Sunday, May 31, 2015

Our Journey Back Home

We had a nice long weekend last week for Memorial day. Well, it didn't seem that long actually. It would be nice to have a few more days off...
I decided to go exploring and visit some places that are close by. I went up to Mesa Falls on Monday.  It was such a beautiful drive (I kind of wish someone else was driving so I could more fully enjoy the scenery...but it was great anyway. 

I stopped a few places and enjoyed the beautiful forests, hills and rivers. Everyone gathers at Warm River to feed the fish. They were big fish, but the river was going by so fast that the fish had a hard time stopping to enjoy the bread.  Mesa Falls were amazing (the apartment complex I live at is called by the same name of the waterfalls: Mesa falls)...someone said they saw a canoe go down the waterfall. Last week, we heard that one of our university students was killed in a canoeing accident. Hopefully not the same one. Because whoever went down those huge waterfalls was insane!
Here are some pictures:

The strange thing was that when I got back from this amazing trip I actually felt I was coming back home.  Just being back in familiar area felt good.  I have wondered why I came to Idaho, but now I know that it was mostly for me. I am growing and learning. It is not who I will help, but who I will become.  Even though I was ready to start living in NY when I came here last September, the Lord had a different plan. I'm grateful I am here. I heard someone say that our trials and experiences are designed for us...

I must say the biggest challenge I have here is learning to live without challenges. I really don't have any trials. It has been rather strange to not have to deal with checkpoints, danger, conflict...etc. I will find ways to learn and grow without those experiences. And I should enjoy it while it lasts because I think bad times are at the door and the second coming of the Savior is closer than we all think.

I had lunch at a Chinese buffet yesterday in Idaho falls and my fortune cookie said:

You can tell that I am being good to myself and not just because the fortune cookie told me to (ha ha). 

I can't believe June starts tomorrow. Time has gone by so fast. Teaching is getting better. I am getting used to it and I think next semester it will be easier because I will teach the same classes with an addition of one new class. I am not sure I am happy about my schedule in the fall as I have a late class, but at least I don't have a 7:45 am class. I may still have to go to campus early so I can get a parking spot! 

My students are doing better in class. Those that didn't do well in the first exam are trying harder and hopefully will do well in the coming exam. I am so proud of them!

Our speaker last Sunday shared with us an experience that I wanted to share with you. He works at a school and he said he knows one blind student in his school. This blind student can go anywhere in the school by herself and can get to her classes simply because she has counted how many steps it is to get everywhere.  Sometimes, he runs into her in the hallway and asks how she is doing. She would tell him not to distract her as she would lose count. Or she would say, just remind me on which step I am. If she loses count she will need someone to help her get to where she is going.

It is like that in our lives. We are all trying to get back to Heavenly Father and although we know how to get there, we let some things distract us and we lose our way. I hope that we all can focus on the goal ahead and not let the small distractions like TV or Facebook or other things stop us from reaching our goal. I hope we can find time to nourish our spirits and draw closer to Heavenly Father while we go through this mortal journey.

It is sad that we lost an amazing apostle of the Lord yesterday, Elder Perry. He died at age 92.  I can't believe that he stood strong and gave an amazing talk in conference just last month and now he is gone. I know that God empowers these men to do what they need to do even to the last minute of their lives.
Here is his talk:
Elder Perry's Talk about Marriage and Family  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Random Stuff

It has been a good week. It rained a lot, which is good. That means the pretty green trees and grass will remain green longer.
We have this Monday off for Memorial day. I was thinking of doing something fun this weekend, but they said it would be raining. 
I went down to Idaho falls yesterday and did some shopping. I barely finished when it started raining. It rained so hard on my way back. I sat in my car for a few minutes hoping it would stop, then realized I could be there all day and it won't stop.

I found green Hummus at Winco's and I was so thrilled, because my sister was telling me they were eating some the other day and I was craving it.  I toasted it in the oven with lemon and salt and ate so much yesterday. yum...

I may go to Mesa Falls (water falls close to here) on Monday. I guess it depends on the weather.  I do need to prepare for classes and write my exams for next week, but I do feel I need to get out and go somewhere in nature.  I have been staying home too long lately.

