Sunday, November 29, 2015

Holiday thoughts...

I hope you all had a great thanksgiving holiday. I spent most of the holiday working, writing exams and preparing some of my classes for next semester. I thought if I could get some stuff done I can have a 'less-crazy' semester end!
I woke up thanksgiving day to some snow...the first significant snow of the season:




I am glad I got new tires last Saturday.  But most roads were cleared except ours. I don't think our road will ever be clear until maybe May when the snow would melt.
The good thing about the wind in Rexburg is that it blows away all the snow from your car. I only had snow on one window in my car (don't ask me how that happened)! I spent the day with my friend Danae and her family. They were so nice to have me over. The food was great, I love thanksgiving food!
They also made 6 kinds of pie...mmmm.  I especially loved Danae's pie dish, you can see the 3.1459... on it


 And here are all the other pies...




I was listening to the news the other day...You may have heard about the incident in Chicago where a cop shot a 17-year old boy 16 times. The cop says it was in self defense because 'the boy had a knife'. Seriously? Does that justify shooting the boy 16 times? 

Well, apparently, if the boy is Palestinian it does. There were many Palestinians shot dead because they carried a knife and tried to stab an Israeli.  I think those Palestinians who carry knives and try to stab someone are insane and suicidal...but I still think killing them could be avoided. Shooting them in the legs or arm could stop any further injury, but shooting them multiple times killing them is barbaric. Shooting them for carrying a knife then watching them bleed in pain is not human!  I mean how can you justify shooting a woman for carrying scissors? Or justify running over a woman THEN getting out of the car and shooting her.

The cop who shot the boy in Chicago is facing first degree murder charges.  The soldiers and Israeli settlers who shot the Palestinians didn't even get questioned and were even praised for what they did sometimes. I hope we all can be careful...it is ok to defend yourself against danger, but human life is precious and we should not take the life of another if we can avoid doing that.
 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving and more...

I want to wish everyone in the US a happy and enjoyable Thanksgiving. But, even if we are not American, I hope all of us can take this time to be grateful for our many blessings. We have been blessed with much.

I especially feel grateful being here, living in a free country with no checkpoints, or conflict. Having a warm house with hot running water all day every day. I remember when I lived in Zababdeh near Jenin. I did not have a fridge, my apartment was so cold during the winter and I had no water heater. I had only one little pot that I used to heat water so I can bathe. It was an interesting process to shower.
I also had cockroaches all over the apartment and even a rat that would come into the place at night. After living there a few weeks, those things ceased to bother me and I was able to find little things to be grateful for. Sometimes our situation is so bad that we have to look hard to find out what our blessings are. But, if we look, we will find them.


When my cousin went to Gaza, she found the people to be happy and grateful for what little they have. Over 300,000 of them are homeless. They don't have clean water or electricity most of the time. They are poor and unable to leave Gaza or improve their situation.  Below is a picture of a mother bathing her girls outside the rebels of what used to be their home. Those girls are able to laugh and play in this destroyed neigborhood.



I hope we all can count our blessings and remember just how much we have compared to the many in the world who have very little.

My semester has been going well, just exceedingly busy. I have a group of amazing students this semester and I love them all. It makes a big difference to teach students who are eager to learn and who put in much effort in the learning process.

People told me that it always snows in October here, well not this year! It finally snowed a couple of days ago (if you can count this as snow). I think we had an inch if even. However, none of the roads were cleared that day and I was worried my car would not do well on the snow. It did Ok.
I went to Walmart yesterday and got snow tires (after a 4-hour wait because there were so many in line). The tires make a sound when I drive which is annoying, but I will get used to it.
Here is a picture on campus so you can see the snow.



It has not been cold at all. Well, everyone scared me about the harsh winters of Rexburg, and I still have not seen that. The lowest it got was -3 or so Celsius.
And I guess when there isn't enough snow to make a snowman, you are forced to make one out of socks. Which is what I did last week. Those turned out really cute considering the fact that it took me 5 minutes to make each one of them.


I have been eating out a lot just because I am too busy too cook. I was so happy to have some free time on the weekend and I made two meals. They lasted me a whole week.


We had an early thanksgiving dinner on Friday (with a group of friends) and it was So good.
Below is a picture of the food I was about to eat. With two types of desert and a cute hat made of chocolate and cookies.


I will have thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with a friend of mine here in Rexburg. I am looking forward to it. And looking forward to a break from classes so I can catch up and finish everything that I need to do.

Life is good, the weather is great...what more can I ask for?
"May we all not seek new landscape, but new eyes to see..."
 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Love can drive away hate...

