I was sitting down to write some of our experiences this week. I haven’t been very good over the last few months about just writing. So I thought I’d send some of our journal summary entries. It’s not about projects. Mostly about people and events.
After church (Friday is the Sabbath in Jordan) we decided to visit some of the members. We didn’t have a very good turnout at church and perhaps part of the reason was that it has been around 100 degrees over the last few days. Weather here is often a big factor in getting the people to attend. If it’s too cold and windy they don’t come….if it’s too hot they don’t come. But it is that way with other things. I’m always a little surprised with this attitude. But, I have to remember that it’s part of their thinking and culture. We visited with Samoor and Hooda Tashman family right after church. They invited us for dinner along with the BYU students. I made a good American moist chocolate cake. The Jordanians love chocolate. But, of course who doesn’t? When we are invited for a meal, it’s always a huge feast! They keep piling the food on your plate. If you eat it too quickly they pile more on. If you don’t eat it fast enough they ask why you don’t eat and bring you something else. The people are so gracious. The Tashmans have declared us “family” and we love being with them! We laugh a lot and seem to understand each other even with the language barrier. Ibrahim, one of the sons who recently returned from a mission in Africa, speaks good English so he helps interprets for us when he is there.
We had some disappointing news came up in one of our conversation with one of the members. For the last 4-5 months we had a woman named Amill come to church with her 3 children. The last few weeks they have stopped coming. The children have loved coming to primary and have been wonderful to teach. Very sweet children! In fact, there were a few times that she couldn’t come but the children came anyway, I was a little surprise at that. When I asked Ban if she knew why they weren’t coming any more? She said….. “Oh, sister this is not good! She is a spy.” She goes on to say that she was sent from one of the other three Christian churches in our village to get names of everyone who was coming and find out what we do. I guess she was secretly taking pictures with her camera phone and taking the handouts that we had made for the primary children back to their leaders. So, apparently they are trying to start up a program like primary in their church. The interesting thing about this whole situations is that they preached very heavily against the Mormons, which has caused some problems for some of our members, and then at the same time want to copy some of our programs and activities. In any event, my heart sunk! I love the children and feel disappointed they won’t be coming any more. Who knows, maybe they felt something and some day other avenues will open up for them. We won’t give up on them! Our greatest persecutions come from other Christians not the Muslims. Jordan has a council of Religious leaders that determines what other religions will be accepted in Jordan. Jordan is made up of 95% Muslims with only 3 % Christians and the other 2% other religions. The Christian on this council are against other churches being established in Jordan. There are basically only 3 Christian religions acknowledge in Jordan, the Catholics, Baptist and Greek Orthodox. We exist only under the Center for Cultural and Educational Affairs and LDS Charities. We are in the process of trying to buy a building for the Center, which will be a big step for the Church to own property in Jordan. There have been some obstacles with some legal and Governmental issues but hopefully that will be resolved soon.
A few Fridays ago a young man showed up at church. He is 25 and has been a member for almost 10 years. Ibramhim, our young return missionary, saw him in town earlier that week and invited him to come to church. He DID! We spent several hours talking with him in English. He speaks very well and was excited to use his English. We were very impressed with him. We exchanged phone numbers and he invited us to go to his house to meet his mother and brothers. So, on our evening walk we walked over and had a wonderful visit with his family. This young man had a large envelope in his hands and started pulling out what appeared to be treasured items. He carefully unfolds his baptism and priesthood ordination certificates along with some other papers that he obviously valued, then, he reveals a CD of hymns and asked if we would like him to play it. At this point he begins to share part of his story. He is now serving in the Royal Guard as one of the security guards for the King and the Royal family, which is one of the greatest honors that a young man in the military can receive. I can see why he was chosen. He stands tall with a confidence that is striking, but not arrogant. His overall demeanor is impressive in the fact that he is pleasantly good looking, but approachable, and at the same time leaves you to wonder…. that, there is much more to this young man than meets the eye. It’s a challenge for him to be allowed to come to church because of serving in the Military. Our Branch President was also in the military and several years before he was to retire he was ordered not to attend church or he would be dismissed with a dishonorable discharge and a disgrace to his country and family. So for 2 years he could not attend church. We are so blessed to have the freedoms we enjoy in the States.
A week of events.
· Witnessing a Muslim wedding celebration. One of our members, Virginia, is an American married to a Muslim. Her children are all raised Muslims, which is the law under the Islamic order. Her oldest daughter married 6 months ago but was not considered legally married until the wedding celebration. In the Arab culture the Groom pays for all the wedding. Including getting the brides make up and hair done. The bride is then made up in a full elaborate gown. She is dusted with a white glitter all over her body. During the week of various celebrations men and women are separated. At the final celebration it’s just the woman invited in with the groom and bride, where they sit on a special throne following the wedding march and ceremony. Men wait outside or in a waiting room because the bride is not covered. She is dressed in her wedding gown and only other women and the groom can see her uncovered. The grooms mother and sisters are all dressed in gowns because he is family and they can unveil in front of him. There is music, dancing, chanting, clapping and much celebrating among the women. Outside, the men the same kind of celebrating but add some fireworks, gun shooting and some fighting! This, I’m told! I wished I could have taken pictures, but it is forbidden because of the uncovered women.
· Birth of a baby girl Taakwa. Last Saturday we were working with one of our projects and we get a call from Wigdan, a good friend that is ready to have a baby. She needs a ride to the hospital. She has had 3 of her other children at home, but was having some problems with this one. This is her 6th child. So we left our project and picked her and her husband up and took them to the hospital. She gets examined and told that she will have to be cut. So she tells us to take her husband home and asks if we can cone back tomorrow. We didn’t really know what was going on because of the language barrier. So before we knew it we were driving Abitarik home and leaving her there by herself to go through the birthing without anyone. I cried most of the way home. Just a different culture? We get a phone call at 7 the next morning telling us she had a baby girl and if we could pick up Abitarik and bring him back to the hospital. We do, and when we get at the hospital she is ready to go home. So we load up the cute little bundle and mom, along with the proud dad and take them home. It was a very tender time. I couldn’t help but think of my own grandchildren that have been born since we have been gone. I guess the Lord blessed us with this experience to help us feel not so left out.
This week has had its ups and downs. We have had some set backs with the water project and Audiometer project. But, it’s not an adventure ….unless you have the unexpected. That’s the thrill of the adventure, uh? Oh, and we are having a thrilling adventure! We are blessed in so many ways, and growing in so many. Would we have ever thought we would be here in Jordan? Doing what we are doing? Meeting the people we are meeting? Our lives have certainly been in enriched! We are grateful that we have been willing to take this step and trust the Lord. We dare not to think of what we would have missed…… if we had not taken the step into the unknown and have the thrill of the adventure.
We love you all. We miss you all. Thank you for the support and prayers.
Dad and Mom ....Your Jordan Missionaries.