We returned to Bahrain on 28th July, overlapping with Stephen Thanapaul, my colleague, for 24 hours, before he headed off to India for his leave and the following day was preaching at the Friday morning service.
August is generally a quiet month and a very hot one with temperatures regularly in the forties. Awali Church closes down with the start of school holidays at the beginning of July and we concentrate forces at the cathedral. But our Tamil community gives a different dynamic as the Tamil congregation does not disperse to the four corners of the earth as much as the English-speaking congregation.
It gives time for doing different things and in particular I have been researching and writing an entry on Bahrain for a Dictionary of Christianity in the Global South, which I was asked to do several months ago. It is fascinating discovering the pre-Islamic presence of a Christian Church, of a monastery in Al Dair ( which means monastery or cloister in Aramaic) and a Bishop of the Nestorian Church resident in Bahrain in the 7thC. The mosque in Al Dair is apparently known as the Monk’s Mosque even today though there is no visible sign of its former use. Fascinating to read too of the arrival of the Arabian Mission in the 1890’s and the part Amy (nee Wilkes) Zwemer an Anglican CMS missionary from Sydney, Australia who established the first school Acorn School, the roots of Al Raja School now. It has been interesting too to interview those who are ‘indigenous’ Christians to Bahrain, though most of these have arrived here from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine, when oil was discovered and took on Bahraini citizenship when that was possible
On Wednesday evenings we have had regular evenings out usually a meal together drawing up to twenty people to The banana leaf, and David’s Stir Fry Crazy and we had a wonderful family outing to see the movie Finding Dory. This coming week we are going Bowling at Dana Mall and the following we’ll conclude with Biryani and watching the DVD of Chariots of Fire that Simon mentioned in his sermon at the weekend, reflecting on the Olympics and the healing on the Sabbath.
There was some excitement in the compound when a snake was seen in the car park of the compound, the first I have seen in nearly seven years, but having checked the internet it looks as though it is a rat snake, so if it is eating the occasional rat and that seems quite a challenge for the relatively slim fellow, I’m all in favour of it staying. I have not seen a mongoose for a few years either; we used to have regular visitor.
Weddings have continued over the summer and I had three in the space of a few days. One between two hotel managers resulted in the church being filled with flowers. The congregation were a little surprised to find the altar rail covered in flowers the next day though the aisle flowers and archway and main displays had all moved on to their reception.