Sunday, November 30, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Eid Mubarak






The holiday season is upon us in Doha. This weekend we celebrated both Thanksgiving and Christmas. We are leaving in 3 days....3 DAYS for home and we will not be back for Christmas so Santa came early....really early to our house. The kids were thrilled, but it didn't feel very Christmassy to me. I know we will probably end up celebrating this whole month which will be fun. Our plans are to fly into Texas and then to Florida for a week. When we saw the school calendar and realized we were going to be off the whole month of December, we knew it was the perfect time to go to Disney (low crowds and cooler weather). Then we are going back to my hometown for some family time. Bill has to come back to Doha early, so he will miss the big family Christmas at my moms' house this year (bummer).

We had Thanksgiving on Thursday, even though is was a school and work day. Some very special friends came over after school and we ate Thanksgiving Dinner together. The food was so good....we were all stuffed. I didn't get many pictures (except this one of my turkey bird), as I was busy running around like a turkey with my head cut off, since the party was at my house.




The next day, we went to church on Friday (still weird for me) and then got ready for the Texas A&M Thanksgiving. I was so excited to see the campus, but the actual dinner turned out to be a little disappointing. There were soooo many people there, the line was a mile long. We sat around for awhile and then decided to go eat here instead with our fellow Aggie friends. Any guesses what restaurant this is?


On Saturday morning SANTA came to Doha. Our kids were thrilled, but it was hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit. We did start a fun tradition. The night before we all picked a Christmas storybook and each one of us read aloud to the family. It was sweet to see each of their personalities shine as they read their story.


Now, we are just trying to get through these last few days of school (Cole has two major projects due on Wednesday) and get on that big ol' airplane that will take us Home for the Holidays.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Now that your tummy is full.....

Every year Americans spend millions of dollars mailing Christmas cards to our friends and family. This year do it digitally (free) and donate the money you saved to Compassion International’s Global Food Initiative. It’s that simple!

Food prices are rising all over the world, and this is plunging more and more people deeper into poverty. Compassion International is working hand in hand with local churches to bring aid to those affected by this.

We actually sponsored a child through Compassion International as a gift to our family one Christmas. She is a gift to us! We get the sweetest hand drawn pictures from her. We have the privilege of praying for her and seeing God's plan unfold in her little life. We recently sponsored a little boy in Ethiopia. He is 11 years old and we just got his first letter. Sponsoring a child is soooo easy. Get your credit card in hand and go to http://www.compassion.com/default_a.htm and change the world for one child.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cubscout Campout








Looks like my cubscout had a good time on his campout.






International Week

Will in front of the North American tables South African friends proud of their country.

South America is well represented.

Thailand....we love Thai food, especially Pad Thai.

These ladies look so pretty in their kimonos.

This week is International Week at the school and on Monday we had the International buffet. One of the things I love about living in Doha, is the whole world lives here. The parents all send food from their home country and all the students (K-12) and teachers are treated to an amazing lunch from around the world. The rest of the week the kids dress in national costumes (which for us is an old navy flag t-shirt and jean shorts) and celebrate the diversity of the students in our school.











Friday, November 21, 2008

Life in Doha

Got this in an email today. Very funny to me. Not sure if you can relate, but this is a little window into life in Doha.


You know you've been in the Middle East too long when.........

You're not surprised to see a goat in the passenger seat
You think the uncut version of 'Little House on the Prairie' is provocative
You think every one's first name is Al
You need a sweater when it's 80 degrees Fahrenheit
You expect everyone to own a mobile phone
Your idea of housework is leaving a list for the houseboy /babysitter/maid/helper
You believe that speed limits are only advisory
You expect all police to drive BMWs or Merc's
You know whether you are within missile range of Iraq
You believe that the definition of a nanosecond is the time interval between the time the light turns green and the time that the guy behind you begins to blow his horn
You can't buy anything without asking for a discount
You expect all stores to stay open till midnight
You understand that 'wadi bashing' isn't a criminal act
You make left turns from the far right lane
You send friends a map instead of your address
You understand why huge 4x4s must slow down to a snail's pace whilst crossing a speed bump yet hurtle through a wadi at 100kph
You think that 'Howareyoufine' is one word. So is 'Mamsir'
You think it perfectly normal to have a picnic in the middle of a roundabout at 11pm
You know exactly how much alcohol allowance you have left for the month
You have a moon phase predictor on your computer
You never say Saturday instead of Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday anymore
You accept that there is no point in asking why you are not allowed to do something
You expect queues to be 1 person deep and 40 people wide
You realise that the black and white stripes in the road are not a zebra crossing, just bait to get tourists into the firing line
Seeing guys welcome each other with a kiss and hold hands while walking no longer distracts you
You carry 12 passport size photos around with you just in case
You can tell the time by listening to the local mosque
You think its a good night if there are fewer than 10 men for every woman in a bar
Phrases like 'potato peeler', 'dish washer', 'coffee maker' and 'fly swatter' are no longer household items but are actually job titles
Habibi isn't just the ex-president of Indonesia
Problem with your car AC or horn is more serious to you than a problem with the brakes

