Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL !

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a joyful filled New Year. Dad and I have felt so many blessings this past year and constantly realize how truly blessed we are to have the children and grandchildren we have. As we reflect on the birth of the Savior and recognize the blessings that each of us have as a result of his life, I am humbled by His sacrifice to all of mankind. Our time here has greatly increased my appreciation for the love the Lord has for all His children all over the world. May we all feel His love in our lives as we strive to serve one another in all we do. I love this time of the year!

It is really very hard to believe Christmas is in just a few days. We just put up a small Christmas tree that was left here by one of the past missionaries. It has been so busy that we haven’t had much of a chance to do that. But we finally put one up, and now it seems a little more like Christmas around here. I pray you all are enjoying the holiday feeling of this special time of the year. Our Christmas gift is having Laura come. We are so excited to have some family here to share this season with in this holy land of Jordan. It has been very humbling to realize that we are not far from the birth place of the baby Jesus. The tradition here in the Middle East is that the Christ child was born in a cave. There is not an over abundance of wood or trees around here and the land is very rocky. Everything is made of stone or rock. As we have traveled around the country and have visited some of the historical sights and seen the ruins of the past civilizations, it is easy to understand how this tradition has come about. The stables were built in the side of the hills or mountains out of the rocks. The stables were often built as the foundation of the cities as it gradually went up the hill sides. This is where the residents or traveler would put their animals before they came into the city. Also, in many of the cities small shops and trading centers were set up the same way, to catch the people as they went in to town. It has been very interesting to see the culture and understand some of the traditions of these people. The scriptures have come alive to us as we begin to understand more and more about the traditions and culture of the people from the Old and New Testament area. In many ways some of the customs have not changed over time. The parables of the Olive trees have much more meaning and understanding as we have been able to witness this process. The Olive Tree pruning is very remarkable! The sheep, goats and the shepherd analogy has much more meaning as we daily see the lone shepherd on the hillsides watching his flock from sun up to sun down.

Not only is this the time of year that we as Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior it is a time that the Muslims have a big holiday called Eid. Many animals are being sacrificed during this time, sheep, cows and camels. Mostly sheep! I have never seen so many sheep in my life. All penned up in small temporary fenced in pens, waiting for someone to select them for their sacrificed offering. The custom is to sacrifice an animal of great worth. For some it may be a lamb, for others a cow and for the very rich, a camel. They slaughter the animal and keep a third of the meat for their own family, the other third is given to extended family and the last third to the poor of the community. The other day the phrase…”as a lamb led to the slaughter” was permanently printed in my memory. We watched a large sheep taken by two small boys each grabbing a front leg and leading it to the place of sacrifice. The sheep hobbled along, and then gently laid down as the older gentleman, took the blade of his knife and proceeded to finish the sheep for sacrifice. It happened so fast with no resistance from the sheep.

A few days ago were invited by one of the organizations we have worked with to visit one of the hospitals to give small gifts of flowers and candy to the patients. Very much the same custom we have at Christmas time to visit the less fortunate. We met the hospital administrator along with some businessmen and a reporter for the newspaper. We paraded in and out of the hospital rooms taking pictures. We felt very uncomfortable so we stayed back from the group and visited with the patients and enjoyed shaking or holding their hands and greeting them the best we could with our small bits of Arabic. I am constantly surprised at how these people treat us like we are someone of great importance. As we visited with many it touched my heart to see the condition some of them were in. One of the women grabbed my hand and said "Shookrun" over and over again- which means "thank you" she started to cry. All I could do was lean down and kiss her checks and tell her "Shookrun"!

We have had so many wonderful experiences these past few weeks. So many I can't begin to share. I wish I could express the feelings we have for these people. But I know that many of you know what I mean as you reflect on your own missions and how you loved the people that you served. I know why we do this... because we begin to learn to love as the Savior loves. As we became parents we understand some of this but as missionaries we begin to know it in a broader sense. We will be forever grateful for this opportunity and pray we can make a difference... somewhere... for someone here and there.

I know Dad wrote yesterday and sent some pictures. We also wanted to attach a few more with this email. As Dad said in his email we hope this finds you all well, happy and healthy. We pray for you and think of you often. We love you so much!

We also have been asked to include many of you on our weekly letters to our children we hope all is well for you and your families. May we all have a wonderful Christmas and Happy New year. WE LOVE YOU ALL!!

Love,
Your Jordan Missionaries





Overlooking the Sea of Gallilee

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mark, Keef Hal Lek,( How are you)

Hope this find you and your families well. Robin and I are fine and enjoying ourselves greatly. We are looking forward to have a wonderful Christmas in the Holy Land of Jordan. One of the things we are going to do is go to a mountain over looking Jerusalem from the Jordan side of the river and watch the lights of Jerusalem come on after a sunset. Even though the Muslims don't celebrate Christmas , they have a big holiday awaiting the new year. It is called EID Al Adha and they sacrifice a lot of sheep and goats. They keep half for their family and give the other half to the poor as a gift. Robin and I have seen thousands of sheep and goats being penned awaiting their fate for the holidays here in Jordan. As for us, we will have a good beef roast and some pie. (Even though, I have come to like the taste of sheep meat when we have eaten at some Jordanian homes). We have met some wonderful people and have come to realize that people all over the world can live in peace (if the news media will not tell us differently). We appreciate each of you and enjoy your letters.

We pray that you will have a wonderful Christmas and New Year.

Sincerely,
John and Robin Cotton

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Robin and I just got back from a day of wheel chair distribution to some charitable organizations in north Jordan. It has been a good day. Tomorrow we drive to Amman and pickup our area supervisors from Frankfort Germany who are here in the country for a review and somewhat of an audit. They are the Heisses from Utah. We are expecting to work them hard and show them what we are doing. Here are a few pictures I took today while we were working, and one of mother making a pie for the Heisses. As you can tell from the kitchen, she is in heaven. We have a nice upscale apartment here in Al Husn that reasonable compared to US standards... ($475 month).

Sure love you guys and look forward to us calling every now and then.



Sunday, December 9, 2007

MarHaBa, Keef Hal Leek?

MarHaBa, Keef Hal Leek?

Has it been a week already? The weeks are going by so fast. But some of the days seem to drag on forever. That doesn’t make any sense, does it? But I’m sure some of you know what I mean! We have had some good things happen this week. We were able to get most of the things done for the Orphanage this week. It was so humbling to watch the faces of the children and the Nuns as we delivered all the bunk beds and clothes cabinets. In Jordan none of the homes build closets in the bedrooms. You purchase separate clothing cabinets for the clothes. Of course many of the homes are only tents and shacks. It still amazes me how some of these people live and stay warm in those shabby homes with winter arriving in full force. Even the concrete homes stay so cold because of no built in heat. Most of the homes are heated with little propane heaters. Thank goodness the Orphanage was able to build in wall Water Heating Systems which they will only use a few hours a day. We also were able to furnish a large capacity washing machine, which isn’t that big compared to what we have in America. One side is a tub and the other side is the spinner. It reminds me of our portable compact washer machine we got for our apartment when we first got married, 37 years ago. There is no such thing as electric dryers here. Well, in Amman, but to the rest of Jordan, Amman isn’t even considered “Jordan”. The locals here make the statement… “There is Jordan and then there is Amman”, Amman is NOT Jordan. Oh well. It has been a wonderful experience working with the Orphanage. We have made good friends. I think the biggest thrill for the Nuns was when we brought in the kitchen appliances. A large gas stove with a large oven, refrigerator, but the highlight of it all seemed to be the chest freezer that we surprised them with. They were all so appreciative. The children were running from one thing to another. Full of smiles and eyes wide with wonder!!!

