Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year

I don't want to summarize 2016 again...I did that in my Christmas message. But, I will say this...2016 was a big year of firsts for me...
First full-time job in the US, first house, first new car...I wish I could add first love to that, but it won't happen anytime soon.

I think 2017 will have to try really hard to top 2016.  I just hope that peace will come to certain parts of the world. This is my only request for 2017...I want fewer people to suffer, fewer refugees, fewer wars, fewer demolished homes, less pain, less suffering...and more love, more forgiveness and more peace and happiness. I'm not asking for much am I?

We had a bad Christmas storm and I was worried about driving to Utah on Tuesday. On Monday we did a paint project. My painting (other than needing a few adjustments) turned out to be pretty good I thought. I just need to make my moon smaller and add a few branches on the trees and I think it would look nicer.



On Wednesday we flew to Los Angeles. 50 degrees warmer, we were thrilled to be outside and not need a coat or a sweater even. The weather was simply perfect. My friend and I wanted to move to LA, well until we drove in the traffic and changed our minds.

I had food poisoning of some sort that first day. I was in the bathroom every 5 minutes. Well, until I had this amazing meal at a middle-eastern restaurant...it cured me.
 

We drove to the beach...and ya there were people swimming and surfing...Ok, it was warm, but I didn't think it was that warm!
 


We headed to Magic Mountain-Six Flags the next day. I was not expecting the large crowd I saw there. Most rides had a wait time of 2 hours at least. We were lucky to get on a few rides after waiting only one hour or less...But my friend insisted we wait on the Batman ride...we waited about 1 1/2 hours...And this is exactly what the ride felt like after the long wait...(the ride lasts 1 1/2 minutes).


When it got dark we walked through the amazing display they had of Christmas lights and went to a show...I honestly don't think I have ever been this tired. I have never walked so much or stood on my feet so long. I had so much pain in my feet and legs at the end. I still have muscle pain now (2 days later)...









And people in LA actually make fake snow. They were blowing it and making some to cover the ground. Ha Ha...I'd be happy to donate all the snow in my yard. That should pretty much cover all of the park area. See under my feet is this strange white stuff they use:
 


 I am in Utah now and am heading to Las Vegas tomorrow to meet with my brothers.  I just spent today visiting with dear friends, so this has been the best day of 2016 so far. I had an amazing dinner, and an amazing lunch...best food, best company.

My friends took me around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. This house is certainly the most amazing one I have ever seen....

So, here are pictures of the house:


  
But, the house next to theirs had the greatest idea...Here is the house next door:

 
 Happy New Year Everyone...don't party too hard...

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Message


Merry Christmas from Snowy Rexburg...Where Christmas is always white, and so are all the other days actually.

Yes, those are my new dogs that I am training to pull my sleigh. I am selling my car (that simply does not work on the ice and snow) and moving to something better. I think the dogs will get me to where I want faster and safer. I considered buying reindeer, but don't have a place to keep them. So, this will have to do for now!

I am looking forward to traveling south for the winter...I'll be in California for two days and in Las Vegas for two days. I will be meeting family in Las Vegas and going with a friend to California. This is of course assuming my car gets me to Utah safely (that is where I am flying from). Too bad it is a short break and I will not be able to get enough warmth or enough sunshine...But, it is better than nothing.

I am spending Christmas with my friend's family. I am going to spend Christmas eve with them and Christmas day. They have been so sweet to take me in. Danae even said they had a stocking for me...I feel special...well, they have a stocking for the cat, so maybe not too special, but still...

Today someone cleaned my driveway and left me a gift for Christmas on my door and then ran. I was not fast enough to see who it was, but it was such a sweet thing to do. 

To summarize this year, I don't know what to say...I think this year brought so many blessings into my life. Some wish that 2017 will be a better year, and for me, I don't think better is even possible. Getting more blessings is not possible. 

