Sunday, July 26, 2015

Nebraska

I just returned from a Mathmatics workshop in Lincoln Nebraska. It was a great week, I learned a lot and met some amazing people.
The workshop was about mathematical modeling. They showed us how to introduce real-life problems to our students. The students can solve those with their mathematical skills. This seemed very helpful as many of my students struggle to see applications of math in real life. 

We spent a week on the University of Nebraska Lincoln campus. It was really beautiful and the weather was good to us (not too hot - except the last day). I learned from the experience of the many math teachers (26) that were with us in the workshop. 

The food was amazing too, we had access to the cafeteria on campus which had an open buffet with a wide selection of food. 

On Sunday, when we arrived, we rented a car and drove up to Omaha. The Okiishis (who were in Jerusalem a while ago) now live there since Pres. Okiishi is the Winter Quarters temple president. They are such amazing people and it was great to see them again.


 Here is a picture of the Winter Quarters Temple:

 The Mormon pioneers settled in Winter Quarters for a while and then had to leave. There is a cemetery here by the temple where many of them had to bury their dead. Some names of those who are buried there are listed near this statue (of a couple burring their infant child)...most names are children and babies. It is sad to contemplate the amount of suffering the pioneers went through as they traveled though the plains to get to the salt lake valley.  (In this picture I am with Bonnie, who is also teaching math at BYU-I and she came with me on the trip)



 One of the nice sister missionaries, sister Espiritu from the Philippines gave us a tour of the visitors' center there. I had to take a picture with her because I have a sister in the Jerusalem branch with that same last name...




Here is a picture of Bonnie and I trying to push the handcart. The pioneers pulled these handcarts with their belongings for thousands of miles in the cold winter across rocky hills and valleys. I probably could pull it 5 minutes then I would drop dead ;-)
 



On Thursday we had the opportunity to visit one of BYU-I's pathway sites. It was the last class gathering for these pathway students. The sister missionary who was in charge (sitting next to me) just lost her husband a week ago, yet she had a smile on her face and was full of faith and trust in her Heavenly Father. 
 

Our visit was remarkable. I could totally see the difference this pathway program made  in the lives of those people. Their faith was radiating and their bond was strong to one another. One of them even insisted on coming to the last class gathering even though she was in labor and her contractions were 5 minutes apart. She had to leave to the hospital right after that.

If you don't know about the pathway program, it is an online program through BYU-I which helps those who have maybe been away from school for a while, or are not able to get into college to start taking online classes through BYU-I. It is cheap to take those classes and thus it gives opportunity to many to enroll at a university.  A prophet has said that BYU-I will fill the earth, and the pathway program is a fulfillment of that prophecy. Here is a nice sunset I saw on the way back to Lincoln:
  

I am back in Rexburg. I finished grading my finals and doing most of my grades. I was a bit discouraged because of how badly my students did in the final. It sometimes makes me think if not teaching them is just as good...But I guess the relationships I developed with the students and the spirit I and they felt in class is worth it. Even if the math skills don't stick in their heads, I hope that the spirit they feel will.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Random Stuff

I am writing this today because I know I will not be able to write tomorrow or anytime this week. I am heading to the workshop in Nebraska tomorrow super early.  It will be nice to get out, but it looks like it will be busy work all the time (even at night we will be at the workshop!).

I found out that two of my good friends (the Okiishis) are in Omaha Nebraska. Br. Okiishi is the temple president there. I am looking forward to seeing them tomorrow. My friend and I will rent a car and drive up to Omaha and spend some time with them.

This semester has gone by so fast...but the last week felt like a year. I kept thinking it was Friday every day because I felt that it should have been over by now. But, I taught my last class on Friday and that day was especially exhausting.  As anxious as I was to be done, the minute I got home and realized I won't see my students again, I started to miss them. I had the most amazing students this semester. I had a few good comments from them which made me feel good, like "you are the best math teacher I ever had". One of my students said that he is now convinced that I am 'the coolest' Mormon woman. Sadly, on the academic side it is not as great as many of my students failed (especially in calculus), but I tried my best to  help them.

We got to pick our classes the other day and it was kind of an interesting process, but I got mostly the classes I want and it worked out even though I was last on the selection list.

I had some friends over for dinner this past week. My friend Sharon Eubank came to BYU-I and did a devotional. Her talk was amazing. She showed a video about Lebanon that was simply perfect and it is good to know that there are good members of the church in the Middle East. Sharon brought a friend with her, a Syrian girl who is a member of the church. She is so sweet and has had such a difficult life. She was lucky to be able to get out of Syria and after many hardships start attending BYU-I here.



I got called as the Assistant Secretary in the RS presidency. It has been good, but I may be creating more work than this calling requires. I guess I miss being so busy with church stuff that I am trying to make myself busy.

The other day we had a security threat on campus. Someone made a threat and we didn't know what they were going to do. Luckily nothing happened! At the end of the day, we had a tornado warning. Ok, I don't know what to do in such situations. Even some of the teachers had no idea. "Should we go to the bathroom and tie ourselves to the toilet or what?" It turned out to be nothing, it didn't even rain...It think it was not too close to us, but you could see something forming in the distance (see pictures below):


 
The temple area on the other hand, seemed so pretty...



My friend is saying they are expecting a large earthquake to hit the western United States (California mainly). I think we will be far from it, but then you never know. 

My friend from BYU days, Elizabeth, came to Idaho this week and it was nice to see her and catch up. we went to a great place to eat. and since it was the last day of class it was a celebration to me...

Ok, I guess I better sleep since I have to get up super early...Don't want to miss my flight...good night everyone... 
 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The end...

