Sunday, March 29, 2015

Happy Easter

I drove down to Utah on Friday and was shocked that it was Spring there. In Idaho everything is still brown and dry.  As I got here I could smell the Spring in the air. There were fresh new leaves on the trees and blossoms. There were beautiful flowers and warmth.  I missed Utah even by being away for a few weeks only.

I walked around temple square in Salt Lake City right before the General Women's session of conference. The flowers looked pretty, but sadly the pictures fail to get the smell in the air, that of freshness and of Spring.

Spring has always been my favorite season. In Palestine, that is the season when you can see the grass and wild flowers covering the hills and valleys and it is magical. 

Today is palm Sunday and although it may go unnoticed in the US, it should remind us of the courage the Savior had. He knew that He would be crucified, yet He chose to go to Jerusalem anyway.  Many welcomed him into the city and cried Hosannas to Him. Yet a few days after that, many of his disciples left Him and He went through the atonement suffering all alone...It is great that the atonement happened during Spring because it is the season of giving...what greater time is there for God to give His only begotten Son for us. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 16)

I hope that we take this week to contemplate what has happened because of His atonement. Think of the amount of pain and suffering the Savior went through for you because He loves you.

I had the opportunity to translate for the General Women's session of conference yesterday. It was an amazing experience. I think I messed up the first part because Sister Burton was talking sooo fast and I could not keep up. But, I got used to it towards the end. I am grateful for those that prayed because they spoke SLOWLY...yay. I was able to translate the prayers very easily.  I watched as my friend Jabra translated Pres. Eyring's talk just instantly (he didn't have the right translated talk with him). Jabra was even quoting Arabic scriptures from memory almost perfectly. I am grateful that He was the one doing it, not me, because I would probably mess it up. I am sure the Holy Ghost must have helped him because Pres. Eyring's talk was amazing and Arabic members needed to hear that.

I am staying with Emily and looking forward to making Ma'amoul (cookies that we normally make for Easter) with her. It will bring back memories from home. This is the hardest time of the year to be away from home, so it is good to be with Palestinians at least.

I didn't realize teaching would involve so much work. I have been very busy lately trying to get my classes set up and everything planned before the semester starts. I even don't think I will be ready in time. I'm glad I got started early.  I am also grateful I got my first pay check this past week. They started paying me early because the contract start date was in March. Yay, it is so nice to finally have income. I have been without a job for over 2 years now.

The Relief Society in our ward had a nice dinner for us on Thursday. It was amazing. They had a nice theme, everything from the sea (nets, boat, even sea water--the juice said sea water, but it was raspberry lemonade). I don't know how they can be so creative. I never did stuff like that when I was relief society president! 

I can't begin to tell you how much I miss the sea...It has always been my favorite place to be...I have also missed nature and being in the outdoors. I'll have to take advantage of the good weather and be outside for a change.  Hope you all have a great week...and Happy Easter!    

Sunday, March 22, 2015

My Mother

On March 21st Palestinians celebrate Mother's Day. It was chosen on this day because it is the first day of Spring.  Motherhood is about giving, and what better than the first day of spring to celebrate that. 

I watched a video where they had some people from Palestine call their mothers just to simply say "I love you!". Almost every mother's reaction was something like this: "So, What do you want?"  As if they only hear the words 'I love you' when we want something from them! Palestinians don't often tell their mothers that they love them.  I hope we all can appreciate our mothers more and express to them our gratitude and love more often.

My mother Fawz is an amazing woman. She furthered her education during a time when women did not go to school. She went to school in Jerusalem to the Teacher's training college even when her bus was shot at many times during the Second World War. She went to a class with one student from each town and my mother was chosen to represent the Bethlehem area.  Her close friend and class mate was killed in Deir Yassin when Jewish Zionists massacred many there in 1948 killing her friend and all the students she was teaching in her kindergarten class. The death of her friend while teaching did not discourage my mom from becoming the best teacher she could be. 

Her teaching abilities came from a line of amazing teachers. My grandmother, Milia (my mother's mother), opened up the first girl's school in the Bethlehem area. She taught girls of all ages because no one had an education at that time.

My mother almost died while giving birth to me.  When she thought she would die, she encouraged my father to re-marry so someone will be there to take care of me and my siblings.  But, my  mother's faith and determination gave her the strength to fight and live.  She prayed that should would live so she would be able to raise me.  I am glad Heavenly Father answered her prayer and that I was blessed to have her in my life. She taught me to serve and love others regardless of how they act towards me.

This is an old picture of me and my mom. I think my mom made that dress for me if I remember right.

As I am getting ready to go back to a teaching career, I am grateful that I have amazing parents (who were both teachers) and grandparents and uncles who were great teachers.

I got sick the other day. It is hard to be sick when you know no one is there to take care of you. These are times when I miss my mom the most. She would have made me soup and taken care of me. I was too sick to get up.  I survived (obviously)! 

