Sunday, February 22, 2015

Counting my Blessings

I went to Rexburg this week and rented a place in Mesa Falls Apartments. Nothing I saw compared to it just because it was a new apartment and I just loved it. If I end up staying in Rexburg a while I may buy a house, but for now this will have to do. 

While I was in Rexburg I stayed with Br. and Sister Keller. They were in Jerusalem years ago.  They were so nice and took me around and showed me the area. Sister Keller made me German pancakes and they were just heavenly.  I'll have to try to make them, they are so easy to make. Here are some pictures

They raise Elk (and these don't have horns) as we saw on the way to Sugar city.  

 I actually considered living in Sugar city. It is so much like Beit Sahour. It is a very small town. Sister Keller knows everyone there. I bought a bedroom set from a guy there and didn't have to do much except tell him I was with her.  He was fine with us paying later (he didn't take cards!). 

I am just trying to shop for furniture and getting it all set up. I'll move in on the 6th of March.  The hardest thing to buy will be the mattress. I still have problems with my hip and from what I read online I should probably get a foam mattress to decrease pressure on my hip. I guess we will see what I find.

My nephew got married yesterday and I missed the wedding. It is sad, but I was able to see pictures and videos and that helped. I love technology.

My friend Jennifer had her baby. Here is Eliana Sahar Pond. She's cute! She may have to answer a lot of questions about her middle name when she grows up =) 

 I wish we could all be as innocent as a child. Children are generally happy and don't worry too much about a lot of things we worry about. I heard about a study that indicated that we get more and more unhappy as we grow older. I hope we can all choose to be happy and content in whatever circumstance we are in. When I lived in Zababdeh I didn't have a fridge, and didn't have hot water. I had to heat water in a small pot so I can shower. I had a rat who entered my place every night and had large cockroaches everywhere. But, after a while I managed to be content and happy. 

Sometimes we forget to be grateful for what we DO have and focus on the negative things. I feel so blessed right now. I can't thank Heavenly Father enough. He has been with me every step of the way. The path to happiness is easy...Happiness comes as we follow the Savior Jesus Christ and walk as He walked. Because if I ask you "Was the Savior happy?" you would say 'of course'. But, He was rejected, persecuted, spit upon, tortured and crucified.  If He can be happy, so can we, but only if we follow Him.


Monday, February 16, 2015

Miracle Job

I think many of you may have heard through Facebook that I did get a job at BYU-Idaho.  I will be teaching in the Mathematics department there starting mid-April.

In many ways, getting this job was a miracle. I'll tell you why. 
First of all, I would not have picked a more perfect job. The reasons are many, but the main one is that this was the only job that would allow me to start in April. Because of the work visa, any job I would have gotten would not be able to get me a work visa until October 2015. The only places that could make the process faster and get me a visa before then are universities. But, all the jobs I applied to at universities start in the fall of 2015. Because BYU-I does a track system, they have a semester starting in April unlike other universities.  I have been without a job for over a year, and would not have survived financially until September. So, this is perfect!

Another reason why this whole thing was a miracle is that I had booked a return ticket to Palestine leaving today (no, I am not on the plane--another $1100 down the drain). But, it is hard to get a work visa from the Jerusalem consulate especially for Palestinians. I actually almost picked my return home date as Feb 8th, but because BYU Provo wanted to schedule me to give a Seminar, the only time they could do it was Feb 12. So that is why I chose to return home on the 16th.  (this is complicated, so I hope you are following). Anyway, BYU-Idaho was not going to make a decision about the job until mid-March (when my visa expires). This is the reason I decided to go home because naturally I can't sit here and wait for my tourist visa to expire. 

Amazingly enough, BYU-Idaho decided to let me know on Feb 11th (unusual) about the job. So, I knew that I got the job on the 11th before I needed to fly back home.  Because it is easier to get a work visa while residing in the US, I decided to cancel my ticket and not go home. Actually I may not be able to go home for a while. Amazingly enough, when I came to the US in September, I was coming here to stay one week only. I packed my bags for one week! And now I may not go home for a while. It may be easier for me to pay for my sister's ticket and have her bring me my things instead of dealing with the visa issues. Sadly this means I am going to miss my nephew's wedding this coming Saturday. But, hopefully it will be worth it.

I am staying with my friend Emily for 2 weeks after which I will move to Idaho. I need to start looking for places and getting settled. Again everyone has been so nice and they have introduced me to many of their friends and family in Idaho. I feel that I won't be so alone up there. 

I gave a fireside yesterday at BYU and it was good to see some old friends come to that. I won't be doing those for a while now that I am moving up to Rexburg.

We went to the museum of art at BYU and they had an origami display. Everything made out of paper. It was amazing! I mean I am proud to say I can make a crane, ya whatever! I mean I don't know how these people are able to do the things I saw. I have an Elder who was on my mission who does amazing things with paper. He made that mother and child one (first picture here), but the rest were made by people from all over the world. (we were not supposed to take pictures, but we didn't know until after we took these! oops) I had to start at the skeleton at the bottom for a while to convince myself that it is made out of folded paper! Note that most of these are made from one piece of paper mostly! (for those who live in Provo/Orem, go see it!)


Sunday, February 8, 2015


I have one more fireside on the 15th (aside from the one tonight in Kaysville). The one next week is on the 15th at 7:00 pm at BYU. The building is the JFSB, but I still don't have a room number. I will keep you posted via Facebook.

It has been a good week. It was kind of boring as I don't have much to do. I have just realized that I have only one week left before I am supposed to go home. My ticket is for Monday, the 16th. But, like I said, I am still hoping to get the job in Idaho and not go home.

