Monday, April 29, 2013

Birthday

Thanks to all who wished me a Happy Birthday and made this day special. It was nice to talk to some of you by phone, and am grateful for all who wrote me.
My mom made a cake for me =) thanks Mom, although I can't eat it, I can feel your love across the miles.
For those who have not read my post yesterday, you can read it below. I'll have you know that the Engineers figure out where the Bird came in from and are fixing it so I won't have any more bird visitors. It does get kind of lonely here so I almost kept the bird as a pet, but it may have not like being inside my apartment.

We watched a movie tonight and everyone gathered afterwards and we had a birthday celebration. The apple strudel was especially excellent...All the missionaries sang happy Birthday to me in their native language then I made them do it all together at the end and recorded it. I'm putting the video below in addition to some pictures. We are going to London tomorrow and taking the day off to do something fun for a change. Now that it is somewhat warm we can actually enjoy being outside!!

Languages: English, French, Spanish, Finish, Albanian, Chinese, German




With Sister Cardona & Sister Phermsin:


With the Kearls (who left last week) and Sister Hess in the office. Behind us is the board with all the missionaries in our mission:

 
 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sunday, April 28th

It has been a long week, but finally things are calming down in the office. I have time to do what I need to do. I will be slightly busy this week because it is the end of the month and there are reports to be turned in, but it will be Ok I think.

On Thursday we drove to Pres. Millar's home and I spoke to the missionaries about the report we are doing on the lost sheep. Sister Millar prepared a great meal for us and it was nice just to get out of the office.

Yesterday we wanted to go up to Wandsworth to help the sister missionaries there as they move into their flat. We found out the flat was not clean and decided we could help them a little with cleaning. The place we rented had a big living room, but even though it said three bedrooms on the contract the rooms were so small you can't really fit anything in them. One room was smaller than my bathroom (literally). I don't know how they will fit beds in there. And the place was SO dirty. I have never seen a place so dirty. It seems like it just was never cleaned (ever). I mean the stove was black. The bathrooms were also black full of mold and dirt. We worked for 2 hours then decided it was a hopeless case. I got the bathrooms to where you could use them and Sister Hess and the girls worked on the kitchen. I am so grateful for the place I stay at. It is so clean and new. I am glad I don't have to deal with all that stuff...

Speaking of my place, today I thought I had a mouse. I got so used to finding mice back home that it seemed normal...except that this 'mouse' was making so much noise that it scared me and I thought it must be a rat. I heard it behind the cupboard. And it was digging inside trying to get out. I left to go to church and came back and hoped it would be gone. But, as soon as I sat I heard the noise stronger than before, of something digging inside my cupboards. 

Then, shortly after that I saw its head....it was not a mouse, but a bird (a craw). It was huge. It stuck its head from under my oven trying to get out. Poor thing it was stuck there all day. I called security and said: "I have a bird in my oven". He thought I was nuts I think.  Anyway, he came and moved the board under the oven and the bird got out flying in the room.  He ran straight to the window. I had to make it go through my window as it does not open farther than a few inches. The craw was so happy flying around outside and was so glad to be free.

I gave a lesson in relief society today. It was so nice to teach again. I really miss teaching in Church. The members of the ward here are so strong and great. I love them.

Tomorrow we'll have a little get-together for my birthday. I may take some pictures and post them, we'll see.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring

One thing I learned today is that we are needed wherever we are. Bloom where you are planted is the theme of this post I guess. I was heart broken because President Uchtdorf was in Jerusalem yesterday and I was not able to see him and hear him speak. Today, we heard a talk in church from someone in our ward here who was called to be a seventy. He and his wife said what I needed to hear. President Millar also gave a fireside about how each of our parts no matter how small are essential. We have been really busy in the office. We started making priorities. We have missionaries who have no beds wait while we find apartments for missionaries who have no place to stay. Everything that can go wrong this past week has gone wrong. We had missionaries in the street with no shoes because they locked themselves out, we had car accidents, tires blowing up...etc. Hopefully this week will be calmer.

We went to a musical show on Friday and it was a nice change from the office. On Thursday we went out to eat at the restaurant close by because they were having a 2 for one deal. the meals were so cheap (like 3 pounds or less) so we could not pass out the chance.