I got a full-time position at BYU-Idaho in April. In May I bought my car which I love (well, I loved until I had to drive on ice), and in July I bought my house. I have never owned a house before and it is great! There are things that come with it like shoveling mountains of snow from the driveway, but it is still a great blessing to have a place of my own.  Actually even shoveling snow is not so bad with my snow blower which I love! There is nothing like sitting in my recliner by the fireplace and reading a book.

I teach amazing students every day. And although teaching is a hard job, it is totally worth it. Especially when your students write you sweet comments on their final exam. 

This past week we went over to the Hansens and made gingerbread houses. It was fun...I tried to make a house once and gave up, but this one actually was way better than my first attempt. I guess it just takes practice. The kids sure enjoyed this, but probably more candy got into their stomach than what went on to their gingerbread house.

Back of my house:


Front of my house:


 Everyone else's houses:


I am missing my family this Christmas...There is no better place to be on Christmas than Bethlehem.  It is the place where it all started...in my town the greatest news ever was given to humble shepherds about the birth of the Savior of all mankind. His remarkable birth over 2000 years ago was an amazing event that brought peace, hope and salvation to all. 

But, his birth 2000 years ago was discrete, very few heard of it and very few witnessed it or came to see the baby Jesus. His first coming was small, humble and perfect. 

His second coming won't be so discrete...when He comes again, everyone will see Him and everyone will notice Him. The clouds will part and He will come forth in all His glory. Even the king of kings, the Lord of Lords, the Prince of Peace, Emmanuel. I look forward to that day when I shall bow with humble adoration in front of my Savior. That day will not be amazing for many, for He will visit many with destruction, with earthquakes and other disasters. But these hard times we witness today will end with the Savior's appearance from the skies..It will all be worth it in the end if we but endure.

This Christmas, may we not only stand amazed at His first coming as a babe in a manger, but may we prepare for His second coming from above to rule and reign as the King of the whole earth.

I love my Savior, I thank God for Him, for His life and His example. And I await with anticipation His second coming...

Merry Christmas to all...May we all be inn keepers that will give room in our hearts for the Savior of the world this Christmas season.

 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Health Issues

Finals are over and I finished grading...Grateful for some multiple choice questions which  made my exams faster to grade. I just have one final exam left to grade and I will finish that tomorrow and hopefully submit the grades the same day. 

I had amazing students this semester and I am going to miss them.  Many actually all did better than I thought in their final exam which was surprising to me because my final exam scores are normally not good.

I have started preparing for next semester. Changing the calculus class set up took forever, but I think I am almost there. I have amazing TAs this semester and next semester, so I am all set. My TA took care of setting up my precalc class all by herself! 

So, it has been cold here and snowed all day on Friday. Yesterday it was -20 F and then when it warmed up it got up to -15 F (-26 Celsius). 

On Friday I woke up really dizzy and I could not even stand. I didn't make it to work and had to miss graduation. But, in a way that was a blessing because it snowed all day Friday and I would have had to clear my driveway then walk in the snow in a dress over to graduation. It would not have been fun. 

I thought my dizziness would go away on Saturday, but it didn't. It got a little better, but I was still dizzy...
I had to clear my driveway and go shopping as I had no food left. My friend Danae came to help me, because clearing my driveway is easy with my snowblower, but once I got to the end I didn't know what to do. The snow plow came and left a big pile of hard snow at the front of my driveway. My snow blower was not able to move that big pile. I tried it with a shovel, but I didn't know what to do with the snow and it was taking forever. I had to go inside every few minutes because when you stop feeling your face and fingers, that indicates a good time to stop. -20 degrees is not a temperature you want to be out in. We finally got it all cleared...and after defrosting inside for a few minutes I went shopping.

I had to hurry and get what I needed because I started feeling really dizzy and was holding onto the shopping cart so I don't fall. Gladly I made it to my car before passing out. I really felt I would faint, that is how bad I felt.

The roads were horrible, very icy. I realized that having 4-wheel drive does nothing for you when the roads are covered with a layer of ice. I almost had an accident when I turned a corner (going SUPER slow) but my car still started to slide to the left and almost hit the car right next to me. So, I think I need snow tires! 

