Sunday, August 30, 2015

Life is Good

I started attending some training workshops at the university. Since I started in the middle of the year, I never went through any training. It has been very useful, and I wish I had done this before I started my first semester here. 
I am changing a few things in my classes to hopefully improve them and engage the students more. I am more and more amazed every day at how this university has revolutionized and improved learning.  I have seen how effective those methods are in the learning process. I also found out that there is a free service on campus with a team that would come to your class and help you by doing surveys and taking notes to help you improve your teaching. I am certainly going to include that this semester.

The other day, I bought a really comfortable couch. It was real leather, and was on sale because it had a small scratch (hardly noticeable).  I had to pay the delivery guy $75 to bring it from Idaho Falls.  Well, the couch did not fit through my door! I never thought that they made couches bigger than doors (and this one did not seem big). But, I have come to realize that my front door is super small and finding a comfortable couch that fits is a challenge.

But, I sold my couch and the people that bought it were nice enough to let me keep it until I get a new one. If I don't have a couch, I won't have anywhere to sit.  The living room set I finally got may not be comfortable, but I figure I will have to take a chance.

I just hope that I will be able to get the stuff before classes start.
My sister-in-law Rida taught me how to make yogurt, and I just made some...umm it tastes so good and is not like the ones in the store. I will use this to make Labaneh today. Without an Arabic store nearby I have to be creative. Can't wait to have Labaneh and watermelon.

I also found cactus (I bought the green one last time which was supposed to be yellow inside, but it was not, it was green--not ripe). It still tasted good! Today I found ones that looked more ripe, but they were red inside! very strange. It still tasted good.

I went to take a walk yesterday, and was out 10 seconds long enough to take this picture before it started pouring. There was thunder all night and lightening. Today is a really pretty day though.

 Yesterday I went to an activity at Rigby lake. It was a bit cold to swim, but it would have been fun to swim in the lake. We took a canoe and went around the lake. It was a big more scary than I thought because it rocks quite a bit and you keep feeling that you may fall! Here are some pictures I took at the lake:

I was looking for quotes to share with my students when I ran across this quote by Elder Gene Cook:
   “At times it will not be easy to discover the Lord’s love for us in all that we experience, because He is a perfect, anonymous giver.

You will search all your life to uncover His hand and the gifts He has bestowed upon you because of His intimate, modest, humble way of granting such wonderful gifts.

  Ponder with me a moment the following majestic gifts: the glories of all creation, the earth, the heavens; your feelings of love and joy; His responses of mercy, forgiveness, and innumerable answers to prayer; the gift of loved ones; and finally the greatest gift of all—the Father’s gift of His atoning Son, the perfect one in charity, even the God of love.”
We are blessed beyond measure. I especially feel blessed to be here and work at his amazing university. Everyone has been so nice to me and was willing to help in any way. I applied for a long-term position and will apply for two other positions this fall. I really hope that one of them will work out.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Back in Idaho

It was really a nice vacation while it lasted. It was great to be with my family and attend my nephew's amazing wedding. The best part was that I didn't have to worry about work and was really able to relax and enjoy my time there.

On Monday we went to Jungle Jim's (a fun store with lots of international food items). They had interesting stuff, like this giant gummy snake weighing 27lbs. (450 servings) You can get that for your kids and they will have candy for the rest of their lives from it. (the little green thing is a frog, right next to the snake). The snake is about my height when stretched.

We found Baqala (salted cod) at this big store and Walid got it so we can have it for breakfast. I know it sounds strange to have fish for breakfast, but Baqala is a special kind of fish and it is tradition to eat it for Breakfast in Palestine. It has been a while since we had it, so it was great to have a nice breakfast the day we left.

My brother Walid, his daughter Summer and I went to Kings' Island on Monday.  Here are some pictures from Kings Island:

This was the most fun roller coaster I ever rode. It keeps going up and down and it was a blast!! 

Pictures I took from the air as we were on a high ride:

 Sadly, it started pouring rain and we were lucky to run in time and get into a restaurant. I was sad I didn't get to ride more rides, but everything was soaked by the time the rain stopped.

I love this ride, the Delirium, but I guess I will have to ride it next time I go.