A few days ago we went and visited with a society in Aljun. A village settled in the mountainous area of Northern Jordan. We met in a very humble shop with a Muslin Man and his wife. The woman was dress in all black covered from head to toe. The only thing that was exposed were her eyes and hands, which is very common here in the more rural areas of Jordan. The women are totally covered. As we sat and talked with them through a translator it struck me with great emotion as I could see the kindness in her eyes, and as I looked down, the hard work in her hands. The biggest challenge is knowing what we can do to help these people help themselves. We are learning how to assess the areas and the circumstances, and get them to come up with some ideas of their own. From there, work on a plan together where they can feel a part of the
solution and sense some hope and success. Isn’t that such a gospel principle? We are beginning to feel a little smarter in our efforts to serve. The miracle in this work is seeing how the Lord works through us, as simple common people who can make a difference when the Lord is directing the moves!!!

Happy Nuns are always enjoyable to work with along with our interpreter Magdee.

Mom is a magnet for children. Where she goes they go.

It is interesting how different each day can be. One day we are working with the very poor in very humble circumstances. They next day or even later in the same day we are meeting with Judges and Parliament members. Presidents of Universities and Doctors or Hospital Administrators. All wanting to help make a difference in the lives of others. It is wonderful to be apart of something that brings so many different kinds of people together for the same cause. We have wanted to get the members of the church involved in giving service. Many have very little of their own and often don’t think of reaching beyond themselves because of that. But there are a few that think beyond their own circumstances, and are very caring and wanting to help their neighbors. So we had a project where we got heaters, and we got a container with blankets and coats and other much needed supplies and asked them to think of people they knew who were in need of these things. We have been able to go out with many of them and provide some immediate relief. It’s been a wonderful experience to watch these families give, and not only see the happiness of the receiver but the excitement and joy in the givers faces. It has increased the awareness to a higher level and it seems to be contagious with each act of service. The more you give the more you want to give. Another gospel principle! One of the families we went with took us to a small one room house where a mother and her children lived. The Father had abandoned them a few years earlier when he decided to marry his wife #2. In the Muslim culture a man can marry up to 4 wives. There are no laws to protect the woman and children if a man decides to totally leave them without any financial help. They are still married but... This mother works at one of the schools cleaning and after that she finds odd jobs to help support her little family. A hard life. My heart aches for so many of these good people.

Tomorrow we leave early to go to the Jordan Valley. We have another meeting with Mayor Rafa’ to work through some more details to get this Water project off and running! There are so many things to consider and learn. We have been communicating with the Water Specialist assigned to us through Salt Lake. He has been very helpful and supportive. In fact they have learned a lot from each other. You know your Dad. When he wants to know something…. he researches, studies, and asks a lot of questions. He has learned a lot about this particular Water Treatment system that we are proposing for this area. This kind of system has not been done through the Humanitarian Department in any other area throughout the world. This is a first! Less expensive with no drilling. This will be a “pattern” for other areas in the world. If it works and is successful we will be doing many more like it. This has been a good experience for Dad and a lot of work for us! I think this has been a little surprising to see the information and knowledge that Dad has acquired about this process in such a short amount of time. Oh well, time will tell.

We are so grateful for the experiences and the blessings of serving. We love you all so much. We pray for you & know that you are all in good hands…THE LORDS HANDS!

Love, Your Jordan Missionaries

Pictures...





Saturday, December 1, 2007

MarHa Ba

November 30 , 2007 Friday

MarHa Ba,

It has been another busy week. We have had a wonderful Zone conference with Elder Kopischke. What a privilege! We are so grateful to have the opportunity to be instructed and uplifted by one of the Lord’s servants. It has been a treat to get to visit again with the other country directors of Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. It is so beneficial to have these opportunities. We realize more and more what a choice opportunity that has been given to us to serve here in the Middle East. We still don’t know why *WE* are here, but we are trying very hard to “not get in the way of the Spirit”. The Lord is in charge! We just have to let Him lead the way...be willing to follow... and be willing to WORK hard!

This week we had a young missionary return to Jordan. Elder Ibrahim returned from serving in Ghana which was split, and then he served in the newly formed Sierra Leone Mission. It was so nice to finally meet Ibrahim. He is just as good as the reports we have heard about him. Maybe better! It is such a rare thing to have a Jordanian serve a mission and complete it. His family has been members for many years and he had an older brother serve and return from a mission also who now is at BYU. The Tashmans are such a good family. Ibrahim did not speak much English when he left but he was put with several American companions and they helped him learn English. He said by the time he was out 8 months he was doing pretty well with the Language. Ibrahim is having difficulty speaking Arabic now. He constantly is talking in English. His father and mother just patiently listen to the "gibberish" and wait until their son realizes that they can't understand him and then Ibrahim starts over in Arabic! It reminds me so much of Aaron, Nathan, Sarah and Alan when they came home from each of their missions. It is such a humble thing to watch those missionaries come home with so much humility. As we talked with him he made a statement that struck me with such emotion. He said, "My mission doesn't end today. This is the day I start my mission to my people." He will make a BIG difference here in this small Branch in Northern Jordan. I will share with you some of the history of some missionaries that were called from this area, then you will see what an accomplishment that this is for a Jordanian to go and return. Years ago when many people were joining the church in Jordan for various reasons, (not the right reasons) there were about 4 or 5 young men called during the space of several years. They left for the USA, to the MTC, and then on to their assigned missions. None of them finished. They all left their missions and stayed in the USA and haven’t been back since. The last missionary that was sent in 2002 never made it to the MTC. He got off the plane in Chicago, changed his ticket and went into hiding. Now that was shortly after 9/11. The church reported it to the FBI and there was a huge nationwide search for a young Middle Eastern man somewhere in the USA. It was not a good situation. They finally found the young man and after much interrogation he was sent home to Jordan. The church has never allowed any more Middle Eastern missionaries to go to the USA. In fact, it is a very long process for the young Jordanian man to be approved for any mission. It has to go directly to the First Presidency because of the past experiences. This is why it is such an accomplishment for the Tashman brothers to even go and especially return.

On Monday mornings, we are teaching several English classes at a private school. Last week we arrived early for the 8 AM class and the Superintendent invited us to come to the "playground" which is a very large pavement area where the 400 youth gather in rows from oldest to youngest, all in their uniforms. While the students stood at attention we listened to them sing their national anthem. This was followed by another patriotic song in which we recognized the words "Arabee" (Arabic) and "elordon" (Jordon) sung over and over. Those little ones really sang the songs with zeal. I still can see their faces and their standing at attention in my mind. It was very impressive. When we first walked out on the steps in the front of the assembly, many of the children came running up to shake our hands and speak their little bits of English. The little girls wanted to kiss me as they do on both cheeks. I think it is something they go off to brag about to the others who weren't so lucky! They are always so happy to see Americans. We are such celebrities here. As we stood there watching their presentation I had the thought flash through my mind "Where else could we be having such opportunities?" We are truly blessed to be here and to have all the wonderful adventures we are having here in Jordan. What will we ever do when we return home and again and become the ordinary home town folk we really are? We are teaching a class of 7th grade girls in this school along with several administrators and teachers. The plan is to teach them and then leave teacher and student manuals with them so they can teach the classes themselves. They separate the boys from the girls once they reach the 5th grade. These girls are bright, wide eyed, and very eager. They were chosen to have “the Americans” teach them because they were selected as the “top” in their classes. We tried to keep them busy and active because the cold weather is here and there is no heat in the buildings in Jordan, so they were wearing their coats and some of them had hats on during the class. We were grateful when we could get in our car and turn the heat on!

