Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 26, 2014

Summer is here it seems. Where did Spring go? It seemed so short. It is already hot. It took me a while to organize my clothes and remove the ones I don't wear.  The good news is, I seem to have a lot of summer clothes. I guess spending a year in England and not wearing summer clothes at all made me miss my summer clothes.

We went to the Dead Sea the other day. It was a nice day and fun to sit by the sea and watch people cover themselves in mud then float on the salt water that makes you float without any effort on your part. My niece came with her kids and even though we warned the kids that they should not get water in their eyes, it still happened. Luckily after the first time they figured that they should not rub their eyes after they get salt water in them.  I did not swim, I enjoyed just watching everyone...

I have been sick for 2 days, but it is not anything major. It must be some sort of food poisoning...I am in pain, but it is getting better finally. I did not sleep the first night because of the pain. I got to watch good movies all night though which was fun.

I am planning a trip to the US this summer (June). I am still not sure I will be able to get a visa because I don't have a job here to prove I will come back. I have an invitation letter from the church so that should help. I will be working on a little project for the church to help Arabic speaking members.  I am looking forward to that. I will keep those of you in Utah posted as I will spend most of my time there.  There is sadly never enough time to see everyone, but I will try to see some of you. I may go visit my brothers if I have time.

I will celebrate my birthday in a couple of days. Everyone wants to take me out to eat to celebrate and my birthday is just one day. I started scheduling breakfasts so that I can go out with everyone. I feel loved!  

I am going on a trip with my sister on Thursday so that will be really nice. I have wanted to go up north to Banyas for a long time, I can't wait. I won't get to do that often as having a permit is rare...See, I got a permit for Easter, which means I can go to Jerusalem and other areas for a few weeks. I am very happy about that. I can't wait to go to church at the Jerusalem center next week. I will also be able to go to District conference on May 10th which is great. See we rejoice because the Israelis are nice enough to let us visit our country during the holiday season. Sadly my permit does not allow me to go to Eilat (the Red Sea). I have not been there since I was like 13 years old. I don't know if I ever will be allowed to go.

As for my job status, still unemployed.  I am thinking that I will wait until after my US trip then I absolutely have to find a job. It is nice to do nothing, but you can only do nothing for so long. My brother is coming to visit next month and so it will be nice to spend time with him and then I will spend a month in the US then I will be ready to start working. If UNRWA does not want me back by then I will teach part time (Ugh, I don't want to do that...but it is better than sitting home all day). I have to start making money instead of spending it!

I hope you all will have a great week.


Monday, April 21, 2014

November 25, 2007

No, no, you don't have the wrong post. Neither do I have the wrong date up there. I just have nothing to write this week, so I thought I would put something up from my Journal a few years ago.  I will put that at the end of this post.

Before I do so, however, I wanted to wish you a Happy Easter. I hope you had a great day yesterday. We did not really celebrate here since my uncle recently died. We spent the day at my uncle's house greeting people who came over to visit them. 

It is finally hot here and I spent all night yesterday trying to organize my closet and getting rid of all the sweaters and stuff. 

I have been called as the Primary President in our new Branch at church. Since I have never been to primary and never had a calling in primary, I have a lot to learn. But, so far I am enjoying it and feel I am slowly making a difference with the kids. 

Anyway, hope you all will have a great week...Here is one of my Sabbath days 7 years ago (this came from my journal)...

November 25, 2007

I will explain below how my Sabbath went. 

My Sabbath started with me getting up at 12:20 a.m. with everything shaking, we had a small earthquake.  We also had one last week.  I could not sleep after that for a while...I was supposed to leave the house at 7 am to go to church, but that did not happen. I did not leave until 7:30. (note that Church is 7 miles away from my house, and it starts at 10 am).  [this was back when we only had one branch of the church that met at the Jerusalem Center] For the first time in my life, when I walked out the door, my mom said nothing! [she normally complains each time I got to church]  This time she did not say “Don’t go” or “Aren’t you going to leave this stupid thing”...she just said: “See you later”.

