Aden surprised me with the Jordan trip to hear Elder Holland speak when I came back to Cairo. At the airport we were informed that without the credit card that Aden used to purchase the tickets we were not allowed to board on the plane. After talking with the manager, they handed our tickets while marking us as "exceptions." The flight was only an hour and half long. At the airport in Jordan we took a bus to Amman. Finding the church was easy but nobody was in the building so Aden and I walked around downtown Amman and ate a delicious Jordanian dish, mansef, consisted of roasted chicken and lots of rice. Exceeding my expectation, Amman was clean and peaceful. Compared to Cairo, there were fewer people and trash out in the streets. I especially enjoyed walking along the Rainbow streets covered with cobber stones.
The church was still empty when we got back so Aden found a way in but five minutes later the branch president and his wife walked in. They actually live in the church building, the first floor was their home and the second floor was the chapel and the classrooms. Around one thirty in the morning Marko, Kevin, and Miles finally arrived.
Everybody was walking around to get everything ready for Elder Holland. I actually bumped into him in the hallway. I held my hands out and confidently greeted, "Hello President Boyd! ... uhm... I mean... Holland... I meant Elder Holland!" Noticing my nervous gestures and stutters, he grabbed my neck and pulled me towards him and said, "I know who I'am and you are?"
Well at least I didn't trip him (ahem... Miles)
The conference was wonderful. Elder Holland was emotional and funny throughout his talk. He and sister Holland had many years of visiting this part of the world. Their talks were filled with memories and hopes for the Middle East. The conference was filled with members that traveled from Syria, Dubi, United Arabs Emirates, and others. After the conference Aden, Kevin, Marko, and I went to the city center and ate hummus and foul. Aden and I also went and saw the roman ruins and the citadel from the distance.
Petra was magnificant! There were more tourists than I would have liked but that did not steal the beauty of the ancient archietect of Petra. Because of time limitation and for the sake of experience, I took a donkey up to the monastery while the boys hiked up to the top. Towards the end of the day the five of us rushed back to the airport to drop off Miles, Marko, and Kevin. That was followed by a nice dinner with the branch president, his wife, and the dean of BYU. That night Aden and I discovered that the branch president was an outdoor maniac. I guess he doesn't have much opportunity to talk about his adventures because that was all he did that night. He also warned Aden not to expect any sympathy from me because he certainly doesn't from his wife. Aden already knows that he gets no sympathy from me when he comes back with injuries. More injuries, less symathy.
Our last day was spent with me driving around Jordan! We rented a car and drove to the claimed baptismal site of Jesus Christ. The spot where they claimed Jesus was baptized was dried up but we got to touch the Jordan river. Then we went to Waddi Mujib. Aden went to check the price and came back dissapointed since we had less than half of the cost for both of us. We didn't come all the way to Jordan to be turned down so I went and talked with the owner. We end up paying whatever we had left and went into the canyons. I felt like I stepped into Southern Utah. The canyons looked just like the Narrows in Zions Canyon. The trail ended with a beautiful waterfall. After getting our normal clothes wet, we changed into our swimsuits and headed straight to the dead sea. I didn't even have to taste the water to feel how salty the water was. Thanks to the increse density of the sea, we had a relaxing time floating away.