I got to rest all day Saturday. I called a friend of mine who is a doctor and he told me to do this maneuver to get rid of my dizziness. It seemed to help the first time and I felt better, but this morning I feel dizzy again. I repeated the maneuver, but maybe I should repeat it again when I have an empty stomach. I got really nauseous.  

Another problem I am having is my hip. I have had issues with my hip for 3 years. I take medication and can't sleep on my right side because of it. On Friday, for some reason as I slept I seemed to do something to my left side and it was hurting me all night. So, I was not able to sleep because when I sleep on my back, my back hurts and when I sleep on my stomach my neck hurts and now I could no longer sleep on any side. 

I didn't sleep well last night either and I am soar all over because I was trying to sleep in strange positions so I don't put pressure on my hip, but it did not work. I am going to go see a doctor as soon as possible...I have to be able to sleep! Maybe if I can hook myself and sleep standing up if possible...ummm I wonder...

My home teacher suggests I buy a foam mattress, but I already bought 3 mattresses and none of the worked. I don't really want to invest in another one...and I have no room in my place left to put mattresses. I guess the good side is now I can have many guests come visit me at the same time!

I am looking forward to my trip to California/Utah/Las Vegas next week. I can't wait to have warmer weather. Although with the horrible weather we have been having I am worried about driving down to Utah. I will have to pick a day when the roads are good so I can drive down.

I guess the best part about Winter here is that I rarely feel cold. It is only when I walk from my car to the building; which is usually a matter of a few seconds. I am loving having a warm house throughout winter. I can turn on my fireplace even and get a toasty warm living room in a matter of minutes. I used to spend my winters under the covers in Palestine because even though the temperature was never too cold (in the 40s), it was cold inside and you never felt warm. 

It seems like my green card application is more complicated than I thought. I am starting to think it will be a miracle if this all works out...but I believe in Miracles and I am going to wait and see what happens.  I guess just the other day I was complaining that I had no trials and things were going well...

It seems like my health issues are going to be some of my challenges.  But, I am still grateful for all the blessings I have been given. They are too many to number...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Hope during Christmas

Well, it seems like Winter is here...although we are not getting as much snow as normal. I am starting to see why everyone said last winter was a mild winter. I have had to clean snow from my driveway almost every day this past week. With my snow blower, it actually is not a hard task...but seems like a useless task because the next day it snows and my driveway does not remain clean!

The roads in our subdivision don't get cleared and mostly remain snowy/icy which is not fun. It has been windy too...I really don't remember it being windy at all last winter.  The temperature these days has gone above freezing, but the last week was a bit colder (-17 Celsius or less). 

I am so glad this semester is finally coming to a close. I have managed to finish the material in each of my classes and next week we will just do a review for the final exam. 

I am dreading next week though because I am having my students do test corrections and I had them schedule times to meet with me and I am booked all day with no time to breathe or eat or rest. We will see how it goes...I don't know what I was thinking!

I finally heard back from Deseret book and they said they sent my manuscript to the editorial board...It is a step in the positive direction. Maybe they will agree to publish my book. We will see. 

The year 2016 has been an amazing year for me...I don't think the new year can top that, but I wait to be pleasantly surprised. Getting my book published will surely make it a great year as well...

We had our stake conference today. It was great...I love the goodness of the people around here. They motivate me to be better.

The Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem and Beit Sahour have been greater than ever this year. Thousands gathered up in my town for the lighting of the tree...Christmas carols were sung and fireworks were fired. 



I am amazed that the people there manage to find joy during Christmas...I guess that hope of a better life is the only thing that keeps them going. That hope that was given over 2000 years ago when a small baby was born in a stable. A babe that would give hope of a better future for all the human kind. 

When my stake president was called, he asked his 3-year old daughter what he should speak about in stake conference. She held his face in her hands and said: "Daddy, tell them about Jesus. That He lived and He died and then He lived again." As the primary children bore witness today in Stake conference, Jesus does love us...in Gethsemane He demonstrated that love to us by willingly kneeling down and drinking the bitter cup so that  each of us can have hope of a better life.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Light the World

I don't have a lot to say today. I think you all are pretty busy with the holidays approaching that you don't want to spend time reading my blog anyway.