We talked to a “Water Specialist” who just returned from Africa that the church has assigned to us for our water project. It constantly amazes me the level and the magnitude that the church works through. In a week and a half we will have some authorities coming from Frankfort Germany to audit our files and records for the 2007 year and check on the projects that Jordan is involved with. We also had to give an accounting to Elder Kopischke when we had an interview with him. The Lord is truly “guarding” and “guiding” this work.

We are grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord here in Jordan. We are truly blessed. We pray that you all are doing well and that this holiday season will bring you much joy and peace. It is a blessing to have you in our lives. We love you!

Love,
Your Jordan Missionaries


Quote repeat...
“Don’t get in the way of the spirit!”

Sunday, November 25, 2007

MarHa Ba

November 24, 2007 Saturday

MarHa Ba,

Keef hal ik? Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! On Thursday we were invited over for Thanksgiving dinner by an American family, the Steeds. We had known the Steeds in Kentucky, while he was serving at Fort Knox. We had no idea that they were stationed here in Jordan. They have been here for almost for 3 years. He had heard that “John Cotton” was here from Kentucky, he got our number and sure enough we knew each other. In fact it was about four years ago their family had us over for dinner after we had made a visit to Brandenburg for some church business. Isn’t it a small world?

We are now trying to recuperate from the last few days of baking and preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the American Peace Core Workers. The food was great! I can’t believe we pulled it off. It was a true Traditional Thanksgiving meal with a few creative ways of making some things. It was very enjoyable. We didn’t have the 65 that we thought might come. We ended up having around 50. But we did have plenty of food for everyone. I couldn’t believe the piles of food on some of those plates! And they kept coming back for more! Good thing we cooked for an army. So many wonderful young people doing so many wonderful things! I think between the Traditional Thanksgiving meal and being able to visit with one another made it a memorial day for them. Most of them don’t have many opportunities to be with other Americans while they are here. It was fun to watch them interact with each other. They were all so appreciative. It was worth the lack of sleep and the hours of baking to see their faces.

The elections are over! I know it must seem silly to go on about some election, but it has been quite the experience! We were cautioned not to go out much on Tuesday while voting was going on. The people get a little crazy. The Jordanians will tell you that themselves. Let me give you an idea of what we experienced! The elections for the local Parliament positions were Tuesday. All day there were dozens of groups and supporters gathering in the streets. Not just along the sides but in the middle of the streets. There were many main streets we couldn’t pass through because of the mobs. I guess many were taking every opportunity giving last minute speeches and forming rallies to encourage votes. When night came and the votes were in and counted… then the real party began. As we sat at home working on reports and reviewing our day we could hardly concentrate. The noise was in full volume…..The sound of loud honking and revving of engines; cars and trucks racing up and down the streets honking their horns in unison. People running back and forth yelling and shouting in celebrating voices. While others were chanting and clapping as they danced in stepping rhythm. Many cars were just left sitting in the roads with the lights still on. Fireworks were going off and lighting the skies. The sound of gun shots blasting in the air. So much noise! When it was time to go to bed we couldn’t sleep! It was crazy and wild out there! Even the rain wasn’t putting a damper on the celebration! The Jordan people sure know how to celebrate. There were many huge feasts being prepared! We could even smell it in our closed up apartment! On Monday we saw the meat markets getting ready for the celebrations. Fresh whole skinned animals hanging and decorated for display with tails still attached. They keep the tails on to let the customer know what kind of goat or cow it is (or should I say was). The Shami goat is the “Prime choice”. It is saved for special occasions. Beef is an expensive meat and also used for special occasions. The owners stand proudly by waiting for the right person to come and make a purchase.

Well, we finally got our resident card. This has been a long process. We can now stay in the country. Then we go through the whole thing again next year. On Thursday morning before our Thanksgiving meal we had to report to the police and go through more series of filling out forms and going through more procedures. This time we were fingerprinted. Not just one, but all 10 fingers individually. Then we had our picture taken. We felt like we were about to be locked up. But fortunately we did not have to go through an interrogation with the secret police. We were warned that we probably would have to, but someone is watching over us.

The Water Conference was good. We learned some things that will help us with our water projects. We meet many people from all over the world. It is interesting that so many different countries were represented and the conference was here in Jordan given in English with no one else from the States but us. English is the universal language for sure! We were invited back next year and asked if we might give a presentation. Maybe by then we might know something! We just acted like we knew what we were doing!

This week will be busy. Starting Tuesday we have our quarterly Zone conference with Lebanon, Egypt and Syria. This will be our first since we have been here. It is in Jordan this time. Elder Kopischke is presiding from the Quorum of the Seventy. We have to come up with a power point presentation. Since Dad is Country Director he is reporting on Projects that Jordan has done for 2007. I have to do one on Transitional Records. Where is Aaron when I need him? We have had such little time to prepare for everything. And since it is here, we have meals to organize and workshops to set up. Some things don’t change, do they? Where does all the time go?

Well speaking of time. It is getting late and we have to get up early to be at an English class by 8:00. We are both so tired so we will say “Ma sa laama.” We are so thankful for you all. It is such a blessing to feel your love and support. Thank you! We have been blessed!

Love,

Your Jordan Missionaries

A few pictures...



" Vote for ME" ..... election stickers that were put on everything. This doesn't even come close to show you what is is really like!



Our local butcher Happy at work!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Mar Ha Ba

November 17, 2007 Friday

Mar Ha Ba,

This letter has been a little hard to think about writing. I haven’t known how to start or really what I want to write this time. This past week has been very emotional for me. Sometimes I feel like I am watching someone else live my life and I have been removed from the reality of what’s happening. I’m not sure why I have felt some uncertainty, or why I have not looked forward to writing this week’s newsletter. But, like with anything we don’t feel like facing it’s time to just DO IT!

