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Happy 1st Monthsary Dubai!

Tags: dubai

30 days in Dubai, and thanks to the Lord, everything is going well.

It was struggle coming here to Dubai - financially, emotionally, spiritually. I never thought that everything would come to order, that I would be able to come here at all.

The first time I applied for a visa, it got rejected because the immigration here in the UAE deemed me too young to be traveling abroad. And so my friend and I (I came here with my friend, Ashley, who's cousin, Sheila, arranged all our papers so we could come here) applied for a visa again. This time with the help of an Emirati who has lots of wasta (connection) in the immigration office here in Dubai. We had to pay a hefty amount for the second visa application but thank God, it got approved and I started breathing normally again.

The day that I'm finally flying to Dubai came. 4 hours before my flight schedule, my mom's friend, who was already here in Dubai, called to inform me that the E-ticket issued to me was cancelled/fake and then she gave me my new ticket number. Just a few minutes after, Sheila called and told Ashley and me to disregard our previous E-tickets and use the new ones she just emailed. Too late, we already knew that the previous ones were fake and that she just emailed it to us in the first place so that we would be appeased.

Holding the thought that any last minute glitches can still happen, I entered the airport. All the time that I went through airport checks I keep asking God if Dubai is really for me. From the moment that I made the decision to come here, it felt like something always came up to make me decide against coming here. And so, the dreaded immigration interview came, I was asked by the tyrant-looking immigration officer at the Mactan International Airport about what am I going to do once I get to Dubai. I told him that I would go for a vacation, that everything was a gift from my dad and my mom's friend. He didn't buy it. I was nervous and a bit light-hearted because I was thinking that maybe that was God's answer, that Dubai is not for me. That even if my parents already spent a fortune for the trip, God wants me to stay at the comforts of our home, where my family and my friends are. The officer told me to sit in a corner and ponder on what I'm going to answer when he asks again. I have decided that I would give him the same answer and just let fate decide my future.

He did call me again, asked me again, and I answered him with the very same lines again. I was prepared that he would snap at me but suddenly his facial expression changed. From irritation, it became to resignation. He was probably thinking that he won't get any other answer from me so instead of reprimanding me, he started giving me advise on what to do once I land a job here in Dubai, that I should go to the Philippine Consulate to make it legal that I'm an overseas Filipino worker, etc. Inside, I was rejoicing, I was thinking that it was God who moved this man so that I could go to Dubai. Then he placed a stamp on my passport and I felt like shouting, "Dubai, here I come!"

From Cebu, Ashley and I arrived at Hongkong International Airport around 10:30 in the evening of November 29. The airport is so huge that we had to walk really fast because we only had an hour or so before our flight to Dubai. Once we got to the correct terminal for our 11:50 PM Dubai flight, we were surprised because almost 95% of the passengers who were waiting for that same flight were Filipinos. I wondered what were their immigration stories like but that was the moment when I really felt that along with my intense desire to come to Dubai, God also wanted this for me because He made it all possible.

The plane landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule, around 4:30 AM at Dubai International Airport. Another problem came up. Ashley and I didn't have roaming mobile numbers so we can't call or send an SMS to Sheila that we were already at the airport waiting for her to pick us up. Good thing a fellow Filipina allowed us to use her phone so that we can call Sheila. So we left the airport around 5:40 AM. I was already sleeping on my feet and was expecting to have a few hours of good sleep at my room which I already paid for before I came here to Dubai. But, alas, there was no bed waiting for me, neither for Ashley.

Sheila was explaining to us that a problem with the sleeping arrangement with her room mates came up that's why there was no available bed for Ashley and me but it was already beyond me to listen to another episode of her alibis. I just kept thinking that everything was God's plan and I was just thankful that I arrived safely in Dubai. For 2 nights, Ashley and I were sleeping on shifts with Sheila, her brother Alain, and her boyfriend, William. Until such time we moved to our new flat.

Then the job-hunting began, it was a long, tiring and trying experience. Ashley found a job first, around our 8th day here in Dubai. She is now working in a Dental Clinic but not in Dubai, in Sharjah, one of the seven emirates of UAE. So I was left alone to wonder the streets of Dubai, doing walk in applications in various clinics and hospitals, going for interview after interview, riding buses and calling possible employers. Although I was telling myself and the people around me that I'm okay with it, that I don't mind walking alone, I can't help but think that if I did not insist on leaving home at the first place, I would not have gone through all of those lonely walks. I kept asking myself and God, "Is leaving the comforts of our home, my family, friends worth all these? Is this what I bargained for? Is this what you planned all along, Lord?" And then, I'd meet somebody from an interview and they would talk to me first, ask for my number, and suddenly I don't feel so alone anymore. I have myself two new and good friends, a fellow Filipina and an Ethiopian lady, and I have been in constant communication with both of them until now. God is good, He always finds a way to answer my questions, to give me strength at the time when I almost want to leave everything and go home.

