Good morning from the desert! The weather is hot; the air hangs heavily. In the dark gray of the early morning, walkers nod as they pass each other, strolling the roads. Some people are off to work. Some appear to be just enjoying the outside before the sun arises and bakes the land. Very soon the temperatures rise well above 100, and the sun chases people to shelter from its massive strength. I can’t imagine life without air conditioning. Yet for many, many years and in still in many, many places, no artificial air cooling exists.
Last night, Jana and I were invited out to our favorite restaurant in Al Ain, called the Golden Sheep. We joined three other couples for a time to talk and share a great meal. The food had many of our Middle Eastern favorites. We enjoyed the time out.
Two of the couples have worked at Oasis Hospital for many years. We heard stories of all the changes they experienced. The hospital started out as just a rough building here in the desert. Gradually, the structure was changed to a more permanent style. There was no health care in the region and little in the country back in 1960. The Christian missionaries were able to impact the region in quite dramatic ways. The maternal and child death rate dropped as medical care improved. Oasis continued to grow.
When oil was discovered, the development of the region changed overnight. Stories were shared how still many of the older Emirates are unsure if all the new-found wealth is a good thing or not. Wealth does bring improved infrastructure, educational opportunities, health care, and more. Wealth also brings along problems that did not exist with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, road traffic accidents, boredom, and more. Is that not always the case? As the US gained real and apparent wealth, we see more and more problems of obesity, medical issues, stress issues, violence, and more. I feel probably the most dramatic risk of material prosperity is when the importance of material things displaces the importance of people, relationships, family, and time to sit and contemplate. We may not have the golden idol statues of old, but we definitely have our own set of idols, worshiped at the call of “I need and deserve!”
The other couple has served as missionaries in different parts of the world. They spoke of their time in Congo and Zambia and the changes they witnessed there. We heard of successes and trials. Soon they are off again on a new adventure. This time they return to Africa, once again to Uganda.
As I was sitting there enjoying my hummus, I was struck how some of us are called to serve in one location for a long time and really sink in roots there. You may be the one to grow and mature a ministry or a company or a business or a place. You are the one who is first mentored, but then you are to switch roles and mentor and develop the people around you. Maybe that is your family, members of your church, your business, younger employees, or your club.
I think of the apostle Peter, who was most influential in maturing and growing the church around him. Others in life are more like Paul. You are called to leave your home place and seek out new locations. Each location you work to develop leaders, teach, and then move on. You must focus on equipping and giving away the authority that is needed to assume responsibility. Both leadership types are valuable and very necessary. Each would find the other’s work style difficult.
At dinner I saw both types. Two couples are very influential and important in the growth and development of Oasis Hospital with deep roots here in Al Ain. The other couple has been here for a season, developed needed programs and created leaders to follow, and now are called to move on.
Later today, Jana and I are ‘escaping’ the flat to travel to Dubai for the weekend. Searching the net, we found a small hotel that will serve as our refuge and base of travel. We much prefer a B&B or small hotel to a fancy location. Traveling through Kenya and staying in the small hotels where water was a luxury, my tastes are simple. Saturday evening we pick Michael up from the airport. Al Ain will be much more friendly to Michael’s needs that the hills and dirt roads of Kijabe. We look forward to exploring this section of the city and seeing what we can discover.
Work continues to be work. The sun continues to bake. Life stretches on, but then you look around and see something new. This week I recognized how different our roles can be as we both work together in the same place. Life is a puzzle. Sometimes we are called to be the firm, well defined corner piece that defines. We are the anchor that endures. Others are picked up and tried for a fit, only to find that is not our place. We move on. Now is not the time to see the whole picture. Later, when all is complete, the picture will emerge in clarity. Until that time, I keep my eyes and ears open, search for my place, and travel through life here on earth securely in His grip.