Archives for the month of: February, 2016

World Interfaith Harmony Week began on February 9th. We joined Father Haddad at a distribution site about 10 miles from the Jordan River. The emergency project funded by LDSC and others within the Jordanian Interfaith Co-existence Research Center, provided heaters, blankets (made in Jordan) and food for 50 families (about 250 people) at a school that was made available for this purpose. Needy families, selected from the surrounding area by the local county administrator and some county department managers, were assessed for need, registered and then invited to come to the special event.


The Welcoming Committee

When we arrived at the school a local delegation greeted us and ushered us into the school gymnasium. About 400 people were present. On the stage was a table decorated for the four key speakers to include Father Haddad, Brigadier General Grand Mufti of the Civil Defense Directorate, Director of Islamic Affairs of the County and the County Administrator (the senior government official of the Governate). Each spoke with vibrancy and passion (so eloquent in Arabic) and the County Director acknowledged our presence from LDS Charities, and had us stand to be recognized.


Keynote Speakers, Father Haddad on right, next to Grand Mufti

Festivities and accolades completed, we exited to the school courtyard and a room was opened. Sister Phillips and I were invited into the doorway to hand out the boxes of food. They weighed about 40lbs each. The other dignitaries were then invited to assist us in passing the remaining boxes of food to those waiting in line. In a very orderly fashion a person (mostly females) would step forward and produce a voucher indicating that she had been selected to receive the food box. The name on the voucher was checked against a master list and then a box was granted. Several of the women had a couple of small children clinging to their apparel and so they hoisted the box on their heads and trudged off to the bus stop to make their way home…wherever and what ever home was. Blankets and heaters were delivered by truck to specific homes later in the day.


Sis Phillips handing a box of food to a recipient


Heaters were delivered by truck

At the conclusion of the distribution we drove to a nearby facility to have refreshment in the County Director’s office. It was a jovial conversation and we actually picked up on a few expressions. Water and tea finished, we were ushered into an adjoining room to enjoy a meal of mansaf, the national food of Jordan consisting of a roasted lamb stuck in a large bed of rice and richly doused with a hot, runny yogurt. [This is the meal you eat with your right hand by taking a piece of meat, rolling into to a ball with the rice and yogurt and pop it into your mouth.] They provided Father Haddad and I with a large tablespoon but we were unable to remove the meat from the lamb carcass so the man standing next to us would pull it off with his right hand and throw it into the bed of rice in front of us. This is considered an action of respect. Sister Phillips was given a plate of rice, meat and yogurt and invited to sit on a chair in the corner as she was the only woman present. She accepted gracefully.


View of the King’s country home and a moment to share testimonies

After the meal, another quick round of tea (herbal) for the Mormons and we were on our way home. Shortly, we were in the countryside on a high hill and Father Haddad had us pull over, get our of our cars and observe the King’s estate in the distance. He took off his ceremonial robes, took in a few deep breaths and told us this is how he likes to commune with God. In our brief chat he told us again about how proud he was to be working with the Mormons and how excited he was to see his daughter go to BYU. Sister Phillips took the occasion to ask how he would feel if she decided to become a Mormon while at BYU. He smiled, placed his hand over his heart and said, “We are all brothers. I would be honored if she would decided to become a Mormon.” It was a great day for all.

This little girl, Ella, is a member living in Jordan. To get baptized here, we have to drive north (3-hour round trip) to the city of Husn (near Irbid). This is the only font in country, if the candidate does not want to be baptized in the cold Jordan River.

2016-1-22 Ella Blomberg baptism2016-1-22 Ella's baptism 52016-1-22 Font in Husn

At LDS Charities Center we met with Dr. Nabil Haddad of the Catholic
Church, and presented him with a donation to purchase food, heaters and
blankets for 500 needy families in Jordan to get through the last two
months of winter. We will be involved in the purchase and distribution of
items next week. Father Hadad and Mom Feb2016

On Jan 24 we met with Col. Ali Zyoud, chair of the Physical Therapy Department at the Royal Medical Society, King Abdullah Hospital. They reported on the wheelchair program thus far, and said they have been very pleased with the donations from LDSC and would like to continue a working relationship with us. 2016-1-23 RMS Col. Zyoud next Sister Phillips

This facility is as well equipped as any hospital in the USA. May 25 is a holiday here in Jordan (Independence from Great Britain), and is also the date set for the hospital’s Open House. Medicine is going through a difficult period in Jordan. Current visa processes make it hard for patients to get into the country to receive the care they need. There are additional political and financial challenges to the completion of building the hospital.

We met with Zaid Hayajneh –Chair of the Physical Therapy Dept. and were given a tour by Dr. Salim Khatatneh, Hepatologist and gastroenterologist. We will meet the Chief of the Hospital, a neurosurgeon on our next visit.

LDSC is planning to donate a neonatal incubator and build relations with this hospital to further the reach of our wheelchair training program.

2016-1-23 Royal Hospital 4

Elder Cullimore and I were invited to gown-up and walk through their six surgical suites. Much of the equipment is in the rooms is yet to be assembled. Once functioning, this will be one of the outstanding hospitals in the entire Middle East. Being associated with the hospital in some fashion would certainly enhance our image and credibility in the medical community.

2016-1-23 Royal Hospital Ctr Dr. Salim Khatatneh

Dr. Khatatneh to the right of Elder Phillips and Zaid (PT) is to his right.

2016-1-23 Royal Hospital Nursery copy

We were given a special tour of the newborn/intensive care lab. While well equipped they are in need of a specialized machine for managing pre-mature births.


2016-1-23 Royal Hospital 2

2016-1-23 Royal Hospital 1

Today we attended the kickoff ceremony for Interfaith Harmony Week (First week of February, as designated by the United Nations), at the largest mosque in Jordan. As invited guests of Father Nabil Haddad, a great friend of the church and highly respected Catholic in Jordan, he arranged for LDS Charities to attend this event. The ceremony drew 500 key people from politics, army, humanitarian work and various church leaders. Father Haddad was the keynote speaker. Everyone was hugely friendly. Jordan’s tolerance for all ethnicities and religions allows this type of peaceful interaction to take place.

Interfaith Harmony Week

To Reed’s left are two high ranking Greek Orthodox Archbishops. They were jolly men to whom we gave our business cards from LDS Charities. This was about 15 minutes before the meeting started. All chairs eventually filled in.

Interfaith Harmony Week 2
The grand Mufti (highest official of religious Islam law in Jordan) is pictured in this photo with our friend Father Nabil Haddad of the Roman Catholic Church, and Reed.

Interfaith Harmony Week 3Interfaith Harmony Week 4
In this photo you can see the inside of the mosque and some of the attendees right before the meeting started. (Sorry for the quality, its a photo of a picture someone else took). I think I was the only woman in the center section. Women sat on one side and men on the other, but as guests of the Keynote speaker they ushered us down to the front center section. Majority of women covered their heads for entrance, but it was not required. Out of respect for their religion I chose to wear a scarf.