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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Some of the GUVS Trainees

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Wheelchair assembly training in process

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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.

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Alisa teaching with Max translating while Statha takes pictures.

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

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

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

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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.

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Trainees learning to take a wheelchair over a curb.

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Scott Ward demonstrating soft terrain management to a trainee.

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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.