Archives for the month of: June, 2016

Ramadan started at the beginning of June. This is a month where strict fasting is observed from sunrise to sunset. For Muslims, this is a time of deep spiritual discipline where they reaffirm their relationship with Allah, and through which their sins will be burned away. Along with serving as a means for deep contemplation, fasting represents one of the five pillars of Islam, a set of practices every Muslim must follow. For the entire month, observers of the fast cannot eat, drink or smoke from daybreak to dusk. There is a big meal at the end of each day, and at the end of the month of fasting there is a big festival called “Eid al Fitr.”

Experiencing Ramadan in real life together is a humbling experience. Stores and restaurants are closed during the day, and traffic is considerably decreased. The night becomes people’s day and the day becomes the night. Like our Muslim brothers and sisters, we have made this a time to renew our relationship with family and our Heavenly Father and recommit our dedication to His service.

The Piano Guys

President Leishman invited us to his home, where we enjoyed dinner with his family. Following dinner, we enjoyed a special night of entertainment from the Piano Guys, who were in town after filming a new video in Petra.


Dinner with President Leishman


Piano Guys Performance


A lot of the families have returned home to the US, so Sandi graciously fed the “Branch Bachelors” a much appreciated home cooked meal earlier this month.

We had some important meetings with Nabil Haddad and Dadel Mohammed Humoud, Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA). We discussed interfaith harmony, karma and focusing on the family to be the focus of an upcoming conference. They will be presenting the concepts we discussed to the Queen, and they feel she will be excited to lend her patronage to a conference on family dignity. We were invited to take a tour of the new offices at NCFA, and we were very impressed. One of their five floors includes a nursery for the children of the staff, complete with mini sinks! Overall, it was a positive meeting and there is a great deal of excitement between NCFA and LDSC to develop an outstanding international conference on the Dignity of the Family.


Mini Sinks in the nursery at the NCFA


Phillips, Sec. Gen. Homoud of NCFA and Father Haddad


Sidewalk meeting with NCFA Sec. Gen (1), two Council Members, Father Haddad, Sister & Elder Phillips


Cleaning crew for a service project with Father Kildani


Cleaning the inside of a church with hoses and squeegees

Royal Hospital Wheelchair Ceremony

Royal Hospital wheelchair ceremony with Phillips, Dr. Khatatarh and Zaid on the far right


Sis Phillips with new baby Joury


Sis Phillips accepting a flower from a student at Kildani’s summer school.

Sister Phillips received a personal invitation to accompany the director of Al Hussein Society (AHS) and attend a garden party at the home of Princess Majda Radd, the Royal Patron of AHS and cousin of the King. This was a “girls only” party so Elder Phillips was invited NOT to come. It was an elegant affair in true royal fashion. Sister Phillips said the real Princess party fulfilled all of her little girl dreams.

The Schneller School water treatment and delivery system was finally celebrated after nearly a year of effort. This unique project allows water to be filtered but then piped into 8 individual dormitories where up to 20 orphan children live with a dorm parent. The ceremony was attended by many graduates of the school who are now prominent business leaders in the area. The photos below are of us at the ceremony, and of us trying the new filtered water! Delicious!

2016-5-27 Schneller School original Well

This is the old pumping station they were using


Relationship with the Lord: Elder Dale Renlund, began his Saturday morning conference address (Ensign May 2016, p39) by quoting our very own Elder Wilford Andersen of the Seventy. “The greater the distance between the giver and the receiver, the more the receiver develops a sense of entitlement.” Elder Renlund went on to apply the principle of “distance between giver and receiver” to spiritual things, by comparing Laman and Lemuel to Nephi in the Book of Mormon—a profound example of the importance of our need to individually draw closer to our Father in Heaven and his Son Jesus Christ so that we may become ever more grateful for the blessings received rather than acquire a sense of entitlement for what we think we deserve.


There is also an application of this same principle to the humanitarian work we are doing in Jordan. One of our local partners, Father Hana Kildani of the Latin Catholic Church, said to us, “You need to attach a face to the gifts you give from LDSC in order for it to be fully appreciated.”


