Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year

This will be a short blog post. I got busy yesterday and forgot to put a post up...
My cousin Rana came to Utah to visit me on Christmas day. We had a bad snow storm that day and I had bad tires on my car so I was worried about picking her up at the airport. My dear friend, Pat, was willing to drive to the airport in her 4-wheel drive and pick up my cousin. She also fed us both a wonderful meal. 
We made it home safely that night driving very slow. I got new tires the next day and now feel more comfortable driving on the snow.

Yesterday, my sister came as well. Of course the only two days it snowed since I arrived in Utah were the two days of my cousin's and sister's arrival. Strange!! We spent two hours on the road trying to get to the airport yesterday. The traffic was jammed up and we were going so slow. We worried that Samar had arrived early and was not finding us. But, we got there and found her and the snow and traffic was not bad on the way back.

Yesterday after it snowed the weather got better for a while and it became sunny. We went out and made a snowman. It was fun, but we made the mistake of making it in the driveway. so, now I have to make sure I don't kill frosty when I go in and out of the garage.

 On the 24th my friend had me over for dinner and we made Middle Eastern food. Well, we made falafel and Hummus, but we also made Stuff I had never made or tasted...It was good though. She also gave us British crackers (things you pop and get a treat inside). It brought back great memories from England.

Rana and I have been mainly doing shopping and saying we will do the fun stuff when Samar comes. Now we have 3 days while she is here and hopefully we can do everything we want to do. I got to buy this cute Christmas tree on sale for $5

I have been blessed with amazing friends here that have been giving me great gifts for Christmas. I have also been invited to dinner many times and had a lot of good food. My friend Emily made Palestinian food for us the other day. It was amazing. They even made Baklawa and it was sooo good.

 Hope you all have a great new year. I will post more pictures as we travel and see stuff this week.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas

Enjoy my Christmas blog post....

Being away from Bethlehem I seem to be unable to feel that it is Christmas. I have bought some gifts and received gifts, I have a tree in my house, but it still does not feel like Christmas.

However, I think what 'feels' like Christmas has taken a new meaning. Every year I seem to be crazy busy around Christmas time, buying gifts, decorating, visiting people.  To me these things that I do, have become my Christmas. That is why not doing them does not feel like Christmas.  In my crazy busy time I had forgotten what Christmas is all about. It is actually good that I am not busy, because I have been able to reflect on the life of the Savior and think about Him and His birth. He is the real meaning of Christmas. Without Him there won't be a Christmas.

This is a cute video that shows that: The Spirit of Christmas 

I hope you all will have a wonderful Christmas. May it be a time where you reflect on the Savior and His life and why He came to earth. Bethlehem is very festive during the Holiday Season. Lights, activities, celebrations and Christmas music fills the air. It is great that the city of the birth of our Savior still celebrates His birth.

Despite all the uncertainty I have had with where I should go and what I should do, this has been a great year for me. I have done a lot this year and spent quality time with my family.  I returned from my mission this year. I have been busy doing good things. I wish working and making money was among those though.

I hoped that I would have a job before Christmas. And two weeks ago, I really thought I did...But, it turns out that it was not a sure thing.  I will know for sure in a month. Maybe by the end of January I will know what I am doing. I love having a plan and having everything planned and worked out. This difficult time has taught me to trust Heavenly Father and keep moving forward not knowing what the next day will bring.  

Certainly I learned how to be flexible...In July I thought I would live in Palestine for the rest of my life.  In September I thought I was moving to NYC. In October I thought I was going to find a job in Utah and live there. In November I thought I would move to NYC. In December I thought I would move to another state because I thought I found a job there. Again in December I found out that was not true and so now I really have NO clue what I am doing or where I am going. But, at least I know that I am a daughter of God and He has a perfect plan for me. I just wish He would let me know what it is!!

I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. 
My sister Samar is going to be here visiting me during New Year's time for a few days. I am looking forward to that. It has not snowed much here in Utah which is very strange. I just hope it holds off until Samar comes so we can enjoy the somewhat mild weather.

I am spending Christmas eve with my friend and her family. Her daughter is making a Middle Eastern Christmas dinner, so I am going to enjoy that.  On Christmas day I may go up with my friend Emily and her family to a cabin in the mountains. It will be cold, but one things is for sure, it WILL be a white Christmas up there. Hope you all can have a relaxing holiday and hope you can take time to reflect on the Savior and His mission.  I love you all!


Monday, December 15, 2014

Thankful for a Savior-Part 2

It is amazing how fast time goes by. I can't believe we have 10 days til Christmas. But, I am also glad I don't have a lot of Christmas shopping to do this year. I may actually have the calm, quiet Christmas I have always wanted. I seem to say that every year and it never happens.