I should know about the job by Friday of this week (yes 3 days before I have to leave). I will have my bags packed and ready to go...go where? Well, I think I have finally decided that if I get the job I am moving to Idaho right away. I am still hoping that I can start in April (which is most likely the case). I would really like to have my own place and get settled.

My stay in Utah has been wonderful...We have had amazing weather this winter (all because of me). I don't know if the plants and snow resorts appreciate the lack of moisture, but I do. We have summer weather almost, in the 60's, Sunny and beautiful. The people here have been so kind and helpful. They have all helped me look for work, fed me, prayed for me and gave me support.  I am so blessed to know such amazing people.

It has also been so nice to feel safe, have freedom of travel (no checkpoints), have running water every day, be able to take a shower every day with hot water, and belong to a great Ward and congregation.  I don't get to enjoy these things in Palestine. So, I will miss all these things when/If I go home. 

I gained stronger faith and trust in my Savior during my short stay here. I have been able to feel His love and support every day and it is a blessing. I also appreciate everyone that has helped organize talks for me. I have enjoyed those so much. And to think that I used to be afraid of speaking in public! A lot can change!

I speak to my family every other day. My mother has been amazingly well for which I am grateful. Of course she is hoping I would not get the job and come back to be with her. We will see what happens.

Last Monday I went to a FHE activity at the BYU Bean Museum. It was fun, they have really made the place much nicer (I have not been there in over 19 years). Below are some pictures. We got to watch a live-animal show which was interesting. I learned a lot even though the place was full of noisy kids.

This is the biggest turtle I have ever touched. My mom loves turtles and has quite a few of them that she raises (we maybe have over 10 or 15 of them). Mom, how would you like to add this one to your collection?

Yes, that is my hand. I freaked out at first, but the spider is actually cute! And the guy said it only produces hair to cause a rash when it is threatened. Glad I did not make it feel threatened.

The museum was full of animals eating each other. Sad!

I did no know that Giraffes were this tall. They didn't seem to be that big when I saw them in the zoo. But, I have never been this close to one! 

These are all butterflies (hundreds of them). Really pretty but sad that all of those butterflies are dead!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Lord is my Shepherd

To start out I want to mention that I am giving one more fireside. The last one in Utah probably. I have really enjoyed giving these talks and even though I sometimes feel that my talk ends up being focused around me and my experiences, people have found what I say useful and faith motivating. It is an honor to be able to help someone...even if I touch one person and help them move closer to Christ, that is enough for me.

This fireside is again about trials and how to overcome them. The title is "Trials...the way TO BE."
The fireside will be on February 8th at 6:00 pm (a bit early). At the following address:

Kaysville Height Creek Stake
1520 Fox Pointe Drive
Kaysville, UT 84037

I hope those that have not managed to come to the last one can come to this one.

As for my news this week...I thought I finally was able to plan my life for one whole month. I booked a plane ticket home and thought I would just go home Feb 16th. I still hoped to get the job at BYU-I and thought that I can apply for the employment visa while there. 

However, I was talking to my brother Maher and he reminded me of what happened to my brother Walid years ago. He left his home, job, car and everything he owned in the US and went back to Palestine to visit. He thought that since he had a job in the U.S., it would be easy for him to get a U.S. work visa while in Palestine. This did not happen. They did not issue him a visa. After talking to Walid, he confirmed this and said that there would be a very small chance I could get an employment H1B visa if I applied from Palestine. He said I should apply while in the U.S.

I didn't know what to do because BYU-I was not going to let me know before mid-March about the job and because of my tourist visa I could not stay in the US until then.  I was confused and did not know what to do. I already had my ticket. Should I just go home and hope for the best?

While speaking with Elder Kacher of the seventy, he told me that the Board of Education moved up their decision and were going to decide about the BYU job in their February meeting on the 11th. This is a miracle I think. Because now, if I get the job I will just not go home. Also, as the department head was wanting to have me start working in April, having a decision made that soon would give me the ability of getting the work visa by April and start teaching in the Spring semester. Really, this could not be more perfect.

As I have gone about in my life, I have tried to involve the Lord in every decision I make. I try to always follow His direction. So far, I felt my life was similar to a journey in a car with me in the driver seat and the Savior in the passenger seat.  He has directed me and helped me have a wonderful ride. He is always giving me support during the hard turns and rocky roads that I have needed to drive on. He has truly been my shepherd guiding me to green pastures.  

Even two years ago when He told me to quit my job, and even though right now I have no job, I still believe that He is in charge and that He knows what He is doing.  When I was thinking about quitting my job over 2.5 years ago, I was directly given the words in Matthew 6 where the Lord tells us that He takes care of the birds and the flowers and that He will take care of us if we but trust Him. When I was set apart for my calling the other day, the Lord again told me these words...So, he's basically trying to tell me: "I'll take care of you, don't worry, just enjoy the ride."

These past few months in the US have taught me a lot. But, the most important thing I have learned is to move over to the passenger seat and give the Savior charge of my life. I have felt that He is a much better driver than I am. This has been hard because I am someone who wants to be in control. I always want to plan things out and know what I am doing in the next few months or even just the next few days. But, He has shown me that if I but trust Him, everything will work out. I don't have a job, and I have two weeks to get a job before I have to go home. But, I am not concerned or worried. He's in charge and He will make it happen.

Since I am not busy these days, I have been trying to reach out and help others especially the sisters in our ward. The more I get to know the sisters in the ward, the more I admire them. I am amazed at the amount of trials each of them has to carry and also amazed at their faith, endurance and courage. Each of those sisters have taught me so much. I am going to miss them so much.

So, next week I won't have any major news to share, but the week after that, I should. Yay, I am so happy and can't wait to finally find out. Even if I don't get the job it will be a relief to know what I am doing for the next few months at least.