Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Second Coming

I drove down to Utah yesterday so I can translate for Women's conference. 

Before conference, I got to spend some time with my friend Emily in Salt Lake. I'm glad she happened to be there...We bought some stuff at Deseret Book and as we were walking out, we saw Sister Stephens (from the general RS presidency). She was happy that we approached her to talk to her. She said people normally are afraid to come up to her and talk to her. She was so sweet and gave us both hugs.

Women's Conference was amazing as you all saw. I translated some of the talks and so I got to hear them in advance and enjoy them. And general conference will be amazing next week as well (Trust me). In case you were wondering, no, we don't know who the new apostles are, but I am sure we translated their talks without even knowing.

Aside from Sister Oscarson speaking so fast and me not catching up, and not having the off camera paragraph, translation for the Women's Session went well.

However, I had to have a bad ending to a perfect day yesterday. I had a little car accident and broke the right mirror on my car. Normally, it would not be a big deal, but it being Saturday night, tomorrow being Sunday I would not be able to fix it until Monday. I would not want to drive back to Idaho without a mirror. So, I am stuck in Utah until Monday.

I guess you don't realize how important one little piece of your car is, until you have to stick your head out of the window every time you change lanes. I really felt unsafe driving even back to the hotel after conference. I am hoping to get to the repair shop first thing Monday morning and be able to fix it and head back to Idaho in the morning. My first class is not until 3:15, so hopefully I can make it! 
Tony (Emily's husband) was able to find me a place in SLC which has a cheap mirror (thank you Tony), I am hoping it is the same color as my car though (there are many versions of blue). But, at this point, as long as I have a mirror, I will worry about cosmetics later.

The hotel I am staying at is amazing, so the positive thing is that I get to stay here another day and relax. Well, I would relax if I didn't have my mirror to think about! It is all good...there must be a reason why I am staying in Utah another day!

This semester is finally starting to calm down. It has been a crazy start with translating for conference, dealing with students who wanted to add my classes, and getting my classes ready. I am hoping that things will go smoothly from now on. I will have tests to grade this week though (umm 100 students' tests--I am not sure how that will go). Put in a few movies, and grade all night...

It is so different to be in the Math department. When my office was down in the Rigby building I felt so isolated. Now I feel I am part of a team and I am so much closer to the other math teachers. I am grateful to our department head who felt that each person in the department should have the chance to be up in the Ricks building (we are rotating).

I got my new living room set (for free!)...well, somehow I can't get the store to take my money. I have invested some time and effort, but for some reason they can't seem to charge me. I bought so many things from the same store using the same credit card, so there is no logical reason as to why my card would not work for that particular order. I've done everything I can and hopefully they will figure out a way to have my pay for the living room set I have ;-) I am not too fond on the new set, but at least the material is nice and it looks great! It is somewhat not comfortable, but it is not bad. Hopefully it will get softer with time.

It was sad this week to hear that Elder Scott passed away. He has been missing his late wife so much and I am sure he is thrilled to be with her again.  A friend of mine from the seventy told me that every time Elder Scott bears his testimony he mentions Janine (his wife). He loved her so much...

I met Elder Scott a long time ago in Jerusalem. You may have heard him say that his wife told him to always look people in the eye when he meets them. And he does just that!! I will never forget meeting him. He called me a pioneer and said he was honored to meet me...
As he looked deep into my eyes, I knew that I was standing in front of an apostle of God. But, I also felt to some extent what it would be like to stand before the Savior and have Him look deep down into our eyes...and see all our sins and bad thoughts.
As I stood there, I understood why we are told that we would wish to hide from the Savior if we are not clean and worthy. 

I gave a talk to the young women in our ward the other day and told them about my dream about the second coming. I told them that standing before the Savior of the world clean and pure is the greatest feeling that anyone could ever is worth every sacrifice, every pain, every trial, every sadness, every loss. I would even give anything, even my life, to be able to stand before my Savior one day and have Him say: "Well done thou good and faithful servant..."