I was planning to go to Texas to spend time with family, but the tickets were so expensive (mainly because we waited too long). So, instead, I decided to have my sister Samar come to Utah to visit me. We are still not sure what we will do while she is here. We may go to Las Vegas, or go to some of the national parks in Utah. If you have ideas of fun things to do here around new years let me know.

I had decided to stay here in Utah only til the end of December and since the holidays were approaching I had given up on finding a job before I leave. It has been discouraging because I seemed to be turned down by a lot of places simply because of the fact that I had no work visa.  I really had a desire to stay in the US and no matter how hard I tried, nothing seemed to work.

However, I kept saying that I believed in miracles. So, I just got a miracle, my Christmas Miracle. I found a job. I guess I have been a good girl this year! I am not going to tell you what the job is now just because I am still unsure on whether or not the visa issue can be resolved. But, if I were to choose a job, this would be the one. I am really excited and looking forward to it. I hope I can start in April, but like I said, I am still unsure about the visa issue.  I also have an interview tomorrow for another possible job. We will see how that one goes. I'll keep you posted.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. This would not have happened without all your help.  

 So, for this post I want to be grateful for the Savior because He is a worker of miracles.  During His earthly ministry, He healed the sick, caused the lame to walk, opened the eyes of the blind, raised the dead, controlled the elements, provided food and fish for those who needed it, and gave His life so that we may live.  His birth in Bethlehem was a miracle, His life was a miracle, and his victory over the grave was a miracle.  But, the miracles the Savior performed in the past do not stop just because He left this earth. Miracles happen every day to those who have faith on His holy name. The Lord provides us with what we need, when we need it. I hope that each of you will keep pressing forward and expecting and praying for the miracle you need. I promise you that if you have faith, you will receive the desires of your hearts.

Yesterday we had a nice early Christmas dinner at our house with some friends. It was a lot of fun...we exchanged gifts early too.
My roommate's family gave me these nice warm slippers. How did they know what I wanted?

Here is how nice the table looked (my roommate actually made this table!) and also a picture of the Christmas tree:

Utah has been invaded by a lot of birds. All birds are flying south for the winter. But, it seems like since Utah strangely has no snow this time of year, some birds think they already made it 'south', so they seem to have stopped here. The ducks in the sky the other day were kind of funny. Some were going South, Some East and some West and some simply flying around in circles in the sky not knowing where they were going.  I don't know why humans don't fly south for the winter. I sure could use some warm weather during the winter. Although some people who love the snow like my roommate may need to fly north for the winter.  Here is a picture of some trees next to my house. Those are not leaves on the tree tops. They are BIRDS! Can you can see them?

Hope you all have a great week. As you do your Christmas shopping remember to keep Christ on your minds. He is the reason we celebrate. I hope we all will remember that. Let us remember to  give more this Christmas. Not more expensive gifts, but more meaningful gifts. Gifts of love, service and light. The kind of gifts that the Savior would give if he were here on the earth today. May we walk in His footsteps and continually follow Him.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Thankful for a Savior - Part1

I am going to write some blog posts focused on the Savior this month. I will still put up some of my news and what I am doing, but my posts will be focused on Him and His mission.

We had our Ward Christmas party yesterday. We had about 100 people show up from the church. It was really nice. they had it in the Springhaven lodge and I was impressed at how beautiful it was. The Christmas trees and the setting in each room was just so peaceful and nice. We had a great dinner and then a nice program afterwards.

My roommate has her family over this weekend. It has been nice to see people around although it does make me home sick for my family. I have been trying to feel that Christmas is approaching and so far I have not been successful. People here have so many lights put up and it is just beautiful. But, there is nothing like being in Bethlehem for Christmas.  I missed the lighting of the tree in Manger Square and will miss all the celebrations there.

 I am grateful at this time of year for the many people who were put in my path. I learned so much from each of them and have been served by all of them. I don't know where my life would be without the help of those people. I think that I have learned that when you serve others, you get served, but not necessarily the same people!

I also am grateful for all that Heavenly Father has done for me. I have seen so many miracles in my life. I can't even begin to count the miracles and blessings He has given me.  As discouraged as I may get with my job search, I know Heavenly Father's has a plan for me. I think He is guiding me in all I do. I know there was a reason for me to be in Utah this short time and there is probably a reason for me to be in New York for a short time. I don't know what the reasons are, but I know He does.

When I lived in Zababdeh I had a neighbor who was a shepherd. Every morning he would walk his sheep by my house and take them to the fields. One day, the shepherd forgot something at home and went back to get it. He left the sheep on the street by my house.  The sheep kept waiting for their shepherd to get back. They waited right where he left them. There was a green field with long green grass on the side of the road only feet from where the sheep were, but they didn't go eat there and patiently waited for their shepherd. Maybe they trusted that the place their Shepherd was taking them to had better grass.