As I was seeking someone to give me a priesthood blessing I was wondering if I should call someone in the ward and ask. I did not know anyone there, so I decided not to. Shortly after that, my Relief Society President shows up at my door. It was random, but definitely not a coincidence. She arranged for two people from church to come and give me a blessing. I am grateful for such amazing leaders. I know I am taken care of, even if I am alone here without family.

I took some training the other day on campus. I got my health insurance and it is actually amazing!! They also have a great savings plan. BYU has great benefits!


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Got my Work Status

For some reason my mind is blank. I don't know what to write about.
 It has been a good week. I am finally settled and have all my furniture. The only thing that didn't come was the vacuum. Who needs to clean anyway =)
My mattress was not comfortable and I have tried everything I could to make it better. I got a foam top and an expensive pillow, but the foam top only made it worse. I think I will have to sleep on it for a month then see how bad my back pain gets. If it is too bad, I'll have to sell it and buy a new one.

My chairs are also not that great. My body is very picky when it comes to what things I can sit on (because of my hip problem). I finally decided to take the recliner back to Walmart. And I want to DI and got another recliner for $20. Ok, so this one is a bit broken, but it can easily be fixed (just needs a man with some tools). I just have not been able to fix it myself and I am afraid of messing it up more if I try.  But, this one is at least much more comfortable than the other recliner. And even if it is not fixed, it works just fine.  At least I have one comfortable thing to sit on.

My friend too me to their RS birthday party and it was fun (lots of good food too).

My work status was approved. Now I have to wait for the actual I-94 to come in the mail. Hopefully it will come by Tuesday otherwise I won't be able to keep the 13th of March as my contract start date. I guess everything has worked so far, this will have to work. I told BYU that it was a bad idea to put my contract start date as Friday the 13th, bad luck. But, who knows it may all work out.

I will need to work on getting my health insurance, my Idaho license and other stuff.
I have some training to attend at BYU-I, and I should start preparing for classes. I can't believe that this worked out (and always in the last minute). My tourist visa expired only a few days after I got approval for my other visa status.

I have been asked to translate for The General Women's Conference. So, I will drive down to Utah for that. I am going to stay a week and go to a Mission reunion after general conference I think. I think the drive down to Utah gets easier the more I do it! 

I got my schedule and I have a 7:45 am class every day. That should be fun! I may be awake but the students may not be. Actually, this is good because I'll for sure get less students in the class =) My next class is in the afternoon! 
I am looking forward to has been kind of boring sitting here with nothing to do. I even have started watching TV (more than I have ever watched in my life). I need to find more productive things to do.

The weather has been really amazing here! I don't know why it is being so nice to me. Hopefully when the cold weather comes I would be able to survive it.  I need to go shop for winter clothes since everything is on sale now.

Well, I better quit before I bore you all to death. As I said, I have nothing exciting to talk about. Life is good, I feel very blessed. I have noticed that when the Lord is in charge things work out.  

I had some doubts recently. When I look at my life and see myself here in Rexburg alone without any family members and when I think of Palestine and my family, I get so home sick. But, every time I start to think "What in the world am I doing here?" I get a warm feeling telling me that this is where I am supposed to be at this time. I really don't know why and what I could possibly accomplish here in the little town of Rexburg, but, again, I'll have to leave it in the hands of the Lord. He knows!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

In Rexburg

I arrived in Rexburg on Thursday. They would not let me move into my apartment until the 6th (Friday). 
The mattress for the second bedroom was supposed to arrive on Monday. Online, it said it was delivered, but the mattress was not at the front door or in the office. I thought they left it at the front door and it got stolen! Finally, I got a call from a random FedEx guy who said: "We have your mattress, what do you want us to do with it?"
So, only very few things came early (on the 5th) and I had the apartment security unlock the place and let me put them in the apartment. So, it all went very well. 

I don't have all my furniture yet. I had my mattress delivered on Friday along with the bedroom set and I have the stuff in the extra bedroom/office.  It was all cheap furniture, but when you order stuff online you have to put it together!! I am never doing that again.  It took me 4 hours to put the bed together, it came in like 100 pieces and all had to be screwed together. My arm stopped functioning after a while! The next day I asked the Andersons (a couple who served with me in England) to come help me put the rest of the furniture together. They were so sweet and came and brought me food and some things for the apartment as well. It went a lot faster with the 3 of us working on the stuff.

My kitchen is nice and I have a lot of storage space. I don't like the mattress I got for my bed. I am going to see if the guy would let me return it, but I doubt it. My back is so specific when it comes to mattresses. The one at my friend's house was perfect, but can't seem to find anything like it. I visited a mattress shop in Rexburg and the guy there seemed to know what he's talking about. He asked me medical questions regarding my back and recommended a mattress, but I didn't listen to him and did not get it! Now I regret it. I mostly did not get it because he said it would take 3 weeks to get here!