Monday, November 17, 2008

Children's Hopechest is in Ethiopia

When I went to Ethiopia earlier this year, I met Angel and I was privileged to go with her to meet Hanna. I asked Hanna how she supported all these kids. I asked her if she was rich and she replied with a smile "I am not rich, but I have a rich God." Since then, Children's Hopechest has gone into Ethiopia and identified orphanages that need supporting and assistance, including Hanna's. Once again, her rich God is supplying her needs as she cares for these children. They are in the process of finding groups (churches, businesses, etc) that will step up and sponsor these precious kids. Red Letters Campaign, an online community of believers, is sponsoring one of the orphanages. If you would like to be a part of this go to redletterscampaign.com or if your church or group would be interested contact childrenshopechest.org

The following post was written by Angel at thevoiceofadventure.blogspot.com

I met Hannah - a woman who inspired me like no other. A woman who just followed God's call. Where most of us would say "Impossible ... who am I," Hannah says "Where there is vision ... there is provision.

"WHERE THERE IS VISION...I was impacted so deeply by her story of taking in one child after another off the streets and providing them a home, a family of foster siblings, food, clothing and, so important, EDUCATION. I was there when a young girl without even clothes was brought in to Hannah's off the street. Today, Hannah cares for over 160 children without much outside support. THAT is about to CHANGE!

Hopechest and Red Letters Campaign just returned from Ethiopia where we identified 8 orphan communities with over 750 kids who would benefit from the Children's Hopechest community - to - community sponsorship model. Remember ... "Where there is vision, there is provision!" We had a vision for supporting Hannah in her incredible work. Amy Bottomly had a vision of bringing support for Kolfe orphanage. Tom Davis had a vision for bringing futures to 1,000 children in Ethiopia.

THERE IS PROVISION!Well ... guess what, I want to show you the provision (watch video). It brings tears to my eyes to see Hannah's orphanage on this video and to realize that God has taken this experience full circle. Also, keep an eye out for Moses' Orphanage - the community that the Red Letters Campaign community is sponsoring.

To date, it appears that we have four of these communities sponsored already. Today, we already have almost 60 sponsors for our own orphanage (Moses' Orphanage), but we have room for more. Also, we'd love to take on another orphanage. If you want to be part of this, you can still send an email to Amy Bottomly at amyde63@hotmail.com. If you want more information, click here to read more.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Why?

Why are we adopting? How did we get to this point? Here we are just a few months from getting a referral and I stand amazed.

For me, adopting a child was always something I dreamed about doing. When I was a little girl I would wish and pray that someone would leave a baby on our doorstep. I would pretend that I found a baby in the woods behind our house. I would tell my mom that I was never getting married and I was going to adopt Korean kids.

The dream faded a bit after I grew up, got married and had three wonderful biological children. Bill and I talked about one day we might adopt a child, but only if the circumstances were just right. I seriously uttered these words, "We are done." Our family was complete, so we thought. We liked having "big" kids.

Several years ago, I started feeling like God was up to something in our family. I would even tell the kids and Bill, I felt like God wanted to do something great in our family, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was. Time passed and I still felt God nudging us toward something.

After we moved to Doha, my eyes were opened to so much more of the world. We hired Mekdes, our Ethiopian housekeeper. I traveled to Ethiopia to volunteer in an orphanage. I began to read more about adoption on the Internet and talked with my sister about adopting. She and her family had been part of an orphan ministry to Ukrainian children for several years. It slowly became obvious to me that adoption is where God had been leading us. I was so nervous to tell Bill about the feelings I was having. I finally got my nerve up and was so happy when he said "Yes". He thought we should start investigating the possibilities. We knew by the end of 2007 that we would soon begin the process to adopt.

At first we looked into adopting from Korea or another Asian country, feeling that would be the best fit for our family. But, my heart was in Ethiopia with the children I met there. It became pretty obvious that Ethiopia was where we should look for our child.

We had our homestudy in February 2008. We had to fly a social worker here from Germany. The homestudy was important for us. It helped direct what age child we would seek. The in depth personal histories we wrote helped sort out our feelings and expectations regarding adoption. Our social worker recommended and approved us to adopt 1 or 2 children under 7 years old. After that we began collecting all the documents we needed to compile our dossier and complete our homestudy. It was not an easy task living over here in Doha. We made multiple trips to the US Embassy and the local police station for fingerprints and clearances. Communicating with limited English police officers that we needed these fingerprints to adopt a child, got me sent to the line for getting a birth certificate. One time, I got so frustrated with the US Embassy that I burst into tears in front of the clerk and everyone else in the waiting room.

When we went home in the summer, I told my Mom of our plans. I was a little nervous about her reaction, but I had covered the conversation in prayer and she was supportive and asked a lot of good questions. We were completely finished with all the paperwork by August. There were some minor hiccups along the way, like our homestudy was dated incorrectly, but our dossier was complete and mailed to Ethiopia on August 21.