I thought I would put up some pictures of signs of Spring. Since I walk by the bushes and trees every day I notice them becoming greener as time goes by. It is nice to see all the brown and leafless trees and bushes become green.


Look, there is green stuff on the tree!!! And see that blue thing behind it, did you know the sky was blue?

We had a farewell for the Kearls who are leaving this week:

these ducks are always on temple grounds. You would think they would fly south for the winter, but no...even in freezing weather they are sitting there in the freezing pond.



We see rainbows a lot...it is great!

 
the primary kids in Bethlehem made these and sent them to me for my Birthday. Aren't they adorable?
 

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April 18, 2013

I want to apologize for not writing and updating you on my news. Things have been really busy here. We had 30 missionaries come this week and 14 leave. When missionaries leave we have them stay here on the temple grounds for 2 days. The drawback to that is that they are almost always in the mission office and it is hard to get any work done. It has been SO busy and I have been working long hours trying to get things done because I could not work with all the noise.

One of the departing missionaries, Elder Huang wanted to cook Chinese food for us. He made lunch for us all today. He made sweet and sour chicken and dumplings. It was the best sweet and sour chicken I have ever had.

We had a dinner together with other missionaries every night this week. Today we finally had nothing to do for dinner, but we went out to eat because the restaurant on our street was having a 2 for 1 meal deal. So, each meal was like 3 pounds. So, we had to go since the offer expires today. I have so much food in my fridge that I never got to eat this week because I hardly ever eat at home.

It is finally Spring here! I thought the day would never come! Everything is starting to turn green. Even the trees have green stuff on them =) I took a picture of a rainbow today that I hope I can send you this weekend.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April 9, 2013

We watched General conference this weekend and it was great. It is a privilege to watch living apostles and prophets speak. I wonder how many would go to listen to Peter or John if they were to come back and speak to us. Probably everyone would want to hear what they say. We have people today like them who speak to us as directed by the Holy Ghost and I hope more people would listen to their words.
I am putting the page for the conference sessions in Arabic below. You hit download and you can watch or listen.

http://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2013/04?lang=eng&clang=ara

We had two new couples arrive to our mission. They arrived today. The Homs and the Adams. They are great. The Adams will replace the Kearls who leave in 2 weeks. I am sad to see the Kearls go, I'll miss them. We just had dinner together. Sister Kearl cooks for all of us all the time. It was really good food and she made the best cheese cake I have ever tasted.

Today is Elder Kearl's Birthday. He is our office manager. Yesterday, we went to a play and thought we would go out to eat at Burger king since it is his favorite place. Somehow nothing is as good as the burger king in the states, but close enough. So, I got my meal and the lady gave me 1 bag of ketchup. I asked for more. She gave me this mean look and said "I already gave you some"...I said I wanted more. So she reluctantly (while complaining) reached out and gave me one more bag. I didn't dare ask for more. When I finally needed more, I decided I would ask the other guy on the counter and thought he may be nicer. So, I go up to the guy and say: "can I have more ketchup please?" He said: "Why didn't the other lady give you some when you got your meal?" Then he called the lady and said: "Did you give her ketchup?" When the lady said she did, he goes: "Well why do you want more?" Anyway, he finally reached in and gave me one then while complaining says: "Well they are 10 pence each." I said: "Well, I can pay." He said: "No never mind! just take this one." !!!???

Anyway, after eating we went to see a play. The 39 steps. It is actually an Alfred Hitchcock Mystery, but they made it into a comedy. It was really funny and very well done. Below is a picture of the theater. There are 4 people that act all the parts, so it is pretty funny how they change so fast and do it.





Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Nephew

My nephew Rani came to visit a friend in England. His friend goes to school in London. I had a chance to see them briefly last Thursday.

The weather of course was freezing as usual, so we did not do much outside. We went out to eat then went to a museum.  It was kind of a nice museum, but my nephew was not impressed with the 200-year old clothes and carpets or statues. So, we decided to leave.

We went to a place that makes crepes and we had desert. It was REALLY good. Even though Rani insisted on plain Nutella on his crepe, we talked him into experimenting and getting a more interesting crepe. I think he was not disappointed.

