Tag Archives: Wheaton College

Coming with power

Pentecost Sunday (May 19, 2013)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Acts 2:1-21; Psalm 104:24-35; Romans 8:14-17; John 14:8-17, 25-27

As our time draws to a close in Jordan, we are receiving a number of farewell dinner invitations. Wednesday we spent a lovely evening with Wafa Goussous, who has worked with the Middle East Council of Churches and the Orthodox Initiative during the past 10 years. On Friday, our MCC Jordan colleague Nada Zabaneh hosted us for a delightful lunch in her home. On Saturday evening, Barbara Jones – with whom we served on the council at the International Anglican Church of Amman – hosted a beautiful farewell dinner for us and the Fabrycky family who is also leaving this summer.

Nada Zabaneh serves Arabic coffee after dinner

Nada Zabaneh serves Arabic coffee after dinner

Cindy conducted interviews for short-term Intensive English teachers in Iraq. This is the fourth year that MCC plans to provide ESL teachers for a program initiated by the Chaldean Catholic Church.

Our friend Wafa took this picture in her home in Jabal Amman, Wednesday. We're coming home with a few more gray hairs than when we arrived in Amman six years ago!

Our friend Wafa took this picture in her home in Jabal Amman, Wednesday. We’re coming home with a few more gray hairs than when we arrived in Amman six years ago!

In the region this week:

"I received a package of milk and diapers . . . they were my hope since I desperately needed them for my newborn twins," said Azad Al Bardan, a Syrian refugee who received assistance through MCC partner Caritas Jordan (photo by Dana Shahin)

“I received a package of milk and diapers . . . they were my hope since I desperately needed them for my newborn twins,” said Azad Al Bardan, a Syrian refugee who received assistance through MCC partner Caritas Jordan (photo by Dana Shahin)

  • Turkey alleged it has evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the fighting in Syria.
  • Iran’s Guardian Council will announce on Tuesday the list of candidates for the June 14 elections. While 30 women have registered, one member of the Guardian Council said this week that Iran’s constitution rules out women presidential candidates. Women are allowed to run for parliamentary seats.

The Common Lectionary readings for this Pentecost Sunday highlight the impact of God’s Holy Spirit.

The story in Acts is the most familiar. God’s Spirit comes from heaven with the sound of a rushing wind and tongues of fire rest on the disciples of Jesus, giving them the ability to speak in diverse languages so that everyone in the crowd is able to hear in his or her own language about God’s deeds of power (Acts 2:1-13). Some allege that the disciples are drunk, but Peter reminds the crowd that the prophets of foretold the coming of the Spirit with power, helping some to see visions and others to dream dreams (vv.17-21).

Our friend Agnes Chen, who served as a HNGR intern with Caritas Jordan, graduated from Wheaton College this week.

Our friend Agnes Chen, who served as a HNGR intern with Caritas Jordan, graduated from Wheaton College this week.

The psalmist associates the coming of God’s Spirit with creation and renewal of the earth (Ps. 104:30).

In the Epistle reading, Paul writes that God’s Spirit connects with our human spirit, reminding us that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that God’s Spirit of truth will serve as our Advocate (John 14:16, 26), abiding with us to teach us everything and to remind us of the words of Jesus (vv. 17, 26).

Our prayer for Pentecost is that God’s Spirit will come with power, bringing new understanding between warring nations, helping leaders to see visions of justice and peace, renewing the earth, teaching humanity how to follow the way of Jesus, and reminding all that we are God’s children.

Lunch feast at Nada's house (left to right): Cindy, Carolyne & Gordon, Nada and Luna

Lunch feast at Nada’s house (left to right): Cindy, Carolyne & Gordon, Nada and Luna


Living good

12th Sunday after Pentecost (August 19, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
Ps. 34:9-14; Prov. 9:1-6; Eph. 5:15-20; John 6:51-58

This week our daughter Jessica turned 30, offering indisputable evidence that we are no longer in our 40s! How did that happen? Jessica was born Aug, 18, 1982, at Matty Hersee Hospital in Meridian, Mississippi. She is now a social worker in Denver, working with children in transitional housing situations. We are proud of Jessica for persevering in a challenging job. Her generous spirit is a gift to many. To celebrate her birthday, Jessica flew to Portland to spend time with friends.