I’ll start with expressing my love and appreciation to the Lord for His “Tender Mercies”. Even with the news of my Dad’s death and the struggles that I wrestle with being so far away and not being able to do anything to help….. I have felt moments of peace and love. What a blessing! This week has been full of many wonderful opportunities for us as Humanitarian Missionaries. The Lord is constantly reminding us of how much He has His hand in this work. We have been working very hard on several projects and trying to get them approved through proper channels so we can actually get them completed and working to serve the people. The Orphanage has finally been approved and we are so excited about it. This Orphanage is in a mountain area called Anjara. The building has just been completed and now we will help with furnishing it for the young girls that will be living there. The girls are currently living with the Nuns and the numbers are increasing with each month. So this will be a wonderful thing for both the Nuns and the girls. A few weeks ago while we were visiting we met a young 16 year old girl, Kristine who just arrived from Amman. She was brought there because her American father had abandoned them and her mother died. She looked scared and angry. We went back this week and met with her again and she was doing much better. We used her to translate for us because she speaks a little English and the Nuns don’t. Father Hugo speaks a little but he is out of the country visiting his family in Argentina for a month. The next project we just got some approval on is a big water project in the North Jordan valley. We have met with many different people over the last month trying to get as much info as we can to get the right people involved. We got a call last week from Dr. Malkawi. He is a Professor of Geotechnical and Dam Engineering. He also is Vice Pres. of Jordan University of Science and technology. He had heard about us and wanted to meet with us. He speaks very good English and our visited was great. We discussed our interest in doing a water project in Jordan Valley and asked his opinion on a professional level. He was very encouraging and stated that the area we are considering is in great need of clean water. The area is very poor. He then invited us to the MENA Water Conference that is being held with Germany and the Middle East. He is the chairman over the conference and thought this could be very helpful to our work. So it looks like we will be sitting in on a 3 day conference this week with water specialists from Europe and the Middle East. So we will act like we know what we are doing. Dad has been reading and studying up on “Water”. We have had so many different opportunities and many varieties of projects to work on. We are learning a lot about a lot of different things.

We are meeting tomorrow with several different Societies to get another Goods Container and another Wheelchair container together. Hope we can have some success in getting this one through the Ministries this time. We should, because the elections will be over. YEAH! I am glad it is almost over. I don’t think this place could hold any more signs or posters. It is so unbelievable! There is not a flat surface in all of Jordan that does not have a poster stuck to it!!!!! We’ll have to send some pictures.

We are starting to teach some English classes to a private school and one of the Universities in Irbid. We enjoy this! We have met so many wonderful young people. They teach English grammar in the schools here but most of the children and young adult don’t have much opportunity to speak it. So we teach Conversational English and work on their pronunciation.

HAPPY THANKGIVING! It’s so hard to believe that it is almost the end of November already. We will be cooking a big Thanksgiving Dinner for the American Peace Core workers here in Jordan. They are so excited. Many don’t have much contact with civilization. We thought it would be around 35 but last count was 65! OH my! What have we gotten ourselves into? It has been interesting to try to find the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal. Many things we will have to be very creative in coming up with something.We’ll give a report next week. Think of us while you eat that delicious Thanksgiving meal. We’ll think of you!

Well, I feel much better! Thank you all for the support and words of
encouragement. We love you all!

Love, Your Jordan Missionaries

Tuesday, November 6, 2007





These first two pictures are us receiving a humanitarian trailer for 10 charity societies and unloading it for distribution



Us with The mayor of Al Himmra Community and NGO society president, (possible water project)



Us at Umm Qays Village a 600 ad old village over looking the sea of Galilee, Israel, Syria and Palestine. We were having a private dinner (because they want us to work with them). I had barbecue goat and lamb, mother had her chicken.



Jedayta village diaper re-mfg, by hand- How would like to re-make the diaper before you could use it!!!

Friday, November 2, 2007

MARABA... Keef hal leek?

November 2, 2007 Friday

MARABA...Keef hal leek?
HELLO...how are you?

We are doing much better this week as far as Humanitarian work. We did get the Goods Container here. YEAH! We were a little concerned that there may be problems, but all is well! The container of Hygiene Kits, New Born Kits, School Kits, Blankets (wool and quilts), Clothes, Coats, and Shoes was delivered yesterday! Hooray!!! It was a very busy and hectic endeavor. We had a huge semi trailer packed to full capacity. We unloaded at one of the neighboring fenced in school yards so we could contain the unpacking process. We had 10 Societies receiving goods. All were there with trucks (Some I would question as such?) to haul their goods to their communities and Societies. It was quite the sight to behold. We had to make sure everyone was getting what they were allotted, which took some planning and organization. Of course some were not as content with what they were receiving and wanted more. Some things are the same no matter where you are, huh? But, all in all it went very well. We had some help from a few good men from the church who have helped with this kind of thing before. They were so helpful. I can’t imagine accomplishing all that we did without them. It was a long day! It is very humbling to see things from this end of the humanitarian chain. I have been involved with putting many Hygiene Kits, New Born kits and school kits together over the years. Even tying some quilts. But to be on the other end seeing them come into this country is such a wonderful feeling. These people are so grateful for these kinds of things. What a blessing to be able to experience both ends of this marvelous work.

After church today we went to a dinner appointment in Al Harima with General Soleiman Bawaneh, a retired 4-Star General in the Jordanian Army. We had met him and his wife several weeks ago and they invited us to their home to have dinner. We had a wonderful visit. What was so nice we were able to be in a wonderful home environment! We met their 7 children, 5 daughters and 2 sons, their ages 14-27 years. We were told again, that we are like Jordanian family with our 5 daughters and 3 sons. All the children speak English and are very well educated. The youngest son plans to go to the States for College. He is studying for the ToeGee which is the test that all last year high school students must pass to continue their education to the University level. It determines if they graduate from high school or not. They study for the full year, taking classes to help prepare them for this big test. It is such a big deal here. The General speaks fairly good English, but his wife very little. But in spite of our language difference me and Ferial have begun a good friendship and seem to understand each other well enough. We are meeting with them again on Wednesday. The General will take us to meet some of the NGO’s in that area. There are so many poor families in Jordan, especially in the small villages. We will take some Hygiene and school kits to the school that his wife works at, so she can distribute as she sees fit.

Another interesting thing that we have to laugh at... the campaign posters stuck everywhere. It is election time here and it is quite the sight to see. One thing I do admire the Jordanians for is how they honor their King. Every where you go. And I mean everywhere, there is a picture of the King. And in some cases the King, Queen and their children. Large permanent picture along all the streets, government buildings, stores and every home or office building there is a big picture of the King. Even in the most humble homes there is a picture of the King. Right now there are elections for Parliament positions, which I don’t quite understand how that works because even after the election the King has the final say. Well, back to the campaign signs. When I say stuck, I mean stuck, on everything you can imagine. We were out in the Eastern Desert early this week and we were trying to follow the road signs and couldn’t tell where we were going because there were campaign posters stuck right over all the road signs! All you see now days is faces of all those running for Parliament. They want to add their pictures along side the King. It is really something. I don’t know how it is going to get all cleaned up. We will see!

It is so hard to believe that November is already here. We are planning a big Thanksgiving dinner the Saturday following that Thursday for all the Peace Core workers that are working in Jordan that are from the United States. They seem to get very little support and many are working out in very remote places that they have little contact with civilization. We have met a few of them already and they are doing such good things for the people here. We plan on having around 25 as of last count. We will have it at the Amman Center as it seems to be centrally located for most of them who will be traveling long distances. We talked to one of them today and she told us that everyone is so excited to be able to have this opportunity. It will be an enjoyable time for us as well. We will miss being with our family but this will help fill the void of not being able to have Thanksgiving dinner with our own family.

