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!


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? 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