Building a second home in Jordan |

Building a second home in Jordan

Special to the Daily Nancy Feely just returned to her home in Summit County after spending six months in Jordan building houses with Habitat for Humanity. Her slide show is at 7 p.m. Sunday at Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon.

DILLON – About the only warning Nancy Feely would have for people visiting Jordan would be: Watch out, you might fall in love with it.Feely went to Jordan for the first time last October with Phyllis and Jan Updike, Breckenridge locals who regularly travel to Jordan to build houses and support the health-care system. She never had been to the Middle East before, but the trip sparked an interest, which led her to spend the last six months in Jordan building houses with Habitat for Humanity. She shows slides from her trip at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon.From lone traveler to community memberFeely went to Jordan alone but soon developed deep connections with the locals and volunteers building houses.One of the running jokes between Jordanian community leaders and her revolved around spaghetti.

When she first arrived, she volunteered to make dinner for a small group from Florida who came to help build houses. About 20 minutes into dinner, the program manager popped his head in and said two more people are coming. Ten minutes later, he added another two. Soon, the number grew to seven extra people.Feely scrambled but ended up with enough food. Only, at the end of dinner, all of the Jordanians’ bowls were still full.”I was just devastated because I didn’t think they liked it,” Feely said.But it turned out one man tried to scoop the spaghetti up with his pita bread, another tried with a spoon and another slurped – all to no avail; they simply didn’t know how to eat the noodles.”I didn’t feel comfortable enough to joke about it, but as the months wore on, it became a community joke,” she said. “They’d ask: ‘Nancy, are we having spaghetti?'”Housing the community

In the six months she stayed in Jordan, she helped build six houses for people ranging from a widow to a family of nine that had previously lived out of two rooms. Before Habitat’s help, some people lived in tents made of plastic and bamboo, which landlords could kick them out of without notice.Though Jordanians and Habitat volunteers would start out feeling tentative when they first met for a project, within days, the future homeowners – who also worked on the house – would greet volunteers with hugs and greetings and share recipes, she said.”The work and the people have just really spoken to me,” Feely said. “It’s quite an experience to do something you love and know that it’s making a difference.””In not so many words, Philip Griffith, the national director, told me that my gift was to keep people talking and feeling safe so that they could give their best,” Feely wrote in a letter to friends.On the home frontWhen Feely returned to Summit County, awareness of how much excess Americans live with flooded her consciousness. The day after she came back, she stood, dazed, in the meat section of City Market, amazed at the selection. She grocery shopped at a large store in Amman, Jordan, where some days meat was available, and some days it wasn’t.

In addition to spreading gratitude for what Americans have, she would like to convey the warmth of Jordanians.”If I had any message to say, I would just say that our concept of the Middle East here is so swayed by the media,” she said. “I feel like people think of the Middle East as one big country and all the people as the same. It’s kind of like saying the U.S. is all like Texas. “The Jordan people – everyone I came across from taxi drivers to kids in the community – they all express that they want the Americans to know that the Arab people are not bad, and that they love Americans. They don’t necessarily agree with our regime, but they have the ability to separate Americans from the American government. They’re an incredible people, and Jordan is just an incredibly beautiful county.”And it’s one that calls Feely back. She plans to spend November through May in Jordan building more houses. And after that, she plans to return as many times as Habitat will have her.”I don’t feel like I’m alone,” Feely said. “I’ve been accepted into the Habitat staff as family. I’ve never gone anywhere or worked anywhere where I’ve felt so accepted and welcomed right off the bat.”Feely is trying to raise $14,000 for a year of travel and work in Jordan. For more information, call her at (970) 390-7331.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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