Hey, I made Cotton Rolls the other day! I was very surprised that they actually turned out. They were a big hit! I really didn’t expect to be able to make or bake that sort of thing here. But if there is a will, there is a way, right? I was a little afraid of our gas oven. I thought maybe it would explode! The stoves are very different here. You know Dad, he was determined to get it working so I could do some baking. He fettled, and fettled with it and would not give up until he got it working with some efficiency. I think he was even a little worried about it exploding on me. We even found an oven thermometer...YEAH! Speaking of appliances. Laundry is a long, long process. We have a washing machine, which I am very grateful for. But it almost looks like a child’s toy. It is front loading and all you can fit in it is a few pieces of clothing at one time. Thank goodness we aren’t real big people or we would be in trouble. One washing load takes 2-2 ½ hours. Yes! But one advantage, it takes very little water and that is good because water has to be managed very carefully. We only get water once a week. The metal storage tank is on the roof and it is filled through holes from a big truck that pumps the water up to each tank. My dryer is on the roof also. It stretches from one end of the roof to the other. I have enjoyed hanging the clothes out on the line. The view up there is wonderful. I often gaze out across the land and I’m at awe with where I am. We can see for miles and miles. And as I look across at all the other roofs I see clothes flapping in the wind. I think, they're not so different than mine!

We are very grateful and feel so blessed to be serving and growing in so many ways
We love you and pray for each of you

Love, Your Jordan Missionaries

Friday, October 26, 2007

As -salamu Aleekum

October 26, 2007 Friday

As -salamu Aleekum,

What a week! It’s been a real roller-coaster ride all week. A lot of “highs” along with some “lows”; Some good …some not so good. It is times like this that causes me to reflect on the many blessings we have as Americans. The privileges we are entitled to, and the opportunities we can experience through righteous leadership. I can't really share the not so good, but I will share the good news-

The good news is that we have met so many good, good people in Government positions here that also in their spare time work in the NGO’s and often because of their experiences serve as a Director or President. We spent all day on Thursday with one of these good Government Officials. A wonderful and caring man! He introduced us to his 2nd wife. He is Muslim and they can have up to 4 wives. He only has 2 and has 14 children between them. We met about 6 of them when he took us to his house later that day. He told us we were like Jordanians, we have many children also. We like to show off the pictures of our family. They really enjoy looking at all the blonde hair! We met in his office early that morning and he took us all around the Jordan Valley which covers the areas that border with Syria and Israel (Palestine). At one point from where we stood, we could've thrown a stone and hit either of those countries. We felt so official going through all the “check points” along the way. When they saw who we were with, we went right through! It still amazes me seeing the jeep-like tanks and machine guns lined up along the roads. We had wonderful visits with many new NGO’s. We have a lot of promising projects with a variety of needs. Our main focus for this area will be to organize a “Water Project,” that would serve 25,000 families and give them safe, clean water. This will prove to be very beneficial. We are working hard to make this happen. We are also making evaluations into establishing other goat projects, a Bee project, a Literacy program and a Diaper factory. There will have to be some training and careful monitoring. But if we can help people help themselves and give them hope for a better future we will be accomplishing what we are here for. What a blessing to be part of bringing hope!!! After visiting and making some assessments it was getting late into the day and the next thing we knew we were winding up the mountains up to Umm Quays which we had visited a few weeks ago when we had the Single Adult conference for the Middle East. The Mayor was giving us a private dinning experience, overlooking the beautiful view of the Sea of Galilee with the mountains and valleys far below. We drove through a back private entrance of the Historical Ruins (Roman city that Christ had supposable came to several times) the restaurant is built up on the top of one of the cliffs overlooking the whole Wadi (valley). What a breathtaking site! We were not expecting such a feast and such treatment. We are constantly humbled by the generosity of these wonderful people. Tomorrow we are having 146 kerosene heaters delivered to give to the Latino Catholic Church in Al Husan, The Greek Orthodox Church in Erbid and the Greek Orthodox Church in Amman to distribute to their needy and poor. We are trying to build good relationships with the other Christians in this area and enjoy helping them serve their people. Very few homes have heat. So you know Dad, he is not one to wait around until the knock is at the door. He wants it ready and in operational condition when “Mr. Winter” is beating on the door. Sunday we will go to Ajlun again and try to finalize the inventory for the Orphanage. I am very excited about this project. We love working with Father Hugo Semone and Mother Superior Maria. The Father is from Argentina. I thought Aaron would appreciate hearing that! He speaks many languages and is such a humble man! We hope to get these children in their new home before winter hits. This is just a few of the projects we are working on. We are staying busy and trying to represent the Lord in a way that His gospel is recognize even though we can’t preach in “word” we have many opportunities to preach with “works.”

Church went well today. We had a good turn out, considering. Last Saturday we had a Branch picnic and rented a bus to take the members on the activity (only 1 family has a car). Having that time together and letting the members visit must have helped because today we had one of the best turn outs since we have been here. Primary still has its challenges. I am very humbled to think that here in our North Jordan Branch of the church we are the only *all* Arabic unit in all the world. That puts me on my knees!!!!

We love you and pray for you! Thank you for all your prayers and support.

Love, Your Jordan Missionaries

Saturday, October 20, 2007

AS-SA LAA MU ALEE KUM

October 19, 2007 Friday

AS-SA LAA MU ALEE KUM (Hello…. Peace be upon you)

Another week, already! We first want to say “THANK YOU” to all of you that write us. What a blessing to feel such support and encouragement. It’s been wonderful getting your e-mails; we look forward to them so much. It’s great to hear what’s going on in each of your lives. It sure helps us feel connected and not so far away. Isn’t e-mail great?

We have had a good week. We have had the opportunity to meet with some of the Government Officials this week. Introducing ourselves and letting them know we are here in this area and what we are doing. The president of one of the NGO’s that we have been working with wanted to take us to meet the Governor of Al Husan and the Director of Social Development. Then we went to meet the Governor of Irbid. We had wonderful visits and hope to be meeting with them again soon. Irbid is supposable one of the largest populated cities in Jordan. I always thought that Amman was bigger. Amman is much more modern and has many more different cultures residing there, but Erbid has more people living in the city and the outlining areas. When we drive in the downtown sections of Erbid it is quite the experience. We see all variations of life styles. A live goat may be tied up in front of one of the small market shops and the next minute you don’t see it and then it is dragged back in front of the shop, dead, ready for gutting and being prepared and skinned right there on the street. The next shop might be a beautiful clothing store. Then the next could be a “hole in the wall" hardware store or fresh produce market. No rhyme or reason to the set up. There are so many different little markets and shops all over the city with the people living on top or behind/beside their business. I really don’t know how they all stay in business. But it seems to be a real social gathering for the owners and their families. If they don’t have enough change they run over to the next business and see if they have any. When you get outside of the downtown area the houses are clustered together throughout the countryside. Some live in tents, some live in very poor circumstances and then others have nice homes. There are a few people that have become rich because of the war and have come here to live because things are much more settled here than Syria, Iraq or the other Arab countries. That’s comforting to know. We are still on an on-going alert and have a plan to evacuate at any given time. Irbid is not far from the village we live in. We have some of our members of the church that live there and have to take taxis or the bus to get to church in Al Husan. It’s a challenge.

Ramadan is over. There have been celebrations going on all over the country. It’s one big party. We go to bed listening to loud music playing and fireworks going off. Gun shots blasting in the air with yelping and howling! This is the time for many weddings also. Yesterday we came home and heard drums playing from one of the neighboring homes. I looked out our kitchen window (we live on the second story of our building) and saw a large group of men filing out of the gate in one massive force, dancing and chanting down the street with the women and children following. It is the wedding dance for the groom and all the males gathered for the wedding celebration. It was so fun to listen and watch them. It was so impressive to watch them dancing in rhythm and listen to them chant their songs. It reminds me of "line-dancing” but much more rhythmic and Jordanian.