It is strange how small this place is, I mean I can go anywhere in less than 5 minutes. I got up the other day and remembered that we had an employee breakfast on campus. I got ready and left and still made it in time (since campus is so close). It was fun and the food was excellent. 

And I realized the other day that I can go for over a month with one tank of gas in my car. I mean this is how small Rexburg is. 

We had a training the other day in the Math Department. And one of the students helping with the training was an Elder on my mission in England. He was so excited to see me...I did run into some people from my mission here. It is a small world.

I decided to do an MRI for my back. I do have lower back pain sometimes and my hip has not stopped hurting. So, I will do one this week just to make sure. This way I will rest assured that I have done all I can to fix my problem and can move on with my life. I must say that I do need to start exercising though. I know that may help, but I still have not found the motivation to do that. I leave really early for work and come home dead tired and can't do anything. I have a gym right here on the apartment complex, but I don't take advantage of it.

For the last few months I have been helping the missionaries in France teach an Arab man the gospel. It has been a great experience...Although he cancelled the meeting the last two weeks. This happened after we told him he should quit smoking. I wonder if that had anything to do with it. ;-)  But, he seemed willing and said yes, I'll quit smoking. I guess we will have to wait and see. He does have faith in Christ though.  And even just seeing many Muslims leave their country then embrace Christianity is amazing to me. I do see the hand of the Lord in this. Heavenly Father brings them out of their countries then helps them find faith in  His son, Jesus Christ. It is pretty cool...

Teaching is going ok, I am trying to find better ways to make my classes interesting and fun for the students. They have their second exams coming up next week. We will see how they do.



Sunday, May 17, 2015

Learning and growing

This week was less busy. I gave my first exam to my students. Some of them did really well, but one of my classes did not do well at all. I have tried everything, but have come to realize that somehow they need to practice what they learn more. So, I am now giving them more time in class to work through problems together and it has helped a lot. I also told them to come pick up their test in my office. they never come to my office to ask questions, so, I hope this will motivate them to come. So, I have been super busy in my office because I am constantly having students come to see me, but it is good.  I have been able to visit with some of them and get to know them and it has been wonderful.

We had a teacher training the other day with a man who clarified to me why the learning model BYU-I has really works. He gave us a physics question and told us to discuss it together and it really made me curious as to what the answer was, even though I am not a physicist.  I'll have to think of better ways to develop that curiosity in my students.  There is not much you can do with calculus, especially if your students hate it, but I will try.

I know that more than Math, my students learn more important things at this university. I hope they learn life skills, and develop faith in Jesus Christ. Developing faith in Jesus Christ is the first mission of BYU-I. That is why the other day I shared an experience with my students about a Muslim woman who taught me about faith.  What I shared had an impact on one of my students.  I think aside from grades and math, it is these moments that make teaching worthwhile.  Making a difference in someone's life! 

However, maybe the most important thing is having my life change by being here. It is wonderful to be able to learn and grow spiritually during every day meetings and classes. That is the great thing about teaching in a church university.

I want to share a quote from Elder Bednar.  He shared it during the Q&A meeting he had the other day with the youth. I shared that quote with my students...I love quotes about math! 
"The Holy Ghost is the perfect teacher, He is the ultimate teacher. I would even go so far as to say He is the only teacher ultimately that matters. The Gospel is about learning and growing and changing. The essence of the gospel is pressing forward to learn more to become better.
As you pursue whatever you may study in school whether it be mathematics or history or whatever topic, the Holy Ghost can bring all things to your remembrance. That is the scriptural description of His work. Well, that works for Mathematics. IF you have worked diligently to put principles of mathematics into your mind, then when you need to take a test or apply those principles,… the gift of the Holy Ghost can be an assist to you in using those things for righteousness."

I have had help from the Holy Ghost about how to teach and I know that He can help us in every aspect of our lives.  The gospel is really about learning and changing and growing.  

I must say I have been watching too much TV. I never used to watch TV, but here every time I want a break from preparing for classes I watch something on TV. That has to change and I need to be reading or doing more productive things! 