I was going to talk about what is going on my life...but that seems to be of little importance considering the events that are happening around the world. I was shaken and saddened by the attacks in Kenya, Lebanon and France this past week. I was impressed by how many people supported Paris and stood together with the French people during this hard time. I wish I saw that much support when similar events occurred in Ankara, Gaza, Kenya, Lebanon and other areas. 

I am often led to think that human beings have a different value depending on where they are from or the color of their skin. I grew up thinking that way because it seemed that the media made such a big deal when an Israeli was killed and would mention nothing about the many Palestinians killed. I grew up thinking that God liked other people more than He liked us.

I was very wrong. Heavenly Father loves everyone just the same, it is us humans that need to learn to love as He does.  

Growing up, I longed to have a country and a nationality. As I entered the United States for the first time as a 17-year old carrying with me a Jordanian Passport (I am not Jordanian), and an Israeli travel document (I am not Israeli), the airport officer looked at me and asked: "What is your nationality?" I stared at him, stunned, unsure what to say. He repeated the question, this time slower, thinking I did not understand his English: "What - is - your - nationality?" Do I say I am Palestinian when I knew that was not a valid answer? My country no longer existed on maps and my nationality, identity and flag have been taken away from me.

Not having an identity, a passport, or a nationality bothered me growing up.  I felt that somehow that meant I was not a human being.  The way my people were treated day after day reaffirmed that fact and made me believe that God cared less about Palestinians and that He did not love us as much as He loved those with a different nationality. 

After I joined the LDS church and developed faith in Christ, I came to understand and get a taste of God's love.  I still don't fully understand it, because I still stand amazed that He would love everyone equally regardless of what they have done.  

Charity is defined at the pure love of Christ.  And Paul tells us that unless we have charity then nothing we do matters (See 1 Corinthians 13).  We need to strive to have that kind of love towards everyone.  Such love, with His help, is possible. 

Everyone on this earth is a son or daughter of God. Everyone on this earth matters to Him. Palestinians, Israelis, Syrians, Iraqis, French, ISIS terrorists, EVERYONE...

I am often amazed at the atonement and what Christ was willing to suffer for us. What amazes me about it most is this simple fact...
The Savior, who has never experienced sin or guilt, knelt down in the garden of Gethsemane and took upon Him every sin in the world: murder, rape, deceit, robbery...In those short moments He saw what horrible sins humans are capable of committing.  


The amazing part is that after He saw all that, He got up and went willingly to be crucified and to give His life for those sinners, for you and me. This is what Charity is, this is the kind of love you and I need to strive to have.
 

 Here is the video that you may have seen from this little Iraqi refugee. This 10-year old girl teaches us about love, tolerance and forgiveness. When asked later why she shared these things she says: "the Holy Ghost told me to share these things..." 

Click to watch the video with Myriam's message 

Let us all learn from Myriam.  
 
Martin Luther King, Jr. Said: "Darkness cannot drive away darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive away hate; only love can do that." 

I hope that we all can respond with forgiveness and love towards any act of terrorism. What Martin Luther King says is so true. Hate will only destroy us. We must learn to love and forgive. Sometimes showing love is hard when others have taken away the lives of our loved ones or have destroyed our lives. But, the Savior promises He will help us and teach us to love...Mormon tells us that we can "pray unto the father with all the energy of heart to be filled with that love..." May each of us who have suffered because of the act of others pray for help to forgive them and love them.

The below video shows us the power of love. It is the only power on this earth that can scatter the hate and provide peace. 
Gary Ridgway is a serial killer who was convicted of the murder of 48 women. Gary stood there in court as if he had no emotion while relatives of these women told him how devastated they were because of what he had done. It was not until one of the relatives of the victims said to him: "I don't hate you, I love you and forgive you...", that Gary  broke in tears.

Video on Serial Killer: The power of love and forgiveness

I shared an experience about forgiveness in my ensign article, Sept 2012 issue...I share it again just because I keep feeling that the love of people is waxing cold. Even those who have faith in God tend to be wroth and let anger blind their sight.  Forgiving others to me is liberating and I often feel like a load is taken away from my shoulders every time I forgive someone.

My Article: Loving My Enemies 

I know that the Savior who knows how to love and forgive, can teach us to do the same. He is the source of all love and all hope and all peace. May we each follow Him and learn from His great example of Charity.