------------------October 20, 2007-------------------

It’s Saturday morning and I’m trying to finish this up. Our alarm went off this morning. Now, we have two alarms that go off at different times. One at 5:00 am... a loud speaker chanting a long on-going chant over a loud speaker from the nearby Mosque and the other is the bus starting at 6:15 with 4 rapid honks and then one long held honk that seems to last for minutes with another 30 seconds later. So we pick which one we want to get up to. Our problem? We can’t turn them off!!!!! The horns go off every 15 minutes or so for the rest of the morning till about 9:00. We live by a bus stop that picks up and drops off the university students.

Yesterday at church (remember Friday is our Sabbath day) we had a Peace Corp worker come with her father, mother and brother that were visiting from the US. We had them over for dinner after church along with 2 other missionary couples that were visiting. It was enjoyable having them over for the day. For a pre-dinner meal we served them some Zatiar (a spice that resembles thyme), some Jordanian bread (which resembles Pita bread), and some olive oil used for dipping (olive oil made from the trees that are grown here). The Zatiar is placed in a small community bowl and the olive oil is place in a small bowl and the bread is placed on a large platter so each person can take one and tear it in bite-sized pieces. Then you dip the torn piece of bread in the oil then in the zatiar and EAT! You never second dip, that’s the rule!! Cut some cheese and serve some fresh fruit. The Jordanian way to serve a guest fruit is to bring it out on an individual plate with a knife and let them cut it themselves. Dad loves it! This week our landlady, Zooha invited us over for a wonderful Jordanian meal. She is Christian, Catholic, does not speak English, is about 65 years old and has been a widow for 6 years. Such a wonderful person! We have grown to love her! She takes care of us...we take care of her. She has 3 sons who have all graduated from Birmingham Alabama University in the States and 3 daughters who are also very well educated and speak English. None of her sons live close by, but all her daughters live around this area. We have been so blessed to have such good living conditions.

It’s time to get back to work! Always something to do... somewhere to go... and people to see! We love you all and pray that you are all blessed with the strength and energy to go accomplish your dreams and righteous goals with a strong desire to make a difference. You are all so wonderful and have blessed our lives so much!

Love,
Your Jordanians missionaries

Quote:
“If you don’t stand for something…… You will fall for anything”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Pictures!



Us at a 600BC Roman church and small city that is in the process of being restored. We had the privilege to tour how they were doing it and watched them dig. You ought to see the mosaic floor of tile they uncovered and even a stone coffin.



This is a picture of the prophet Elijah's town where he was born, Tisbee. Remember he was a Tisbite as recorded in Ist Kings 17. You can see into Israel in the background. This place was near the Village Ajlun where we had worked.



Robin painted a Disney picture of Pluto on the wall of the Orphanage in the kindergarten class room



John with some orphanage boys (my new friends) at Ajlun Latino Church after we just got done with a service project painting and fixing play ground equipment there

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ma Saa al Kheer, Good evening!

I’m a little later in writing this week. We just got back from the northern mountains of Jordan….. such beautiful country, with breath taking views, and wonderful historical sites. We were part of organizing a 4-day conference for the Young Single Adults in the Middle East. Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan were all represented. It was a wonderful experience being with these young people ranging from 18–30. We had several Americans that came that have been in Egypt going to school or working. They were a big help in helping us communicate with most of them only speaking Arabic. Many of the American students in Egypt are there because they are studying Arabic. It was good for all involved. On Friday we went to an area called Tishbe of Gilead, which is supposed to be the birth place of the prophet Elijah, the Thishbite.(Kings 17-2 Kings 2 and 2 Chr. 21:12-15) I just finished reading about him. It makes him come to life seeing the area.) Tishbe is an ancient village, it looks deserted, but there are still a small number of people living in some of the old ruins. Overlooking Tishbe are some old ruins of a large Christian church with beautiful hand carved stones and mosaic floors. This church site, called Mar Elias, was destroyed by an earthquake many hundreds of years ago and is said to be one of the oldest Christian churches in the world. On Saturday morning John and I were in charge of a service project. We decided to help one of the churches we have been working with as Humanitarian missionaries. It is an old Catholic Church that has an orphanage and school. It is in an area of Jordan called Ajlun. We started with fixing the many broken windows in the school, which would be a real problem since the cold weather will be here soon. They have no heat in the building and the children have to wear coats during school and most don’t have gloves to wear. But, we are working on getting some heaters for them through LDS Charities. The children have been playing in a concrete parking lot because the playground has been in shambles. We came in and fixed old broken swings and built new ones. Fixed an old beat-up merry-go-round and painted it with beautiful colorful colors. Found and brought in an old see-saw that we had welded and fixed up. Fixed the fences and took out barbwire that was all over it and painted all the poles in bright colors. Raked the dirt and evened out the deep ruts. Now, I have to add we had a hard time finding rakes. There is not much, I mean NO grass here to rake, but here is a lot of dirt and dust. Inside the kindergarten we painted cartoon character on the dull drab colorless walls. One of our missionary couples had some artistic family members visiting from the states and they came the day before to draw them on the walls so we could come in on Saturday to paint it. WOW, it looks great, so colorful and inviting. It is so wonderful to be a part of so much good, coming from so many different kinds of people and from so many different parts of the world. It was quite a sight to see. Especially seeing these young adults from different cultures coming together for the same cause.

Our next adventure was visiting Umm Qays one of the 10 Decapolis cities. This is a historical Roman city that Christ had visited many times. Still has the stone colonnaded main street running through the ruins. Within the city there stands a very large semi-circular theater- all the seats, and the stone seats actually had backs which also were carved out of stones with such beautiful stone carvings. Throughout the whole city there are beautiful detailed carvings with huge pillars and archways still standing in such magnificent glory. But the most breath-taking site of all was the view. As we stood on top of the mountain we overlooked the spectacular view of the Jordan valley, the Sea of Galilee, and the Golan Heights with the sunset starting to rest on the back drop of the mountains in the distance. It was a magnificent sight to behold. I felt such reverence standing there, witnessing such beauty and feeling the sacredness of this holy land of Jordan. Not far off where we stood was the spot that is recorded in Mark and Luke in the New Testament when Christ cast out a legion of devils, who then entered the swine and “the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea”). Well, enough of our history lesson for this week. It was a wonderful conference and everyone seemed to have a very good and rewarding time.