Our Shepherd, our Savior Jesus Christ, will also always lead us to green fields. If we trust Him and follow Him, He will always lead us to a better life. We will always find what we need and find joy along the way. This is a dark world, and there will be many fields that may look green, and many things that may seem attractive, but we simply have to follow the true shepherd and He will not lead us astray. 

The Savior is the true light in this dark world. He lights the way and we need to keep our eyes focused on Him.  He is the reason we put up Christmas lights...He says: "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8: 12)

May we remember that the lights we see during Christmas represent our true light, Jesus Christ. As we follow Him we can allow His light to reflect through us and we can guide others to Him.  Just as the star guided the Wise men to Jesus, our light and example can lead others to Jesus as well. May we be a light to others as we follow the true light, even Jesus Christ.


Monday, December 1, 2014


I must say I have nothing exciting to report. My family keeps asking me, "so did you find someone to marry? Did you find a job?" Sadly no and no...not yet.

But, I must say I had a good week. A week that somehow provided me with some hope. I don't know why I have more hope, but I do. Part of the reason is that I feel that somehow things will work out. And another part is that I have so many people praying for me and helping me, for which I am eternally grateful.

I am focusing still on applying to teaching positions and most of those start next fall. So, I really doubt I will find work sooner than that except by some miracle (and I still believe in miracles). I most likely will go to NY and take a temporary post with the United Nations for 3 months. But, I will go home in January so I can obtain the G-4 Visa. In case you were wondering, the UN and other international organizations can hire who they want, when they want. They don't have to wait and go through the painful visa process others have to do to hire a non-US citizen.

I just met someone that goes to church with me who has been in the US looking for work for 8 years! Her whole family is here, but she has not been able to obtain US citizenship (it takes about 7 years for her family to sponsor her), so she is trying to apply for jobs and find something in order to speed up the process. She goes back and forth to her country to renew her tourist visa. Now, I am not going to be here 8 years looking for work. That is not an option for me. Ever surviving until October without work is going to be a bit hard for me.

Thanksgiving was great. I went on Wednesday to a thanksgiving dinner with my friend Jennifer and her in-laws. The food was great and they are an amazing family. They were so sweet. My friend is 6-months pregnant and during the dinner she said she would name her daughter after me (the middle name).  I was honored to hear that.

On Thursday I went to dinner at my friend Emily's house. Again great food and even got to take left overs home. I have been eating those for the last two days. I think I am about done with thanksgiving food for the next month or two at least. But, I probably did put some weight on this past week.

My roommate's parents are here visiting from Canada. They are very nice and it was great to meet them. Actually they said it is not cold where they are from, near Vancouver. So, maybe I should look for jobs in Canada (?)

I have been trying to work on my book as much as I can because I know that if I get a job and start working I won't have time to do it. It is actually coming along pretty good. I have decided to put a theme to each chapter and I think it is going to work very well. For those of you who didn't know that I am writing a book, this is my biography, but it is not formatted as a biography. You'll just have to wait and see I guess.

Christmas is close and many here have put up Christmas decorations. This always makes me homesick. There is really nothing like Christmas in Bethlehem and not only because my family is there. Everything about Christmas reminds me of home. The hymn "Oh little town of Bethlehem" makes me cry. I will try and be home by January 7th to celebrate Christmas with my family, but I don't know if that will happen. I will see...

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I guess everyone is writing about the same topic this week, but I have been very negative this past week and this is really for me as I need to show some gratitude for a change.

I had a busy week (aren't they all busy?)...I had a phone interview, yes, I have been applying for jobs for the past 2 months and this is the first phone interview I had. It was eye-opening really. I didn't get the job, but I was able to get feedback from my friend who works at that company. He gave me some strange reasons as to why I didn't get the job. (he could have said you did horrible in the interview, and I would have been ok with that, but he didn't.) So, one reason, he said, is that they didn't recognize two of the universities I attended so did not think my education was valid.

I have come to realize just how many positions I get excluded from just because of my name, background, and visa situation. It was very discouraging, but I am not giving up and will continue to try until the day I leave to go home. There has to be something out there for me.

I am going to see some family over Christmas and I am thinking I may go home after that. Or may go to NY and take a temporary post for 3 months and see where that takes me.  However, I still believe that I am here for a reason and something may come up before the end of December.

I have been amazed at how many people love me and care about me and are praying for me. I go to a class in the morning every day (Accelerated job search class). There are amazing people there who have been so kind and helpful.  I was talking to a member of our class and telling him about my discouraging situation. This person is always positive and cheerful, so I thought he had no problems. He told me that he had to find a job by the end of November or he will lose his house. He also told me that he found out that week that one of his close relatives has 1 week left to live. I was shocked. If he can be positive and strong despite what he's going through, so can I. I felt so bad for complaining afterwards. At least I have enough money to last me a few months. I have a place to live and my family is well.

