10 Day Outreach Reflection Paper Daniel Hazelwood
For ten day outreach this semester I went to Amman, Jordan. I was asked by Lisa Collins to lead an outreach. I first thought of the Billings in Jordan. Lisa said that would probably be fine for an outreach. I emailed Paul Billings to ask if He was open to an outreach team coming to Jordan. After a week or two I had not received a reply from him. Danny and Wendy Zahorianski, a missionary couple from Kragujevac, Serbia, were visiting the school and I asked them if Jordan did not work out if I could lead a team to Serbia. They said they would pray about it and let me know. They left and a few days later Danny emailed me and said he prayed about it and did not think the Lord wanted a team to go to Serbia this semester. I figured God would work out my ten day outreach somehow. The very next morning Paul Billings emails me back and said they could take a team. I knew that this was the Lord’s will worked out. Paul and Wendy are siblings and even if they communicated to work this out, I still confident that the Lord’s will was sought by them and was obeyed.
I announced my outreach and a few female students a male student signed up. When I explained the cultural clothing restrictions for Jordan some of the female students were no longer interested. I suppose that if they were dissuaded with such a seemingly minor cultural adaptation, I was quite frankly glad that they did not come on the outreach. So, at this point I had four students plus myself signed up. Two of the students were a dating couple and Paul told me that he preferred them not to both come as this would be culturally difficult for a dating couple to travel together. They understood this restriction, yet both decided not to attend. I then had a male student that had trouble securing the funding for the expensive plane tickets. Therefore, Brenna Kulla and I were left on the team. Paul desired another male student attend again for cultural reasons. This did not work out and I could not afford to bring my whole family, so it appeared that God had brought together the team He would have to go.
We had a smooth flight to Amman, Jordan after a short layover in Vienna, Austria. We arrived in Amman Airport and immediately felt that we certainly were not in Europe anymore. Paul picked us up from the airport kind of late and so we had time to watch and try and learn some culture as we waited for him. He arrived about an hour later and told us they had moved apartments that day. We arrived at their new apartment and we, talked, prayed, and then slept.
Saturday morning I was awoken by the loud prayer call from the neighboring Mosque. Paul and I walked a block to buy hummus, pita, and veggies for breakfast. Fresh, local, flavorful and cheap food was a consistent blessing throughout the trip. I seriously was shocked at how good and cheap the food was in Jordan. Later that morning we helped move the rest of their belongings from their old apartment. It was nice to start off the outreach by serving the Billings. That afternoon we went to a church service for kids in Mofraq. The kids are Syrian refugees that have had a very hard life. They were very roudy and quick to fight each other over smallest of disputes. I realized quickly that this was likely a product of their over difficult upbringing. My heart was very heavy for these children. I am comforted that they have parents, are no longer living in war torn Syria, and heard the gospel.
Sunday morning we woke up early as it is their Monday. Friday and Saturday are the weekend days in their culture. We had been invited to speak at the Arabic school that Melanie Billings works at. It is a conservative Muslim school. They are interested in having native English speakers come as quests. I had to wear a shirt and tie for this and Brenna a floor length skirt. So we got dressed up went to Melanie’s school. We were introduced to a nice teacher named Makmood. He sat in as we spoke with the first period class. We spoke of our culture and the students shared about their culture. It seemed to go well and then we were asked to meet the school’s principal. I was a bit surprised that she was female, given the culture. She was upset and lied that Melanie had not asked for permission for us to come. We were asked to leave and not come back. We went back to the apartment feeling a bit defeated. That night we went to a Nazarene Church service in Arabic. Surprisingly it actually rained that evening. The rain was befitting my mood over the morning. The message at the church was somewhat translated for our benefit. I was asked by the youth pastor to give the sermon for the youth group on Thursday night.
Monday morning was free as we could not go back to Melanie’s school. I prepared a sermon for Thursday. About mid-morning Paul picked us up while on his break froom language school. He let us shop in downtown Amman. We then went to the Nazarene church and helped paint.
Tuesday we went to Tilek Billing’s special needs school. It was awesome how compassionate the staff are to the students there. I was happy to help and serve in anyway. I write that to glorify God as this is not my natural attitude. I was sad to leave the school knowing we were not scheduled to go back. Later we took Brenna to the church, so she continue to fellowship with some Iraqi refugee women that are living at the church. Paul and I went furniture shopping at the bazaar in East Amman. I thought Amman was culturally different until we got to East Amman. It was exactly what I pictured a Middle East city to be, crowded narrow very old streets with people selling wears and items of every variety. I loved it.
Wednesday morning Brenna and I walked to a mall to go grocery shopping for dinner while the Billings were at school. We got kind of lost on the way, but I asked a man for directions and in God’s grace the man fknew English and helped us. We cooked BBQ beef for Bryan and his Rachel. They are two other American missionaries in Amman. It was nice to fellowship with other missionaries.
Thursday morning I worked on my sermon. We went to an early dinner at a wonderful Jordanian restaurant. Then we went to church early and got to sit with Pastor Zaki for a church meeting. I then gave the youth group sermon. Then the Lord revealed some of His sovereign plan to us. Makmood, the teacher at Melanie’s school called Paul. He was curious why we had been asked to leave the school. The principal had wanted to assert her authority and make sure to stifle any Christian message we may have shared. We believe the enemy was working through her. Yet, what the world meant for evil God can use for good. Makmood wanted to meet us and hear more. We had tea with him and talked for hours. He heard the gospel woven through the conversation and he shared some history and cultural information.
Friday I woke up to Brenna throwing up along with the Billings’ twins. It ended up being a lazy day as we rested and prayed for their quick healing. I started to feel sick myself but it passed quickly. That evening I was at the grocery store with Paul. The clerk at the backery held up his fist and said something in Arabic that I did not understand. Without really thinking about it I fist bumped him. He laughed and indicated he was offering me a bag for my items. He was holding his fist up llike he was carrying the bag. I felt silly, but luckily we both laughed it off. It was a good lesson on cultural differences and importance of language.
Saturday we drove to an ancient citadel. Makmood met us there and showed us around the ruins. We drank coffee forever in some small shop that his friend owned. That was an interesting lesson on Middle Eastern hospitality. They were very warm and inviting yet there was no hurry in anything we did. We then walked around an ancient Roman Amphitheater. That afternoon Paul drove us out to the Dead Sea. The water is so salty that we floated, no matter what.
Sunday morning we were dropped off at the airport early and had a smooth flight home. It was a great outreach. Brenna was a great team member and travel partner. She has a heart to serve and easily adapted to cultural differences. It was awesome to see God work through what seemed like rejection, what missionary family life looks like, and to see the beginnings of missionary work in a closed Muslim country.