We had our first real authentic Jordanian Ramadan meal this week. We were invited to Al Hamra a community in the desert for a “break fast” by Abdulla Al Wash, president of one of the societies we are considering to work with. This meal is the evening meal that the Muslins break their fast. During Ramadan they don’t eat or drink during the day light hours. So by the time evening comes they are ready to feast! We were invited and introduced to members of the society. I’m sure they wanted the opportunity to show us what they do to serve the communities in that area in the hopes of partnering with them. There is a great need with their focus on aiding the handicapped. We weren’t sure what to expect. We had felt a little reluctant and apprehensive because of some past negative comments. Nothing to do with us, there had been some misunderstandings and miscommunication concerning another matter long before we got to Jordan. But we went…. praying in the hopes of clearing up the matter. As we were looking for the place, we saw Abou waving us down. He is a tall black man we had met a few weeks ago while at another society whom we had felt a friendship with immediately. We both felt relieved and very happy to see him. When we walked up and started meeting the other members we felt peace and felt good about being there. We were very welcome. It’s those feelings that you thank the Lord for!!!! When we got the invitation that morning I knew I would probably be the only woman there. I was! Women and children do not eat with the men; they stay back in one of the back rooms and wait to eat after the men finish what they want. We were invited into a small room that had two bare metal tables set up. On each table there were three very large round platters of rice piled up into a mound with meat (I think it was chicken) placed around the base of the rice. We all stood around the tables, left hand behind our backs, right hand ready to dig in. Now, can you picture this…. me, the only woman in the middle of all this, no spoon, no napkin just six big community platters with each having 4-5 men digging in, all at one time. I wished I had taken a picture! The rice is rolled up into a small sticky ball with the right hand (must be the right, has something to do with the customs) and then the thumb is used to flip the rice ball into your mouth. Now, I have to tell you, they did eventually bring me a big spoon to eat with. But I did try the hand thing. You would of been proud of me. Dad had a good time. You know him- He said he thought it was a great idea. It sure saves on the dishes!

We think of you all so often and pray that you are all well. We love hearing from you and thank you for supporting us through your emails. We feel so blessed. We are learning and growing with each experience and thank the Lord every day for His love and tender mercies in our lives and yours. Have a wonderful week! Have some fun!

Quote: “You won’t get any fun out of the things you haven’t done”

We love you all,

Love your Jordan Missionaries

Friday, October 5, 2007

Cottons from Jordan

Just thought I would write a short email and give a report of Robin and my activities this past week. We traveled over a portion of the northwestern side of Jordan. It is exciting to be in some of the areas of the country that the Bible talks about. This country looks just like you can imagine, dry desert. The one thing that I didn't know is that the entire northwest is mostly mountains. (pictures below) There are a lot of small town and villages but there is a surprising number of bedouin (pronounced, BED O WIN)- sheep and goat herders that still are nomadic and travel around the plains with their families. They live in one place for about 6 months or so then move on looking for grass and forage. We have seen some of the damage to buildings that occurred during the 1970 civil war here in Jordan between rival Muslims, Christians, and the government. Mostly we have seen a third world country that is slow to change due to traditions and culture. Just a light hearted report.... I like the way they PARK their old cars and trucks here. If you are driving and get to to destination, well you just stop and get out! I MEAN, you just stop and get out! I call it "if you can stop, you can park!!" Sometimes, they even leave you enough room to drive around. Be advised, I don't go into a small town or village during the busy part of the day, because there is always a traffic jam with horns and threats to match the confusion. Nobody drives in the lanes even though there are lines. You see it's important to straddle the line in case you can't decide which way you want to go. This happens a lot on single lane roads, so the sides of the roads are worn out from cars being run off the side to avoid a head on collision. I've developed a real nack for finding the wide parts of the road and laughing at the cars behind when they fail to look ahead. We have met some wonderful people who are really trying to make a difference with what they have. We've seen people do things with little or nothing that make us want to be better stewards and less wasteful. We're learning not to take anything for granted. Hope you and your families all are doing well.


October 5, 2007 from Robin

Mar ha ba,

Keef ha ik….how are you? My, how this week has flown by! Our weeks are so mixed up. With Friday being the Sabbath and the weekend starting with Thursday evening, and then Sunday being the beginning of another work week…. We don’t ever know what day it is. But we stay busy and keep going in one direction or another. We feel we are finally getting a little more comfortable with the NGO’s we are meeting with. We had a wonderful day yesterday visiting. The first Society we met with will be the head NGO of the Wheelchair container we are bringing in. In about 2 weeks we will have 250 wheel chairs delivered and they will be distributed among 15 other designated societies throughout the area. Each wheelchair has an individual waiting for it. Except, we keep a few on hand to have when the need arises. There are so many people here in Jordan that are crippled. When we walk along the streets we often pass people (it has mostly been men) with no legs at all. They use their arms and hands to pull themselves up and scoot along with flip-flops in their hands so the palm of their hands will be protected. It brings tears to
my eyes to see the conditions that some people have to live with. There is such a demand for wheelchairs. The church has a wonderful program all over the world to distribute wheelchairs to the needy. Each container that comes in has 250 wheelchairs with 5 different sizes. We are trying to get another Container project ready to submit and hope it will be here in December before Christmas.

As we walked to church today we were listening to the Catholic Church bells chime. It was a beautiful sound. I’ve never heard the bells ring with such melody. The morning was beautiful and sunny with just a hint of a cool breeze. It was beginning to feel a little like Fall. Yeah!!! We looked at each other and commented on how much we were going to miss sitting on our front porch in Kentucky and watching the leaves turn. But we are excited to be here. We continued to walk along in the street; Yes, we walk in the street, because the sidewalks are usually piled with dirt, rocks and are rutted up so bad that it is impossible to walk without breaking an ankle or something. We looked up and what do we see coming toward us? Goats! Lots and lots of goats! The herdsman was bringing them right down the middle of the street. It’s something you see everyday here. But, I must admit, for a while I wasn’t sure if they were going to let us share the road. As we passed Dad shouted out “Keef hal ik” and he answered back “Kway-is” which means “good”. We swapped smiles and walked on! Just another day in Jordan! We love it! We are looking forward to conference this weekend (Your weekend, ours will be over) Oh well! We are leaving tomorrow to go to Amman to The Center for Cultural and Educational Affairs under BYU. It is the umbrella that the church operates under here in the Middle East. Every year BYU students come to the Middle East to study or for other reasons and it is through this Center that they operate. We have a satellite there so we can get conference. We will stay with the Bradford’s who are the Center’s Directors. They will be leaving next month. We will miss them. Since we are 7-10 hours ahead of you, we will have our first session starting at 8 p.m. Saturday night, the 2nd session will start at midnight and the Priesthood session at 4:00 a.m. Sunday- We are excited … an all night broadcast! Yahoo !!! Then Sunday we do it all again unto the early morning hours of Monday. We will be think of all of you while we watch conference and eat our M &M’s. It’s family tradition! Got to keep those going. Now, I just have to go on an M&M hunt to find some. But if we can’t find any please eat a few for us, OK? I WILL be thinking of each and every one of you as I sit there. Send me some “Brain waves.”