I had surgery on my gums. One of my lower teeth needed a gum graft. I kept postponing it not wanting to do it remembering how horrible and painful my first graft was and the fact that it failed. But, I figured that 12 years of medicine development may make a difference. 

I did the surgery on Monday and I was impressed that I was no in any pain and I was able to eat and talk just fine. I was worried I would not be able to teach or something...

This lasted until Friday (4 days after the surgery) when I woke up in the morning with a severe bleeding. The doctor said it is normal and that it isn't a lot of blood, but I don't think I ever saw that much blood. It would not stop...It finally stopped and I went to work. 5 minutes into my class, it started again. I had to rush out without explaining to my students why. I got the bleeding to stop long enough to go back and tell my students that I was cancelling class. I had my department head cover my 9 o'clock class.  I did not have any breakfast and was finally starving by lunch time...I started to eat, but after a few bites it started to bleed again.

It has been fine all weekend except that it seems infected as I have a big lump on the top of my mouth. Strangely enough the site of the graft is fine, it is just the piece that they took out from the top of my mouth that is bothering me. It has not bled since Friday, but I am freaking out thinking it may bleed in the middle of class tomorrow. I can't afford to cancel anymore classes.

My students have been amazing...Those that have not given up hope about passing and are still coming to class. I have many that gave up already and just don't come. All those that come on time early in the morning keep asking for extra credit. The other day one of the students said that there are always 4 students that come to class super early (like 7:20 or something)...I decided I would bring cupcakes tomorrow for those that are there early. Those who come late won't get any ;-)

I am giving a talk about Christmas in Bethlehem tomorrow at a friend's house. We also have our ward Christmas party tomorrow. I am making funeral potatoes (to take to the dinner). This is the first time I make those...See, I am truly embracing the culture here...we'll see how they turn out.

I can't wait to eat some real food. I have been living on soups, yogurt, and soft stuff. I miss biting into things!  

It started to get cold here pretty quick. I finally managed to turn on my snow blower with the help of my friend. I must say it was not as easy as I thought since it is not that easy to maneuver. But, at least I had a clean driveway for a day before the wind blow up all the snow back today and last night. Ugh why bother? People here should just get some reindeer and a sleigh.  No point in having a car...that would save a lot of hours on shoveling.  I think Santa must have been from Rexburg. Don't you think?

It is supposed to go down to 10 degrees (-12 Celsius) this week during the day (much lower at night)...

I am excited for the break. About one more week of classes left and then finals. I need to get my classes for next semester ready as I will be going to California and Las Vegas over the break. I am not sure why setting up a class online takes that long...

I have not done many things from the 'light the world' campaign. I would, however, like to promote it as I think it is an amazing idea. 
Here is the link if you have not seen it: 
Click here to see the 'Light the world' calendar 

I hope you all can continue to let your light so shine that others may see your good works and glorify your father which is in heaven.  Each of us can reflect the Savior's light this Christmas. As great as his first coming was, born as a babe in Bethlehem...His second coming is going to be so much more magnificent and breath-taking. I can't wait...May we all prepare for his second coming by opening up our hearts to the Savior of the world.   



 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

My Family

I gave into the American way of putting up Christmas decorations early. But, this is the only holiday I have where I can find some free time to do that.

I bought a cheap tree, but for the price of the tree and decorations (totaling $60), I think it turned out pretty nice.



And we even got some snow this morning to make it even more like Christmas. I remember back home when we got this much snow we were so excited and went out to play in it. Here, my thoughts are..."here comes winter with the cold days and slippery roads." not too exciting. But the snow is still pretty, even with all the work that comes with it. Now I have a driveway to clean. I spent a lot of money on a snow blower, so maybe it won't be so bad to shovel snow.
 

Thanksgiving was great...I was able to get caught up on most of the things I needed to do. Writing final exams, preparing for class, ... etc. I did sit down and watch a lot of Christmas movies as well so it was not all work.

