I'm not one who journals or has a steal trap mind but I've had a few "Doha Days" I never want to forget so I'm recording them here. No expectation for anyone else to read this. It will be lengthy and without photos. I will officially check journaling off my 2009 list after this...
Most of my "Doha Days" are actually pretty funny or just a day gone a bit unexpected. Nothing really too extreme or outside what could happen to a mom who has has 2 young boys and 2 big dogs. Over the last couple weeks, more specifically days, my spirit and heart have been broken. But its not for myself or my own "Doha" circumstances.
When we moved here I knew this experience would stretch me personally in different ways. And I specifically prayed the Lord would teach me something and that would challenge me to be a better servant and follower of Him. I'm still not sure what my purpose in Doha is but I know I'm called to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength as well as love other people. The last two "Doha Days" are days I don't want to forget because they are a reality. I want to remember these moments and not get lost in what I consider difficulty.
The majority of people in Qatar are from other countries. They've all come here for work. Obviously The Junods fall into that category but there are sub-levels of society that has been created in Qatar that aren't always obvious. The majority of this lowest class have also come to here to work. They do all of the most difficult work there is to do. They work long hours, year round in the blazing heat. Thankfully, this time of year must bring some sort of relief to what they do everyday. Most of them are sweating outside trying to keep up with growing demand of commercial and housing development here. The government has a law that will stop laborers from working when the temperatures reach 110 degrees...but the truth is "they" never allow accurate temps to be recorded therefore never stopping the laborers. So, many men die of heat stroke or never wake up after a long day of being in the dreadful sun. Not only do they work in difficult conditions, their living environment is awful. This class of people is 100% men. They all live together in very very close quarters with absolutely no luxuries. They wear a blue jump suit everyday (who knows how they wash) and to come to work they pile (like circus clowns) in buses from an area outside of town where they live. The buses bring them into the city to their place of work for the day. These men get 1 day off a week, Friday. The government doesn't allow them to go to public places (malls, parks, beaches, etc) and so they have set aside fenced areas within the older part of town where they can congregate/socialize together on their off day. Its a scene that will never be erased from my mind. Thousands of men just standing around trying to seek freedom and a break. One that makes me speechless and brings me to tears to see in person. Most of the men have come from countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, India, the Phillipines, or other middle eastern countries. These men and boys are someones father, son, brother, husband, etc. and they have left their families to make a better life for themselves and the ones they love. I can't help but think to myself "how" and "why". And from what I understand now, this life in Qatar for them, is better compared to what they've left at home and its their only option for survival. But still, that idea is not comforting when I witness such poverty and mistreatment. These men are literally thought of and treated like slaves.
The truth became even more evident yesterday I was at the plant souq (market) joyfully buying 20 beautiful red poinsettias for our church Christmas fellowship dinner. I was excited about finding them and comforted by the brief thought of Christmas "at home" in a few weeks. As I was finishing up I witnessed the manager raise his arm and lunge to hit/beat a boy preparing my plants to be loaded up. The manager was obviously angry about how the teenager was simply putting poinsettias in the carrying boxes. I was just 2 feet away and there was nothing I could do. The boy and I both flinched and carried on like this kind behavior was normal. I was so disturbed...not scared. Just shocked. The boy never made eye contact with anyone and was clearly used to that kind of mistreatment. His body language was indescribable! I've never seen a sense of self security look so worthless!! Unfortunately I was so rattled and felt so sorry for the boy that I did nothing leaving me totally ashamed! As he loaded the last box, I put my hand on his shoulder and thanked him but he never acknowledged me. I sobbed...I mean sobbed, all the way to pick up the boys from school. I have never been so confused with how I felt. I was never concerned for my safety and I really knew there was a purpose for me to have witnessed this awful reality and lifestyle that is open to the public here. I have no doubt terrible things go on everywhere, just as much in United States but this...was something else. The next day I needed to return to the same place to get a receipt for my previous day's purchase. A friend of mine, Karen insisted on coming with me, which was wonderful. Fortunately the mean manager that was so threatening the day before wasn't there. We shopped and bought some plants and things for our own homes and as we were leaving I attempted to give the young boy from the day before some money. He absolutely refused and wouldn't allow me to even stand near him and again never making eye contact. He was no doubt terrified to take the money. So I asked another, very nice manager to give it to him...the boys still refused and I couldn't help but have tears flowing down my face while begging him to take the money. I left even more disturbed and confused than the day before. I know those plant people thought I was a crazy crying pregnant white lady, but I couldn't help it!! While this situation seems less dramatic than my emotions...I really couldn't help but be completely shaken.
