Sunday, May 25, 2014

Schedule in the US and Pope's visit

My brother Maher came to visit from the US and it has been nice to spend time with him and with family for the last few days. 
Of course everywhere Maher gets invited, we get invited too. So, we have been eating a lot of good food and I am probably gaining some weight which is good (I need it). We just got back from a BBQ at my niece Lama's house. Even my dog and cats are getting a treat this week because they are getting all the leftover meat and bones.

This past week my friend and I went to visit a friend from church who had a stroke. The trip took us 10 hours (she lives in Tiberias-Galilee), but it was nice to spend time with our friend there. Because of the stroke she now can't move the left side of her body and her life has completely changed. But, she is still strong and willing to serve and think of others...She can't wait to be able to drive again so she can continue to visit and serve the sisters in her ward(Church).

My back (well, it is not really my back that is bothering me--it is more like my upper thigh) is still hurting. I have started taking massages as my doctor told me that is what I had to do. I actually ended up with someone who uses Chinese needles. I would have never chosen that myself, but I didn't know when I first went. She is actually very good, but my pain was getting worse and so I finally decided to see another doctor. The pain got so bad that I could not sit or sleep; it was too painful. This other doctor told me I had an infection in the nerve and that the massage will make it worse and he wanted me to stop.  The first doctor told me to use ice, this one said to use heat. He gave me some medicine and told me I should be well soon.  Amazingly enough I was so much better as soon as I started taking the medications, but then discovered that it was only the pain killers that was making the pain go away. When the medication would wear off I would have pain again. Anyway, I will finish my antibiotics and wait and see if this doctor is right. I sure hope he is because I am really sick and tired of having pains. 

The pope was in Bethlehem today. We avoided going anywhere as all the roads were closed and it was crazy inside Bethlehem. Everyone probably came from long distances to see the pope and we didn't even try to go. I have not heard much from his speech, but probably will get to hear some of it soon. I saw he prayed at the separation wall (that it would go away?). He was surrounded by refugee children from Aida Refugee Camp carrying slogans. Some saying "7,400,000 Palestinian Refugees are denied to return home, what if Jesus wasn't allowed to return to Nazareth?" The Pope blessed the children and visited the refugee camp.  As I mentioned, we went to my nieces for lunch today. Her husband, Basem, is the one who did all the decorations for the Pope in Manger square (yellow and white stage + flags +  carpets). He also did the table cloth that they used when the pope had lunch. Basem was working non-stop for 4 days to get it all done in time. What do you all think of it?   

So many came to Bethlehem today to see the Pope and so many from town went to Manger square to listen to the mass he did there.  I still remember 20 years ago when Elder Hales from the Quorum of the twelve apostles came to Bethlehem.  When the Israeli soldiers almost denied him entry to Bethlehem, but finally let him in.  It was dark at Manger square when all 5 of us stood at the door of the church of nativity and read scriptures. I wonder how many people would have come to see Elder Hales if they actually realized he was a true apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ? 

I was having second thoughts about my trip to the US thinking that it would be busy and cost me too much money. But, now I am really excited and can't wait to go. I am trying to talk my sister into going with me (She won't go to the US but at least to stop somewhere on the way). She really needs a vacation and is very stressed. We will see if I can talk her into it. 

The bridge going to Jordan is insane these days and hopefully we won't end up spending 15 hours on the bridge in the heat! As we passed by the Tel-Aviv airport going to Galilee the other day I realized how close it is. It would be so convenient to travel if we were allowed to fly out of the Tel-Aviv airport. But, Israel forbids all Palestinians living in the West Bank from entering the airport. We need to travel by land to Jordan and fly out of Jordan (the trip to Jordan could take 10 hours in the summer). We usually have to spend a night in Jordan which adds at least 2 or 3 days to your trip and makes it so exhausting. So, I probably would have been traveling for a while when I get to the US.

For those of you still wondering about my schedule in the US. I am going to try and put my calendar at the bottom. I really don't know what it will look like when viewed on the blog...but here goes.


