Sunday, August 19, 2018

We will never forget...

I have been traveling with my sister, so I have not posted anything in a long time. I will try and summarize the last two weeks in this post.

My brother Walid got a new job with the US government. I am really happy for him because he was unemployed for so long. He told me his office has many internationals in it and so they created a board with information about each person. The map shows where each person in his office comes from and also some information about that country. I was so happy that an office in the US government was willing to list 'Palestine' as my brother's country of origin and also include the Palestinian flag.



In a phone conversation with my sister, my brother said: "I want you all to know that even though we live in the US, we have not forgotten our homeland of Palestine. We will never forget." 

My sister asked if I regret coming to the US and not being able to go back to my country. I said no, because once I become a US citizen I can go back and visit my homeland. But, in the meantime, my heart aches as I think of my country and how much I miss it. I, too, have not forgotten. Nor will I ever forget my beautiful country and the Palestinian people. I miss Palestine more than words can tell. I miss the hills and trees, the amazing food, the air, the sweet people, even the crazy driving.

Visiting with my family this summer gave me a touch of home. We were able to eat Palestinian food, talk about old times, and feel that connection again. Home isn't home without family.  At my aunt Hayah's house, we discovered letters that my mom sent that were dated before I was born. It was great to read about my family's life before I came to earth and what they did every day. It seems like my sisters were the ones who kept nagging that they wanted a baby and my mom finally gave in and had me. 


As I read my mom's letters, I think of the per-existence. We left our home with Heavenly Father a long time ago. I hope we all will never forget that home. I hope we will never forget the love Heavenly Father has for us. Our prayers to Him are like writing letters to home and He does answer. He loves us so much and wants us to come home. My mom asked my sister every day that my sister was here in the US visiting: "When are you coming home? come back." Heavenly Father is also eager to have us back in His presence.   

I hope that as we live each day on earth that we prepare to go back home to Heavenly Father. I want Him to know that I didn't forget, that I love Him and think about Him always and want to go back to be with Him again someday.  Life on earth is short...Losing my cousin Wisam last year, and my cousin Muhannad a few weeks ago, and an aunt and an uncle as well, made me realize that life is fragile. We should make the most of our time here. 

Below are some pictures from this summer.
Rafting down the river in Teton National Park:



In Yellowstone National Park:



Animals we saw...


 And finally saw a bear in the wild...he crossed the road, but we got there late and by the time I got my cell phone out he was almost gone...



In Utah...

The above picture was before the shock that we faced (we were smiling). The trip to Utah started badly, we drove for half an hour out of Rexburg (heading to Utah) when we discovered that we left one of our suitcases at home. We turned around and went back to Rexburg to get it.  This added an hour to our already long drive down to Utah. After visiting SLC and temple square, we headed to our hotel in Utah. For some reason, I thought of asking my sister if she had her passport. We were leaving to go to Hawaii and Texas in the morning. She didn't have her passport with her!! Since she has no other form of ID she would not be able to travel the next day. We almost drove 8 hours (4 each way) to Rexburg to get the passport. My sister thought of asking salt lake express shuttle if they pick up 'stuff' in addition to people. They did! But, the only available shuttle was at 2 a.m. I made my friend Danae (who luckily has a key to my house) get the passport and drop it off to the shuttle driver at 2 am. She saved us from driving 8 hours!! She's amazing. 

My sister didn't sleep worried that her passport was on a shuttle and we stressed about finding the shuttle driver to get the passport. but all went well.  I think we were meant to forget the bag so we would remember the passport, but we didn't...
It was great to visit with family in Texas, but it was relatively short and we were off to Hawaii...
After a long flight, we finally arrived in Hawaii...


And the first two days were windy and rainy (due to the hurricane--bad luck even followed us there)... but we had fun anyways... Swimming in the rain.
 

 The best shave ice in the world (in Oahu):


And the best shrimp I ever had was at a small fast food place in the road in the north shore in Hawaii...



I had shrimp every day almost...and Chinese food the rest. Wow, I didn't realize how many Chinese and Japanese people there are in Hawaii. But, the best was the fruit and smoothies.
  
At the PCC:






The most refreshing feeling was swimming in this waterfall (in water that is 30 feet deep)...I can't believe I got my sister to do it too even though she claims she can't swim.


