Across the street from Global Hope International in Amman, Jordan is a Christian church that we attended on Sunday morning. I was surprised that they conduct worship on Sunday as Sundays are a work day in Muslim countries. Friday and Saturday are the weekend and Friday is considered the Holy day to attend mosque. We worship on Fridays in Doha, but here in Amman, this church meets on Sundays. I guess the Christians here have to take time off work or rearrange their work schedule in order to attend worship.
By far, the coolest thing during worship was singing Amazing Grace. The church is Arabic speaking, but a song like Amazing Grace is beautiful in any language. While the congregation below sang in Arabic, we all sang along in English from the balcony. So beautiful! God's grace is amazing!
|This group of musicians was traveling from Russia to perform this week. We were fortunate to hear them play-they were fantastic! I especially loved the wind pipe instrument!! So beautiful!!|
|The entire service was in Arabic, but we had a translator and wore head phones in the balcony so we could understand the service.|
Most of food and clothing we distributed went to Syrian refugees, but we made one stop in a Palestinian refugee camp. These people have lived in camp conditions just like the Syrian camp pictures I posted previously since the 1940s!!! The children in this camp were considerably more tough and aggressive than the Syrian camp - they don't know any other type of life. We played with the kids for a while and then lined them up to attempt to pass out snacks, but things quickly got out of hand and we actually had to leave. Rami (our leader from Global Hope and the House of Ruth) was concerned that if trouble arises among the children, it often carries over to their families and it is better to leave than continue to cause fighting. We were a bit confused and disappointed to have to leave so quickly but we understand Rami's concern. We only visit this camp once, but he is establishing a long term relationship with these people with the hope to help them economically and spiritually. He doesn't want to damage this relationship because of a few unruly children.
|Arriving at the Palestinian camp - again the kids all came running|
|attempting to distribute snacks at the Palestinian camp|
In addition to visiting the camps, we also visited Syrian refugees in apartments and homes in various parts of Amman (the capitol city). We learned that if you escape Syria with all your documents and paperwork (birth certificates, passports, etc) and you have a bit of money, you are able to rent a place on your own. Unfortunately jobs are not available to Syrian refugees so when your money runs out, you are only one step away from the camps. They have a food stamp type program that allows them to obtain food, but there aren't enough jobs for everyone, so the refugees aren't allowed to work. We were also told that once registered as a refugee you weren't allowed to leave Jordan unless you return to Syria. So if you find a job in another country, you can't leave ... and if you return to Syria, you could be killed for deserting your homeland. These people are literally trapped.
We didn't take pictures of the 5 families we visited, but we met a lady whose husband was killed in Syria. She escaped with her 4 children and have rented quite a large apt. She must have had quite a bit of money when she arrived, but after 1 year, her money has run out and she doesn't know what to do. We also met a family living on the rooftop of a building. The husband was disabled and they have a child with special needs. They too have run out of funds and they hadn't had any water in 3 days. The water is in seriously short supply in the influx of 1 million refugees to a desert land. Many communities regularly have their water turned off in order to conserve what they have. So unless you can afford to purchase bottled water, you have no water ... no sinks, no showers, no toilets that flush.
But the saddest family we met outside of the camps, was a young couple with a ~3 year old little girl and an infant not 1 month old. They were living in a concrete room no larger than 10'x15'. It was damp and dark and cold in the winter. They shared a hole in the ground with several other families as their bathroom. Their only source of water was a shared facet down the alley. This is where she did all her laundry as well. They had a small fridge but no other kitchen ... no stove, no sink, no nothing. They only eat raw fruit, veggies, and breads, nothing that has to be cooked as they have no way to cook anything. And they have been living like this for nearly a year. And here we bring them bags of rice and beans and lentils and she has no means to cook it! Our team bought a gas burner for this family so that she could at least cook some food for her family.
|One of the other small groups were better about taking pictures during these home visits|
|another refugee home visit|
While these families live in dire accommodations, they are still far better off than those in the camps. Camp life is difficult - medical care is not readily available so tuberculosis is rampant in the camps right now. Syrian woman are considered more beautiful and desirable so rape and child brides are also very common. Syrian families are happy to give daughters as young as 12 years old to Jordanian men as brides in hopes for a better life for their daughters and one less mouth to feed / one less person to protect in the camp. School is also more difficult to attend if you are in the camps, but we were surprised to learn many of the Jordanian schools accept refugee children. Some have even adjusted their schedule so that Jordanian children go to school in the mornings and Syrian children attend in the afternoon. Those who were able to send their kids to school seemed genuinely happy to finally get them back in school. Apparently many children in Syria aren't going to school anymore. Many families hadn't sent their kids to school in Syria for 2 years before they escaped. Too many children were being shot and killed on their way to school, so parents keep them home.
But even with all that these families have experienced, they still love their country and only want to return home. We prayed with all the families that we visited in the city and many of the families in the tents. Over and over again we would ask how we can pray for them and over and over again they asked us to pray for peace in Syria, safety and protection of their families still in Syria, and the opportunity to return home. They just want to go home.
We were also amazed by the Jordanian people. This is a country that has very little. It's people are poor themselves, but what they have, they share. They may not have jobs to offer the refugees, but they provide safety, land, and food to over a million refugees as best they can.
One last group of pictures ... after visiting the Palestinian camp, we stopped for a few minutes to enjoy the view of the Dead Sea and the surrounding area...
|The Dead Sea in the distance|
|Jaden, Nicholas, and Ethan throwing rocks|
|Kids wandered out across the grassy field ... enjoying the sunshine and exploring the land|
|Me and Ken|
|A bit windy, but a beautiful day in Jordan|
|We enjoyed the rolling hills in Jordan (Doha is very flat, much like Houston)|
|Piggy back ride through the field - everyone looks happy, but Nicholas was nearly strangling me with his death grip around my neck!|
|Team picture |
We really did have THE MOST AMAZING time serving the Lord in Jordan. As a result of our time, we would encourage everyone we know to consider supporting mi$$ions. We're so glad we were able to join this team and partner with Global Hope and the House of Ruth. If you can't physically go to Jordan, consider supporting them financially at http://globalhopenetwork.org/category/jordan. If you can't give financially, find a local ministry or charitable organization and offer your time. There are people in need everywhere. You will be blessed by the experience!!
My boys have heard Ken's family stories from when they lived in a refugee camp, but this trip made it real to them. Seeing this kind of poverty and realizing that these kids are just like us made us realize just how blessed we really are. We met a family where the father was an engineer and now he is living in a tent and can't find work to provide his family with even the basic necessities. Had we been born in Syria, that could be us. They did nothing to deserve this, but by God's grace they are alive and hopeful to return home someday.
In addition to the service part of our trip, we also did some touristy things too. Those pictures and stories are still to follow, but I wanted to add these pictures and stories to my blog first. :-)