Friday, June 26, 2009


Contrary to popular belief (inferred from all previous posts), we are not just on a summer long vacation riding camels, swimming in beautiful slot canyons, visiting ancient religious and archeological sites, and shooting the breeze with Arabs.  There actually is a  purpose in our being here and we’ve even developed daily and weekly routines here in Amman.  We thought we would add a quick post filling in the gaps – explaining what we do in between our weekend excursions.  

ANDREW: Every day Andrew wakes up at about 6:30 to work on homework. He studies for about an hour before he heads off to the University. The University is about a 15-minute walk from our house, which is nice and convenient. At the University he takes a variety of classes all of which are in Arabic and range from writing to international relations. After hours of classes (some days 1 hour other days 5 hours) he heads off to do his speaking. He is required to speak at least two hours of Arabic with native speakers outside of class each day. Andrew typically goes around campus and talks with friends he has made. Some days he switches things up by going to mosques to speak with sheiks or by going downtime to talk to shop owners and people in coffee shops and restaurants. The other major half of his homework is to spend 2-3 hours a day reading and translating Arabic newspapers, which he does sometime in between classes and speaking.  He finally returns home between 5:00 and 6:00. We eat dinner and then some nights he gets to play and other nights he has newspaper homework or other assignments from classes to work on. He has been an Arabic machine all summer! I’ve been amazed at the progress he has made.

CHANA: Every day is a little different for me. But they all start with all of the wives coming over to work out. The gyms here are very expensive and most don’t allow women, so we have made our own gym in our living room. We work out to a couple of different videos throughout the week. After that my days vary with what day of the week it is. Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday I go to a beginning Arabic class. Andrew’s program director started it for us so that we could learn to read signs, recognize numbers and tell the taxi drivers how to get us home. We still have a long way to go, but it makes the days go faster. On Monday and Wednesday I spend most of my time at home reading books and working on my online class (it’s true I have one more class until I officially graduate from BYU- actually I only have two more lessons and a final!) Throughout the week I do laundry, clean the house, and sometimes go on outings. As wives we try to keep ourselves as busy as possible. Some of our outings have included lunch and swimming at the American Embassy, shopping, making and taking baby hats to the hospital, and exploring our neighborhood.

On Friday Andrew and I go to church and spend the day together. On Saturday we typically have an outing planned with the group or we create one ourselves. Then next thing we know the week starts all over again. Although life is VERY different here we love it. It has been such an amazing experience and we are sad to see the days passing so quickly..... well, kind of.

Andrew after a long day of studying Arabic

Chana next to the flowers Andrew bought her for our 9 month anniversary 

Monday, June 22, 2009


This past weekend we took a break from traveling outside of Amman and spent some time in the city.  Just the two of us kind of took it easy and spent the day together.  Of course we had to get out of the house so our adventure for the day was a trip to the Citadel in downtown Amman.  It is basically a big hill in the middle of the city and from the top you get a beautiful panoramic view of Amman.  The hill has been the focus of human settlement in the area since the Paleolithic Age, more than 18,000 years ago.  When the Romans settled in the area they threw much of the remains from the previous ages over the slopes, much of which was later found mixed in with the Roman remains.

At the top of the hill is a pretty good archeological museum that displays the remains of the various ages.  Just outside the museum are the remains of the Temple of Hercules, built by the Romans during the same time that the famous Roman Amphitheatre was built at the base of the hill.  On the other side of the museum is a big Ummayad Palace (Ummayad refers to an early Islamic time period) that was built over pre-existing Roman structures in the 8th century.  Anyways, most of you reading this probably have no interest in that brief history lesson but it’s nonetheless a place with a rich history and provides an awesome view of the city. 

Picturesque view of Amman
(They love their Jordanian flags here!)

      At the top of the Citadel (the Roman Amphitheater is in the left corner)

The Temple of Hercules 

The Ummayad Palace

Friday, June 19, 2009


Last weekend we made a trip to Christ’s baptismal site and the Dead Sea.  Like many other ancient sites in the Middle East the baptismal site is only a guess and likely not the exact spot where he was baptized.  There is, however, greater substantial evidence than other sites and was only recently discovered.  About ten years ago archeologists discovered Byzantine churches and other various Byzantine artifacts that revealed where they (the Byzantines) believed the baptismal site to be.  Of course the Byzantines didn’t come until a few hundred years after Christ was baptized but it’s still a significant discovery that gives greater credence to claiming it as “the place.”  The Jordan River is narrow and super dirty but it was nonetheless a special experience to stand on the ground where Christ himself walked and taught.

After the baptismal site we made our way 400 meters below sea level to the Dead Sea – the lowest point on earth.  The rumor is true – the water really is so buoyant that it’s literally impossible to sink!  As you walk in your feet are forced from under you and if you lie back the water supports you like a cradle.  It’s so salty though that the coolness of floating in the Dead Sea wears off pretty fast and you want to get out.  It feels like you are covered in oil and the salt stings every part of the body.  It was still way worth it though.  We spent the rest of the afternoon swimming in a beautiful chlorinated pool overlooking the Dead Sea.  We definitely had another successful weekend excursion. 

Standing in front of the alleged place of Christ's baptism

A section of the Jordan River

Dipping into the Jordan River
(you can actually be baptized there, but we decided our toes were enough)

One of the signs marking sea level

Floating in the Dead Sea

A view from the pool overlooking the Dead Sea

Friday, June 12, 2009


Eric and Rachel welcomed little Lucy Alder into the world on June 6, 2009 at about 6:00 p.m. (Mountain Standard Time that is) and we became an aunt and uncle!  We are so excited for Eric and Rachel and can’t wait to meet Lucy in August.  It made us homesick to be so far a way during all the excitement but we are so happy she’s here and everything went well.... as far as we know (we still haven’t gotten the whole story and fill a little neglected).  Here is a small sample of the pictures we’ve received so far, we think she’s adorable!  Congratulations Eric and Rachel. We love you!

Eric, Rachel, Lucy and Kristen (Rachel's sister) at the hospital

She definitely got Eric's long chicken legs 
(but we think they are perfect)


Last weekend we went with a group of about ten to a place called Wadi Mujib.  It was one of the most beautiful sites we’ve visited so far and definitely a must do if you ever tour Jordan!  It’s a narrow slot canyon that leads up to a huge waterfall.  You start at the base, which flows into the Dead Sea, and then hike up about a mile to the waterfall.  You are in water the whole time but sometimes it’s only ankle deep while in other areas the water is over your head.  There are a few mini waterfalls where you use ropes and ladders to climb up and then some fun rocks to do a little cliff jumping.  It’s definitely no cakewalk and Chana showed how hardcore she really is.... she needed very little help.  It was super refreshing to get out of the heat and into some water while enjoying the beautiful scenery!

The mouth of the canyon where our adventure began

Part of the river inside of the canyon

One of the mini waterfalls where you had to use a rope to get to the top

A view of the canyon

The waterfall at the end of the adventure

The group behind the waterfall