Some people say the Savior will come tomorrow...Well, no one knows when he's coming. However, looking at the world today and how wicked it has become, I won't be surprised if it is tomorrow.  I read in the book of Mormon about the wickedness of the Nephites and Lamanites when the Lord destroyed them (it honestly does not look that they were more wicked than us).

Aside from the fact that the picture below is a bit off (I think that is not quite East-or is it?), it is a great picture. It makes us realize that the second coming is so real...However, looking down, I realize that Jerusalem will not look like this when He comes. It will be completely destroyed. 

The good thing is that I am not worried...And none of us should be if we are prepared. Not only prepared temporally, but spiritually. If you feel you won't be able to stand before the Savior clean and pure, now is the time to fix your life. He made forgiveness possible, repent and change your life so that when He does appear, He will embrace you and say: "Well done thou good and faithful servant..."



Sunday, September 20, 2015

The end of a crazy week

I'm glad this week is over. I didn't think I would survive. I was super busy with getting ready for my classes, students trying to get me to let them into classes, and translating for conference. 
I had about 10 people on the waiting list for many of my classes and there was simply no room for them in the classrooms. I had them bring benches and sit in the back the first few days hoping that somehow people will drop and they will be able to get in.

Those that kept coming and were really eager to get in mostly did make it. Which is good.

I love my students this semester. They are amazing! Their testimony and faith amaze me. I am trying hard this semester to do some activities in class to make my classes more interactive. The training we attended was very useful. We will see how successful I will be.

On Tuesday we had the Inauguration of President Clark Gilbert, who is the new president of BYU-I now. We had Pres. Uchtdorf, Elder Holland, and others come. It was an amazing experience. And we made it in one of the pictures posted on the university's facebook page:

 It is amazing that almost every seat was full.  So, about 15,000 people were there in one place! The number of students at BYU-I now exceeds BYU-Provo, at over 43,000 students.  Half of which are online students.

I had my students do an assignment about the devotionals this semester. As I looked through their comments I was amazed at how different they were. And that each of them was able to get something completely different from the meeting. Sometimes they would even find a sentence someone randomly said and say that it helped them and it was what they needed to hear. The spirit is amazing and it speaks to each of us individually even though we may be in the same meeting. I guess I should pay better attention.

I finally got my living room set, I'm not completely in love with it, but it is way better than my other couch. Glad to have sold that. And I had 4 people over for dinner and they were able to sit comfortably. With one couch it was a challenge to find room to have everyone sit. 

I started going swimming in the morning (in my efforts to do some sort of exercise). The pool we have on campus is great. It is hard for me to get myself there each morning, but once I am there I really enjoy it. I guess I'll have to wait and see if I can get out during the winter cold mornings. My friends were telling me how on many mornings my car may not start because of the frozen temperatures and how my face will freeze just because of walking from my car to my apartment. Ugh...not looking forward to that. Do I really want to live in Rexburg?

Yes I guess. They tell me I'll get used to the cold...
Still going to apply for another position that is opening up in the Math department. Hopefully this will be the last one I have to apply to. But we will see.

Translation for conference has been going well. I am not assigned to do many talks, maybe if things calm down at work I can do a few more talks. Some talks are just a challenge to do because of the metaphors they use which don't easily transfer to Arabic. I just translated an amazing talk...In English it is simply perfect and so inspirational, but I think I ruined it with Arabic because I simply could not say things as nicely as the speaker did.

This won't be long, I have to go work on translation and also work on a talk I am giving to the Young Women. I know I tried to not give firesides, but I will when asked ;-)

I feel really happy here...aside from the usual challenges, I do feel I am supposed to be here and feel I belong (at least at the university). I absolutely LOVE everyone I work with and feel honored to be part of the greatest department at BYU-I (the Math department). I'm grateful to everyone at BYU-I who has gone out of their way to help me...



Sunday, September 13, 2015

In the Hands of the Potter

I have been frantically trying to get everything ready before classes start tomorrow. I don't feel ready, but I guess it will have to do. The training we did these past few days has been very helpful. I have changed much in my classes and modified many things. Hopefully this semester will go well. I am looking forward to meeting my new students.