I gave a fireside yesterday about peace. It was very good and many people came. I was especially glad that Heavenly Father heard my prayer and I did not have to drive up to Sandy in the snow. I can't drive in the snow as I have come to learn yesterday morning. It was snowing badly in the morning in Lehi and Sandy, but later in the afternoon it cleared up and roads were clear.

Someone left their purse at the fireside. We had to dig through the purse to find a number to call and could not find anything. We finally found an old business card.  We called the number and we got no answer. I went home and was talking to my friend on Facebook and happened to notice that her maiden name was the same as that lady's name who had left the purse.  I asked her about her mother's first name, and it turns out that it was my friend's mother who had left the purse.  It is a small world!!

There was an Israeli man in the fireside and he raised his hand to ask a question. When he said he was an Israeli, I thought he may have been offended by what I said and expected a critical comment. But, it was the opposite. He was such a sweet man. He had converted to the church and he talked about love and how it is the solution to all the conflict. He even gave me a Christmas card (don't know how he had it on him right there) and a hug. Very kind person. He asked me what he thought the solution was and I said to bring down the separation wall...but as that will never happen I believe the solution is to bring down our walls. If both people can see the other side with different eyes and love them then we can move forward.

I had two special experiences yesterday. I will share one only here.
I went to my friend's ward in the morning to attend church with her as her whole family was speaking in church. They all sat up on the stand and I sat in one of the rows in the chapel.

After the meeting was over the person sitting next to me turned to me and said: 'What is your name?' After telling her my name she started to cry. She said that she had never met me or seen my picture but she knew who I was because as she looked at me, the spirit told her 'you know this person'. She said she wrote about me in her book! And said she was glad to meet me. Her book is called "I can do hard things with God." It is coming out in February. Can't wait to read it....

The weather is nice today. It has actually not been that cold (at least not as cold as I remember Utah to be). It did rain a lot on Saturday. I went to an event where someone was speaking about an organization called Think Unlimited. I was impressed to say the least. They are doing a wonderful job with the young generation in Jordan. I encouraged him to come and do similar things in Palestine. I hope they will because they are really teaching people how to think and how to be creative.

Many are celebrating thanksgiving this week. I love thanksgiving and not just because of the food (although it is Awesome!), but also because it brings families and friends together. I had many invitations, and I wish I could go to all of them. I guess I will just have to choose 2 out of them.  (not at the same day!) Thank you to all the kind people who thought of me and invited me over. You are all very kind. I'll take a rain check and join you next year =)

Anyway, before I go, I wanted to tell you all what I am grateful for:

1. I am grateful for a Heavenly Father who cares about me and loves me and who knows the details of my life and is interested in those small details.

2. I am grateful for my savior, Jesus Christ, the prince of peace. It is through Him that I found peace in my life. Amidst conflict, gunshots and trials I was able to find peace.

3. I am grateful for a wonderful family who loves me and worries about me.

4. I am grateful for the gospel. The knowledge I have of the plan of salvation and because I actually know the formula of happiness. I know people seek happiness and joy and never find them. But the formula is very simply, Follow Christ.

5. I am grateful for the amazing people in Utah who love me, pray for me, and do their best to help me. I can't thank you all enough. I feel very blessed and honored to know all of you. And if you all think I am wonderful (and I know many of you do), then it is because I know wonderful people like you and learn from them.

6. I am grateful for sunshine...for pretty sunsets...for a warm house...for hot water...for having water...for having electricity....
I am still not grateful for snow, but I will get there, I promise.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Utah State University

I can't believe it is already the middle of November. Time is going by so fast. I wish I could say that I had some good leads on jobs, but still nothing. I have an interview this week, and we will see how that goes.

I drove up to Logan today. It was a nice drive actually although I had trouble finding the hotel. There is so much snow here! there is none in Provo. It is a lot higher than Provo and I felt the elevation as I drove up. It was really pretty though with the mountains and snow. I have a meeting with someone in Utah State University tomorrow. I hope it will go well. The hotel is right on campus which is convenient.

I gave a fireside yesterday. I spent some time preparing for it. I think it went ok except that it was too long. I tried to give everyone a glimpse of what is going on in Palestine and it took a while. We finally had to leave because they wanted to lock up the building. It was poor planning on my side because I ran out of time and so I didn't have time to eat nor take my medicine. So, I was in a lot of pain (hip)...My sweet friend Emily brought me grape leaves to the fireside. She felt prompted to bring me food and she listened. It is great to know that Heavenly Father cares about me that much.

During the fireside, my friend Rebekah sang I am a child of God in Arabic, Hebrew and English. It was so perfect!

I am giving a fireside next week as well. I need to be more prepared for that one because it is going to be for 3 stakes and there may be a lot of people. I will have to make sure I make it shorter so I am not speaking for 2 hours!

