, and every once in a while I'm reminded of that too.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Some pictures

Here are a couple from both destinations:

Merry Christmas and random stuff

We did a load of laundry in Qatar the night before we left. We washed and then threw it all in the dryer at 11:00 pm. We were tired, so we went to bed trusting the machine with some of our favorite clothes.

We woke up around 2:00 am to the cries of the nearest 2-yr-old. Along with those sounds we heard the low rumble of the dryer. Pretty convinced that our clothes were dry, I shut the dryer off.

The next morning I folded my favorite pair of jeans to find that they lost a little weight. I put them on, and they fit a smidge tighter and a bit shorter. I decided I can still pull them off, and Rob convinced me that they don't look like high-waters.

I wore them all day yesterday, and they didn't loosen up like normal jeans do. I was hoping they would. We ate sweets from about 2:00 to 11:00. Not a good idea with jeans that don't compromise.

Today is Christmas which I knew would involve lots of Derek's cooking and a big potluck meal in the evening. I put on my too loose jeans, and I've felt not-chubby all day.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The School of Kumquat

Rob, Derek, Steve, and I have been sitting at Kumquat Coffee for the last 2 hours or so. Here are some things we've learned:

1. My husband is really cool.
2. Kumquats have many uses, and you can eat their peels.
3. Girls aren't good at sound effects. God created boys with the ability to make noises with their mouths that you would think only machines could make. For example, Derek can whistle and hum at the same time making you think a flying saucer is landing behind you.
4. Being around many different languages makes our English-speaking abilities decline rapidly.

Friday, December 22, 2006


Back in Turkey now. It's good to be here, but we had such a good week in Qatar. We were so blessed to have many cultural experiences that were not expected.

Two days ago Claudia and I went to a henna party. That's part of the wedding tradition. They have an engagement party, a henna party, and a wedding.

I enter and am by far, the whitest and most western-looking person there. Just smile and look like your grateful to be there. Not hard because I really am thankful. Greet about 10 different ladies. Give them three small kisses all in a row on one cheek. They might give you one more, so just wait with your cheek near theirs just in case you get one more. But, these ladies are not sure what to think of you, and they don't know if you know about the whole kiss greeting, so you're lucky to get one kiss. Not many smiles because, again, they're not sure about you.

It is a little weird, very cool, like a dream, and hard to convince myself that I am really seeing it all. Imagine a courtyard full of ladies, some still dressed in their black outside clothing and some revealing their vibrant party dresses underneath. Some are talking, but most are just sitting in their chairs kinda staring at whatever...probably me. The music is very loud. There are drums, a singer, and a musical scale of 15 notes. In the front is a throne-like area decorated in bright neon green. That is the color of the henna party.

Stand around and wait. Oh, here she comes; find your seat.

She's only 16, but she's looking very grand tonight. She's dressed in all green, bright green, and is covered with gold jewelry. She makes her way to the front and just stands facing everyone, expressionless. One by one ladies come up and throw wads of cash over her. That seems nice. Gifts, right? Nope, all the money goes to the band. But, it's still a tradition so the band might collect 10,000 dollars from the money thrown to the bride.

Then, she makes her way to the throne and sits there. Just sits there for everyone to look at. Still expressionless. She might be nervous. Maybe she's not excited about this arranged marriage. Maybe she doesn't know what else to do.

I'm excited to be here and am over feeling out of place. Trying to tell myself that I'm not watching this on TV. Thankful for some of the differences of this culture, but still aware of the bonds this culture/religion places and will place on this new bride.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Closer to an insider

A couple days ago I got to visit with a couple of local ladies in their home. That was a blessing to get in on the culture and in on the people. When I'm in a foreign place, it's easy to make my own judgements about who these people are and what they're about. But, without actually meeting a person, it's hard to conclude anything more than that they're indeed different and too distant for me to understand.

I got to meet a middle-aged lady and her daughters. A couple of the daughters were about my age. Other than a few customs, a burdensome religion, and a lot of restrictions, they're just like me. They were funny, spunky, liked to have glamorous pictures taken, liked to be beautiful.

So, I leave their house amazed at how alike we are and completely in shock as well. In shock because how could someone just like me have such a different life? A life that they probably wouldn't choose for themselves, if they had the option.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Touristy stuff

Is it wild goose hunt or wild goose chase? I'm going to go with hunt, so if I'm wrong just give me grace; I'm not good at remembering those clever sayings correctly.

We went on a wild goose hunt yesterday to find a few historical sites here in Qatar. We ended up finding some towers and some petroglyphs. In this country they don't care as much about perserving history. So, to find the petroglyphs, we found a sea full of rocks and had to get lucky to spot some actual history. But we did find some.

You're probably thinking, "Oh, that's nice. Leah is covered from head to toe to fit in with the culture." Actually, it was just stinkin' cold and raining, so it was all in self-defense. I know, I know...I look like a weirdo in this picture. But, we're really bad at getting ourselves in the pictures, so I thought I'd jump in.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Welcome to Qatar

Here's a pretty good picture of what Qatar looks like. It's not completely fair because there are more buildings than this. But, it is very spread out compared to what we're used to. And, most of the people who live in this country live in the city that we're in.

We're learning a lot about the Middle East and about Islam...lots of stuff we didn't know before. It's been valuable to be able to process everything we see or wonder about right away with our friends.

It's been raining since we got here which is strange because usually Qatar gets one day of rain a year. Pray that the rain stops because this will greatly limit what we can experience here.

This is at the mall.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Country #2

Our blog posts have been pretty short and sweet for a couple reasons. One, we've been keeping very busy. And, two, by the time we get a chance to sit down and write, it's right before bed and sleep seems more desirable.

Yesterday we arrived in Qatar. Turkey was a good stepping stone to Qatar, that's for sure. Turkey feels more like Europe, and Qatar feels more like the Middle East. However, it's still not entirely what I expected. It's been great to hang out with the our friends here, and we're excited to see them in action and meet their friends.

Today we're going to drive around a good part of the country to get all the touristy stuff out of the way. Yeah, all of the touristy stuff can easily fit into one day because there's not much here in that respect. But, there is a lot here as far as friends and potential there.

It's been interesting being the outsider. It's fun to try to think of each person I see and try to imagine them with their family, them when they're joking around, them when their down about something. Trying to open up my heart, I guess.

No pictures of Qatar yet.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

At last

After 29 hours of traveling, we made it safely to Turkey. We're tired, but the flights were very good. Nothing went wrong, and we got a lot of much needed rest in.

We're ready for bed and even more pumped about this trip.

That's all for now.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Just a little longer...

Praise God, we leave for the Middle East in 9 days. We are leaving Dec. 12th and getting back Dec. 28th.

I say praise God because he has so completely blessed us with the opportunity to visit our missionaries. And, he has made it so possible.

A couple of things... Will you begin to pray for us and not stop until we get home? And, if you would like to send gifts, notes, or anything to show them your love, that would be awesome. Remember, we are Sandals Church, and we're going as your arms and legs. We have a list of ideas, so email me if you're interested (

Pray for these things especially:

1. Safety
2. Peace as we travel in our own hearts and minds
3. That we would be such a blessing and refreshment to our precious brothers and sisters
4. That God would impact our lives in huge ways with this trip, and show us his will regarding us and missions
5. That this would be so much more than just a fun trip
6. That God would inspire us with ideas, stories, and creativity for our coffee table books

Yea! We're excited.