Around Day 15, Ashley had to move from Dubai to Sharjah because it's too expensive for her to be traveling back and forth both places. The feeling of being alone came back, I am left behind still with no job and left behind to live with her cousin who I believe took a lot of money from us. I didn't think that I would last for a week leaving with the very person who cheated us but maybe God has a reason, maybe He wanted me to learn that what I lost was just a material thing, that I should learn how to forgive and that what's important is that I don't lose myself, that I'd still be the same Karen when I go home and when the time comes that I have to answer to Him. It's now my 30th day and I'm still leaving with her, I now know her and I understand why she did that. It's hard to explain that to my parents, my friends who knew what she did but I hope that they, too, will learn to accept and maybe in time forgive her for what she had done.

As I am writing this, I am still leaving in a 3 bedroom flat in Al Muraqqabat, Deira. Sheila, William her boyfriend, Darius her friend, and me are all in the same room while the other two rooms are occupied by Nepalese people. But maybe later this day or before the year ends, I will be moving to another flat with people that I knew from church.

About the Nepali people, they are so friendly to us, very accommodating, the only problem I have with them is that they smoke too much. One Nepali guy, Netra, asked for my CV(Resume) so that he can submit it to their company, M.H. Alshaya Co. That happened weeks ago. I didn't expect that something would come out of it since the company is in to retail business, carrying brands like Debenhams, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Starbucks, H&M and many others. But surprisingly, I got a call from their office asking me to come for an interview. That interview was one of the most memorable for me. I was told to ask for Melanie for my interview and so I did.

Melanie, the British lady. It was much fun talking to her. For the first time that I came to Dubai, I was finally able to talk to someone who speaks English better than I do, and oh, how much I loved her accent! While I was talking to her, I never thought that I was on an interview, it just felt as though we were just having a chit chat. I was talking about myself, that I'm a nurse back in the Philippines and how it's so hard to look for a job there. She said, "Why don't you come to the UK?" And I told her, "I don't have enough experience." And she went off saying that it makes her really angry why any government is making it hard for foreign nurses to work in their respective countries when they know there's a great need for nurses now. I love her! And then she told me that she's sorry that she can only offer me a job in Starbucks which pays way below what nurses here in Dubai are paid. She knew right then and there that I can't accept that job but she was really kind to hold that position for me. She said that I would still have that job come January when my visa will almost expire and I still haven't found a health-related job. Also, she said that she will keep me in their talent pool for future openings. And so I left and continued to look for jobs in a clinic, medical centre, or hospital. A few days later, Alshaya called again to tell me that they would like me to work for Topshop, a clothing shop for ladies. I couldn't give an answer right away so they gave me 24 hours to think about it.

Almost every clinic or hospital I applied to would ask for a DOH license which I don't have. It's a license that would mean that I'm a registered nurse here in Dubai. Only a few clinics and medical centers would consider me but they would ask if I have my authenticated grade school, high school, and college diplomas with me, unfortunately, I don't have those, too. So that night when Alshaya called me again, I was really weighing my options, asking church mates, friends, my parents' friends, if I should accept what Alshaya is offering. I keep praying, asking God to help me make the right decision. And then I heard of someone who's 2-month visa is almost expiring and she still hasn't found any job. It got me thinking, I didn't apply for this job, those that I've been applying to kept rejecting me but Alshaya has always been there, calling me again and again even if I've rejected what they were offering at first. Alshaya is a blessing.

During my interview schedule there were a lot of applicants wanting to get interviewed as well, I was already lucky to have a schedule that day. Those who were interviewed looked really relieved that, finally, they will be working with Alshaya, I think I was the only one who looked troubled, confused. I didn't accept the first job they offered so they didn't have to hold that position for me, they also didn't need to keep me in their talent pool because there are so many other persons waiting to fill my position but they did! They did that for me. Forgive me if my thinking is so grand but that's how I feel, I'm so overwhelmed about how God works in mysterious ways. During my first few days, I kept complaining as to why I have to go through this job-hunting process when before I left home, I almost had a job and it was not me who applied for it. Everything was so easy back home, somebody is always around to make things happen for me. But I now realize that there was no "somebody" back home neither here in Dubai. It was and is and will be God all along.

I accepted the job, signed a contract with Alshaya and I am now waiting for my working visa. I have 2 to 3 more weeks of free time before I start working. The plan is to wait for all those diploma to be authenticated back in the Philippines, once I already have it, I will apply for the registration exam on my own and with God's help, pass it. And maybe after a year, if Alshaya will let me go, I can apply in hospitals and clinics once again.

I will soon be moving to my new flat and my new house mates will be the very people that I go to church with. I can honestly say that I'm going to miss Sheila, William, and Darius, most especially Ashley who is now in a different Emirate.

All those time that I've been walking alone, doubting myself, questioning God and receiving His blessings I realize, with the help of Pastor Manny, that I went through all that to know, to see, to feel, and to believe that God loves and will always love me, He loved me first and that He's allowing these things to happen to me so that I can learn to love Him back. I learned that during the very first Friday that I went to church and Pastor's exaltation was about God's love for us. How very apt to what I've been going through.

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. - 1 John 4:10

So far, that's what I've been up to here in Dubai. Nothing really grand but I'm happy that I was able to know God more, experience the greatest love story I can ever have and it's with him.

For photos, visit my Multiply site.

This post first appeared on My Two Cents, please read the originial post: here

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Happy 1st Monthsary Dubai!


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