After the wonderful desert we stopped by one of our Chapels (the Hyde Park Chapel). The missionaries there discovered Rani and Lina were not members of our church and tried to tell them about the church and the book of Mormon. Rani was so glad to leave after that...Rani and his friend had both been to BYU and know a little about the church already.

 


At the Islamic art part of the museum with Rani:
 
 


Monday, April 1, 2013

جورج

English is in second post below

منذ فترة اتصلت بي المبشرات وقالتا لي بأنهن سيحضرن أحد الأشخاص الذي يفكر بالانضمام إلى الكنيسة كي أتحدث معه وأحدثه عن كيفية انضمامي إلى الكنيسة وأدلي بشهادتي له . لم يبد هذا منطقياً لي لكنهن قالتا لي بأنهن يشعرن بأن ما أقوله لجورج سيساعده. وبأنه يعاني من عدم الثقة بالنفس ولا يؤمن بأن الله يحبه.
عندما دخلت المبشرات إلى المكتب مع جورج صدمني مظهره. كانت رائحة السجائر تنبعث منه بشدة. كان شعره طويلاً (حتى خصره). كان يلبس بنطالاً مهترئاً ومعطفاً من الجلد وفي أذنه حلق.  كما كان من راكبي الدراجات النارية. قال لي بأن لديه طفلان لدى كل منهما أم مختلفة وهو نادراً ما يرى أطفاله.  عندما رأيت جورج للمرة الأولى، قلت في نفسي ليس بالإمكان لمثل هذا أن ينضم إلى الكنيسة. لكن مباشرة رُسِمَت في ذهني صورة لجورج بشعر قصير وقميص أبيض وربطة عنق محاط بأناس أنقياء مؤمنين. عندها رأيت إمكانيات الشخص الواقف أمامي.
دخلنا إلى مكتب رئيس البعثة لنتحدث. وعندما تحدثت مع جورج ادهشتني طيبة قلبه. رأيت ايمانه بالله ومعرفته بمخلصه. كانت قيمُه عالية. كان على علم بالشرور الموجودة في العالم وأراد أن يبتعد عنها لكنه لم يكن يعرف كيفية عمل ذلك. كان يُقدر القيم الأسرية، الفضيلة والنقاء.  دهشت من أنه تحت ذاك الغطاء الخارجي الغريب يوجد شخص رائع. كم نسرع عادة في الحكم على الآخرين!
لكن جورج لم يؤمن بأن الله يحبه ولم يشعر بأنه مستحق لحب الله.  كان يكره امرأتيه السابقتان وهذا ربما كان السبب بأن الله لم يغفر له ذنوبه بعد.  شعرت بالآب السماوي يوجه حديثي وأخبرت جورج ببعض تجاربي.  كيف تغيرت حياتي عندما انضممت إلى الكنيسة. وكيف أدركت بأن الله يحبني ويستجيب لصلاتي.  عندما تحدث عن كرهه لامرأتيه السابقتين أخبرته كيف تعلمت أنا أن أحب أعدائي وبأن التخلص من الحقد والكره يحررنا ويشعرنا بالسعادة.
أخبرته بأن أطفاله يحتاجون إليه. يحتاجون بأن يشعروا بحبه لهم. وكما هم يحتاجون للشعور بحب أبيهم فهو كذلك بحاجة للشعور بحب أبيه السماوي له.  أكدت له بأن بإمكانه الشعور بهذا الحب، الآب السماوي سيساعده بأن يشعر بحبه إن صلى له.
أخبرته عن تجاربي في الذهاب إلى الكنيسة وقلت له بأن الآب السماوي يساعدنا على حفظ الوصايا وبأنه إن حاول الإقلاع عن التدخين فإن الله سيساعده.
سألني "لماذا لا يمنع الله المشاكل والصعاب في الحياة؟" أخبرته بأن الصعاب من حولنا تعطينا القوة وتنمّي ايماننا وتُقربنا من الله.
لاحظت عند تكلم المبشرات بأن جورج كان مشتت الذهن ولا يسمع أحياناً. فكنت أسأله عما يجول بخاطره.  أعتقد بأنه عانى الكثير في حياته. وتغيير حياته يتطلب وقتاً وجهداً.
اقترحت على المبشرات أن يساعدنه على التوبة وعلى المغفرة لامرأتيه السابقتين. طلبت منهن أن يعطونه فترة من الزمن، وأن تحيطانه بحبهما وتساعدانه على الشعور بحب الله له. وبأن تصليا معه ومن أجله كي يشعر بالروح القدس. هذا كل ما يمكن عمله من أجل جورج حالياً.
عندما غادر الكل المكتب لم أكن أتأمل كثيراً بأن ينضم جورج إلى الكنيسة. كانت طريقه تبدو صعبة وطويلة. ولم أسمع من المبشرات أي خبر عن جورج لعدة أسابيع.
البارحة أخبرتني إحدى المبشرات بأن جورج سيعتمد في شهر أيار. أشهد لكم بأن الإنجيل يغيّر القلوب ويغير الناس. كما قال أحد القادة "العالم يحاول تغيير الهيكل الخارجي للإنسان، أما إنجيل يسوع المسيح فهو يغير الإنسان من الداخل وعندها يقوم الإنسان بذاته بتغيير شكله الخارجي."