I got in a taxi (after waiting 20 minutes) and made it to Abu Deis at 8:30.  I got in another taxi and made it to Al-Ram at 9:10. From there I took another taxi to the “Gate”.  I got there about 9:20.  The gate is a gate in the separation wall around Jerusalem.  The gate is closed, but it is about 4 inches from the wall so a skinny person can go through between the wall and the gate.  When I got there, the Palestinians there said: “The soldiers just came, they are on the other side of the gate, if you had come half an hour earlier, you would have made it across!”  One of the guys said it is better to wait and maybe the soldiers will leave and we can sneak in.  I decided to wait, but it was really getting late and I would be really late for church.  I started to pray that the soldiers would leave. 5 minutes later people started squeezing through the small entrance, so I followed [apparently the soldiers left].  It was muddy and rocky.  I am glad I wore pants, and glad I wore normal shoes.  The shoes I was going to wear would have gotten stuck in the mud.
Anyway, as soon as I got in, the young man behind me said: “The soldiers are coming”...I panicked and said: “Well what do I do?” He said: “Nothing, stay where you are” and he ran back towards the gate and left me there!  I tried to hide, but there was nothing to hide behind.  The soldiers did not come all the way there so I did not get caught.  
The young man watched and told me when it was safe to move.  We went through the wire fence then up by the wall while hanging on and slipping on the rocks, then we got to where the bus waited for us.  The young man with me turned to me and said: “We charge 10 Shekels ($3) for helping you to cross”...I gladly paid him and ran to the bus.

Right before we got to Damascas gate (near the place where Christ was crucified), an Israeli army jeep ordered the bus to stop. The bus driver looked at all of us Palestinians in the bus and said: “you got caught”.  But, then our nice bus driver stepped on the gas and kept going.  We waited for the soldiers to come after us, but they didn’t.  I got off the bus and had to walk to the central bus station and take another bus to church.  By then it was 9:55 am.  I walked fast and saw the bus just leaving the station.  The nice bus driver stopped and let me on.  I made it to the bottom of the hill where the Jerusalem center is. I had to run up the hill and then the stairs and walk to the center.  I made it there just after the opening hymn.  I don’t know how I made it there that fast, time seemed to stop so I can be there for the sacrament.  I even had time to stop and clean my muddy shoes!

Church was wonderful.  Three BYU students gave wonderful talks.  It was so nice to sit and LISTEN for a change [I had spent 3 years in Turkey where I was the translator in the branch there, so not having to do that was nice for a change]. It was so quiet in that chapel which had about 70 people attending as we sat and overlooked the old city.  It was so easy to feel the spirit.  One of my old friends from the branch just happened to be there, other than her I knew no one in the branch!
The district president invited me and my friend over for lunch after church.  After RS we went down to their apartment.  Br. Crawford was there too. He works in the visa section at the American Embassy.  I told him I would be coming to see him soon!
We talked about many things...they asked me about how I got to church and I explained a bit.  Then Br. Crawford asked: “What will they do if they actually catch you?” I said: “I have no idea, I have not been caught yet, I hope I don’t have to find out!”