We were now on the waiting list for a little boy or girl 3-6 years old. The waiting period has been so good for me. As we have waited it became clear to me that I was longing for a little girl. It also became clear that it was OK with me if she was a very little girl, even a baby. Initially, I was terrified of starting over with a baby. I turn 40 in January! We have no baby things anymore. But, God calmed all those fears and brought Bill on board, too. So, now it is entirely in His hands. Our request is for a little girl, 0-6 years old. We may get a kindergartner or we may get a newborn. Only God knows right now.

Waiting has also confirmed for me our decision. A lot of things I read suggested the main reason you should adopt is a desire to parent a child. Other reasons play a role, like wanting to "help", making a difference in the life of a child, giving something back, etc. are all good things, but the main reason to adopt is you want to parent. Initially it was hard for me to grasp this. I felt called to adopt. I felt like we could love another child. I knew we could support another child. I knew that God loves adoption! What waiting is doing for me, is sealing my desire to parent this child. After waiting, a few months since our dossier was finished, but really over a year since we started the process, I am longing for this child. Longing to meet her, longing to love her and longing to be her mother.

Countdown.....

The kids have 3 more weeks of school and then we are out of here! The countdown has begun. These next few weeks are going to be BUSY and fun.

We have a Cubscout Campout in the desert.
Pegasus Club (ExxonMobil) Children's Christmas Party.
THANKSGIVING festivities..I love Thanksgiving
Baseball games every weekend.
the annual British pantomime (we went last year for the first time and loved it!)
and hopefully Santa will come early to Doha.

Then, we are on our way to Grandma's house, by way of Mickey's and Minnie's place. It makes me a little weary just looking at this list.

Monday, November 10, 2008

If you need a smile...

Dunes










We went to the sand dunes this weekend and had a great time. Our oldest didn't go with us. He had just gotten back from a youth group campout in the dunes and needed some sleep. We went with friends from church and a visiting pastor and his wife. We have been keeping our friends son this week, so he went with us, too. It is so beautiful out in the dunes and I just marvel at God each time we go out there. It is a beautiful place to take photos. I think it is impossible to take a bad picture out there. If you ever come to Doha, we will take you dune bashing!

video

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Empty

In this land flowing with gas and oil......I ran out of gas yesterday. Uggggh!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Christmas Cards for Sale




Abbey made some Christmas cards to sell. They feature her artwork of a snowman scene. She is donating the proceeds to another little girl named Abby. Abby Riggs is a little girl in a battle for her life with cancer. She lives in Oklahoma and we "met" them through their blog, http://www.riggsfamilyblog.com/ We have been praying for her everyday. Please add her to your prayer list.

She is selling 8 cards/envelopes for $7.00.

or 4 cards/envelopes and 8 gift tags for $7.00

or 16 gift tags for $7.00

Lots of love, Lynn and Abbey (and Cole helped, too!)
If you would like to buy some, please let us know soon by leaving a comment with your email or email me at mlynncollins@yahoo.com .

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Volleyball Tournament




Cole played on the Middle School Volleyball team and the season culminated with an area tournament. Although, we didn't come home victorious, the kids played with a lot of heart. It was our first school sport and it made me think so much about my Daddy. He was always there for every game we ever played. Our bus would pull up to the school and we would pile into the gym and my Daddy would usually already be there sitting in the bleachers. He would be so proud of our kids if he was here. We miss you, Dad.

The Raingutter Regatta











Will is in Cub Scouts this year and he participated in the Rain gutter Regatta on Saturday. There was a great turn out with 65+ boys racing their boats. The race course is made of two rain gutters and the boys power their boats only by blowing on them (with help from the wind at times)! Abbey was such a good big sister and cheered Will on in every race.
We were all surprised when Will won 2nd place in the Wolf Cub division (1st graders) and his boat was picked for best design. He was a good sport when winning and losing. When he lost in the final race, his eyes welled up, but he held it together. Later as he noticed some of his friends getting upset over losing a race he told me that losing was so hard to understand.










Sunday, November 2, 2008

And one more thing....


we flew our giant kite yesterday! I had to stand on the balcony to get it started, but it was glorious. And I just couldn't stop thinking of this verse!


John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Happy Halloween

























We Halloween partied all weekend. Our compound decided to do trick or treating on Thursday, due to the school carnival on Friday. We also had a company party Thursday and school parties. Here, there is a no holds barred approach to Halloween. The school is decorated in creepy fashion and there is even a hauted house at the carnival. We saw some awesome costumes. One of Cole's friends is the gangster, complete with fake gun in the small violin case. Our friend was Princess Lea and her children were star wars characters. One of the neighbors was a really cool Storm Trooper. One highlight again this year is the talking head. Somehow it knows all the kids names and carries on a conversation with each one. Bill dressed up with his afro and I was a gypsy. I substituted on Thursday and had so much fun with an adorable bunch of first graders. I got to lead my class in the costume parade around the track and through the school. The whole school turned out for the parade and cheered on the lower elementary, even the middle and high school. It was a fun weekend and believe me when I tell you that November is going to be this crazy and more. It is only 34 days til we head back home!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Funniest Costume Award


The woman that sat on her dog. She is carrying a sign that says "Lost Dog" and she has the dog velcroed to her bottom. Too funny! (I borrowed this picture from a friend's facebook)
What was the funniest costume you saw this Halloween?