George


One day the sister missionaries called me and said they want to bring someone who was investigating the church and wanted me to share my testimony with him. I thought that was strange, but the sisters said that they felt what I would say may help George (name has been changed). They told me that he has a problem with self esteem and believing that God loves him.
 
When the sisters walked in with George I was shocked. I could smell cigarette smoke on him from a distance, he had long hair (to his waist), was wearing torn Jeans and a leather jacket and had earrings on. He said he rides a motorcycle.  He also said he had two children from two different wives that he does not associate with anymore.  My first reaction was, there is no way this person could join the church.  Then I pictured George in white clothes, short hair and a tie.  I saw him surrounded by good people...It was then that I saw potential in him...
 
We went into Pres. Millar’s office and talked for a little bit. As he spoke I saw the goodness of his heart.  I saw his amazing faith in God and felt he knew His savior.  He had values. He recognized the evils in the world and wanted to be away from them, but did not quite know how.  He valued families, virtue and goodness.  I was amazed that under all that strange shocking exterior was a good person.  How often do we judge too fast!
 
But, George did not believe God loved him and did not consider himself worthy of God's love.  George was also bitter towards his ex-wives which is probably why He has not completely been forgiven himself. I felt Heavenly Father direct me as I shared with him some of my experiences.  I told him how my life changed after learning about the gospel and how I came to know that God answers my prayers and loves me. He mentioned anger towards others and I told him about my experience of loving my enemies and how liberating that is. I told him that he should be part of his children’s lives and that they need him. I also told him that just as his children need to feel his love, he needs to feel Heavenly Father’s love and I testified to him that Heavenly Father will help him feel that love if he prays.

I also shared my experiences of going to church and told him that when we obey the commandments, we are blessed and strengthened and told him that as he tries to quit smoking Heavenly Father will help him as well.

We started speaking about trials and why heavenly Father does not stop all the evil in the world. I told him that sometimes the hard things around us and what others do to us strengthens us, builds our faith and brings us closer to God.

I noticed many times when the sister missionaries were talking that George was not paying attention. His mind was mostly somewhere else. It made me very uncomfortable. They would talk for 5 minutes or so and not notice that George was not even listening. I stepped in between what they were saying and asked “what are you thinking?” And also tried to refocus and see what he was looking for and what he needed to hear. I think he has had a lot of challenges in his life and making a big change is hard for him and he simply needs time.
 
I suggested to the sister missionaries that they should invite him to repent of his sins, but first to try to forgive his ex-wives.  Then I asked them to give him time...to just love him, listen to him and pray with him and help him feel the spirit and feel Heavenly Father's love for him. That is all they can do at this point.
 
I did not hear from the sister missionaries for weeks. I thought that they stopped teaching George and he would never join the church.  Yesterday I got a call from one of the missionaries saying that George will be baptized in May. I testify that the Gospel does change hearts and lives and transforms people.