Arrive 1:36 pm SLC : AF 8990
Staying in SpringHill Suites
Hotel Draper
Staying in SpringHill Suites
Hotel Draper Fireside SLC
Topic? Time: ??
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
*Fireside at Carpenters in Draper, Time?
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
Staying in Draper
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
Staying in Draper
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
Staying in Draper
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
Staying in Draper
Recording Arabic Lessons/ Riverton
Staying in Draper
Fireside in Pleasant Grove at 6:00 pm
Topic: Obedience
Overnight in Pleasant Grove
In Provo
In Provo
In Provo
In California: Fireside
Topic: Charity

Return from CA
In Provo
Talk 9:00 am in 
Holladay 2nd Ward

In Provo
Staying at Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites in Murray
Staying at Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites in Murray
Leaving to Houston
at 9:20 am
flight Delta 4635
In Lake Jackson with Family
In Lake Jackson with Family
Departure to Amman at 4 pm
Flight AF 639
Arrive in Amman at 8:25 pm
Travel to Palestine through the bridge

Sunday, May 18, 2014


As I was waiting for my visa interview the other day at the American consulate there were many Arabs and Jews there.  There was a mix of Arabs and Jews applying for visas (but mostly Arabs). However, on the US citizen side there were mostly Jews. This is because many Jews that live here come from various countries like the US.

As I sat a siren sounded and all the Jews stood. That week the Jews were celebrating their independence.  That day in 1948 when Palestine ceased to exist and Israel was created.  That unique day in history that is celebrated by one people (the Jews/Israelis) and mourned by another people (the Palestinians). The Palestinians call that day the 'Nakba' meaning the catastrophe.  Unlike what some people think, there aren't two countries here...there is one country. One day it was called Palestine, now it is called Israel because it is under Israeli occupation...That day in 1948, our identity as Palestinians ceased to exist. Our currency was no longer valid, there was no such nationality called Palestinian, and we could no longer raise our flag high. Many call my country Israel, I call it Palestine, but it is still one place, and one country.

That day in 1948 half of our people, the people of Palestine, had to leave their homes never again to be allowed to return. They still hope to return and some of them still keep the key to the home that they lost. Half of my people are refugees.  They have no right to return to their original homes. Some even have no right to come back to their home country of Palestine even for a visit. I have cousins and other relatives who are simply not allowed to come back and live in Palestine (these are people who were born here, whose parents were born here, grandparents and other ancestors were born here in Palestine). Yet the newly established state of Israel chose to deny them access and not acknowledge their right to live in their home land. Below are some pictures of those 1948 Palestinian refugees leaving their homes and residing in tents in neighboring countries and other areas.

On the other side, any Jew (born anywhere in the world of any origin in the world) has the right to reside in Palestine and gain automatic citizenship in the State of Israel.  

People wonder why there is conflict here...this is the core problem that many don't see. Palestinians just basically want their land and homes back...

To make this more clear to some of you, let me share with you an experience my cousin had the other day. She went to visit the home of a Palestinian family.  This home rests right next to an Israeli settlement (Jews not from here who come to Palestine and live on confiscated Palestinian land). The home of this family consists of one room (about half the size of your bedroom). The room has no running water, electricity, furniture or anything. Where do they shower? right in the middle of this room using a bucket.  Where do they go to the bathroom? well, behind a tree outside.  The family owns nothing basically. This little house (or should I say room) has been demolished by the Israelis (and rebuilt by the family) 3 times. Why demolished? Because it is too close to the Israeli settlement and the soldiers don't want it there. They don't want this family there. Whose land is it? Well, the Palestinian head of the household says: "اشتريناها بمائة ناقة" meaning "We bought this land for 100 camels". But, the Israelis still want that family off the land and they keep demolishing their home so they would leave. Even the wooden little place the family built to keep their chickens in, has a demolition order from the Israeli soldiers and will probably be demolished soon.

The land the family uses to plant vegetables is sadly way too close to the Israeli settlement. The family risks getting shot by the soldiers each time they go to water their plants or pick their vegetables.

Why is it that certain international laws work in some countries and don't work here? What would someone do if a family like this existed in the US for example? What would you do if someone kicked you out of your home and simply took it (didn't give you any compensation or anything) and then simply said 'oh and you are not allowed to ever return to your country'?