On Saturday I got to go to the Jordan River Temple and act as an escort and translator to a woman from Sudan who was there receiving her own endowment. Her son was going on a mission and they both went to the temple together for the first time. It was an amazing experience to be with those sweet people. They left Sudan and came to the US and here found the church. Sometimes we wonder how the gospel will reach people in the Middle East, but I think it already has! I mean this whole family are now members of the church and their children are serving missions. It is amazing!  Translation did not go very well because of the differences in her Arabic and mine, but at least she knew what was happening and felt special. The sisters in the temple were very helpful and sweet.

I have a lot to do this week, so I should get busy doing it. I have a lot of jobs to follow up on.  It is supposed to snow next weekend. I think I have come to realize that I need to live somewhere warmer. Utah is nice, but I am a desert girl. I really need warmth! It is not fun to have a frozen car, frozen water bottle in your car, and frozen windshield fluid...Maybe I'll get used to it who knows. Maybe my roommate's excitement for snow will rub off on me. She just loves the snow (she's from Canada). I mean I love the snow too, but love it more if I am watching it on TV from a warm room!

It's fine, after all it is only -5 or -10 C outside...could be much worse, right?
I just got back from dinner. Wow they have a nice all-you-can eat buffet here at Utah State University. They would prepare food right in front of you and it is so fresh and good. Especially the fruit smoothies!

Don't mean to complain about the snow...it has really been great to be here in Utah. To have freedom to travel and drive for distances (like coming to Logan) without having to stop at a checkpoint! It has been nice to be able to have heat (for really cheap) when I want it. To have a hot shower every day! to have constant running water every day! It is really nice not to have many trials. I am grateful for all that I have been given. I feel that I need to be more grateful for what I do have and not complain too much about my situation. Things will work out, and really if I don't find a job here, it won't be the end of the world. I still have a home and a family to go back to.

Life is good! I am a child of God and He loves me and that is the only thing that matters!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Being a Disciple of Christ

It has been a good week. I applied to a few positions and made many connections for jobs. For some reason I feel less discouraged and more optimistic about finding a position sometime soon. I applied to some positions at universities and am starting to think that this is what I really want to do. Teaching is not easy and very demanding, but if I have a teaching job I can take the summer off and go visit my family in Palestine. I have been missing them so much especially my nieces' and nephew's kids.

I have been able to meet with some church leaders last week. They all took time from their busy schedule to meet with me. Elder Holland gave me one of his books. I will cherish that forever. Elder Kacher took a few hours from his schedule to talk to me and take me around. And Elder Rasband was so kind and I felt his love and concern for me. The members of the church in Palestine are blessed to get to know these men.  I belong to a great church with amazing leaders.  I am hoping that they may have some connections for jobs, but if they don't, it is enough to know I am loved and that they are praying for me.

A friend of mine managed to organize another fireside for me next week in Orem. This one may be a bit more political than the one on the 23rd. So, if you are interested more about what is going on in Palestine, I would recommend you go to the fireside on the 16th. I will post something about it on my Facebook page.

I got to teach Relief Society on Sunday. Don't ask me how this happened when I have only been in the ward 3 weeks. The lesson was on Personal Responsibility. I taught that salvation is a personal thing. The reason the 5 wise virgins could not share their oil is that it was not possible to share our good works and what we have accomplished over the years to qualify us to meet the Savior. We each are responsible for our own salvation and we need to work hard to obtain that.

I related our job (to make money) to our real job of why we are here on earth. Each job has a list of tasks and a boss. So, if we think about it, we can have this list for our earthly task:

Job Title: Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Report to: Heavenly Father/The Savior
Tasks: Obey commandments, love others, serve others, read the scriptures, pray, go to the temple, have joy, ...etc.

How much of our time on earth is spent to do what we are here to do? Below is a quote from the lesson:

 “He who sent his Only Begotten Son into the world, to accomplish the mission that he did, also sent every soul within the sound of my voice, and indeed every man and woman in the world, to accomplish a mission…to save the world, the dead as well as the living.”

This is my favorite picture. If we each put ourselves in the place of the Savior, we will realize that we need to be strong and need to stand on a solid foundation before we can lift and help others. We need to work on ourselves and strengthen our own faith before we can help others.

I hope we can all remember who our Master is! He is the one who provided manna and water for the children of Israel in the desert, He is the one who fed the 5000, He is the one that provided fish for the disciples when they toiled all day in vain, He is the one who controls the elements, He is the one who raises the dead and heals the sick.

Our Master is all powerful. He can provide us with the needed material things, but He wants us to serve Him and do the job that we came to earth to do!

Just as Elder Holland imagined the savior telling Peter when he went back to fishing, we can imagine Him telling us the same thing...So, for those who spend too much time worried about making money and spending all their efforts gathering material possessions, the Savior could be telling you..."If I want fish, I will get fish. What I want are disciples and I want them forever!"

