Desert Rose

Even before the first day at Desert Rose, I knew that I would enjoy the experience. This could be partly because of my tendency to be happy, positive, and excited about upcoming events! Also, Desert Rose is the place where all of my interests meet, where I can do art with other women, one of whom knows Jordanian Sign Language! Her name is Rahab, and she is such a wonderful woman. Upon seeing the three of us, Rahab looked up from her work and gave us two thumbs up and a big smile.

Rahab and I, while the rest of the group ate their bandoura (tomato), onion and peppers with the pita, conversed in American Sign Language and Jordanian Sign Language (Lughat al-Ishāra al-Urdunia, or LIU). We taught and learned from each other! Rahab taught us the numbers, and how to tell time in LIU. I learned that the ASL sign for “same” is the sign for “important” in LIU. Rahab explained that she has 9 siblings, and I signed in ASL, “wow.” Then, she taught me “wow” in LIU, when you tap your fist on the table several times. Rahab’s friend speaks some English and interprets for Rahab, so she was able to interpret for us as well and teach us several signs. Up until this point, my lack of Arabic has left me feeling unable to fully express myself to those who don’t speak English, but signing with Rahab gave me such joy! I already know that I will be sad to leave Jordan. Rahab expressed her happiness at the ability to sign with me because the other women speak with each other. Most of the women know some LIU, but it is obvious and understandable that people tend to revert to speaking. Again, I want to emphasize how loving Rahab is to people. During our second break, she ran to the other side of the room to get chairs for others. Then, she gave our supervisor, Lynn, a drum to play for the group. This astonished me, when I thought, why would Rahab want Lynn to play the drum if Rahab cannot even hear it? It occurred to me that Rahab is looking out for the interests of others! We got back to work after exchanging several signs. There is a whole new world open to us, which makes me eager to learn as much Jordanian Sign Language as possible!

Rahab signed to me in LIU, “It is important to work quickly” and turns to get back to work. I can tell that she is very intelligent from our interactions, and she is diligent in her work. Lynn is definitely blessed to have Rahab as a part of the Desert Rose business! Desert Rose is a company that makes out of olive wood different manger scenes, crosses, kitchen utensils, and many other products. As I was cutting fabric squares, I noticed that Rahab was working on carving a cross. Rahab had made about forty other crosses, which she had in a tall stack in front of her. A question that I have for Rahab and the other women is, “How can you make these Christian symbols for this business, when you are a Muslim?” I have learned that Muslims believe in Jesus as a prophet, yet they do not profess that he died on the cross. Khalil, who Carrie and I met at the market, explained that the symbol of the cross was similar to the symbol of another instrument of death, for example, a gun. As a Christian, I would not feel comfortable with making symbols from other religions. Is this a concern for these Muslim women? Do they make crosses for this business because they do not have another option for work? Do the women go along with this work because Christians are respected as “People of the Book?” Also, during another one of the breaks, there was a lesson about Advent. As I focused on the LIU interpretation of the message, originally told by Lane in English, interpreted into Arabic by Lynn, and then interpreted finally to Rahab, I watched Rahab nod in agreement with the entire message. This surprised me, because, I agreed wholeheartedly with the message as well. Maybe Christians and Muslims do believe similar things up to a point. These are some topics that I hope to explore, as I go to Desert Rose with Carrie and Taylor every week that we aren’t travelling. I pray that God gives us all grace to listen to and learn from each other. Carrie and I are really excited to bring our worksheets from our Arabic classes and to have corresponding LIU signs to go with them! Little did we know that we would be learning many languages on our semester abroad! El Hamdilulah! (Praise God!)

Eventually, I hope to acquire the new Jordanian-Arabic Sign Language Dictionary, which was published on October 5th, 2015. You can find more information on the Deaf community through the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf, located in Salt, Jordan, by visiting

If you are curious about the products by Desert Rose, please visit These gifts are great quality and the women who make these pieces are great. Thank you for reading this post, and for your support!


One thought on “Desert Rose

  1. Reblogged this on MESP and commented:
    MESPers participate in weekly service projects during the semester. Donna S. of Wheaton College (IL) reflects on working at Desert Rose, a handicrafts seller that employs low income and handicapped women in Jordan.


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