Because of this Nakba day there were some demonstrations in various areas in Palestine. In Ramallah two Palestinian youth were killed (one boy was 15 and one was 17 years old). One of them was the friend of someone I know. This is a picture of him when he was shot.  Often times when others see people like those in this picture on the news they think they are the terrorists. Look carefully and think again. Is the 15 year old who is throwing rocks at soldiers demanding his rights a terrorist? Or is the soldier who shoots him in the heart the terrorist?

I love this country (the Holy Land). Call it what you will, Palestine, Israel, but it is so pretty...I don't know what I would do if I was not allowed to ever come back. I was born in Jerusalem yet am not allowed to go to Jerusalem except when the Israelis feel like giving me a permit during the holiday seasons. And even then I have to take public transportation because even though I have a permit, my car does not.  

As I walked up the hill in the mount of olives yesterday looking up at the place where I was born, I saw a Palestinian flag hanging high on an electric cable. Wow, that is a sight we don't see often!  The flag would hang there until it is seen by the Israeli soldiers and then they will take it down and burn it. One day I will be allowed to live in Jerusalem and my flag would be allowed to hang high in its streets...I hope to live to see that day!

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...where all things are possible.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Travel Plans and other stuff

I am sorry I have not written again. I am getting bad at this. But, trust me when things calm down you'll get a long post...

I just got my tickets. I will be in Utah July 5 - July 24 and in Houston/lake Jackson area July 24-27th.  Again, I would be more than willing to give firesides during any of those weeks while I am in Utah. Just email me and let me know.

My brother Maher was supposed to arrive here tomorrow for a visit. he is stranded in Chicago because of bad weather and has been at the airport for 30 hours now. He just got a flight to Frankfurt, but his bag went to Washington D.C. Crazy huh? Poor Maher! 

We celebrated my brother, Mazin's birthday today and tomorrow we celebrate my sister's birthday. I have been enjoying myself because of this permit that I have for one month. Yesterday we went to the north to Banias. Banias was previously called Caesarea Philippi and is said to be the place where the Savior asked His disciples "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" and then Peter bears witness saying "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."(Matthew 16: 13-19) This place is so beautiful the river runs through the beautiful landscape. The waterfall there is amazing.

If you look at the new version of the scriptures and see the picture of Caesarea Philippi, you will notice that the picture of me below is the same place except for the lack of water. I don't know why there is less water there now.

We walked for a long time near the river...I thought I would die towards the end. One of those with us on the bus was an old lady and she actually did almost die. We got the ambulance and everything. Luckily she was fine...

We then went to ride the boats. We managed not to get that wet from the water in the river, but then it started pouring rain. It never rains here in May but it rained and rained. We were soaked. Actually I almost fell off the boat and my sweet sister caught my leg and saved me from falling into the cold water. 
One of those with us in the bus did fall in the water and hit her head on a rock and passed out...she floated down the river...she was rescued and again ambulance and it was quite the adventure trip!

The most fun parts of the boat ride was that we found some berry trees by the banks of the river and did our best to move the boat under the tree and pick berries. They were really good.  The other fun part was seeing a mother pig (wild pig) with her baby pigs cross the river.  Some of them made it up to the other side but others freaked out when they saw us and ran and could not get out of the water. Poor little pigs...That gave us a chance to see them up close though.

I am still not officially working but will start probably in 2 weeks. They want to get a lot done in June so I will be super busy.  I am also trying to prepare 14 Sunday school lessons so I can record them in Utah when I get there. Plus I am trying to prepare a lesson to teach relief society in Jerusalem...yay, that is the best thing for me. I miss doing that! 

And a side note, I just got called as the second counselor in the District Relief Society Presidency! I am so happy to be working with Emily again...So, Primary president in the branch and a district calling. I didn't even start and I am already super busy! Better than doing nothing, huh?

Oh and I finally started getting treatment for my hip problem (thinking about this 20+ hour US trip and freaking out)...and I went to this lady and it turned out she uses Chinese needles. Ugh...I would have never gone had I known. But, now that I am stuck I decided to try a few sessions before I run away. So far it is worse not better. I'll do it one more time and if it is still bad, I am giving up on her.

