Hello everyone! I just want to thank all of you who have been commenting on my blog and also those of you who send your comments via email. It really has been helping the homesickness, and it has reminded me about how many people I love and care about - no wonder we are homesick!
Today was our Sabbath, and it was good once again to meet with the saints. The combined Relief Society/Priesthood Meeting was quite interesting. There were five different men who spoke about living in Doha (the legal system, how to pay tithes and offerings, how to respect the people here). One man spoke about the strict rules we are to follow concerning missionary work, and basically, there is no missionary work allowed. Because our church is not recognized by the government here yet, we cannot advertise meeting times and places. At our first week of church there was a petition going around that we all signed. Now it is on its way from the American Embassy to Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We are petitioning the government of Qatar to formally recognize our church. In Dubai and Abu Dhabi the church has been formally recognized, so the ward members can meet openly and they can list the church address and phone number in the phone book. Here we cannot even put a sign on the villa we meet in. Basically, if anyone coming to Qatar wants to find out where our church meets, it is only through word of mouth that they can find us. Our bishop told us today that there have been many miracles where people have recognized someone wearing garments or noticed a CTR sticker on someone's car and been able to ask them where church meetings are held. It reminds me how important small examples are. If you look on the church web site, you cannot find Doha 1st ward, because it would be breaking the agreement that our church has made with the Qatari government.
Another interesting thing: the villa where we meet is owned by a Qatari citizen who is constantly hassled by the other residents in the neighborhood who want him to kick us out and not rent his villa to our church. But even though most of those neighborhood residents are embassies and very influential, he is totally supportive and sympathetic to our desires to worship. He often visits during meeting times and every so often has a barbecue dinner for everyone. Last week I saw him there smiling and patting the Primary children on their heads as they changed classes. Qataris love children, and I could just see that love and joy in his eyes. I know the Lord is at work here in this Muslim country. We were also warned not to take any photos in the area. One sister in our ward and two of her sons were detained for a few hours by guards with machine guns after they took a photo of a beautiful flower close to one of the emabassies. We often remember that we aren't in Kansas anymore.