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.