Were it not for a sweet lady my friend knew I would not have anything to sit on but the bed. She gave me this cute comfortable chair! I love it! I am waiting still for my kitchen table and chairs and for the couch. 

The weather has been perfect. All the snow is mostly gone. Yay, maybe spring will come early.
I gave my last fireside in Utah last Wednesday. It was for the youth in the stake, but not many of them came. My first Bishop (from my first ward ever) came and took me to dinner before the fireside.

And I was glad to see Dr. Collings, one of my stats teachers at BYU. I have not seen him in so long!

My fireside was about obedience. I talked to the youth about how obedience can bring them happiness. Many times we think of the "don't" commandments...don't kill, don't lie, don't cheat, don't commit adultery. We think we are being obedient because we are not doing these things.  But, we tend to forget the "do" commandments. Like go to church and read your scriptures and pray and serve.  To me those help me survive and find peace and joy in life.  I told them that sometimes they will feel different than others because they obey, but it is Ok because they need to be part of God's team (not anyone else's). The path to winning the trophy and winning the game is eternal life and it is worth every sacrifice.

Last week the Gunthers came to visit us at Emily's house. Br. Gunther was my branch president in Bethlehem. They are an amazing couple! It was so good to see them before I headed up to Rexburg. 

 I miss staying with the Azars (Emily and Tony). I want to thank them both for making me feel at home. I had to give Emily a lecture about that because her Palestinian nature is to want to cook for me and treat me like a guest and meet my needs. Emily had surgery while I was there, but she is slowly recovering. In a way I am sad that the job I found was not in Utah, but hey at least it is not in NY or some far away place. I can visit my friends in Utah anytime I want. I am very grateful for my blessings...

It feels good to be in a small town in some ways. I can't wait to go to church and see what the ward/church is like. So far my neighbors all seem very young (probably married students) and they all seem to have dogs. Umm maybe I should get a dog. Mom, will you ship Lassie over here?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Leaving Utah

I am leaving Utah this week.  I have one final fireside on Wednesday for the youth. I will drive up to Idaho on Thursday. I may come back to Utah for general conference next month, but we will see how that goes.

I bought some furniture online and had it shipped to the apartment I rented. When I ordered the furniture it said the delivery date was March 6-7. I thought that would be fine since I would be in Rexburg on the 5th.  All of a sudden I started getting emails telling me that the items have shipped. And even though I ordered the items from the same place they didn't come together. I tried everything in my power to change the delivery dates for the stuff with no success. 

I think I am going to have furniture on the stairway by my apartment sitting for days. I am going to beg the office at the apartment complex to call me when they arrive and I'll try and have some of my friends in Rexburg go get the furniture. Frustrating, but it is my fault I guess for ordering stuff and believe the website. I guess Murphy's law applies here. When you order something and want it to get there early it does not get there. But, when you want it to not arrive, it does. 

I was not able to get my I-94 online.  We tried everything then emailed someone in order to have them send my I-94 to me and she didn't. It was time to file the application for my H1B visa and we didn't have the I-94. Yesterday, the lawyer called me and told me to go to the airport right then and get there before 4:30 (it was 3:30) because the office closes at 4:30. She told me to talk to someone there and gave me his name.  The person at the airport was so rude. I have never met anyone that rude. He said: "I can't give you the I-94, you can't work in the US. You came her intending to stay and you violated your tourist visa." I tried to explain that I came her to take a UN test, but he would not listen and was extremely rude so were the other officers there. 

I left not knowing what to do. The lawyer told me that she will have to think of something else to do and that we may have to file my application without the I-94.  That night I sat thinking what to do and decided to go online and try to retrieve the I-94 again. I tried different spellings of my name thinking they may have misspelled it. Finally I looked at my passport and it dawned on me that the way my passport lists my name may be strange to Americans. I put my mother's name as my first name and my last name as 'Sahar B H Qumsiyeh' and it worked!! So, I have my I-94, but it is actually my mom's I-94 ha ha!!!

I have been staying with my friend Emily and her family. She had surgery this past week. Luckily she is doing better now.  I think I like the American culture more in this case. People brought food for Emily and her family for days and not many came to visit. Back home when you have surgery everyone comes to visit and then you are forced to get up and feed them.

I want to end with a thought is that we should be an example to the world. The world is moving farther and farther from the right path. We need to be more kind, move loving and more faithful. The Savior gave us a higher law. A law that sets us apart from the world. But, He provided us a way to get help...He does not give us any commandment without providing help for us so we can keep it. It seems like the world is still focused on the law of Moses "thou shalt not kill" instead of focusing on the small details of not offending anyone and trying hard to be kind to people. 

We are truly the light of the world and need to shine so that we can be a light in a dark world to direct people to the Savior: The source of all truth, all light, all peace, all love...who is the bread of life and the source of living waters.