Today in church Dad bore his testimony in Arabic. I was so impressed! He actually sounded like he knew what he was saying. He’s something else! We have been asked to help in our little Branch of the church here in Al Husan. Dad is working with the Branch President and I’m helping in Primary. It is very challenging. The Jordanians have a different mind set in how they raise their children (or at least in this area of Jordan). They allow them to run and play during the meetings or in any other place you might see them. We have to lock all the rooms while we are in sacrament meeting because they are allowed to roam throughout the building and the outdoors. During primary we have to have someone sit in front of the door so they don’t escape and wander off by themselves. They are very active, as you know children can be. The hard thing for me is I don’t speak Arabic, YET. Notice I said yet! I’m trying to learn. I have felt impressed to concentrate on the music. Music certainly is the universal language of the world! The children have had very little exposure to the primary songs. We don’t have them translated in Arabic yet. So it is a huge job finding the right words in Arabic and match it to the music. I am learning my first two songs in Arabic to help teach the children. I have NO musical ability! Today I sang the Popcorn song to them with all the motions. They loved it. They followed with the motions and said… “Arabee, Sister Robin. Arabee.” They wanted me to teach them it in Arabic. It is so frustrating! So I will work on that. Miracles? I’m praying for a miracle! I didn’t think I had much to share this time. It’s a good thing uh? We hope and pray that all is well with you. We absolutely love your emails. It helps us keep going! Thank you so much for all that you are. We’re so grateful for the prayers that are said in our behalf. We have felt the power that comes through them. It is such a blessing to feel the strength of the Lord as we strive to do what we can to serve these people in Jordan. We feel very humble in this undertaking and know without a doubt that the Lord is moving this work forward and we are trying to keep up. Keep praying! We sure love you! :-)

Love,
Your Jordan Missionaries

Quote for the week: Emily shared this with us from the Relief Society Broadcast. I wanted to pass it on. (we haven’t gotten it here yet)

“Don’t pray for the task equal to your ability, but pray for your abilities to equal your task.”
Pres. Thomas S. Monson

Friday, September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007 - Pictures

Robin holding one of the babies of a less active member's family we were visiting.


Robin with some of the women who own the goats.


Me and more goats. I DID get some flea bites and now
own a fresh bottle of 100% deet insect repellent!

Over looking the town we live in. Reminds me of a
song we've all heard, "This is My Town"

September 28, 2007 from John

Hello, Maa Ha Ba

Thought I would do a quick check in. Robin and I are well and enjoying our assignment. We are learning just a little Arabic each day (sway ya). The weather here is still hot in the low 90's. We expect it to change in about a month to the lower 70's. This tine of year is the Muslim 30 day fast called "Ramadan." They don't eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. If you are caught doing so in public, you go to local jail and pay a fine regardless of if you are Muslim or not. We make sure we get a break at our home at lunch time! We have found some wonderful people here who want to accomplish the same things we do in helping their people. We have also found some who are dishonest and out to get what ever they can. It's amazing what a crooked smile will tell you. The people out in the desert area villages are great. They want to feed you and talk forever, but we sometime must leave before they try and give us all the food they have. We will soon be the only two Americans in the town we live in. The other missionaries that are serving in northern Jordan are going home in a few months. We are used to the double take looks we get when we are out among the people. We are also aware of the anti-western feeling the Palestinian people have for us and we don't go near any Palestinian refugee villages. There is a history of western influenced aggression through Israel, that these people always keep in their minds. Israel is a subject you never bring up, even though Jordan is the most neutral of the middle eastern countries. This country is a melting pot for refugees and militant Muslims, due to its more free society and laws. King Abdullah is smart to stay neutral in middle eastern politics and have open door policies towards the US. With this he gets a lot of aid and trade benefits from us and our allies. We will try and partner with a recognized charitable organization to accomplish things that assist the people to become self sufficient and less reliant on aid. Things don't change much around the world when it comes to welfare. The people out in the country and desert villages who have nothing and work everyday are the ones who hardly have anything. They are the ones that accomplish the most and are most appreciative of the help. Many of those that live in the cities (but not all) are the ones that want you to just hand them things and not have to work for it. Over all, we enjoy the new associations we are having and have met many wonderful people we now call our friends. Just a note...IT IS AS DRY and AS ARID YOU SEE ON TV.....Well enough of humanitarian politics. Hope all is well with each of you and if you get a chance email us back. We appreciate all you do.

Keef Hal ik from Jordan

Keef HAL ik (How are you?)

It’s hard to believe we have been here in Jordan for three weeks. We have learned a lot and still have so much more to learn. We have been trying to get our home office organized. Going thru folders and getting familiar with all the Organizations and what has been done in this area. We have been going out every day to several areas visiting and getting to know the different leaders of the Organizations we might team up with. The other day we met with a Dr. Zaid, Vice Director of the King Abdullah University Hospital, which is the biggest hospital in Northern Jordan, a very impressive man. In fact, he is the most educated and sharp individual we have met with. What is most interesting and surprising is that he had attended BYU in Provo, Utah for several years soon after he got married. Imagine that? What are the chances of meeting a Jordanian here that went to BYU? We would really enjoy the opportunity to work with Dr. Zaid and the hospital. We will meet with him again soon. We went to our first Engagement Party. It’s a big deal. It’s like any big formal reception back in the states. It’s the custom for the groom’s family to throw a big party with dancing and loud music (and I mean loud!) So the groom can show off his “bride to be” and shower her with jewelry. Lots and lots of gold jewelry…. rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. It was fun to watch the groom try and put the earrings in his fiancĂ©e ears.

We had to laugh. He was getting so frustrated. The men here are usually in their mid 30’s before they get married and they usually marry someone in their early 20’s. They have to save up to impress a young ladies family. Most all the marriages are arranged between the parents with the help of extended family members. But all have to be in agreement. Even the Arabic men that are raised in the States or in Europe will come back and go through this procedure with the hope they can get their new bride back into the country they came from. And that is not easy. Many wives are left here for years waiting to get clearance to join their husbands. They are very proud people and want to keep their traditions alive. Many cousins marry each other. We have felt very welcome here. I think about you, Sarah, every time we are greeted by someone. The reeting here is always one kiss on the left check and then the right 2 or 3 kisses or whatever the person decides. Sometimes it seems like a hundred. But men don’t kiss woman and women don’t kiss men. I give a hand shake to the men but they always wait for me to extend my hand first. It is an honor for them if I shake their hand. Most women are very hesitant and some won’t shake a man’s hand except in the church.

We talked in church today and had one of the members translate it into Arabic. His name is Emad Abwi. But we call him Brother Emad. Good man. Everyone in Jordan is address by their first name. Even in a professional environment, it is Dr. Mohammad or Mr. Mohammad. (There are so many with that name) But the proper or formal way in Jordan, is addressing you through your oldest son. My name would be translated as, “Mother of Aaron ” or “Um thar Aaron”

This past week we went to one of the Catholic churches in one of the small mountains cities. We meet with Father Joseph and Mother Superior Maria. This is our second visit with them. We will be returning again this Wednesday and check on the possibilities to help them with the orphanage that they a building. They also operate a school that the Christian children of that community attend. We understand there is a big division between the Christians and Muslim since 9/11. Yes, even in this small city they have been greatly affected by 9/11. Father Joseph is a wonderful man and he works very hard to help all people. He has very little to work with. Dad is excited to go back and personally fix the play ground (garden, as they would say) that is in hambles. Fix the broken windows in the school before winter sets in. You should have seen his eyes gleam. I could read his thoughts. “Oh, I can fix this!” He is already making his list to put a “Humanitarian tool kit” together. I’m actually a little surprised that there isn’t something like that here already. But, I guess it is because it hasn’t been too long that Humanitarian missionaries, or I should say “Volunteers” have been allowed in this country. Since we are the Country Directors, we can change that.

We miss you all. It is always so wonderful to get your e-mails and read about what everyone is doing. We often reflect on the wonderful memories that we have. Those precious memories have carried us through those times when we have felt alone and misplaced. I certainly have a greater appreciation for my children, who left home to go to a far away land to serve the Lord and the people of that country. Thank you, thank you, for being our example. We have felt so blessed to feel you support and love as we are away from you. We continue to pray for you all and our thoughts are always with you.

Our quote for the week: We must not only give what we have; We must also give what we are. Desire-Joseph Mercier