Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Computer Problem

My trusty Mac computer which is 3 years old is giving me problems (actually it won't start now!) I'm sure if I was back at DTS someone from the IT department would fix the problem files etc. and have me back working. However, I am in Jordan. I am posting this blog from another computer but I wanted to let you know that I might not be able to blog for a while. I'll see if the computer people here at JETS can help me in the morning but they use the "other" kind of computer (my apologies to all you PC people but I know you are gloating over my Mac problem!)
Praise God that this problem didn't occur until Wednesday afternoon and I completed Micah today. Tomorrow I plan to use as a summary class and challenge. Then the students will write their final exam. After class Steven Anderson and I will head down for a couple days at Petra before flying home. Actually I will be flying to Vancouver to visit my daughter Sarah and her husband John. I have never visited them since they got married and I have never been to Vancouver BC.They just returned from their ministry in Morocco. I'm sure we will have stories to compare. My flight will go from Amman to New York, to Salt Lake City (we I will meet up with my wife Sharon who I have really missed) and then on to Vancouver. This is a vacation week for Sharon and me (thanks Pastor Jeff for "encouraging/insisting" that I make plans to vacation this summer and that it be with my wife!). I love to teach and preach and minister but I do need a little down time too.
Thanks to each one of you who have taken an interest in my time here in Jordan. Especially thanks to the members of Waterbrook who paid my way here through the missions program at WBF. When we says "Waterbrook Bible Fellowship exists to glorify God by making and growing disciples in Wylie and beyond" that "beyond" included Jordan for the last two weeks because of your generousity! Part of you has been here and I have sensed many of your prayers.
I hope to have Ramzi, the computer geek here at JETS take a look at my computer in the morning. Check back to see if I am back online.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Touching the Jordan River

A number great day in class although I'm beginning to get a little tired and I think the students are too! I finished Isaiah today and tomorrow is Micah. For lunch, which we normally have here at the school, we had lamb stew over rice with a drink of Pepsi. The drink is always the same, the rice is always the same but the meat and vegetables can vary. It's always good.
After lunch I took Steven down to the Baptismal Site on the Jordan River. This is the site that early Christian churches commemorate as the place where John baptized Jesus. (Nearby is a hill which commemorates the translation of Elijah to heaven in a chariot of fire.) Today of course the river is perhaps only 5 % of what it used to be when all the water from Mt. Hermon came through the Sea of Galilee and down to here. In additional there used to be major rivers like the Yarmuk and Jabbok and the springs of Jericho whose waters flowed down to here. Now all this water is used for drinking and irrigation. So the "mighty Jordan" is no longer what it once was where Joshua had to cross it during flood stage. Nevertheless to reach down and touch the river, to see some "thickets" along the river like are spoken of in the Scriptures is still a memorable experience. I know you're thinking that the river doesn't look to clear, neither did Naaman the Syrian but he still choose to dip himself in it (2 Kings 5) to be cleansed. I would have gone in except for a few reasons: I don't have leprosy, I've already been baptized, the Jordanian guard was watching, the trees on the other side belong to Israel and so I didn't want to be shot! Other than that I would have gone in.
The approximately 20 miles back up to Amman is almost 16 miles climbing up to sea level (the Dead Sea is over 1300 feet below sea level) and then up to 2,500 feet above sea level until you reach the Medeba Plateau and the road to the ancient Roman Decapolis City of Amman.
I mentioned on Sunday's post I would get a picture of me preaching and Hany translating so here it is!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Jordanian Family

