Dutch woman reflects on serving in Jordan

Annebeth - Jordan

The local pastors and churches in Amman, Jordan, have been overwhelmed by the numbers of refugees throughout their communities in need of all kinds of assistance. That’s one reason Amman was named a host site to receive Eurasia volunteers through the region’s M+Power mobilization initiative, which is identifying and deploying long-term Eurasian volunteers across the region.

Annebeth Roor, from the Netherlands, volunteered to spend six months providing whatever assistance was needed to the Gardens Church of the Nazarene in Amman.
She arrived in August, just as the church completed outfitting its community center, where she helped them to launch English language classes for the many Iraqi refugees who attend the church, and their friends. The classes are necessary for many of the Iraqi refugees who plan to immigrate to English-speaking countries in the future.
“They want to work or study and they’re waiting until their visas are approved, but there’s no process or way of doing things that they know when their visa will be approved,” she said. “It gives a lot of insecurity for them and they get more depressed the longer they’re in Jordan. They live on their savings, it’s very expensive and there’s an end to the savings, as well.”
She also started a women’s meeting, that saw an average of 7 to 10 women attend over the five-week program.
“Most of them are mothers,” she said, “and it’s really nice for them, just having a night off, and not having to think about their husband or their children or the questions and insecurity they’re having. They don’t have a lot of things to do.”
The women would bring cookies and cakes and they’d drink tea and do something fun, such as watch a movie together.
Roor also assisted another local church that conducts food distribution for refugees twice a month. More than 300 women come to receive the food supplies, but in the process they encounter the love of Jesus through the church members they meet.
Roor is studying for a master’s degree in business administration in the Netherlands. Two years ago she joined the newly planted Church of the Nazarene in Utrecht, where her fiancée is also involved. That same summer she visited Lebanon – her first trip to the Middle East. She enjoyed the experience so much that she wanted to return to the region.
When she heard about M+Power, she talked with coordinator Annemarie Snijders who invited her to attend a cross-cultural orientation in 2015 as part of the application and training process before being sent out. Roor has found M+Power to be a unique way to experience another culture, “because you’re joining a local church, you’re not coming from outside with an NGO (nongovernment organization). I’m really in the culture.”
During the past six months, Roor has been living next door to the church, sharing space with several Jordanian roommates, which has added to her cultural immersion experience.
“It was a challenge that I couldn’t speak the language, but that solved itself because I am learning the language and I spend a lot of time with Arab speakers,” she said. “I really learned that I have a lot to learn. I learned, you know, that your way of communicating or your way of handling things is not the only possible way. Because you’re in your own culture, you don’t often get feedback about that, but when you’re in another country, you learn your style is a cultural style.”

One of the things Roor has enjoyed about the Jordanian culture is the hospitality.
“If you’re invited to come over for dinner, it’s really cozy and fun. I also love that if you come here, the ladies, they always kiss you and they’re very friendly. One of the most commonly used words here is ‘habiby’ – ‘love’ or ‘sweetheart.’ You can use it for everyone. It’s, in that respect, very warm, so I really love that.”
Roor said that after this experience, she is open to serving cross-culturally again, perhaps longer-term.
“If God calls me, I will go.”