I really did love Jordan.
It had a different feeling than any other country I have been to in the Middle East (all 3 of them haha).
It was cleaner than Egypt and more peaceful than Israel.
My expectations were far-exceeded.
I also learned a few things that I was not expecting.
1) Arranged marriages are still at large and the Jordanian culture is very different than ours. One day on the bus our tour guide told us the story of his arranged marriage. When he decided he wanted to get married his family found a girl from a suitable background (confirmed by weeks of private investigation), they went to visit her family's home. After the girl, fully veiled of course, served him and his father tea they signed the engagement contract and agreement. The wedding was a few months later, and by wedding they mean two separate celebrations taking place in two separate rooms for men and women.
The most shocking part of the story to me was the popular Jordanian custom for the couple's wedding night. Both the groom's mother and the bride's mother accompany the newlyweds back to the apartment and wait on chairs outside of the bedroom until the groom comes out and tells them that 'he made it'. They apparently do this to offer support and make the couple feel more comfortable.
Haha call me crazy but I am pretty sure having my mom right outside the door would not be all comforting! Like I said though, very different culture! It was so interesting to hear about an arranged marriage from someone who had actually experienced it! (This story was about his first wife-he is allowed to have four though so is contemplating getting another soon)
2) That wonderful people exist all around the world. During my time at Jordan I met some of the nicest, friendliest people who were so welcoming and sincerely happy to have us in their country. Seriously, everywhere we went the locals smiled and shouted "Welcome to Jordan!". It was awesome.
3) That I am so blessed to be a woman born in America. I take this for granted all the time and being in the Middle East has made me realize that I really am the luckiest girl in the world. One night when we were at the mall in Jordan, I sat there people-watching and got so upset about the way some of the women were being treated. Nothing too dramatic was happening, but as I watched some men yell at, slap, and dominate their wives for doing something as simple as trying to comfort their crying child, I got genuinely angry. I know it is another part of their culture and a social norm, but all I can say is that Heavenly Father knew what he was doing when he sent me to Utah instead of the Middle East. I don't think my nature would have allowed me to be so submissive-I can't handle situations that I believe are unfair. My heart really does go out to all the women living in harsh situations in the Middle East and I am amazed at their patience and kindness despite less than ideal circumstances.
4) That crossing international borders is not easy! It took us almost three hours to get back across the Israel border-and that was even with us being able to skip a line.
5) That Jerusalem really does feel like home. Driving up the hill to the center, walking through the beautiful grounds and into the arched front doors was such a relief, even after such a short time away. I remember doing the exact same thing back in April-walking through those arched doors, feeling so overwhelmed, and having no idea what I was getting myself into. I had no idea how much I would come to love this building and this place.
Sorry for the lack of pictures, and overload of feelings on this post!