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.