Me and more goats. I DID get some flea bites and now
own a fresh bottle of 100% deet insect repellent!
Hope all is well with all of you wonderful people. The shock of being here is slowly wearing off. It’s so interesting how ones perspective changes with time. I have little trouble now going down the streets smelling the smells and seeing whole skinned goats or sheep (striped of all their dignity) hanging from store to store. As we walk the streets of Al Husan, the small Jordanian town we live in, we also pass cages and cages of live chickens waiting to be freshly purchased and prepared for someone’s dinner The market stands are everywhere at this time of the year. Fresh produce lined up all along the highways. Now, I have to admit that this produce is not what you are use to seeing in the nice clean grocery stores or even the produce stands in the states. After we purchase our vegetables and fruits we take it home and give it a clorox bath. Then let it air dry. Safe to eat?
We are getting around fairly well now. We have traveled to other areas of Jordan this week visiting NGO’s (Non-profit Organizations). We were up northeast close to the Syria and Iraq borders earlier in the week. Yesterday, we traveled to the Jordan Valley (Waddie, as they put it) the area down along where the Jordan River runs separating Jordan and Palestine (Israel). The lowest point on earth, supposedly. A beautiful valley nestled among mountains! We stopped and visited Jacob’s Tel in a small community called Dayrala, meaning city of God. This is where, as tradition has it; Jacob and Esau meet for the first time since Jacob was given the birth right. While there, we had the opportunity to visit a Center that takes care and schools some of the younger poor children of that area. Such sweet little faces! They all wanted to shake the American’s hands. There were about 80 or so children between the ages of 3-5. When I looked into some of their eyes I couldn’t help but think of my sweet grandchildren back in the states. How very blessed we are! I’m so grateful that my grandchildren have such wonderful homes to live in. To have 2 loving parents who are in a position to can take care of them and bless their lives with so much.
We experienced our first “check point”. Road blocks set up, searching for terrorists. When they realized we were Americans, the soldiers nodded, smiled and let us go without any problems. We nodded back as we passed a camouflage jeep-like tank with a soldier manning a machine gun ready for action. A bit intimidating, don’t you think?
As I sit here and write I’m listening to two different sounds. (Remember Friday is the Sabbath day here in the Middle East.) In the distance I hear the chimes of the Catholic Church. And then the “call to pray” from the Mosques. It is such a stirring sound echoing from tower to tower. Today is starting the 2nd week of Ramadan. It has been a real learning experience for us concerning this culture. As I mention in my last letter there is no eating during the daylight hours. They fast for about a month. We were warned that if anyone if found eating in public during Ramadan, Muslin or not, they go to jail! We found out that a young man from our little branch was locked up for a day because he was caught either drinking or eating in public. So we hide in our apartment away from any windows to eat our meals. We are having a good time with this!
As we travel through this holy land of Jordan we are constantly amazed at where we are.
Sometimes it feels like we are going back in time. As we drive in our white Honda Civic we pass many small communities of Bedouin tents with small herds of sheep. Out in the middle of a dry barren field these people set up their tents made from large goat hair blankets. In the summer the weave is very open and when it rains it absorbs the moisture which closes the weave and locks out the rain or cold. Quite impressive! Some stay in the same area for months and some for years. Most of the permanent homes are made of concrete (bullet proof) and have flat roofs. It is the dream of every father to have his sons’ build a home on top of his. So, in many instances we see 3-5 levels of houses built on top of each other. The apartment we live in has this concept in mind. Our land lady is a widow and all her sons live somewhere else. She hopes one day that at least one of her sons will come back and live above her.
Everything here is the same color……the color of dirt, dry sandy dirt. The homes are the color of dirt. The ground is the color of dirt. There is very little green at this time of year. The only green is the trees. But the trees here are a very drab green. Every where you look you see olive trees. They are not very big trees. But yesterday while in the Jordan Valley we saw many very large olive trees that are said to date back to the time of Christ. Over 2 thousand years old. What an impressive sight!!!
We are enjoying the time we have together. It is such a blessing for us to work and learn together. There is so much to learn about this culture and these beautiful gracious people. We have been here a little less than 2 weeks now. It’s hard to believe. We are working on our Arabic. John is doing so well in trying to communicate with the people.
I’m also learning some words and phrases. Everyone is so encouraging and try to help us speak and pronounce the words. We have laughed a lot at each other. Arabic is not the easiest language to learn. I’m sot sure if I’ll ever be able to read it. It all looks like “chicken scratch” done in cursive.
We love you and pray for all of you. May you continually feel the presence of the Lord in your homes and families. And may you feel His love and direction guide your lives to experience success and much happiness throughout this week. “In SHA ala” (God willing)
With love from the Holy Land of Jordan,
Elder and Sister Cotton