When humanitarian agents for our Church are personally involved in fitting an individual to a wheelchair, bringing needed food or clothing to a home, interacting with children in their school classrooms, teaching an individual how to speak better English or doing similar acts of relief and kindness, the recipients see our faces and know of our sincerity and love for them. Acts of charity need not be not limited by culture, religion or language differences, but are felt in the heart.


A challenge arises when one considers the immensity of the need and the number of people suffering—even for want of basic necessities. It is not feasible for two humanitarian couples in Jordan to meet all the needs of this country. It is not possible for LDS Charities collectively to meet all the needs of any country. It is not even possible for all humanitarian needs to be met with combined efforts of all agencies like the United Nations, the Red Cross and USAID. And unfortunately, the larger the agency (the giver) the more distant they become from the receiver.


What is to be done? First, we cannot despair for we are involved in the Lord’s work and He will see that it is done in His own way and time. Our responsibility in this equation, while seeking the direction of the spirit, is to learn how to be most effective and efficient in the work we do. Building relationships of trust with partners of integrity, especially at the grass roots level, expands our ability to put our LDSC face and the face of our partner on the gift given. We need to be focused on providing a gift that will not only relieve suffering but will help lift and build the receiver to some sustainable level.


At times, a “handout” is the difference between life and death. This fact cannot be ignored. But often, a helping hand along with personal building of hope in a person’s life is the difference between enthusiasm and despair. A handout from afar (donation to a large agency) is easy and needed. A helping hand when standing beside a needy soul brings an emotional connection and spiritual fulfillment confirmed by the whisperings of the Spirit.


You don’t need to be in the refugee camps of the world to fine a needy soul. They are all around us. We just need to ask for the Lord’s guidance to use our time and resources most wisely.


Relationship with your companion: Being with one companion 24/7 allows us to be anxiously engaged in the same worthy causes at the same time—similar to the years when we were raising our eight children. A mission has the added dimension of an expanded spiritual component as we turn our focus from inward family to outward serving the Lord by serving others. We know the adversary works to thwart our progress, disrupt our harmony, or dislodge us from the presence of the Holy Ghost in, “…divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them (Mos. 4:29)” Yet, we also know the Lord sustains, directs and blesses us so long as we seek His will and use all our full efforts. What a wonderful way to grow a Relationship of Trust with an Eternal companion.


Relationship with the District/Branch: We have been working closely with President Penrod in an effort to bring the Pathway Program to Jordan. As his Exec. Sec. he tasked me to gather information. After contacting Gene Hayes at the International Desk at BYU-Idaho, we learned about the process for applying and what it takes to become accepted. He informed us that we were only days away from the meeting where decisions for January 2017 partners were being considered. President Penrod contacted Elder Price who alerted Elder Lawrence, and we got on the schedule for the meeting. Apparently there is a lengthy review process but at least Jordan District is in the queue. Thank You Elder Lawrence.


King’s Academy is the country’s top college prep school and Whitney Anderson from our Branch graduated and will continue to BYU in the fall. Because she has been attending King’s for the last four years, separated from her family, we along with many other members of the branch took a special interest in her.


She invited us to her graduation where Crown Prince Abdullah III was the guest of honor. A well-attended event, typical of graduations held in the US, Whitney’s parents made the trip to honor her and attend church on Friday.

2016-5-24 Whitney Anderson at King's Academy graduation

Whitney Anderson, Kings Academy Graduate

2016-5-24 Crown Prince Abdullah III at King's Academy graduation

Crown Prince Abdullah III after King’s Academy graduation, tosses a friendly smile our way as he walks by with his entourage.

Relationship with Partners (Individuals/ Groups):


Community: 26 May: We made a point to meet with Annie at Al-Hussein Society to recap with her the refresher course taught to her team at their facility, but in her absence. She shared with us some of the insights of her trip to Lebanon, more information on her USAID grant and her continuing enthusiasm for developing a more strategic relationship with LDSC and managing the wheelchair distribution for all of Jordan through AHS.