I hope we all can be better disciples of the Savior. I hope we can dedicate our lives to serving Him and fulfilling our earthly mission, saving ourselves and others.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

God Loves You

I just returned from a short trip to Moab, Utah. I have been in Utah many times, but never got to visit these amazing places. Who would have thought that the desert could be so beautiful. I always loved green forests just because back home we don't have many trees. So, I didn't think something brown could be beautiful.
And what is more amazing is that nature can produce something like this. It is mind blowing that such amazing rocks could just develop over time. I've learned a bit about geology thanks to Br. Moore. My friend's father showed me around and took me in his little car. It was really fun to drive it and especially to cross the river in it and splash the water (27 times!).

 Learned that the white rock is salt...

Also went on a canoe down the Colorado river. We went through the slow areas of the river, as it is safer. But, that means you have to row all the time. I was tired towards the end...But, it was so nice as it was quiet and relaxing.


We saw this bird and kept trying to approach it quietly to take a picture and finally got a few good shots. Even a video with him flying.

Some Indian writing on the rocks:

Stayed and watched this hiker climb up the mountain. Very impressive:

As I looked at these amazing rocks I wondered how they are formed. I have come to learn that mostly they are shaped because of natural elements (rain and wind). Over the years they turn into these amazing shapes. It is similar for us in our lives. We face trials and difficulties and wonder, why am I facing all these storms? But, in reality, God is just shaping you and forming you into a master piece. We need to learn to trust Him and let Him guide us, direct us and help us become who He wants us to become.

As you look at the pictures below. I want you to think of two things:
First, how they all point upwards. After many years, all these rocks end up being one strip pointing to heaven. So it is for us. As we are purified, cleansed and perfected, we will get closer and closer to heaven and we will point to Him who created us. The more trials "storms" we face, the closer we are to heaven and the closer we are to our maker.

Second, we saw many rocks. They are all similar in that they are made of the same material. Yet, they are all different in shape. There isn't one that is more beautiful than the other, each has it's own unique beauty. We humans are the same. We are all made of the same material. Yet we are all beautiful in our own way. We all look different and each of us has a unique beauty. We need to never forget that we have the same creator and the same parent (our Father in Heaven). He loves us each, no matter what we look like or where we stand. He loves us enough to send storms, rain and wind to mold us and shape us so that we can one day be perfect, like Him. 

This is called Balancing rock:


P.S. I am giving a fireside in Sandy on the 23rd. I will put up a flyer about it on my blog (on the side) if any of you are interested in coming.

Monday, October 27, 2014

STILL no job

I had a good week. I met with several people regarding jobs. I went to the LDS employment office as well. They have a lot of good services. I will take a workshop this week to help with interview skills and resumes and other things.

I also went to BYU as well and spoke with some of the professors...I had mixed feelings as I walked down the walkways and visited the buildings I once spent so much time in. I got so lost! So much has changed on campus...some roads don't even exist. But, it is certainly amazing and pretty now...I lived through much of the construction that was going on almost all the time.  It is great to see it finished (well, for now).  It was awkward because I thought I would feel I was coming back home to the campus I once knew and loved. It looked so different though that I felt more like a stranger. But, I still had familiar places where I remembered our laughs, the times I spent with my friends, the statistics labs I spent so much time in, the bookstore...etc.
Everyone was running to catch a class or do something and I was this outsider just watching. It was kind of a sad feeling...But, it was like it was saying this chapter is finished, move on.
It is funny because I am even considering the option of getting a post-doc now. I think my rusty brain may need to be stretched and tortured for a while...so, I am looking into some possibilities of doing that (if I don't find a job soon that is). I don't see myself in a university setting, but I think my brain has been idle for too long. It's gotta start working.

We have the most amazing sunsets and sunrises here. Yesterday's sunset was breathtaking. I need to enjoy such small things in life that we often overlook. I am so blessed. Blessed to be here in a free country (even for a little while).

For church, I started attending the singles ward and my records are even here already. One of the counselors in the bishopric has been very helpful already and is helping me with my job hunt. I must say there aren't that many guys in our ward, but there are some. The people in the ward are great though. The talks every week are simply amazing. Today the talks were about love mostly. To love everyone equally and not love people more than we love God.

This morning I also went to a conference where Elder Ballard spoke. This is another blessing of living in Utah. we are able to hear apostles speak, frequently! The talks were good there as well.
One of the speakers spoke about how our intentions make us who we are...They said we need to list our intentions. For me the ones he mentioned are great,
I intend to know the word of God
I intend to list to God's voice
I intend to return to my father in Heaven

Elder Ballard said we should interview ourselves and see how we are doing. Are we where we should be? are we trying to become who we can become? What are our goals and are we working on achieving them? He challenged us to live in a way so that we can become the kind of person Heavenly Father wants us to become.