I am now back in Rexburg. I'm glad I made it safely as I kept falling asleep on the way. Never eat waffles for breakfast then take a long drive. I did stop once, but that didn't help. 

I am trying to finish preparing for my classes for Fall. I have 5 classes and about 200 students. It should be a fun semester! I start on the 26th with new faculty meetings. So, I will be busy for the next two weeks. I have only two days left to finish preparing for the new semester.

My student evaluations were not great and I was pretty sad about that, but hopefully I can improve and be a better teacher. My friend told me that her first two evaluations were horrible, then they improved. Hopefully that will happen with mine. There were some really positive comments, so it is not that bad.

I applied for a full-time faculty position at BYU-I (I am currently a visiting professor). Hopefully since I am already here that may be an advantage. We will see...

I finally was able to sell my mattress and hopefully will get a better one that will work for my hip problem. I may also invest in a nicer living room set once I sell my couch. 

I know I am acting like I will be here a while...who knows...but I am acting in faith.  I was very sad to leave my family in Ohio, it was really nice to be with family again...I almost decided to go back home after my contract ends, but when I started thinking about the occupation and the bad situation at home, I decided that I am better off here. I can always visit my family at least once a year when I get my visa situation fixed.

I wanted to thank my friends in Utah who helped me so much during my stay (letting me stay at their home, feeding me, taking me to the airport). It is really nice to have good friends who would do anything for you. I just wish they were closer! I do have friends here and I need to make the effort to form closer friendships.

Monday, August 17, 2015


I arrived in Ohio on Tuesday. It was an overnight flight, and it was freezing inside the flight. The nice lady next to me shared her blanket, which helped me not freeze to death! I'll bring my winter coat next time I travel. 
We went to the air force museum here with my brothers the first day. I have been there before, so we did the quick 'run' through tour.
I spent the week visiting with family and playing cards.  
On Thursday we went to a water park with my nephew Peter. It had a Jacuzzi, a sauna, and a steam room. It was so much fun and I even had the courage to jump from the high jumping board. I almost walked back and didn't jump because once you get up there it seems soooo high and it was so scary. But, I survived.

My nephew's (Peter's) wedding was on Saturday. I have amazing nephews! And I am not saying that just because they are my nephews. But, really they are awesome! The picture below is with my two brothers and my niece Summer.

This is Amanda's niece Bailey. Amanda is Peter's wife (it is strange to call her his wife). So, they gave us bubbles so that when Peter and Amanda walk out of the church we can blow bubbles at them. Bailey got tired of blowing bubbles at no one, so she goes in the church, grabs Peter by the hand and drags him out by himself before they were done.

This is with my brother Maher and my sister-in-law Rida:

 And that is my brother Maher's family, daughter Mira and her family is on the left...

The wedding was awesome. The priest marrying them at the end said: "I now present to you Mr. and Mrs. Amanda Qumsiyeh". You should have seen the look on Amanda's face. He didn't even correct it or think he did something wrong...

For the reception, I felt I was in a Palestinian wedding. The music was Arabic, and so was the dancing.  Even Americans were doing Palestinian Dabkah.  

I will go back to Utah tomorrow, then back to Idaho the next day. It has been a nice vacation, but I have so much to do to get ready for classes to start in September. I also have lots of meetings in August (training for new faculty). 

Monday, August 10, 2015

Enjoying the holiday

It has been a fun week. I am in Utah now and heading to Ohio tomorrow to visit family there.

Last week I went on a trip to Lagoon (amusement park) with my friend Emily and her kids. It was a fun day, we could not have asked for better weather.  The rides were mostly great, except we did not get to ride on the new roller coaster (the lines were too long). My favorite one was Wicked, which is a roller coaster, but has a part which goes straight up then down...

Everyone got on this ride below except me...they all got soaked! I was not willing to do that!

Amanda talked me into getting on this ride. They basically pull you up so high then release you and you swing back and forth. We waited for 2 hours in line, but it was TOTALLY worth it.  I'm glad Amanda was brave enough to pull the cord to make us fall because I would have never had the guts to do it!

And we we are after we were done!

My mission president in England came back home after serving for 3 years. His homecoming was this weekend in St. George. I considered not going just because I didn't want to sit for 5 hours in a car each way...but, I am glad I went. It was so much fun. We stopped A LOT on the way down and eat great ice cream (thank you Horsleys)  and visited fun places. 