Education: May 24 we visited the American University of Madaba (AUM), the university that Elder Brent Strong worked with so closely while in Jordan. We were scheduled to meet with President Numayr, former Dean of the College of Engineer and fond admirer of the Strongs. As the president was briefly detained we were hosted by Dr. Jamil N Samawi, Presidental Assistant for Legal and Accreditation affairs. His English was very good and we had some time to discuss the accreditation process at AUM which has advanced to include the Northeastern Association of Schools and Colleges. Apparently they have submitted a proposal for their preparatory review and if accepted they would be put on a schedule for a formal site visit most likely in the fall. This is a very important step for them and of course anxiety levels are very high.


President and Professor Karim Numayr joined us. He also spoke good English and with very little prompting he gave us a thumbnail history of the school with special appreciation for the work done by the Strongs. President Numayr assumed the office of president in December 2015. We were subsequently joined by Dr. Abdalla Alqudah, Presidential assistant for finance and technology centers. He was unable to sit due to spasms in his back but with some gentle massage he showed some remarkable improvement. Finally, Dr. Khalid Matalka, Dean of Health Sciences also joined in the discussion in the President’s office.


They all had a copy of my CV and when we told them we were in Jordan in a capacity similar to the Strongs and were interested in learning how we might be of service to them, the President, with a tight voice and tear in his eye, complimented his friends from LDSC on their conviction and willingness to offer such assistance. He said, “There are few people in the world today willing to do what you are doing. It gives me hope.”


So typical of a new president, Dr. Numayr proceeded to give us a litany of needs for AUM of which the following is a brief summary:


Fund-raising and marketing to build student enrollment and expand programs

Help with the continuing accreditation process

Expand the College of Health Sciences to establish a pre-health curriculum

Expand the Leadership program being developed by Brent Strong and faculty member Daniel Blomberg – (LDS branch church member)

Start an MBA program

Obtain 501(c)(3) status with the IRS for contribution purposes

Expand student activities and extra-curricular activities.

Build a university village and expand the campus

Local community partners: agriculture issues, tourism and small & medium business programs with refugees

Sponsor conferences that would bring in notable educators around the country and bring recognition to the school. (Perhaps a Family Conference?)


The University is a non-profit, private organization now under the management of the Vatican due to some financial and political difficulties in the former administration of the school last year. The problems have been resolved and the University is now back on track.


AUM asked us to review their programs and give them a proposal about where we feel we could offer the most help and how much time we would be able to dedicate to their needs. They said they would provide an office, computers, parking and other university privileges offered to faculty in exchange for the service we could provide. Essentially the door is open to be anything from a consultant to the president on accreditation and the management of the university (due to my past experience) to a full-time or part-time teaching position, to working with the various Deans and College where our education and experience can be most beneficial. They also were keen on Sister Phillips’ academic background and would like to capitalize on her successful business experience in their entrepreneur program and university marketing needs. There are so many areas of need, we must determine where can provide the most sustainable good with the time we have.

2016-5-24 AUM President Numayr, Deans and the Phillips

President Numayr (center left), AUM Deans, and the Phillips

Temporal Relationships


Relationship with the NA/ME Desk: The work of the Wheelchair Training program continues into this week’s report.


20 May: With Friday being the Sabbath, we did no training beyond informal chats and ad hoc discussions. After Sunday School & Primary lessons were taught and guests fed, it was decided to visit the site of the baptism of Jesus near the Dead Sea in the River Jordan. This is the “supposed” site where John the Baptist performed this ordinance. It is one location where the borders of Israel and Jordan are separated by a narrow tributary of the Jordan river no wider than 30 ft. On both sides are visitor sites and approaches where people can actually enter the river. In spite of questionable authenticity, it is a humbling experience to walk in the general area where such a significant event took place. The ambiance is sacred and opportunity to meditate upon this sacred event is humbling. A well spent Sabbath event.


On our return trip to Amman, we drove over Mt. Nebo and visited St. George’s church with the rare preserved mosaic map of the Middle East laid in the floor, dating back to the middle of the 6th century AD.

Baptismal Site of Jesus–LDSC team–6th Century Mosaic in the floor of church

21 May: On Saturday, Scott Ward, P.T. went with missionaries Bob and Rhonda Homer to explore Jerash while the rest of the team prepared for a meeting with Annie at Al Hussein Society (AHS). The purpose of the meeting was to explore in depth Annie’s response to her visit with Sharon Eubank in April and subsequent e-mail exchanges that followed. This narrative is from our perspective.