The Carpenters invited us over again last night for dinner. It was fun to see people from my mission again. We had a great time and laughed a lot.
My friend gave me apples from her garden. It is so nice to taste normal fruit. Nothing here tastes as it should. I have been mostly eating out because nothing I make tastes like it should. And it often costs more to cook than to eat out. I'll eventually get sick of restaurant food and start cooking.
One of my old friends, Alan, invited us over for a middle eastern dinner. Many people came. We had Mujadara, chicken, hummus and salads. It was fun. And thank you Rebekah for the entertainment. She sang for us so beautifully.

Monday, October 20, 2014

No Job yet

I am asked a lot if I have a job yet or not. The answer is no, and I don't really expect to have one anytime soon, so stop asking me. I think I am more likely to find someone to marry at this point =) I am exploring that option too. My mom would surely be thrilled if that were to happen.

I have finally settled in and things are going well. I have been to see some old friends which has been great. 

Today Jabra and I gave a presentation about Palestine. It went well, but  I wish more people could have come. I learned a lot from the questions people asked and  will definitely improve my presentation in the future. 

I have started seriously working on my book after meeting with my friend Camille. I think I finally have a vision about what it will look like and I can now write. I am not a writer, but luckily Camille will help me in that regard. I have been spending some time each day doing that. Hopefully sometime next summer it will be published. We will see.

As for the job hunt, I am still just doing my best to meet with people I know, or who have been referred to me by others. I am meeting with a lawyer as well to discuss possible options. I am amazed at how wonderful people have been and how helpful. If I consider those I know and those they know then I really know a lot of people.

I started going to the singles' ward here in Provo. Hey at least I am trying...It is actually a good ward and I learned a lot at church on Sunday. Some of my favorite quotes used were that we should make decisions each day with the end in mind. Where do we want to end up, in Heaven with Heavenly Father or somewhere else?
If so, we should move forward without fear. Just like the children of Israel when they walked into the red sea, we also have to dismiss our fear and go in with both feet. Are we prepared to leave our comfort zone to reach a better place?  I have been thinking about that a lot recently. I sometimes wonder "What am I doing here alone?" But, I know that I am seeking a better place and a better life and I would never obtain that if I stay in Palestine.

I actually came to realize that it does not matter where we are, what matters is our relationship with our Savior. If we can draw closer to Him then nothing else matters. I am trying to do that here by going to the temple and enjoying the beautiful earth He has created for us. The weather has been perfect! I am so grateful for that. It is seriously amazing every day.  Actually our speaker yesterday said that time is important, but truth is more important than time. What we learn and what we teach others is much more important than time.

On Saturday we had an Mission reunion. It was kind of strange to see people I knew in England right here, but it was fun. The Powers had us over and we had a great time. I am sad that many people did not come, but I am sure I will get to see the others sometime in the near future. This is in the Powers' back yard:

thank you Walter Whipple for playing the cello for me. It made my day...

By the way, I am here for a while, so if any of you want to organize a fireside or talk for me I'd be more than happy to do that. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Life--Our Olive Press

I have been in Utah about a week. The weather has been perfect. I love the mountains here and the fall colors of the trees. I am so grateful to be here. Despite the convenience of life here I feel insecure. Unsure of what the future brings. We are told that we are to step into the darkness putting our hand in the hand of the Lord and move forward trusting that the light will follow and light up to show us the way.  I am trying hard to move forward and trust that everything will be alright. Heavenly Father has never left me alone and I know He never will. Even during the hard days when I felt so alone and felt I was in so much despair and darkness, He was there...and when the time was right, the light came. 

It is so easy for each of us to get discouraged and think that we are weak and not capable of accomplishing anything.  But, I know that each of us is of divine worth and we can do much.

My mother is picking the olives off the trees without my help this year. Every year I do a lot of work picking olives off the tree, cleaning olives and taking them to the olive press. I often end up with many scratches on my arms because I am always reaching out between branches, climbing the trees to pick all the olives.  I often get comments like: "did your cat attack you?" 

My kind sister Suhair is helping my mother this year (putting away all the things she has to do).  Thank you Suhair for doing my job.  I love olive oil, the pure oil that you get from your hard work of picking olives and doing what it takes. Olives are like us, we have to go through a certain process to become pure...We too are chosen (picked), cleaned, and pressed (with trials and difficulties)... Because of this process we become more worthy to stand before Him who is the purest of all, even our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The place where Christ suffered (Gethsemane which means olive press in Hebrew) shows that even the savior himself had to go through that process. Everyone does! Life was never meant to be easy, we would not be here if it was. We would not learn anything.

I have been looking for cars all week. The cars that seem nice in pictures on a website are usually not that great once you look at them. Tony was so kind and took me all over the area looking at cars. We finally found a nice car, a 2006 Toyota Solara. But, it was too expensive. We tried to get the guy to reduce the price, but he would not, well he went down 300 dollars only. We kept on looking for other cars, but none seemed to match that one. Then the guy called us because we had forgotten Tony's license there. Right then I decided I should just get that car. I was tired of looking and did not want to do this anymore.