 
Parasailing in Hawaii:
 (the guy trying to cut our cord. He thought he was funny, but Suhair didn't think he was. He would also lower the para-sail and put people in the water and say that sharks this time of year are attracted to sun screen and nail polish, then say "here sharky sharky.")

  
The sea has its own beauty, but I thought the Hawaii mountains were breath taking...



On the sunset dinner cruise...
 

I met a half-Palestinian woman in Hawaii. She read my book and wanted to meet me. She was so kind and took us hiking to the top of Diamond head (a volcano). She said the hike was short, and it was, but it was up hill and it was hot. We thought we would die.

We actually had a nice view of Diamond head from our hotel/apartment on the 32nd floor. Here is what we climbed (behind the buildings):

 
But, the adventure was totally worth it. Every time we would ask people how much longer it is, they would say 10 minutes. Half an hour later, they still kept saying 10 minutes. We kept going thinking we would get to the top soon...We made it, yay! This is one of the stair cases we climbed. This one was 97 steps I think.

  
Here are the views from the top...






And this whole thing is the volcano crater:
 

We also went on a jet ski...It was not as fun as I thought ...
 

The many beautiful sunsets in Hawaii were the best...
 

At the aquarium (We did see plenty of fish while snorkeling too):

 

The highlight of the trip was meeting a girl from Turkey. I have never seen anyone so excited to see me. She was soooo thrilled to be able to speak Turkish. She's been in Hawaii too long away from Turkey. She said God sent me to her ;-) She sure has a lot of courage. She came to Hawaii and liked it and decided to just move there. She cleans houses for a living and is having the time of her life touring Hawaii. Maybe when I retire I'll go live in Hawaii ha ha.
 
And my sister Suhair left yesterday...I am glad she made it home safely and didn't lose her bags like my other sister.
Samar's bag is still lost (20 days after her trip). We don't know what to do...Has anyone ever lost their bag that long? Is there hope?
 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Challenges

It has been nice having my sisters and cousin here this past week. My sister Suhair is still here, but my other sister and cousin left.

Time has gone by quickly and I think it will be really lonely in my house after my sister leaves. 

I did not give myself time to heal from my surgery and have been doing things with my family every day. I think my doctor was shocked that I went back to work 2 days after the surgery. I didn't dare tell him that I went swimming, tubing down a river, hiking, camping, shopping, rafting...etc just a few days after the surgery. I think he would have been shocked.

My leg is still numb, but on Friday it started to be painful. I know, you are all wondering how it could be numb and hurt, but it does. I mean it is numb in a small area and the rest of it hurts when I touch it. It also hurts when I walk. The doctor says the nerve in my thigh has nothing to do with the nerve that comes down from the hernia area, so I am not sure now what could have caused all this mess. I did get a priesthood blessing and I was told it would heal and go back to normal, so I am really not that worried about it. It is just strange that it is doing that.

On Friday we heard the sad news about my cousin Muhannad dying. My cousin was shocked because it was so sudden. I am glad she was with us when she heard the news.  She lost her sister last year (also suddenly) so it has been really hard for her and her family to suffer another loss. We have had so much fun this past week and this sad news came as a bad ending to a great week. But, the Lord works in strange ways and there is wisdom in all things I am sure.

We leave to go to Texas this week to visit my aunts and uncles. I am looking forward to that. I will be flying out of Utah and am driving down to Utah tomorrow (Thursday) then flying out the day after. 

I didn't post anything on Sunday, it has been busy having my sisters and cousin here. I will be traveling until the end of August, so I probably won't post anything for a while. I just wanted to let you all know.  

I am grateful for my family and for the time I had to spend with them. I am really blessed. I am also blessed to know that this life is not all we have. I believe in a resurrection and in a life after death. I know that my cousin Wisam and her brother Muhannad are now together and are in a better place. I also know that we all will be reunited one day. 

On a side note, an article about me was published in the BYU magazine. If you have not read it, I include a link below. It was really interesting to go through this process. I have never had so many pictures taken of me. I felt like a movie star with all the cameras. The two pictures there are actually pictures that were taken with an old fashioned camera. One that you sit and wait for the pictures to develop and if they don't turn out, you try again. It is so old that they don't make the slides for it anymore. The photographer actually drove back and forth from Utah twice to take those pictures. I was impressed that they would spend that much money and effort on one article. It turned out really good, so it was worth it I guess.

Here is a link to the article if you want to read it: https://magazine.byu.edu/article/a-heart-of-flesh/