I have met some people here, but often don't have the motivation to go to some of the activities they have going on.  I get home from classes really exhausted and don't feel like doing anything. I should do stuff now while the weather is good. Because I am definitely not going anywhere when it gets cold. I should do something fun during the 3-day weekend coming up I guess, but I have not found anyone to do that with. I may just take a drive on my own or something. We will see.
My mother is doing amazingly well. She just had some medical tests done and she has never been better. I am very grateful for that.  It is such a blessing to not have to worry about her health.  My aunt Amal, however, is not doing well. She has heart problems and other issues.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

New beginnings

I have been loving Spring. It is amazing how beautiful things can become in the Spring. I guess when you have harsh horrible winters and everything just dies, then you have prettier Springs. It is the same in our lives as when we have really hard times, we know bright blessings are coming our way if we but endure.  Music and the spoken word (which I got to translate) was about new beginnings and how Spring reminds us that the Savior gave us the chance to try again and start over. That winter, no matter how long, has to end and Spring has to come.

I shared with my students the other day Joseph Smith's experience and told them that Joseph Smith felt so much darkness, then 'at that moment of great alarm' he saw a pillar of light over his head and God, the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Sometimes in our lives we feel we are surrounded by darkness and want to give up hope, but we must know that the thicker the darkness, the closer the light...If we hold on just a little longer the light will appear. My favorite quote by Elder Holland is this:

“Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened up this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going.”

I went to a training for new employees this past week. It really helped me realize that I was not completely looking at the big picture and being the best teacher I could be.  They mentioned that the top mission of BYU-I is to "Build testimonies of the Lord Jesus Christ." It is sad that I actually did not already know the mission of the university I teach at. So, I started focusing on that more in my classes and making sure I share a spiritual thought at the start of each lesson. I have also started paying more attention to the students (especially those who are not doing what they should be doing) and maybe trying to help them do better in the class.

I honestly don't know how other teachers do it, because it seems overwhelming to me. I mean I have 130 students and am having a hard time making each of them feel important and included. Those who had car accidents, are sick, or are struggling otherwise...I feel inadequate and don't have time to do everything I want to do. I actually got so discouraged after the first week because I felt the students hated Math and I was failing as a teacher. That very day I was discouraged, I got an email from one of my students who said: "You really are a great teacher and I love how I can feel the spirit when I am learning."
That made my day!

Devotionals on campus are amazing (they have a talk every Tuesday afternoon). Actually, the first time I walked into the BYU Idaho center I felt I was in the conference center in SLC. It is so similar (not as big of course), but it looked and felt so much like it.  When I was at BYU Provo, there were many students who did not go to the devotionals. Here, I feel most of them do, and they fill up this amazing auditorium. You would have about 10,000 people in that place.  Here are some pictures:

It is really a special place. I'm so glad to be here. The devotional given by the new president was remarkable. 

I have gotten to know some of the teachers at the Math department, we go out to lunch every Wednesday. I still don't feel I have friends here though except for those I knew from before. 
One of my friends came over for my birthday and brought me a gift and a treat and then took me out for ice cream. That really meant so much to me because I was thinking I would have a sad lonely birthday. 

On my birthday, I brought a treat to my students but didn't tell them why (I should have). I bought myself a cake and still have not touched it because I kept looking for someone to share it with and didn't find anyone =(

I went out to dinner for my birthday (alone) sadly. But was talking to my brother throughout dinner that I felt he went out to dinner with me  (ha ha)
Thank you to all who posted on Facebook and wished me a happy Birthday. That meant a lot to me that you all were thinking of me.
I guess I will get to know people here as time goes by. Then again that is partly my fault as I am trying to keep a low profile (ha ha). 

A person I don't know (well, I met her through one of my friends) invited me to dinner the other day.  The food was amazing and it was fun to get to know people. It was so nice of her to invite me. I should try to go to FHE sometimes as well as they do fun things, but Mondays are usually hard for me as I come home from the university completely dead and in so much pain and I can't get up and do anything. My department head was so nice to try and get me a different office chair, but that did not help. Actually, my old chair was softer so I kept it.  I need a couch, not an office chair really. I'll bring a pillow with me to work and see if that helps.