It has been great being in the Math department, my office is smaller than my old office, but I already feel closer to the other teachers and am getting to know them better. I'm grateful to be here.

I am concerned about grading this semester because I have 50 students in each class and will have to grade 5 tests for each section. I am not sure how that will go. I need to plan on doing some multiple choice I guess just to make grading faster. 

I bought a mattress, but it was worse than the old one. And I thought that I sold the old one, but the guy turned out to be a crook. He told me he'll send me a check for it, and he did, but the check was fake. The police was involved and even took the envelope to look for fingerprints. I learned that when someone offers to buy something from you and offers to pay you more than you had asked then you should question yourself as to 'why they would do such a thing?' So, now I have two mattresses...The store was nice enough to refund the money for the one I just bought, but they won't take it back. So, it is just leaning on my wall for now (waiting for visitors to use it, so who wants to come visit?)

I sold my couch, and still waiting for the new living room set. I am not sure how I will get it because they only deliver from 8-5 when I am on campus. Hopefully we can work something out because I am tired of not having a couch.

I went to institute for the first time on Thursday and it was a good lesson. The strangest thing happened though. For a moment, (and this had nothing to do with the lesson) I got a glimpse of who I could become. I won't share much detail here, but it was an amazing experience. It really shocked me and made me want to live my life so that I am worthy to be that person. I am not sure if I ever will become that person, but I think Heavenly Father just wanted to show me that I had the potential. I am grateful for that because often times I feel weak, lacking of ability and intelligence.
The Lord says:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." (Ether 12: 27)

I hope that we all can ponder so we can see who Heavenly Father wants us to be. If we do, then our desire to be better will increase so we can be that person.  When I read the book "In the hands of the Potter" by my friend Camille Fronk, it completely changed my life. The Lord is the potter and if we allow Him into our lives, and submit our will to Him, He will make a beautiful vessel out of us. We just need to trust Him and put our lives in His hands.

I have been trying to do just that: submit to His will. I am trying to get a permanent position here at BYU-I and trying to get citizenship so I can stay in the US, but I have decided to do my best and then just not worry about it. If I am meant to stay here, Heavenly Father will make it happen. My friend who is a lawyer explained to me how complicated getting a green card is, and if BYU was to do that for me they would have to offer me a permanent position, and also prove they were not able to find anyone with the same qualifications (which would  be really hard). So, I am just going to apply for the positions and leave it in the Lord's hands.

I stand in amazement at the many blessings the Lord has given me so far. I would not be here without His help. I thank Him every day for the privilege of working at this great university and associating with the amazing faculty and employees we have here. Even if I am here only a short time, the experience has changed me and made me a better person.

These next few weeks will be very busy. I should be getting the general conference talks soon and I will be busy with translation. I am going to interpret a few talks for the Women's session on the 26th, so I will be driving down to Utah for one day. I am looking forward to translating those amazing talks, but also really worried that because of my teaching schedule that I won't have enough time to dedicate to translating. I'll do my best, that is all I can do I guess.    



Sunday, September 6, 2015

Pray for the Middle East

I have been busy preparing for classes and finishing up the New Faculty training. There are 3 positions opening up in the Math department and I applied for one of them, but will apply to the other two as well. This way I can stay here permanently (or at least I hope to). It has been hard for me not to be able to go home this year, and I am hoping things will work out so I can go home for a visit next year.
The weather here is still nice, but the nights are becoming cold which tells me winter is closer than I think. I am not looking forward to the snow...but, I am sure I can survive.

I picked plums the other day at a friend's house. It reminded me of olive picking because there were so many plums on each tree. We picked and picked and didn't even pick half of the 4 trees.  They were good plums, but I am not sure what I would do with that many plums so I have given some away. (they are a bit green-looking, but they are really good)

I have been thinking a lot about what is going on in the Middle East. I think that boy's body at the beach made people more aware of what is going on. 
It is very sad that many are suffering. It is not just in Syria or Iraq, other countries like Yemen also is in turmoil.  Over a quarter of a million people have been killed with millions affected by what is going on.  
I must say I feel guilty having no trials when many out there are suffering. I don't know what it is like to be forced to leave the comfort of your home and travel dangerous roads just to seek safety for your family.