I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.   Unknown


Further e-mail exchanges revolved around salary support for Annie’s PT and funding for AHS to conduct a country-wide survey to determine the needs of the disabled in Jordan. Responses from Eric to her requests were negative to salary support or funding a survey.


Eric Wunderlich, some comments worth repeating:


A plan should detail other organizations that would be involved, what different roles and responsibilities each organization might have, a funding plan including what each organization in the network will be responsible for, how training will happen, how will in-country logistics be handled, how quality of service will be verified, ideas for how this can move toward local sustainability, etc.…I have no problem with LDSC no longer providing training if the plan ensures that there will be qualified trainers in Jordan and that anyone providing a wheelchair has been properly trained. If Al Hussein or another local organization were to provide the training, I feel that LDSC’s contribution towards training would be minimal (for example, donation of some training materials).


I quote Eric’s remarks as they exemplify what is needed in Jordan be it through AHS or some other organization. If LDSC’s intent is to move from the current unsustainable model of perpetual wheelchair distribution, an expectation or model has been set for LDSC or some other partner organization to follow. In what direction should we now be going, i.e., continuing relationships with current partners or planning for the establishment of an in-country major partner?

2016-5-22 AHS closing ceremony with Princess Majda2016-5-22 AHS Training l-r Max, Jowdet, Scott Ward

Scott Ward training Jawadat, Al Hussein Society PT with Max Abeda translating

2016-5-22 AHS refresher course 1

AHS Training participants

2016-5-22 LDSC Training team with Princess Majda

Princess Majda (center front) with LDSC Training Team

23 May: Today’s event was the Introductory/Refresher course with the Jordanian Royal Medical Service at the King Abdullah Hospital. Formerly, the PT department of the hospital was in charge of wheelchair distribution but it has recently been reassigned to the Occupational Therapy Department under the direction of Sa’ed Smadi.


Zaid Hayajneh, retired General from the JRMS- PT department, joined the LDSC Training Team. He was an obvious welcomed guest and highly respected as an accomplished PT. The other LDSC trainers were duly impressed with his knowledge about wheelchairs as well as his ability to teach. He is a potential key link to the LDSC Wheelchair program as an in-country trainer or more, as his talents, abilities and connections are appropriately appreciated and properly utilized.


Sixteen enthusiastic participants were thoroughly engaged during the training. We capped the day off with five patients being evaluated, measured, properly fitted and educated on the care and use of the wheelchair they received.


The venue at JRMS was conducive to training needs and we were fed lunch in the officer’s mess hall at our own private table. While most of the participants had a working knowledge of English, Max, our translator, was invaluable to our English speaking trainers both when they were teaching and when Zaid was teaching in Arabic. Listening to the sidebar conversations, Max learned of a challenge faced at JRMS regarding the method of how wheelchairs are distributed. Essentially, once a patient is evaluated and measured he/she is sent to a central warehouse where wheelchairs for several hospitals are stored. The recipient arrives with a prescription and the warehouse stock person retrieves a chair and gives it to the participant. Often the chair is still in its shipping box unassembled. Thus, no patient final fitting or use instructions were given.


This problem was discussed with the Director of the Hospital and the Director of Rehabilitation Services in a post-training meeting. It was agreed that a method would be worked out where the participant would be properly assessed and measured and then fitted to a fully assembled chair with follow-up instructions by a trained OT. It was also agreed that some follow-up evaluations of wheelchair recipients would take place on a proper consent basis.


There was discussion regarding to whom JRMS actually distributes wheelchairs. The chairs are given to any military veterans and their families members who are mobility challenged and have assistive e device needs. This is somewhat contrary to LDSC protocols in that wheelchairs in the past have been provided for those who cannot afford to purchase them. Military personnel are not wealthy but most can afford to purchase a wheelchair. It was determined that the relationship building with the JRMS could justify the granting of wheelchairs to their organization even though it was not a poverty-driven situation. The Technical Specialists from LDSC will work out arrangements for future distribution of wheelchairs to JRMS.


The closing ceremony included a special recognition award to Kay and Kelvyn Cullimore for their many years of service to LDSC and the wheelchair program in Jordan.


