Sunday, July 4, 2010

We Met His Royal Majesty, King Abdullah II

Some people might wonder why we are in the Middle East. We came to Jordan because we told ourselves that we would be open to new experiences. The past year has been such a whirlwind, it was refreshing to be able to take an opportunity and make it happen. Being spontaneous has always been a hallmark of our relationship, but we have been limited of late.

We are barely 36 hours in and new experiences are everywhere. Below are just a few of the highlights:

Jackson has been a huge hit. There is a camp here at the King's Academy for Jordanian junior high kids. Jackson, as friendly as ever, went right up to a group of them and introduced himself right after we arrived. There are probably 60-70 kids in this camp and they all know his name. He has been playing with them every chance he gets. The Arab culture loves anglo children and they have been touching his hair, giving him playful kisses on the cheek and generally treating him like royalty. He seems to like all the attention. We have video and will post soon.

We met His Majesty King Abdullah II this morning when he addressed the Four Star Debate attendees. I'm not sure how many times our life we will have the opportunity to meet royalty. King Abdullah is the 43rd direct descendent of the prophet Muhammad. He gave an off the record lecture on the current state of the Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Jordan, as you may know, plays a major role in the stability of this region. We are not allowed to share any of the King's remarks, but we learned more about the conflict in an hour than we previously knew. King Abdullah is one of the good guys and as General Tommy Franks said, "he is our last, best hope for peace." We believe that after hearing him speak.

Following the remarks, the king immediately departed the room. Recently, Lee Anne bought Jackson a children's book written by Queen Rania - King Abdullah's wife. The title is The Sandwich Swap, a story about cultural acceptance. As the king was walking by following a quick photo op with General Franks, he looked at Jackson and smiled. I said, "we bought The Sandwich Swap." He stopped, turned around and came right up to Jackson and bent down to shake his hand. Jackson said "hi, King." The king smiled. He then shook both Lee Anne and my hand. It was a very cool moment. There was an official photographer and we are trying to get a hold of the picture.

I gave my lecture on leader communicators tonight and the students seemed to enjoy. Food is good. Company is good. Tomorrow, we head to Petra, one of the seven wonders of the world. We are traveling by private driver and it is supposed to take the entire day. Tuesday we go to Mt. Nebo and other holy land sights. Wednesday we go to Spain.

We'll update soon...

Renzi, Jackson and Lee Anne


Lindsay said...

Awesome! Keep the posts coming.

mindy said...

What a cool experience for you guys and Jackson!

Valerie Phillis said...

I love your spirit for adventure! How great to meet King AbdullahII!!! Can't wait to hear about your trip.