Today was the start of our last week here teaching at Jordan Evangelical Theological Seminary. I taught today from Isaiah 7-35. Another good day and the student who lost her father was back in class just to sit and listen. Pray for Faten who was close to her father.
After class we were invited by Sana'a to come to her home for lunch where her husband, Majed who is fighting bone cancer, and her 10 year old son Samuel met us. She usually takes two different buses to get to JETS and home which takes her about 1 1/2 hours each way. We were able to drive her home (30 minutes) and we took along my good friend Hany to interpret for us. It was obvious that she had been up early this morning (she had to catch the bus at 6:30 am!) preparing a wonderful meal of chicken/rice/vegetables, different vegetables/rice, more vegetables cut up as well as a creamy cucumber and tomato salad and bread and watermelon for dessert! Before this, of course, we had had a small cup of Turkish coffee which every traditional home has ready at all times for guests. After this great big lunch, another cup of coffee and then tea. The tea was made with sage, mint, and another plant (?) from the hills. This Jordanian couple (she is actually from Syria) lives in a small village of 2,000 out in the hills close to the edge of the Medeba Plateau where it drops off into the Dead Sea. The first floor of their home which they have just lived in for 4 months is converted into a small church (see picture of the church that can seat 12-15), Sunday school room, and a room suitable for Arab hospitality. There are two churches in this village, a Catholic and an Orthodox. Sana'a and her husband have been given a vision from the Lord to plant an evangelical church here. Right now they have Bible studies with different groups of people. Most people facing cancer for a second time would withdraw from many responsibilities but this couple is building, painting, teaching, studying, and praying for God to do a work in them and in the village. What a humbling and joyful afternoon we had in their home (I didn't forget what a young boy might like so I brought him a box of candy I had packed from Texas!)
We then walked down the street to a neighbor's home to see a huge cave that is under their home and the street and has been used for centuries or millenniums as a place to live and keep animals. Once we had seen the cave we were "requested" to stay for coffee and tea (the picture is of the village and the fields this man owns)! It is hard to refuse a Jordanians request without offending so two cups of Turkish coffee and three cups of tea later with conversations translated with this older man, his mother and two sisters, as well as a prayer, we were on our way back to Medaba.
In Medaba we stop at my friend Fadi's new coffee shop "Coffee to Go" (Fadi is a friend from the times I have been on bus tours here in Jordan, Recently he resigned from Vision Tours to start his own business). He serves coffee, ice cream, sandwiches and breakfast of waffles etc. I gave him a bottle of Canadian maple syrup I had brought from Canada so he should have sweet, Canadian-tasting waffles tomorrow for breakfast!
Finally I took Steven to St. Georges church in Medaba (which is mentioned in the OT: Num 21:30; 1 Chrn 19:7; Isa 15:2) where the oldest map of the Middle East survives as a mosaic on the floor of what was a Byzantine Church.
Our "afternoon" ended at 7:30 pm when we arrived back in Amman for a good Hardees meal. What a great day of seeing and hearing real Jordanians in their homes and enjoying wonderful Jordanian hospitality which is quite unlike anything I've experienced elsewhere.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday in Amman, Jordan

Today is a "regular" work day here in Jordan. However JETS doesn't have classes and some Christian churches still have services and so I was asked to preach at two of them (If I had time and energy I could be preaching almost every night of the week).
This morning we drove down into the heart of Amman and I preached at a primarily Iraqi church. The worship leader/preacher, Behnam, is a student in my class. A group of five Americans from the East Coast were also there to sing a song and give a brief word of testimony as they ended two weeks working at the church. By the way, every church that we have visited somehow has a computer with a powerpoint projector to use and they often sing the same choruses as we do, just in Arabic of course.
After a rest and some study this evening I preached at what used to be a primarily Iraqi church but now has probably four or five different nationalities in it. Iraqi churches are beginning to dwindle as more and more of them get visas through the UN to immigrate to North America due to the persecution that could well await them if they were to return to Iraq. Praise God there is outreach going on and others are now coming.
The church this evening is pastored by my young Egyptian friend Hany. [By the way someone has given $1000 dollars to Hany to help him out. He was speachless when I gave him the 700JD's and then began to praise God with a number of Amens and Hallelujahs! Later he asked me if he could share half of it with his sister who is getting married. He had promised her to help with her wedding but told me he had nothing to give so he had just been praying for God to help him. I told him the money was his from the Lord through someone who just wanted to bless him.] Hany translated for me this evening and then we were requested to go back to his apartment with about 10 others from the church for special Arabic desserts (which are wonderful with cheese and something sweet???). Steven took some pictures of me preaching with the translator beside me but I have gotten them yet, perhaps I'll post some tomorrow.
I enjoy the challenge of driving here. The roads are in good repair but take a look at the road outside the church tonight! It would be easy to drop off and it is about 10 feet down.
Now back at the guest house at 9:30 pm preparing for tomorrow's 4 1/4 hours of teaching with two breaks (8:15 am - 1:00 pm). I find it hard to hear myself for that long so I wonder how the students do it.