Something to Consider:

Using Zaid as the LDSC in-country trainer and utilizing the facilities available to him at the Royal Hospital where he works, we establish an on-going training program for class sizes of 8-10 to be conducted on a monthly basis over a three-day weekend schedule. This training program would be made available to any organization or persons involved in wheelchair distributions. The course could vary from being an introductory course to a full training course. With the political contacts we have already established and with the backing of a new modern Royal Hospital, there is a high probability we could gain the endorsement of the Secretary General of the Higher Council for Affairs of the Disabled and begin to make the course a “Standard” for the entire country.


Periodic oversight visits from the Canovas would give assurance as to the quality of this program, and the local humanitarian couple could provide any needed support service. With this program intact and on-going, the need for large training sessions held in back-to-back sequence with a heavy expense borne by LDSC for transportation, lodging, and all the logistics currently entailed as in the recent projects, would be negated. Yet, LDSC would remain visible as the prime supporter of the program, LDSC standards would be maintained and with a program like this in place, additional in-country trainers could be developed to assist Zaid as well as watch over and conduct follow-up evaluations.

24 Mar: The LDSC Wheelchair Training Team departed at various times on the 24th with Scott Ward flying back to SLC and the rest of the team going onto Lebanon for further work in Beirut. Their departure represented the end of an intense but very fulfilling experience so we can only say our goodbyes were with mixed emotions. We thoroughly enjoyed the privilege of hosting such wonderful people, learning more about the wheelchair training program and having a sense of satisfaction for accomplishing the mission.

Elder Rasband’s opening remarks at the beginning of the Saturday afternoon session of April 2016 General Conference (Ensign, May 2016, 46-7) addressed a concern dear to our hearts. Since our mission to Jordan began, even as we were being trained before our departure, we asked many questions. Upon our arrival we asked many more questions. As we are maturing in our service we continue to search for answers to questions. Wondering if our questioning nature caused concern, Elder Rasband’s words brought comfort.


“The Restoration of the gospel began with a youth, Joseph Smith, asking a question. Many of the Savior’s teaching in His ministry began with a question…We need to help each other find Heavenly Father’s answers through the guidance of the Spirit.”


The perennial challenge, “…finding answers through the guidance of the Spirit.” What we sometimes neglect is the, “…need to help each other find Heavenly Father’s answers…” One great aid in “helping each other,” comes in D &C 1:38 “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, …whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.”


Critical thinking leads to questioning. The responsibility of the critical thinker is to formulate questions that stimulate introspection, create new perspectives and open the mind to rational thought—without becoming critical. The Savior did not criticize the lawyer who challenged him on what should be done to obtain eternal life. He taught him the parable of the good Samaritan, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29) and ended the parable with this question, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10:36).


We are eternally grateful for those with whom we work in our humanitarian service, both those in the Church and those of other faiths and walks of life, who work so hard and dedicate so much time and resources to “make life better for others.” Much of what they do and what we strive to assist them in doing is find a better way of doing what we do, or do something different, something we haven’t already done.”


In building our relationship of trust with the Lord, we will continue to follow the counsel of the Lord. We will also listen to others with whom we work to hear their views, absorb their thoughts and feelings and prayerfully consider their ways of thinking. Finally, we will continue to “ask questions,” not to be critical but to expand our vision of, “not what is” but of, “what could be.”

WE201600040: Wheelchair Training Major Initiative


14 May: With the Cullimores snuggled in at the Center, it was decided to give the Canovas and Scott Ward a night in the Le Royal Hotel after their long flight to Amman. We had arranged a pick-up for them that would take them directly to the hotel. The only glitch was some of their luggage failed to arrive with them. This was a problem because we were driving south to Aqaba the next day. They finally retrieved their bags in Aqaba after two days of patience and valiant effort.


15 May: The Center Van served to transport all of us to the Al Hussein Society (AHS) facility for their pre-training meeting at 9:00 am. Annie and her team were ready to receive us and after cordial introductions she gave us an overview of her vision for the future of AHS and a regional educational and training center for the inclusion of the less abled into society. After Annie’s presentation, Kelvyn began to walk us all through his pre-training checklist to make sure all was in order. Annie has a good team around her and there were few questions that needed to be addressed.