Br. Crawford drove me to Damascas gate and from there I took a bus to Bethlehem.  On the road an Israeli police car and soldier stopped the bus.  Everyone on the bus had either an Israeli identity card or a permit except you know who...
Well, the Israeli soldier took my Palestinian identity card in his hand and ordered me to get off the bus. He took me to the police car waiting on the other side of the road.  The lady there filled out two forms.  She asked me questions in Hebrew. I was only able to answer one of them.  The other Israeli police man got so mad that I did not speak his language!  She asked why I was in Jerusalem. I said I went to church. She had no idea what that meant. I said: “you know, God, pray, church” She acted like she understood. But, of course did not believe me as Palestinians use that excuse many times when they are caught in Jerusalem.  She had me sign two papers.  One that says: “I declare that I was found in Jerusalem on the 24th of November at 3:50 pm...etc” and the other paper says: “I declare I was not abused when I was arrested.”  Well, at least that is what the soldier said was in the documents. I could not understand them, but I signed both documents.  While I waited two more buses were stopped.  Only one man was brought to where I stood.  He did not have an Identity card at all, but was from Bethlehem.  I saw the difference between the way the Israeli soldier treated me and the way he treated this Palestinian man.  The soldier immediately started yelling at the man, making him clear his pockets, and searched him and his stuff.  The soldier hit him and was really rude to him.  The Palestinian man, unlike me, would not sign the documents (because he WAS abused when arrested I guess).  The soldier got so upset and said: “You don’t want to sign, well I will make you sign” and went into the police car and reached for his stick.  The police woman in the car calmed him down and said he should not hit him.  The Israeli soldier then threw the Palestinian man in the police car in the back saying he will arrest him, and he told me to get in too.  In the back I could hear the Palestinian man saying he did not care what they did to him and the Israeli soldier would the start to beat him.  I closed my eyes and said a prayer that the Palestinian man will not get hurt or arrested.  The police car drove us to the Bethlehem checkpoint.  They crossed to the gate, gave both of us our identity card and then let us go.

The Palestinian man with me was so happy. He was shocked they did not arrest him.  Then he asked me how I got into Jerusalem.  I told him. He said he took this long road where he had to walk for 2 hours so he got to sneak in.  He asked me if I had to do any walking when I sneaked in, I said not much, but it took me over 2 hours to cross too.  He asked how I went and said he was going to turn around and go back to Jerusalem the way I told him to go.  He was so thrilled there was another way in and wanted to go and try it right away.  By then it was 4:30 pm, but he did not care as long as he made it back into Jerusalem. 
That was one of my adventures going to church in 2007...
How was YOUR Sabbath?? 


Monday, April 14, 2014

Because of Him

As we spend this week contemplating the events that happened in the Holy Land about 2000 years ago, may we all spend the rest of our lives following our Savior, Jesus Christ...I am going to start by sharing this video:

Click Here to watch "Because of Him"

The greatest event in human history was the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. Why? Because without this single event our lives on earth would be meaningless and we all would eventually rest in a tomb with no hope of a resurrection.  As we are still mourning the death of my uncle, Easter has a more deep meaning to all of us. I went to the cemetery yesterday and walked around looking at the many tombs. All my uncles are now gone, yet death is not the end, just as birth is not the beginning. Life is eternal! 

I was especially happy recently to have found my grandparents' tombs. They are buried in the same grave according to my aunt. The only person who knew the location of the tomb, was my last living aunt on my father's side . There were no names on the tomb. I was able to get birth and death dates from my aunt and am making a small plastic piece which has their names to put that on the tomb stone. The tomb stone is old and pretty and I did not want to change the whole thing. Here is the tomb:

Don't mean to talk about tombs and death throughout my post. I just wanted to testify that I know that my Savior lives. I have been to the tomb where He was buried and it IS empty. Yet that is not the reason I know; I know He lives because I have a testimony of that fact burning within my heart. He lives to guide, comfort, and strengthen me. This is a nice hymn by our church choir:

Click here for Choir number: My Redeemer Lives

Sadly, many people think the resurrection is the only great thing about the atonement.  There are so many other things that we often forget, like some of the things mentioned in the video above. For example, forgiveness for our sins.  The price has been paid, yet may carry the big load of guilt and pain that results from sin.  Also, the atonement helps us find peace and joy in this life.  The greatest thing to me is that I can find someone (the Savior) who has gone through what I am going through and who understands my trials and difficulties personally and can assist me and comfort me.  When I am not able to forgive and love others, He (who was able to forgive and love those who crucified Him) can teach me how.
Our primary lesson this week was about following Jesus. After discussing with the children the many ways we can follow Jesus here on the earth, I showed them a book which has some examples. At one point, I said that Jesus forgave others and we should forgive.  Little Yara said: "But I don't want to forgive!"...I explained to her that she has to if she loves Jesus and wants to follow him. I hope each of us will strive harder to follow Christ especially this Easter Season.