It is midnight and I better get some sleep...Good night everyone.
PS. if there are any typos in this, it is because it is late and I am tired!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Trip to the US

Just to put you all at ease, I really won't be able to stay for a long time in the States. I think I will probably stay 3 weeks, mainly in Utah.
I will be recording some Gospel Principles lessons in Arabic for the church. That should take about 10 days and will be in Riverton. 
I will probably spend 10 days there, or in nearby areas like Draper then spend the other 10 days in Provo/Orem area. 

For those of you would have kindly asked me to come see them in other areas, I wish I could. I wish the US was a little bit smaller so I could see all of you (in DC, Oregon, CA...etc). I have family in Texas that I would love to see, but it seems like it will be a short visit and I won't get to see anyone.

For those of you in Utah, I will get to see some of you, not all. We will have to work it out somehow and have a get-together. Obviously I can't visit each of you in your home as much as I would want to.

I am looking for places to stay during my trip. If you live near Riverton and have an extra room, let me know by email or though facebook. I will stay at a hotel for part of the time, but can't stay 3 weeks in a hotel I think.

Also, for those feel like arranging things, I would be happy to give firesides. I know you need advance notice to organize those...I am not sure of my final travel days. But, should know in the next few days. I am thinking about June 19 - July 12th or something around there (end of June beginning of July). 

PS. Tickets are so expensive and I can't seem to find something cheap. Any thoughts?

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 2014

I am sorry I did not post anything this weekend. I never thought I could be busy without having a job, but I am.

Last week was my birthday and I wanted to thank everyone that wished me a happy birthday. I really felt loved and felt special!
Sadly, I had one of the worst birthdays I have ever had. I guess it is ok since I really don't like birthdays anyway. Since almost 40 days has passed since my uncle passed away the family was doing a memorial for him at the church. It just happened to be on my birthday! People from town would come to the church hall where they are served (sweet wheat and coffee). We basically stayed at the church hall for 4 hours that day. With my bad back/hip it was so hard for me to sit that long. And when we were finally done and ready to leave. My brother and his wife were going out to dinner and invited me to go with them. It was a bad idea as I should have gone home and rested. I had lunch super early at 11 am and by the time we left it was 8 pm and I was starving. The food at the restaurant was good, but it took them forever to cook it (like an hour to even bring the first dish--and we only ordered appetizers). 

The next day in the afternoon my cousin Rana brought me a cake without telling me. So, it was a nice surprise. I called my nieces and nephew and they came with their kids to eat cake. So, I had a delayed birthday, but it was good.

Because it was my uncle's memorial we are all wearing black, so this picture looks weird...

I may have found a job as a consultant, but nothing is for sure yet. It will pay well and keep me busy. I am glad that I will be making money for a change instead of spending and spending!!

On Sunday we took a trip to the Dead Sea. We were at one of the 5-star hotels up there. It was so nice! I have never stayed at a 5-star all inclusive hotel. We didn't spend the night there  but were there just for the day.  We used the spa facilities and the pool and it was so relaxing. Of course all food, drinks, ice cream...etc was free (well I mean included in the price). So, we ate so much! Definitely will have to go again and actually stay at the hotel.

Yesterday I applied for a visa to the US. I waited at the consulate forever till my turn finally came. I don't see the point of even saying you have an 11 o'clock appointment!!?? Anyway, the first question I was asked is: "you have not been to the US in a while, so why now?" After answering the question, he asked another question: "Are you working?" I told him that I was not, but I think I have found a job and will...He interrupted my sentence and said: "Your visa is approved, you'll get it in a week." and called the next person.

I still don't know when exactly in June I will travel, tickets are SO expensive! So, I am looking at different dates. I will keep those of you in the US posted.

It has been super hot here! I don't know how we will survive July and August...My shower has not been working, well the hot water sort of runs, but not the cold. I have cleaned the other bathroom in our house (the old one which has no toilet but only a hole in the floor--yes we have one of those!). That one has a shower, but nothing else (water goes everywhere)...but hey at least I can shower! This house is just old and falling apart. I hope someday I can have my own house...Don't get me wrong, I am grateful for what I have because unlike some people in our branch I at least have water and electricity.