5-19-16 AHS Meeting

Pre-training meeting at AHS with Annie’s team, Cullimores, Canovas and Phillips

Following the meeting with AHS, the LDSC team traveled to the Jordanian Royal Medical Service King Abdullah Hospital for their pre-training meeting. Things were a little less organized at JRMS in that there has been a transfer of wheelchair responsibility from the PT department to the OT department. Sa’ed Smadi, director of the OT program has become our new contact person. He has an okay command of the English language and is very anxious to make the program run smoothly. We learned at this meeting that what was designated to be a refresher course would have about half the participants as new attendees. This required some modification in the plans for instructions but our skilled team of trainers made it work. We needed to work out details for arriving early enough to do the proper set up and have access to their training facility.


After our pre-training meetings we returned to the Center to prepare for the four-hour drive to Aqaba. We rented a second van to have enough seats to carry the team plus additional training materials and luggage. We would have used the Homer’s and their van but they were tied up with a visit from Robert Hoakinson from the Desk and were not available to assist in this training experience.

5-19-16 AHS Pic 2

Pre-training meeting with JRMS, Sa’ed Smadi center at head of the table. LDSC team around the table.

We put the Canovas, Scott Ward, Zaid Hayajneh, and Max (our interpreter) in one van so they could have a planning session together, while the Phillips and Cullimores traveled with the extra supplies and luggage in the Center Van. Supplies included two large flip charts, 25 tool bags full of tools for assembly of wheelchairs, 25 tote bags full of stationery supplies, 18 bicycle pumps, logo aprons, posters and miscellaneous other materials required for the training experience. The GUVS truck brought down seven fitting tables with a set of foot blocks for each table, a white board, and upwards to 30 wheelchairs still in their shipping boxes.


The drive was uneventful other than the hired driver went too fast to make up for smoking and prayer stops. We made sure we had a different driver on the return trip. The scenery was spectacular, including the Red Sea. For those of us seeing Aqaba for the first time it was quite a treat. We arrived in time to check into our Jordanian four-star hotel and have a light dinner before retiring for the evening.


We needed a good night’s rest in anticipation of a full day of assembly of chairs and beginning sessions of the training. Our sleep was interrupted at 4:30am by a 5.1 earthquake centered about 35 miles south of Aqaba and about six miles deep under the Red Sea. The rolling type of quake woke us all up but fortunately the building remained intact. We all agreed that being lodged on the top (7th) floor was a blessing if the building had collapsed on itself. A few minor aftershocks and all was calm, though hot. This was the first moderate quake there since 1947, but for those of us who have lived in California it was not very spectacular.


16 May: We had learned in our pre-training meeting with GUVS last Thursday that they had told their people who were to attend the class to arrive late Monday afternoon. We told them at the meeting that their people needed to arrive earlier so as to participate in assembling wheelchairs, as they would all need to know how to do this when they received the chairs. We learned on Monday morning that while few could arrive earlier as prior transportation schedules could not be changed, it didn’t really matter as the venue reserved for our training was holding another event and would not be available for our use until after 2:00 pm. Those who were in town met at Burger King for lunch – a Cullimore favorite.

5-19-16 Burger King

The LDSC team at Burger King l-r S. Phillips, K and K Cullimore, S Ward, P & A Canova

Our adaptable team went into “Plan B” mode and prepared to start the assembly instruction at 2:00 pm. We had a good showing of participants at that time and they were able to observe Paul Canova go through the challenges of assembling the Rough Rider chair. There was no time to assemble the standard chair so while the Rough Rider demonstration was taking place in the training room, the Phillips and the Cullimores assembled the standard chairs needed for the training session in the hallway. (Plan B)


The weather in Aqaba reached 113 degrees and the air-conditioners at the training venue were over-taxed and went into a failure mode. It would be impossible to hold the training in an un-air-conditioned facility but one of the attendees from Our Lady of Peace (OLOP) in Aqaba offered us his facility as an alternative site at no cost.