Jessica holds her niece, Sydney

On Friday afternoon we welcomed two new SALT (Serving and Learning Together) volunteers to Jordan. Kristy Guertin, a 2011 graduate from Seattle Pacific University, will be a teacher assistant at Arab Episcopal School in Irbid. William Stell, a 2012 graduate from Wheaton College, will work at Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt.

Kristy Guertin and William Stell — on arrival at Queen Alia Airport in Amman.

On Saturday afternoon we welcomed three short-term MCC volunteers — Arthur Mann and Diana Epp-Fransen, both from Winnipeg; and Carolyn Reesor from Toronto — who will be teaching a four-week intensive English course at St. Peter’s Chaldean Catholic Seminary in Erbil, northern Iraq.  After a brief orientation in Amman, Cindy will accompany the teachers to Erbil.  This is the third summer that MCC has provided English teachers for St. Peter’s.

Arthur Mann, Diana Epp-Fransen and Carolyn Reesor bring significant EFL teaching experience to this year’s Intensive English Course at St. Peter’s

This has been the last week of Ramadan. While many Muslims fast from dawn till dusk, the evenings offer welcomed times for families to gather in homes for meals or to go out to eat. Indeed, the restaurant business does very well during Ramadan.

Amman comes alive during Ramadan evenings (photo by Muath Freij for Jordan Times)

From our home, only  steps away from the King Abdullah Mosque, we will hear the beautiful chanting of the congregational prayers, Aug. 19, marking the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the three-day feast known as Eid al-Fitr.

Jahnabi Barooah, Assistant Religion Editor for The Huffington Post, describes the first day of the Eid:

“Many Muslims wake up early in the morning and pray Salat ul-Fajr, or the pre-dawn prayer. After brushing their teeth, taking a bath and wearing perfume, they have breakfast before heading off to perform special congregational prayers known as Salaat al-Eid. Many Muslims recite the takbir, a declaration of faith, on the way to the prayer ground and give special charitable contributions known as Zakat al-Fitr.

Eid al-Fitr is a day of great merriment and thanksgiving. Muslims celebrate by gathering with friends and family, preparing sweet delicacies, wearing new clothes, giving each other gifts and putting up lights and other decorations in their homes. A common greeting during this holiday is Eid Mubarak, which means, “Have a blessed Eid!”

While Ramadan is intended to be a time for restoring broken relationships, the fighting in Syria seems only to have intensified in the past month.  The UN observer mission in Syria pulls out Sunday night.  A diplomatic solution seems increasingly unlikely.

Jameel Dababneh, Caritas Jordan’s emergency response coordinator, welcomes a small Syrian boy in Mafraq

The violent situation in Syria is also adding pressure to the surrounding countries of Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Jordan, who are hosting thousands of Syrian refugees. On Thursday,  Sojourner’s website published Daryl’s article about the welcome Jordan is extending to refugees.

The threat of Israeli attacks on Iran’s nuclear sites is a weekly topic of discussion in local media.  A recent article announced that Israel is prepared to accept 500 Israeli casualties as a consequence of attacking Iran. Leaders of Iran and Hezbollah promised that the retaliation would be on a much grander scale.

The Common Lectionary readings reflect on living good. The focus is on quality of life, not on accumulated possessions.

The writer of Proverbs portrays wisdom as a woman pursuing the simple and calling them to maturity. “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed,” she appeals, “Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” (Prov. 9:1-6)

“Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?” asks the psalmist. “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Ps. 34:12-14)

Chris Thabet and Cindy enjoy a conversation in our home Monday evening. Chris’ father Bassem works in the MCC Jerusalem office and came to Amman this week for training.

