Last Saturday, the 10 of May, my professor mentioned that the Young Women in the North Branch (up near Irbid in Al-Husn) were having a YW activity, and if we wanted to go he would give us the number of the missionaries up there and we could call and find out when and where, etc. Of course I jumped at the chance of meeting with the branch up north which is held all in Arabic (the Amman branch is in both Arabic and English) and I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to have a “missionary” type experience.
I was right.
After calling the missionary couple (the Cottons) up in Al-Husn and talking to the hotel clerk about which bus station to go to to find a bus to Irbid, and convincing my friend Gini to go with me, we caught a taxi, explained to the bus driver where we wanted to go in Arabic, and then figured out the bus system, found a bus that would take us to Irbid, and then rode for about 75 minutes to Irbid (can I just say that if I had not been on a BYU program I would have kept driving for about 30 minutes and crossed the border into Syria? That is how close I am to these forbidden countries!). Then, I got off the bus in Irbid, caught a taxi to Al-Husn, and then called President Cotton from Al-Husn, who came and picked us up and took us to the branch house.
It was thrilling.
As we were riding up to Irbid, I realized just how little I knew about where we were going. I didn’t even know if we were on the right bus, or if the taxi driver would take us to the right place, or where the branch house was, or even what the activity was or how long it would last. But hey, I had my Arabic skills and the Cotton’s number, and that was basically all I needed. I guess my Arabic skills were good enough to get us there and home, because we didn’t have any problems either way.
When I got to the branch house and started explaining about our travels, Sister Cotton asked, “Have you been on a mission? Because you sound like a missionary!” I was delighted and told her that I was actually waiting for my call, but I felt like I was traveling to a district conference or something!
The Saints up in Al-Husn are incredible. They are all converts and Jordanian natives from either Catholic or Greek Orthodox background, and it was delightful to meet with them and try to communicate with them in this incredible hard language called Arabic. I socialized with the women (turns out it was a joint RS/YW activity of making pizza and “cold pineapple cake,” which consists of jello on the bottom, then a layer of cooked cake on top of the jello, then pineapple juice poured over the cake, then cool whip spread on top with pineapple slices and pistachios sprinkled on top) and played “FISH” (or Sumuk, in Arabic) and some sort of question and answer game in Arabic with the YW…and I played with the branch president’s three young children, who were also present.
And again I realized how my “survival” Arabic skills just don’t cut it when I am playing with children.
The moral of the story? Going up to Al-Husn was the best thing I could have done with my Saturday—better than going to the Dead Sea or Mount Nebo or downtown Amman (and even better than going to Syria, I guess). And who knows, maybe I will be using public transportation all the time on my mission and I will have similar experiences of excitement and adventure!