The GUVS team agreed to move all the equipment to the new venue in time for us to start the next morning. The Our Lady of Peace was clean and air conditioned but was even smaller than the room we initially considered as inadequate at the Royal Hospital in Amman. With a few adjustments, “Plan C” was put into effect for training. The LDSC team had a nice dinner and an unshakable night’s rest.

5-19-16 GUVS Pic 2

Some of the GUVS Trainees

5-19-16 GUVS Pic 3

Wheelchair assembly training in process

5-19-16 PT Pic1

LDSC PT Trainers l-r Zaid Hayajneh, Alisa Canova & Scott Ward

17 May: Tuesday was the first full-day of training. The GUVS team had everything moved into the new facility. The LDSC team, after enjoying the usual hearty breakfast provided by our Jordanian four-star hotel, headed out to Our Lady of Peace early to make sure set up was in order and all was in readiness. Minor modifications of arrangements were necessary to accommodate for the large group of 18 participants in a smaller room.


Shatha from GUVS, Rami from OLOP, Max and Sister Phillips from LDSC under the watchful eye of Kay and Kelvyn Cullimore worked on food arrangements for the day, plans for the opening ceremony with GUVS Board of Directors, and other miscellaneous needs.


The trainees arrived at their appointed time of 8:30am and the training began. It was obvious we had a talented team of trainers as they took control of the class, outlined the action plans for the day and eased this group into a thorough understanding of wheelchair and patient assessment. It was very helpful to have Zaid instruct them in their own language. According to Alisa and Scott, Zaid was well-prepared and an excellent teacher.


The GUVS Board of Directors arrived a little after 9:00 am for the opening ceremony. Including their President, there were nine men in attendance. We quickly rearranged the room in to more of a classroom style and began the ceremony. Elder Phillips conducted the ceremony on behalf of LDSC. After proper greetings, introductions and a brief explanation of the program, time was granted to the GUVS President to say a few words. With the aid of translation, he was most complementary to LDSC for our contribution of wheelchairs and the training provided for the GUVS team. With accolades over, the GUVS BoD departed and were not seen again until the closing ceremony two-days later.


The remainder of the day went quite smoothly. The temperature softened a little and the air-conditioners worked. The participants were enthusiastic and anxious to learn, and the trainers worked well together as a team. It was a good day and the LDSC team ended the day with another group meal with casual conversation reviewing the events of the day.

5-17-16 Alisa Teaching

Alisa teaching with Max translating while Statha takes pictures.

5-17-16 Kelvyn

Ever vigilant, Kelvyn is in observation mode, applying his nine years of experience to assure all goes well.

5-17-16 Max GUVS president

Max interpreting for GUVS President (with cell phone ever ready in left hand) while Elder Phillips looks on.

5-17-16 Maysoon

Zaid explaining some cultural sensitivities to Alisa with Maysoon as the patient. Maysoon was a little embarrassed.

5-17-16 Trainees

Trainees in their wheelchairs observed by Paul Canova

18 May: The second full day of training was intense and exciting. The course expanded from theory to practical application with the trainees putting their training and skills into action—such as learning how to handle a wheelchair, how to access a ramp going both up and down, how to negotiate stairs or curbs with assistance of course, how to propel a chair through a soft terrain, how to negotiate tight doorways and how to transfer people to and from the wheelchair without causing injury to the person or to the helper. None of the trainees were actual wheelchair users so they learned to appreciate what wheelchair users face and how to handle a wheelchair properly in difficult situations—something the trainees will need to educate the recipients of wheelchairs on in the future.


It was a long day and all were exhausted but excited and ready for the next morning when they would begin the actual process of fitting a client to a chair. We ended the day by preparing the two rooms to receive clients in the morning. The recipients were to be divided by gender as were the examiners, out of respect to local customs.


The team took a brief detour on the way back to the hotel to dip their tired feet into the Red Sea. After a relaxing and delicious fish dinner, all retired for a restful night’s sleep.

5-18-16 Curb

Trainees learning to take a wheelchair over a curb.

5-18-16 pic2

Scott Ward demonstrating soft terrain management to a trainee.