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul writes that, in spite of the evil around us, the wise “make the most of the time” (Eph. 5:16), “understand what the will of the Lord is” (v.17) and are “filled with the Spirit” (v.18).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus declares himself to be the “living bread that came down from heaven.” (John 6:51). Jesus promises that, unlike their ancestors who ate bread that satisfied only for a day, those who eat this bread will live forever (vv. 51, 58), have eternal life (v.54), abide in Christ (v.56), and live because of me (v.57).

Living good is not about the size of our bank accounts, cars and houses. It is not about how much power we hold or the prestige we command. It is about walking wisely, shunning evil, doing good, seeking peace, making the most of the time, understanding God’s will, being filled with God’s Spirit, and feasting on the living bread that Jesus offers.

Food for the journey

11th Sunday after Pentecost (August 12, 2012)
Common Lectionary Readings:
I Kings 19:4-8; Ps. 34:1-8; Eph. 4:25-5:2; John 6:35, 41-51

We hosted a number of delightful visitors this week.  Nader Abu Amsha and his spouse Sana, visited from the Palestinian village of Beit Jala. Nader is the director of East Jerusalem YMCA, and was in Amman to explore psychosocial support training for volunteers who are working with Syrian refugees in Jordan.  East Jerusalem YMCA has significant experience in trauma healing work.  Sana teaches English at the Talitha Kumi Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Jala and also works with the school’s innovative peer mediation program.

With Agnes Chen at our home in Amman

Agnes Chen, a senior at Wheaton College, is doing an internship with Caritas Jordan through Wheaton’s Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR) program.  She is assisting Caritas’ response with Syrian refugees, including the distribution of MCC material resources.

Don and Lurline Campbell share a laugh

Don and Lurline Campbell, from Brisbane, Australia, are serving as interim pastors at the International Anglican Church of Amman, where we attend.  This is the third summer they have served in Amman while the regular priest is away.  We have greatly appreciated Don and Lurline’s friendship, pastoral care and interest in MCC’s work.

Recently we were also privileged to hear Dr. Stephen Sizer, an Anglican priest from the United Kingdom, give a thoughtful lecture on Christian Zionism.

In the region this week:

  • The former head of Israeli Military Intelligence predicted that Israel will attack Iran in the next few weeks.  There have been many predictions like this before, and some say that such an attack is unlikely before Israel is assured that the potential for retaliatory strikes from Syria and Hezbollah is neutralized.

The view of our neighborhood in Jabal al-Webdah — Greek Orthodox Church, Parliament building, King Abdullah Mosque, and the towers of the new Abdali development

The Common Lectionary readings this week are about food for the journey.

In the Old Testament reading, Elijah flees from an angry Queen Jezebel, who has threatened to kill him.  In fear and despair he asks God to take his life. (I Kings 19:4)  Instead, God sends an angel who prepares a cake and offers a jar of water. “Get up and eat,” the angel commands Elijah, “otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”  Elijah obeys. “Then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.” (vv.6-8)

Sydney enjoys tasting plums and puffs (photo by Holden Byler)

The psalmist challenges, “O taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Ps. 34:8)  In times of trouble, God answers us (v.4b), delivers us from our fears (4c), hears our cries (6a), saves us from every trouble (6b) and encamps around us (7a).

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus proclaims in the Gospel reading.  “Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).  While the crowds come looking for manna – miracle bread — like their ancestors ate in the wilderness, Jesus has something far better to offer.  “I am the living bread that came down from heaven,” he declares.  “Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.” (v.51).

Satisfied Sydney — our beautiful eyes granddaughter (photo by Holden Byler)

In the Epistle reading, Paul urges the church at Ephesus to “live in love, as Christ loved us” (Eph. 5:2)  Living in love means to speak the truth and put away falsehood (4:25); to be angry without sinning (4:26); to share rather than to steal (4:28); to speak in ways that build up rather than to tear down (4:29); and to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, rather than bitter, slanderous and full of wrath (4:31-32).

These are difficult times.  Still, God sustains us in many ways.  The encouragement of guests, and new pictures of our granddaughter Sydney, have been several ways that God has provided food for our journey this week.

Sydney plays at an outdoor wedding at CrossKeys Vineyard  (photo by Holden Byler)