The reality of treatment to this boy and others everywhere in the world is unknown to me. Even the girl who helps clean our house endures treatment that I could never imagine, simply because its tolerated here. She left her one and only 2 year old daughter to come work in Qatar. She won't see her for 3 whole years and she'll work her tail off in the mean time to help provide a better life for herself and family when she returns home to the Philippines. Not only must she suffer from the emotional distress of being away from her daughter, she lives in a very demanding situation. Its easy for me and most Westerners in Qatar to just go about our business and put these circumstances behind us. Seriously though... how dare us consider "our" Doha lifestyle difficult and sacrificial.
I know my spirit has been stirred for an eternal and present purpose. I want to be different because of my recent Doha Days. I don't know what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life but God is up to something. I know pregnancy puts things in a different perspective plus produces more emotions than I'd care to deal with, but this is different. I also realize that I'm especially sensitive to boys and how I personally believe God created them to be. Clearly what was so upsetting about "the plant boy" was that someone had stolen what God was meant to fulfill. Not only that, I'm in a country where I can't share about where my entire worth and joy comes from...Christ alone! Its one thing to be a Christian with hope in difficult circumstances but to trade everything you are and love for absolute misery without a faith in Jesus Christ, that is hell on earth to me. I'd rather die! Put me in a pit with rats, but I can't live without my Joy and Faith in the Lord and obviously my family.
What I've been praying about most in the last few days is what my place is in these people's lives. Not only that but how this truth can make me a more faithful follower of Christ and more like Him. How can I be a better mother, wife, friend, and stranger. Obviously one thing has been made clear and especially at this time of year...I am THANKFUL! I can't help but feel extremely guilty and feel that its "just not fair". I know that's not a Biblical ideal but we are all so undeserving of what we have been blessed with. So why "the plant boy" and not me or vice versa!
Some immediate principles that God is teaching me is just simple awareness for the sake of His kingdom. These people need Jesus! All I can do for most is pray but honestly I know its the most important thing I can do. I know each circumstance I encounter might be different but I want to act and think quickly just as Jesus would. I pray that these last few days change the way I live, especially in Doha and where I go from here. I have always been a softy for people who receive any kind of mistreatment...the elderly, handicapped, orphaned, unpopular students, abused, whatever. And to be completely honest...I'd just rather not think about it. Its too upsetting for me and the situations seems so desperate, deep and impossible I've always believed I couldn't make a difference. The power of prayer has overwhelmed me in my own personal circumstances so why couldn't it change a stranger's life or someone completely different from me? As a matter of fact its convicting and sad to think I may be the only one who does pray for that person or culture or country or situation. Sure makes me feel a whole lot more responsible. I just don't want to go on about my Christian, American, Texan, White Girl business like I don't have anything better to do than try to make myself happy to survive in my comfort zone while I live Doha. PUH-LEEEZE!! I may think I "need" things but there is only One thing I need!
So this Thanksgiving I obviously count my blessings in ways that I never imagined before but I also thank God for exposing me to the truth of His fallen and broken world this week. I had lunch with one of my best Doha friends, Amy this week and she reminded me that the Beatitudes weren't meant for the successful, beautiful, flourishing people of this world...they were promises directed at people like the plant boy and the sweet mother who mops my floors. Of course they can apply to me but it honestly helps me sleep at night to know that God loves these precious people so much that although they are meek, persecuted, poor in spirit and on and on and on they will be BLESSED! I also feel like I'm called to higher standard because of what God has given me. Same goes for my beloved home country the US of A. I can't help but think God is working through the US government continuously because we are so strong and able. Why else would there be US soldiers and military all over the world in the most needy and dangerous of places? No, they're not spreading the word of God but no doubt He is using them for His eternal purpose. Even if that's to bless them with meeting their physical needs. Every single good and perfect thing comes from him and He's the God of our entire world. Why do I make him so small?
Simply I say...Thank you Lord for what you did on the cross. Thank you God for being omniscient! Thank you for being just. Thank you for having your eye on the sparrow. Thank you for my precious family and friends. I have all I need and more because of your indescribable gift!