5-18-16 Red Sea

Scott Ward standing in the Red Sea

19 May: This was the big day – 30 people were scheduled to come to OLOP to be evaluated, measured and fitted for a wheelchair. The LDSC team was assigned as follows: Elder Phillips to receive the people as they arrived and direct them into the center, Sister Phillips to get them checked in with assistance from OLOP people, assign them a number and place them in the waiting area in an orderly fashion. Alisa was supervising the GUVS female trainees as they brought the female recipients into the assessment area and Scott did likewise with the male recipients and the Male GUVS team members. The first wave of recipients (15) were to arrive by 9:00 am and the second wave at 10:30 am to make for an orderly flow of recipients that could be easily managed.


People started to arrive by 8:30 am. By 9:30 am more than 30 people had come and the waiting area was overflowing. We did not have enough chairs to transport everyone from arriving cars to waiting areas. Someone reported there had been a posting on Facebook that ‘free wheelchairs’ were available to anyone in need. It quickly turned chaotic with people showing up who were not on the appointment list. Some brought in disabled children and had to be turned away because we could not accommodate everyone. Some of the people who came were in such poor condition due to weight, problems with rigidity, children too small for wheelchairs and other medical reasons, that wheelchairs would not be appropriate.


In the course of our attempt to meet everyone’s needs, one girl was denied a wheelchair because she could not sit in the erect position and was too rigid to remain in a sitting position. While she and her caregiver were waiting for a family member to return to pick them up, we modified a chair so the girl could rest until their ride arrived. They had migrated to a side entrance and Elder Phillips was so busy working with the flow of people at the main entrance that he could not monitor the waiting family. When their ride arrived, they put the girl in the back seat, folded up the loaner chair, quickly threw it in the trunk of the car and drove off. The OLOP staff said they had contact information of the people and would retrieve the chair.


Thanks to the valiant efforts of everyone involved – the GUVS team, the OLOP team and the LDSC team, we managed to assess, fit and educate 29 wheelchair recipients. We were through the process by noon and the GUVS Governing Board and President showed up for lunch and a closing ceremony. The original plan was to do the wheelchair placement until about 1:00 pm, have a light snack for lunch, a closing ceremony, pack up and head for Amman by 3:00 pm, getting us back by around 7:00 pm.


Apparently the GUVS Board had expected to be honored with a full mansaf meal and one man expressed his displeasure and disappointment quite verbally to OLOP staff. Since OLOP staff took on this event to meet our needs for air-conditioning, some took offense and the discussion heated up. Finally, everyone settled down, ate, and then we had the closing ceremony. Certificates were handed out, a speech from the GUVS President, comments from the Mayor of Aqaba (a very nice fellow) and the formal event was over. The dignitaries loaded into their vehicles and drove away while the rest of us cleaned up and packed up. We had less materials to transport home but still needed two vans to carry the LDSC team back to Amman. The Cullimores were honored by GUVS with a plaque and a cake for their many years of tireless service to the wheelchair program.


One final task was a post-assessment meeting for the LDSC team and Shatha from GUVS, their point person for all organizational needs and planning. While such meetings are essential to fine-tuning the process while events are fresh on our mind, Shatha was exhausted both physically and emotionally after the 3-day training and the fiasco with her Board earlier. She was not in a state to be receptive to evaluation but answered a series of post-training questions from LDSC nonetheless.


To give the Cullimores a much needed break from everything, we put them in the Le Royal Hotel for the rest of the week, and brought the Canova’s and Scott Ward to the Center. The Marriott beds in the Center gave the team much needed rest in preparation for the Sabbath and the training schedule for the next week.


Cake in honor of the 9-years of service by the Cullimores. Don’t ask Kelvyn who took the first piece.


Weary LDSC team members, l-r, Kelvyn Cullimore, Sandra Phillips, Paul Canova at the end of the day


Overall the GUVS training experience in Aqaba was a success.

  1. The trainees, staff people from GUVS representing their various offices around the country, were enthusiastic and demonstrated an acceptable level of proficiency for the three-day training experience.
  2. Zaid Hayajneh proved to be a competent, capable instructor with language skills and experience as a PT that would qualify him to represent LDSC in any training venue.
  3. Twenty-nine people received proper wheelchairs and left with grateful hearts.
  4. Nine years of experience from the Cullimores provided the organizational and leadership skills required to make such an intense program function as well as it did.