If you live in Utah and would like to help, I found this website useful:

International Rescue Committee SLC 

I think especially if you speak Arabic, then you can help those refugees adjust and have a good experience here. 
Let us involve our wards and stakes and provide the needed support. From someone who comes from a country where half of it's people are refugees I know what it means to have someone to make you feel welcome as you come into a strange country.
The refugees need help with learning how to live here, learn English (simply by talking to you), how to find a job, ... etc. We all can assist with that.

If you don't feel you have the time or money to assist then please don't do nothing. Please pray and fast for those people that are suffering. Pray that countries will be willing to welcome them and give them the support they need. Advocate for that on facebook and other media.

People in the US would not ever forget the sad events that happened on September 11th, 2001 in the US. Let us make this month of September a time where we fight against injustices and stand with those that are oppressed and those that have suffered because of the hard hearts of others.   

I am going to include my brother's email and reflections at the end, just because I think they apply here as it could give us ideas on how to help. He has done much to help Palestinian refugees and even those who were about to become refugees (when Israeli troops would kick them out of their homes or demolish their homes or confiscate their land). He has been beaten and arrested many times for his efforts.  And even though his efforts to help some people failed (Israel still took the land, demolished homes and uprooted trees), it made a difference to those he helped. People felt so much better knowing that someone was standing up for their rights and giving them support.  My brother's website is
Here are his words:
"My political awareness started out in September 1970 when I was 13 years old. That is the first time I saw my late father cry. My parents had tried to isolate us from the miseries of the world but in this case he could not help it as he watched how politics results in innocent people massacred.
The quarrel between the PLO and the Jordanian monarchy had peaked into a war. Jordanian troops with tanks entered refugee camps killing perhaps thousands (no one knows the number) of Palestinian refugees as they uprooted the PLO armed factions from Jordan. My father still would not talk much politics so I turned to my mother who gave me a brief history lesson much of it personal. For example she told me about her school friend Hayah Balbisi who was murdered with her students in Deir Yassin. The images on TV of flattened shaggy shantytowns over dead bodies still haunts me. 

I began to educate myself of things they do not teach us in school about our own history: that British invasion of Palestine September 1918 was a direct result of Zionist lobbies that gave the Balfour and the Jules Cambon declarations 1917 and learned of the British imposition of apartheid through the first Zionist ruler here Herbert Samuels.

In September 1982, it was my turn to cry uncontrollably as I saw images of the massacres at the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila (Israeli paid proxy militias). By September 2001, I had been living and working at Yale University for 1.5 years and I had been in the US for 22 years. In those 1.5 years in Connecticut, we had held over 20 events for Palestine and I had published dozens of letters and opinion articles on Palestine. We were happy we succeeded in pressuring Yasser Arafat not to sign onto the humiliating agreement offered him at Camp David that abrogated the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and lands (I co-founded a group that
managed to collect over 800,000 signatures for refugee rights between 1997 to 1999). We were planning more actions and more events especially in protest of the ongoing massacres committed by the war criminal Ariel Sharon in the occupied Palestinian territories. That was what some people had called the second Intifada 2000-2005 (my book on Popular resistance actually shows it is number 14 or 15). We planned events, held rallies, organized protest and also cared for the injured. We had already brought a
girl who was 8 years old who lost her eye to an Israeli rubber-coated steel bullet and gave her a prosthetic eye (Hiam was one of hundreds of children to lose eyes and limbs in 2000-2003). Another girl Marwa Alsharif was coincidentally with us in September 2001. Marwa Al-Sharif had a bullet in her head which was just removed by neurosurgeon in Hartford and she was recovering (I acted as translator for her and her mother)."