One of the activities I did for the kids in primary was that on little cardboard feet, I wrote things that were good to do and things that were not. Then I had the children jump over the ones that had the good deeds to show they will follow the savior. I also had them trace their foot and wrote "I will follow Jesus" on the page and also a scripture where the Savior tells us that we should do the things He did. I did not get to finish but I was going to add on the paper something they promise to do this week to show they follow the Savior. We had time for only one of the children who got to promise he will pray this week to show he will follow Jesus.

This is a video about the life of Christ and the amazing things He did while on this earth. 

Click Here for Video about the Savior

Let us remember His gift this Easter. As you look at all the colors of the eggs and other East decorations, remember that it is the Savior who adds color to your lives. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Church

I was thinking about what to write today. I have had nothing exciting happen last week. I mostly feel so much gratitude for all that I have.
Sometimes we forget what we have been blessed with. Spring is really beautiful around here. I am so grateful for the flowers, grass and beauty all around us. Sadly, Spring here does not last long...So, we should enjoy it while it lasts. 

To my mind comes a time long ago during the long days of curfew when we were not allowed to leave our house. I remember once when my mother and I were cleaning around the house, we heard the Israeli soldiers announce that we get 2 hours of freedom; that we are allowed to go outside for 2 whole hours. My mother insisted that we finish cleaning and finish the chores before leaving. By the time we were done we had very little time left to go outside. But, those few minutes I spent walking down the streets were so precious. Today we seem to forget to 'enjoy' the freedom we have of even going outside and smelling the flowers. I keep saying I am going to go for a walk and before I know it the day is gone!

I had the opportunity to take some friends and show them around Bethlehem the other day. Their kids' favorite part of the whole tour was my house. I should probably contact some tour agencies and tell the to put "Sahar's House" on their next tour.  At my house, the kids got to ride the donkey (no I don't normally have a donkey, it just happened to be their lucky day), pick fresh lemons and green almonds, see all the animals we have (dog, cats, turtles, fish, spiders, lizards, gecko, snake, scorpions...etc and that is just the live ones) and enjoy some treats from mom. I never thought my house could be so much fun =) The kids were so sweet, they each wrote a thank you card for me and Jessie and gave us cookies.

Luckily the kids missed the massacre my dog caused. My stupid cat gave birth in the dog's house again! I mean how stupid can one cat be?? She did this twice before with the same result. She is lucky she still has one living kitten because my dog lassie killed all the rest. I went outside yesterday to see the sad bloody scene. The cat has been trying to hit lassie each time she sees her to get back at her, but alas the kittens are gone.  See, now that is why cats hate dogs.

This weekend is the general conference for my church. Today is the day which marks the day the church was organized.  The talks got me thinking about the condition of the world and I started feeling that the second coming should be really close.  There is so much turmoil and difficulties in the world. There are so many around us who choose to do things that are wrong. Many seem to have forgotten who God is. Those that do mention God kill others in His name (Muslims killing Christians and Christians killing Muslims).  

Gladly, there are still good people in the world. At times we may think the world has gone crazy, but there is goodness all around us if we but look.  And each of us has the responsibility to stand for what is right and try to make a difference.   

It is so important to choose the right in a world of changing values. It is so important to be strong and faithful these days. Here is a good quote from a talk by one of the 12 apostles, Elder Nelson:

Despite all the bad things around us in the world, life is still beautiful. My cousin made the comment on Friday saying: "No one is happy." That is not true. I am happy. Despite the occupation, unemployment, challenges, I consider myself happy. And I know there are millions of other people who would say the same thing. 

P.S. I am still without a job, for those of you who are wondering. I am not worried though; I'm strange I know.