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, 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 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 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! =)