I went to Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Danae's parents' house. They are an amazing family...The food was great as well, especially the pies. I am still eating pie until today.

I have received quite a few dinner invitations for thanksgiving. Some of them were from people that don't know me very well, but were worried about me spending Thanksgiving alone. I even had one of my previous students come over to my office and invite me over. I am amazed at how many good people there are around here. I am blessed to have such amazing friends.

As I have spent some time with the people here, my friends and their families, I am impressed by the healthy family relationships they have.  I know each family has issues and they are not as perfect as they may seem on the outside, but it still makes me wonder. During the 5 hours I spent with Danae's family, there was not a rude word spoken...they joked and talked together all the time.

When my family is together we are either complaining, yelling at each other, or criticizing one another.  Even when we play games, it is often yelling or being angry at one another. And I think, what is wrong with my family?  I remember the days when I was a child and we would have fun together... When we laughed and joked and went on trips together. 

When I went to Las Vegas with my two brothers this past summer, I felt it was the worst vacation I ever had. Why could we not enjoy each others company? What is wrong with us? Is it my fault? Have I not tried hard enough to make sure everyone had a good time?

I had a dream the other day that I had cancer. It was so real and I felt I was really going to die. Oh boy was that awakening! What if it was real? What if I were to die soon without spending quality time with my family...

I am so homesick. It is hard to run away from it during the holidays...because the name "Bethlehem" comes up a lot! Oh how I miss the little town of Bethlehem. I want nothing more than to be home for Christmas. I want nothing more than to spend some time with my mother and sisters and family...But, on the other side of this coin, if I leave the US I may not be able to return...what will happen to my job and my house and my car...My life seems to be here now and I am happy...the only thing lacking is my family. 

Christmas is really not Christmas when you don't have your family there...when the gifts under your tree are but empty boxes, just to make the tree look nice. There is nothing better than Christmas day at home in Beit Sahour when my nieces and nephew's kids come over and open the gifts under our tree. My family is sometimes crazy and sometimes weird, but I love them. I'm so grateful for them. I am going to try and improve our family relationship and strive to be a better person...a better sister and daughter.

I hope we all can thank Heavenly Father for our families wherever they may be. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

It is hard to believe that it has been a year since the last Thanksgiving. I love this time of the year for many reasons...Food being the major one, but I also love a time to remember to be grateful for my blessings. 


 I am looking forward to a great meal this Thursday. I have received 10+ dinner invitations. The bad thing is, they are all on the SAME day...why can't people spread those out so we can have good food over many days? I am still trying to decide where to go.  I may go to Danae's house again because they make the best pies. It is really hard to resist those. 

I can't wait to get a break from work. This semester has been crazy busy and I really need some time to rest and catch up on work and prepare for the last two weeks of the semester. It is finally winding down which is good...I have had amazing students this semester. This is party why I have been so busy. They come to ask questions all the time and even stop by to visit when they don't have questions. I will surely miss them next semester. 

I bought a Christmas tree...it's not perfect and rather cheap, but it is big...and I am super excited to get it decorated...I actually have a house to decorate! How cool is that!? I am trying to stop myself from doing a lot of shopping. I guess I don't have anyone to buy gifts for, so I might as well buy gifts for myself.

I honestly can't begin to mention how blessed and lucky I feel. Life has been treating me well for the last two years. This year has been the best so far. I got a full-job, I have a new house, and a new car. The only thing that would make this Christmas perfect is to have my family here with me.  It is hard to be away from my beloved town and my family during the holidays. I am hoping I can go home next Christmas, but we will see.

I spoke to someone last week who has given up all hope. Someone who no longer believes in anything and can't find a reason to live anymore.  As we begin to lose faith in God, we start to feel that there is no purpose in life and that no one would care if we were to die.  As much as I tried, I could not convince that person that Heavenly Father loves him and cares about him. I can only pray and hope that my friend can feel God's love and find hope and joy in life. 

