Niles Bennett - Some Time in Jordan - 2011

I maybe should put a few more thoughts down and send off- I've been in Jordan for two weeks already and things are still a bit of a blur. I can spend every spare minute either studying Arabic or trying to get some computer issue sorted out to be able to study Arabic. Most things work okay, but I'm just using a lot of things I never have before: Skype, video and audio recorders, some new apps on my phone, etc. No need to get carried away, but there are a few tools to help. And we are getting a bunch of words, Lloyd and I.

We have a batch in Irbid, second largest city in Jordan, I understand. It's about an hour and 20 minutes bus ride north of Amman, a ride that can be had for one dinar. Much different than parts of Amman, Irbid seems to have much less western influence. The two shopping malls that we know of are quite small; it can be a bit of a challenge to find some things. Decent paper towel, a pot holder, fresh milk and a real loaf of bread- not so common here. We don't suffer of course.

What I've seen of Jordan so far is a rugged, dry place- this time of year not so unlike southern interior of BC. Although even drier, and the dried up grass from the previous moisture has long since been eaten to the roots by the Bedouin's sheep herds. Around these parts there's people and dwellings everywhere- and all buildings are cinder block and concrete; older buildings are of stone scavenged from roman ruins. Everything is finished in stucco or stone face of the same few shades of tan and light brown- even worse than Calgary- and when I washed windows in our batch I could see why. They don't show the sand that way. A main trend of construction here is to leave the structural columns and rebar running wild on the top of the building- never know when you might need to build on a couple more floors. Perhaps as the extended family grows I suppose. Few dwellings are single; three and four story apartment buildings almost throughout. And almost no high-rises in Irbid either- I don't think I've seen more than 7 or 8 floors in this city of over a million. Our building is like many others: water is pumped from a cistern along the side to tanks on the roof and gravity fed into the suites; entrance, stairs, halls are all stone floors and concrete structures; cooking is done on a counter-top stove fed by a 40 lb propane bottle; heat for winter is more blankets on the bed! This place is well built and fairly sealed, but they just don't worry about heat. We have a propane heater as well that we can get another bottle for. Several times a day a truck will drive by, horn honking, offering for sale full propane bottles.

We have several contacts to visit with- all from before thus far. Very early stages of hearing the gospel, and one man in particular has enough understanding that he's faced with some struggles. For several years he's found employment with the various churches and yet now he doesn't agree with their doctrine. Other work is scarce and poor paying by comparison, so the cost of the gospel is something he's seeing.

Yesterday Lloyd and I went to Umm Qais, an old Roman city. Until 1987 an inhabited village occupied the site- it has since become more tourist-oriented. The original ruins are fairly well preserved- a 1st century theatre with seats intact and a 12 foot circular passage under the second tier of seats. All of hewn stone, with very good detail still noticeable. This is the country of the Gadaranes, and a local man offered to take us near the site where the pigs would have been choked in the sea. The attached photo shows the Sea of Galilee, and if you zoom it up a bit on the far side, right over top of an odd concrete gate in the foreground, is a city that I assume to be Tiberias. Of interest in the lower right corner of the photo, just before what appears to be a couple stone steps, are some large square cobble stones of a slightly lighter shade of grey. This is the remains of a Roman highway, well worn at that.

Ram and Mercy, the Sri Lankan couple that are the only professing people in Jordan, are coming over for a study. Friday is the day off in the Arab world, akin to our Sunday. Saturday stands the same, some work and some don't. This is the only day Ram gets off so we have a study and some time together today. Our meeting on Sunday is at 9 pm, after he finishes work- so that makes for a very strange Sunday by my experience! I'll let this be all, hope all are well in their corners.

…Niles (Bennet)