Elder Wirthlin said: “We should sow within our hearts the seed of charity, the pure love of Christ.  He is the perfect model of charity. His total life, particularly his atoning sacrifice, is a lesson in charity. His every act reflects absolute, unequivocal love for all mankind and for each one of us. His example teaches us that charity means subordinating personal interests willingly and gladly for the good of others. I believe our progress toward exaltation and eternal life depends upon how well we learn and live the principle of charity. Charity must become a fundamental state of mind and heart that guides us in all we do.”



   

Sunday, November 8, 2015

There is a brighter day ahead...

We had a little bit of snow. Too little you could hardly see it! I guess the weather is being extra nice to me and letting me enjoy good weather as long as I can. 

I love the purity and whiteness of snow and the quietness and peace that comes with it. Our lives get hectic and we forget sometimes to enjoy the beauties all around us. I hope each of us can take this month of November to count our blessings and notice things around us.

I had the opportunity to teach Institute last week. I had a crazy week and I was so busy that I felt I could barely keep my head above water. I didn't have time to prepare for the lesson as much as I would have hoped.
I told my friend to pray for me and honestly felt that the minute she did, I was fine. I have had prayers answered instantaneously many times. I testify that Heavenly Father hears our prayers and is ready to answer and bless us if the time is right. I have met many people recently who seem to have trials that are too difficult for them to bear. Some of them are my students who are struggling with trials and depression. Sometimes we stand helpless and all we could do is pray and hope the Lord will uplift and strengthen them.

Many around the world have united and sang the Palestinian patriotic song موطني (My homeland). My friends gathered in the streets of SLC and sang together. 

Click to listen to the Song "My Homeland" موطني 

As I sang the words of that song over and over I got more and more homesick. The words brought back memories of injustices done to my people and their longing for freedom. It brings tears to my eyes because the situation in my country makes life there very challenging and difficult for many. It breaks my heart that I felt I had to leave...and to leave everything behind...
The song brought back images of the start of winter in Palestine when the ground is fully watered and grass starts to grow, bare areas literally blossoming. Those beautiful hills I grew to love become so beautiful and the renewal of life gives joy to my soul. 

Winter here is nothing like that, quite the opposite, everything dies. As the weather grows colder plants, grass and other bushes tend to die. But, spring will come. Spring always comes...There is always a sunrise after every dark night. There is one for each of the lives of the people that seem depressed and burdened with trials and there is one for my people and my country. May Heavenly Father give us each the patience to survive the dark night until the light appears.

I am sad because of the comments some of my friends are making about our church. I am grateful to belong to an amazing church led by men who hold the priesthood of God. Men who would do nothing contrary to the will of God. 
I never have to think about any decision the church leaders make, I already know that God directs this church and it's leaders. I don't need to stop and think each time something happens.  My faith is centered in Jesus Christ who leads and directs this church and who loves each and every one of us equally. I testify that He always does things that are for our eternal good.

May we always have faith in Jesus Christ, and may we have faith in a better and brighter tomorrow when the sun would shine and the flowers would bloom. I know it will come if we put our hand in the hand of the Master and walk with Him.


 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Boring Stuff

I don't have much to say...Winter seems to be here although we saw no snow yet. It does smell like winter though =)

I wanted to catch up with everything I had to do yesterday, but sadly it did not happen. I spent my day organizing my stuff. I bought a book shelf. It about killed me to carry it up to my apartment then it took me 2 hours to put it together. At least I have some extra storage for my books and stuff. I am not sure how someone can accumulate that much stuff after being here only a year.  I am keeping all my boxes, because if I end up moving it will be such a hard long process.

So, after working hard on organizing yesterday I was so tired that I couldn't do anything else. I feel bad that I missed the Halloween party! but I honestly was so tired I could not move.

I went shopping and forgot to get a few things, but was so tired to get myself out of the house and back to the store...I had three groups of kids come to my door for trick or treat. And after the third group (of 10) left I freaked out because I didn't have candy left. I really didn't think anyone would come to my door on Halloween. I later found some candy, but no one else came. Oh well...

I have been so busy with school that every time someone asks me how I am doing I complain about how busy I am. I have to remember to be grateful. I am using this month of November to remember to be grateful for what I have. I can't imagine how some people are living in other parts of the world having very little. I feel really blessed. I have the temple close by, and members of the church around me and I feel safe. Having a warm place and hot water available 24 hours a day is something I didn't have while living in Palestine. It is great!

Sometimes we should count our blessings to realize how many we truly have.

I do, however, need to organize my life and put the important things first so that I will have time to rest and do things that I want to do. I am hoping I could catch up soon and get ready for the end of the semester, which is coming by so quickly. I can't believe we just hit mid-point, this semester is going by so fast.

I better quit before I bore you all to death. I don't have anything interesting to say, obviously.
Have a great week!