Pres. Millar's talk made me cry, I missed hearing him speak. He starts by saying "I touched the hearts of many of you..." and I am thinking why he is saying that...then he says "I literally touched your hearts", he's a heart surgeon and performed many heart surgeries on some of those present...ha ha...I love Pres. Millar.

We went over to his house after church and I was blown away by how beautiful it was!!! This pond is in his entrance way, and the water fall and stream are in his back yard. He has glass windows all over with the amazing view below.

 We stopped at the Shakespeare festival on the way which the university down there has each year.

I spent the night at my friend Sharon's house in St. George. I know Sharon from when her and her husband were in Jerusalem years ago. It was nice to visit with them and spend time with them. She took me on a tour of the amazing mountains around the area....

On the way back we stopped at Enterprise to visit Br. and Sister Terry. I did not want to leave their house...The fresh air outside and the fresh vegetables from the garden were a taste of heaven. Reminded me so much of home...The fresh corn from their garden was the best corn I ever had in my life! Thank you Terrys.

It is these simple things in life that make life worth living..great friends, fresh air, nature, freshly grown vegetables and fruits. I am so blessed to know these amazing people and to have had the opportunity to serve with them in England.

I have been staying with Blaine and Linda here in Utah. Blaine was my branch president in Bethlehem. He fell a while ago and broke his pelvis. I admire him keeping positive during this difficult time. They were both so sweet to host me for 10 days.

I am looking forward to seeing my brothers tomorrow. I will be traveling all night, so it will be a looong night...Hopefully I can sleep on the plane.

I gave a fireside last week...the audience was composed of older people and I thought they would not come, or not be interested in politics. But, they came and asked really good questions. I ended up answering so many questions that it took 2 hours for us to finally end.  
One of the people there gave me something he wrote and asked me to read it...I must say it was interesting. I won't mention it all here. But, his thought was that as we move towards the light (like a lit room in a dark house) it is easier to see where we are going. But, if we turn around and move away from the light it becomes hard to see.
Christ is the light of the world and as we walk towards Him, it is easier for us to see the purpose of life and understand why thing happen and find joy. If we walk away from Christ, we are basically stumbling in the darkness. He stands with open arms bidding us all to come to Him who is the source of light, peace and joy.  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back in Utah

It is good to be back in Utah to the mountains I have grown to love.
It has been wonderful to visit with old friends and rest and relax for a change.

I finished most of what I had to do in Rexburg before coming to Utah. I moved to a new office in the Ricks building. It is great to be close to where my classes will be and close to others in the math department. But, I will miss my spacious office with the window. I guess not having to walk in the cold and snow in the winter will be worth it!

I have a mission reunion tomorrow, and a small fireside on Thursday. Sorry, it is not open for public ;-) due to space limitations.

Yesterday my friend had a baby shower for her sister at her house. It was amazing and they (Emily and her sisters) did a great job organizing it and decorating. They are so creative! I include some pictures...
They had a waffle bar with really good toppings...yum...

I got to talk to some people who I met at the shower...some of them are dealing with marriage issues, or divorce or custody. I was surprised as to how broken families are here.  I have many friends and do notice a big difference in their home when their family is close together and they are happy.  The home has an inviting atmosphere and I feel peace there.

When I went to Nebraska with my friend, she said her family has prayer and scripture study every night. And she asked me if I wanted to join. It felt really good to do that. I think reading the scriptures and praying together is the main thing that will bring families closer to one another and make them happier. 

Technology has put borders between us and we are less likely to talk to one another. I even felt it yesterday, since I didn't know many people I just played with my phone. But, when I put it aside and actually talked to people, I was able to get to know them and even help them in their problems. 

I watched my friends that I am staying with as they limit kids' use of technology by timing them to make sure they don't use ipads or computer games all day. I wish everyone would talk to their kids and spend time with them as that is the most important thing. (I don't have kids, so I can preach to parents like that and get away with it...ha ha)

You parents should always remember that your children are Heavenly Father's children too and He will help you raise them.

I am looking forward to spending some time with my family in Ohio. My brother is coming from Texas as well. I do miss my family in Palestine and sad I won't be able to go visit them this summer. But, being with my two brothers here will make up for that in a way.