I can't believe how fast this semester has gone by. It is coming to an end...the last week of classes is the hardest as the students don't really want to be in class, nor do I. I just want to be done! 
I've had less and less people show up for class...

I was trying to prepare for my workshop next week in Nebraska, but have not had time. I hope this coming week will be quiet enough and I can do that. 

I went to Idaho falls yesterday and did some shopping. I had to get away as everyone invaded my street. "Slide the City" had a water slide put up on 7th south down the hill from the temple here. So, they close off a street and then put a large water slide in the middle of the street.  I did not take a good picture (the second one came from the internet), but it looked like fun. I don't see myself doing that though especially knowing that some of my students will be there ;) That would be embarrassing.


  
I am looking forward to the devotional on Tuesday which will be given by my good friend Sharon Eubank. She is amazing! I'll be having them over for dinner on Monday (I just hope the food will turn out good). 

I was driving in Idaho falls yesterday and came across this really nice (??) what would I call it? Well it was great and I took a picture ha ha.


I don't really have much to say...Well, actually I do, but recently I was wondering how much information do I want to be available for the general public!? So, you may get the general overview. If you want more details, email me.

I got a calling in church finally. It is not too much work (but I am making it too much work, you know me). I'm assistant secretary in the RS presidency. Maybe it will help me get to know the sisters more.  

I look forward to my trip to Utah and then to Ohio next month...but I guess I have to survive finals and grading first. Things are great and I feel very blessed. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What does it feel like?

I hope those of you who live in the US had a great Independence day weekend. This weekend was supposed to be longer, but it didn't feel so to me. I tried to do everything I needed to do so that I can catch up and not have a crazy week, but I accomplished very little. I am so busy these days and trying hard to finish writing my final exam to submit it this week. I also have an exam this week that I have to grade. I have one student that has put in so much effort and pulled his grade up. I am amazed now at his understanding and how well he is doing in the class. People like that really make teaching rewarding. But, I have 6 students who have completely given up on passing and simply stopped coming to class. Seems like I'll have a lot of F's. What can I do?

I tried to join the celebrations of Independence day around town. On Saturday I went to the parade in Rexburg. Everyone lined up on the sidewalks of main street and as the parade walked by each float (participant) threw candy to the kids that were on the side of the road. Some even threw T-shirts, balls and other toys. The kids gathered up so much candy.

This was an interesting parade.  For many reasons...




I have never seen so many tractors! I guess only in a small town like Rexburg would you have tractors as part of the parade.






Broulim's is the largest grocery store in Rexburg, they had a big shopping cart that was moving on top of a car...very funny:
 

 And loan mowers!!! Ya, would you ever expect to see lawn mowers as part of a parade?? Maybe only in Rexburg! They even had a team of 8 lawn mowers that were doing things together and doing organized moves...interesting!



Snoopy...


At night I went to a nearby park where they had a rodeo. This was the first time I watch a live rodeo. I tried to take pictures, but none of those riders lasted more than 5 seconds on the bull, so they were too quick for me. Mostly I have fuzzy pictures of them falling off. One of them was actually hurt.  What I never saw before was how they actually got the bull back in the barn. They had cowboys on horses with ropes trying to catch it to make it go in. But, often times it was the bull chasing the horses instead of the other way around.



After the rodeo they had fireworks for a few minutes which was nice. However, amazing enough, I still jump at the sound of explosions. There are some fireworks that sound like fireworks, but some can't be distinguished from missiles or gun shots. Those still make me jump and bring back memories of injured people, demolished houses, and sadness.

Throughout this day I kept wondering what it would feel like for these celebrations to have been for my country. What it would feel like to have those people in the parade holding Palestinian flags instead of American flags? What it would feel like to finally celebrate being free? 

As much as I honor the Palestinian flag and long to have a country, somehow the corrupt officials that now control the PA makes me wonder what a Palestinian state would actually be like.  It seems that even the hope and desire for change is being taken away from me. 

I remember the days of the uprising when raising our flag in Bethlehem and other areas was forbidden.  We all stood in amazement when we saw a Palestinian flag raised high--such as when the young men would tie it to a rock and post it on the telephone pole. Or when a courageous person would climb to the top of the dome of the rock and hang a Palestinian flag.  It often did not stay up long...the Israeli soldiers would shortly come and make people take the flag down and burn it. That amazement and joy at seeing my flag raised up high is there, but not to that extent. Maybe because subconsciously I associate the flag with our corrupt Palestinian officials.

Last night, I tried...I tried hard to feel and imagine what it would be like to belong to a country, to have a flag raised up high and to have a just government...but I failed. I have no idea what that feeling is like! I never will! Even my efforts in trying to imagine the feeling failed. I watched the fireworks in tears last night longing for the feeling that the hundreds of people around me felt. I wanted to grab some of them and ask them what it felt like for them...I wanted to beg them to explain to me what it feels to be free, to have a nationality, to have an identity.

Will I ever know? probably not...I hang on to the fact that I do feel a sense of belonging in God's kingdom. I do know that I have a just king (even the Lord Jesus Christ) who loves me. I know I not only have a just king, but a merciful king.  My identity as a child of God is what keeps me going.  

When I gave a devotional on Sunday a woman there asked me how I deal with trials. I told her that as long as you really believe Heavenly Father loves you, then nothing else would matter. Because if you believe God has all power, and has power to remove your trials, but chooses not to, then He must know in His wisdom that these trials will help you become stronger and become more like Him. I testify that we do have a loving, just, merciful king and that we are all children of God, precious in His sight.