The following is extracted from an e-mail from Jolene Dew to
family and friends that made its way to us.
Jolene serves with her husband, Bill, in
Amer Elyas is Bill's counselor in the Branch Presidency. In October, he was called to a mission in
the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. We have spent much time with him over the past
three months preparing him for his mission.
Amer does not speak much English. We have been working hard with him to
improve his English. In
I remember just after the call
came for his mission back in October. He
went through some hard times as he tried to wrap his mind around going to
One night in the car on the way to
his house he told us many of his fears. All of this, in our Arabic/English broken style which is a combination
of trial and error and repeating and guessing. He was worried about the language and how
hard it would be to be the only one who spoke Arabic. He wondered how he could
serve with his limited English skills.
We also learned he was afraid of lions!
He had been on the internet and found out that there are lions in
About this same time, I was having a hard time as I tried to learn the Arabic language. I had asked Bill to fast with me the next day and then give me a blessing. We felt impressed to ask Amer if he wanted to join us and also get a blessing from Bill. He jumped at the chance and said he would fast also. So the next day we fasted and after church Bill gave us both blessings. It was a very spiritual experience for all of us.
That was in November, and since
then we have watched the confidence in Amer grow and
grow. He isn't worried about lions any
more. He isn't worried about the crime
into some trouble getting his papers ready for his visa. When his call came he had to have lots of
shots, a chest x-ray and a lot of doctor's signatures. When the papers were ready they were submitted
them to the South African Consulate for his visa. They were told that he needed a letter from
the General Intelligence stating that Amer did not
have a criminal background. This was in
the first of December. He went to
General Intelligence and was asked to get pictures of himself, which he
did. Two weeks went by and he was told
to come back in another week. Then it
was Christmas and then it was the Muslim holiday of Ead
for ten days or so the offices were closed.
Now it was into January and he was to leave soon. We were all praying that he could get his
papers from the General Intelligence.
Finally they gave him an appointment to come in on a certain Sunday. He came and waited an hour and a half only to
be sent home again and told to come back the next day. The following day after another hour wait,
he was finally taken to see the head of the office, who questioned him for
three hours about his involvement in the Church. After the very long interview, the man told Amer to come back in an hour and he would receive his
papers. We were all down in
With the papers in hand, they went off to the South African Embassy again. But this time they were told that the medical tests he had done in November were out of date and he would have to do them all again! Oh my!
marched back to the doctors and redid the tests and got new signatures from the
doctors and returned back to
On Sunday when we picked Amer up from his home to take him to
We have spent the last few days
getting Amer ready to leave for his mission. This is always a big job with lots of
shopping. It was an interesting
experience to shop for a missionary here in
We ended up with two lovely suits. Amer kept looking at Bill's suit and wanted to match what he was wearing. Amer adores Bill and he wants to look just like him. In the end he had a dark navy pinstripe like Bill's and a grey suit like Bill's. He kept saying to me, "Sister Jolene, you like?"
We found a great shoe store and got him some heavy duty shoes for lots of walking. Most of the Jordanian men like shoes with long pointed toes. It is very interesting, but the shoes we got are very normal looking and sturdy.
This was a tender time for the family. Amer's mother planned a lovely dinner of mansif with lamb on Friday. His whole family including uncles and aunts came. Amer was very happy. Sewar was quite delighted that the mansif would be with lamb and not chicken. This is a rare thing for them to afford lamb.
gave a talk in church on Friday. It was
a lovely talk starting out with Jesus Christ as the light of the world and it
is only through Him that we can return to our Father in Heaven. He went on to say that those who are members
of the Church in
lived with us the few days after he was set apart before leaving for
mother had asked us if they could come to the Airport to see him off, and we
answered "of course!" The
morning of his departure, I asked Amer how he felt
and he said he was a little nervous about the flight and all. We got out the copies of his ticket. And he wrote Arabic all over his copy so he
would understand what it said about the times of his travel. He will fly from
I told him that after he went
through customs he was to wait in the airport just outside of customs for
someone to meet him. Amer was very concerned about being found once he got to
Just before we left our house,
Bill and I and Amer knelt in prayer and Bill asked
for the blessings of the Lord to attend Amer all the way
Finally we were ready and we headed out with just a couple of stops for last minute things and a visit to the hospital to say good-bye to his great aunt. Then we arrived at his home about an hour and a half before we had to leave for the airport. His family was there and many of his relatives were there to say good-bye. It was a very tender moment. Amer's father had a stroke a year ago and is not able to speak or move his arm or leg. It was especially hard for him and for his mother who cried a lot. This scene is repeated all over the world as good families bid farewell to their missionaries.
When the time arrived, they were able to help Amer's father into a car with his mother and little sister and Amer joining them. Bill and I drove the car with all of his luggage and Amer's two brothers. That was an interesting 2 hour drive to the airport because his brothers don't speak English and our Arabic was very difficult for them to understand, but somehow we were able to communicate a little. This scene is repeated daily here as we try to speak to these good Jordanian people with our very limited language skills.
At the airport, Amer bid farewell to his parents at the car and then we took him into the terminal. We got someone to help him as he has never been more than 5 hours by car from his home, and that only once. These good people just don't go very many places and this grand adventure Amer was on was more than a little overwhelming. They have a service where you pay a little extra and you get someone to help you through the red tape. We considered it well worth the price. Amer did run into some problems with the weight on his bags because the internet had been wrong and so they had to work that out, but in the end the Lord blessed him to board the plane on time. We sat out in the car until Amer called and said that he was boarding and then we left to go back to Irbid with his brothers and little sister.
As the Branch President, Bill had
e-mailed the President of the South African MTC telling him of Amer's departure and asking that he inform us of Amer's safe arrival.
On Friday afternoon we received an e-mail from Pres. Hill with two
pictures of Amer, one with Pres. and Sis. Hill, who look just as warm and loving as they should, and another
picture with his companion, Ryan Stinger, from
Bill and I feel that it has been a rare privilege to have been a part of Amer's
preparation for his mission. We love
this good young man dearly. If this
were all we came to