The back of the car had some dents and scratches. I got it fixed and got the car registered. I ended up with a cool license plate (Yay). I had to first prove I was a Utah resident and that was a story in itself. Anyhow, I finally got it done and even got insurance for the car.  I thought it would be easy to get a Utah license...it was not. I had to get my fingerprints taken (you know I am a Palestinian). Then they said they can't give me a Utah license as I am not here permanently. They said they would give me a temporary one.  Then they asked for my Palestinian license (that is in Arabic and Hebrew only, really? what good will that do?). They kept going back and forth, once telling me I don't need to take a test (as I had a license in the past), but then at the end insisting I needed to take a test. It was such a painful process. So, I took my written test and will soon take my driving test. (I hope I don't fail...when you have been driving for so long, you forget to pay attention to the rules).  Oh and they said the next available date to take the test is Dec 1st! Seriously?? Luckily we think we found a way around that...I hope that they end up giving me a normal license after all this mess. It better not be temporary, or I'll die.  I'll let you all know.

I got a nice phone thanks to my brother Maher...and I got a phone plan. It is so nice to have a cell phone and internet wherever I go now. I feel so much better! We have become so dependent on these small devices! If any of my Utah friends want to get a hold of me, email me and I will give you my number.

I am still trying to settle in, still working on the license, trying to do some shopping (I didn't bring much stuff)...I just got my car yesterday, so I can finally get things done...yay...

Anyway, it is getting late...I better go to sleep. Goodnight everyone.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

News and pictures

It is getting late, and I am not going to review this before I post it...Hopefully it is ok...
It was nice to visit my brother in Ohio. I met my nephew's fiance for the first time. They took us for a walk in the woods to the place where he proposed to her.  Here are pictures from that nice walk:

Amanda and Peter are so cute holding hands:

The Bridge...

This calf kept licking Amanda's shoe, it was so cute:

A small snake we found as we walked...can you see it? I was late taking the picture, it had started to run away. Here's some advice, if you want to take a picture of a snake, you take the picture first, THEN you poke the snake with a stick..

With my brother Maher, my nephew Peter and his fiance Amanda:

It was so beautiful there and such a nice walk...Apparently my nephew is very talented on how to surprise people. His fiance really had no clue about what he was planning.  Amanda cooked a nice meal for us that day. It was so good. We then played pass the pigs with her parents. It was a fun game...I don't know why we don't play games like that in Palestine. I am so sick of the card games we play in Beit Sahour. Not a good picture, but at least they are all there:

My brother and his wife won these tickets to go to dinner with 99.9 radio and I tagged along. They gave us a free meal and did a draw for prizes. Rida won tickets to a rock concert, Maher won a free movie and I won this T-Shirt...(it's all about how you fold your paper I have discovered)

Here is a picture of me in my nephew's convertible...After riding in it, I really would never own one...Well unless one day I have no hair (too much wind)...

The last day I was in Ohio I went with my nephew and niece to an amusement park. The rides were really fun. The weather was rainy all day, but when we got there it was nice and warm. However, it started pouring at around 10:30. We had one more ride to do and it was fun, but too cold. Here is another word of advice, when it is 35 degrees (almost 0 C) and rainy, you should NOT ride a roller coaster...It was a really fun day despite the bad ending with the rain. They had Halloween stuff and even though the people in customs did not manage to scare us it was cute. I'm sure they would not appreciate me calling them cute...We tried to get them away from my niece's son who was freaked out, we even decided to scream and act scared so they would leave him alone and try to scare us...did not work!

Here is a fuzzy picture of one of the rides. My favorite one, well, the roller coaster would have been my favorite if I didn't freeze...

I arrived in Utah yesterday. I stayed with Jabra and Stacie. Today I went to general conference and sat in the translation section with the Arabic team. It was fun although I didn't get to really listen and focus on conference. There was a lot going on. It is hard as they got the talks late and didn't have time to translate them and Jabra even had to do a couple of talks simultaneously. I got to do the closing prayer in the morning session. They tell me that prayers are the hardest because you do it simultaneously. I was nervous so I messed it up, then forgot to turn off the mic so you can totally hear us laughing about it. Oh well...it was a fun experience.  Here are some pictures:

P.S. I am here in Utah looking for a job (not necessarily in Utah, but anywhere in the US). I sent my resume to some of you. If any of you don't have it and would like to, email me. It would be nice if some of you can set up some meetings with some people for me if you have connections. Thanks a lot to those who have already helped in so many ways.

Also, just to mention that I am trying to do a lot while here in addition to finding work (get a phone, drivers license and all that stuff). So, if I don't call you, it is nothing personal...I am just busy. I'll get to it eventually! =)