I am so blessed to know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and cares about me. I know I am of great worth and my life does matter. For those out there that have given up hope, I encourage you to look up...look up towards a loving Father in Heaven who cares about you. Fall on your knees and pray and ask Him to help you feel of His love. And if you don't believe in God anymore, then get on your knees and ask Him if He is really there. He will manifest Himself to you.

I am grateful to know the purpose of life and why I am here on the earth. I am grateful for the wonderful plan of happiness that Heavenly Father has prepared for us. He wants us to be happy, and He has prepared a way for us to have joy and peace in this life. "Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy." Having joy is the essence of our mortal existence. We strive to become more like our father in heaven so that we may have the fullness of joy that He has. This is only possible because of the Atonement of our Savior...it is achievable only if we follow Him and walk in His footsteps.

I hope each of us can focus on our blessings this holiday...after we are done cooking and spending time with our families, let us take a few minutes to kneel down and say a prayer of thanks...Don't ask for anything...just express your thanks to God for the little things you have...your home, your warm bed, clean water, safety, family, health...etc. If you have lost hope and feel you have nothing to be grateful for, here are some thoughts for you...

If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of the world.
If you have money in the bank, your wallet, and some spare change you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
If you woke up this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive this week.
If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation you are luckier than 500 million people alive and suffering.
If you can read this message you are more fortunate than 3 billion people in the world who cannot read it at all.

If you have a home, you are luckier than the millions who have lost their homes in Gaza and Syria and other places...your are luckier than them...



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Reflections on the Elections

A week of elections left the US nation in shock. If so many really didn't want Trump to win the elections, how did he? Many seem to have voted for him. He obviously has the support of more than half of the people.

Some say that the comments he made on public TV were just a way to get attention, but I don't know if that is true. I guess his actions will show who he truly is. Everything said during the election campaigns may not be a good indication.  But in many cases it is...

It seems to be such an important part of each president's campaign to state their support to Israel. I think Donald Trump said it over and over: "I am pro Israel." But, he also said that he wants the Palestinian side to 'THINK' that he is on their side so he can make a deal that would bring peace. I look forward to that deal that will take more of our land and build more walls. Because that is what previous deals have done. 

I hope to someday have a US president that is Pro Peace. Someone who cares about both the Palestinians and the Israelis. That's not going to happen because he would never win. Here is a speech by the vice president of Donald Trump...

Vice President Addresses Israel

I am glad I am not an American citizen yet, and so glad I didn't have the right to vote at least this time around. But even in times like this, Americans must still find reason to be grateful for the blessings they have.

Some of those rights the American people have and take for granted are denied from others...the Palestinian people and many other people in the world only dream of those rights. 

If you are an American...I invite you to ponder these things:

*When you vote, remember you have a right many others don't.

*The next time you take a shower, think of the millions of Palestinians who don't have running water except once every two weeks...And who would run out of water if they showered daily.

*The next time you sit in a warm place during a cold winter day, think of all the Palestinians who can't afford to heat their homes because if they heated their house every day for a week, that would use up all their salary.

*The next time you fly out of an airport think of the Palestinians who are not allowed to fly out of the airport in their country and must travel many hours by land to an neighbor country to fly out.

*The next time you drive for hours from one state to the other, think of the Palestinians who can't travel for more than a few miles without running into an Israeli checkpoint.

*The next time you gaze into the sunset without your view being blocked, think of the Palestinians who have a 25-foot concrete wall to gaze at almost everywhere they go.

*The next time you hear of a court or judge think of the thousands of Palestinians who are in Israeli jails, not allowed a fair trial and being tortured and imprisoned just because they spoke out against injustices.

*The next time you go to a doctor think of all the Palestinians who have no right to get good medical care because of lack of supplies or money and them not being allowed into Jerusalem to get better health care.

*The next time you get your pay check, think of the Palestinians who make an average of $500 a month and live in a country where the poverty line is $1200. 

Even though my examples are about Palestinians, there are many in the world that are in worse situations that us Palestinians. So, I only use that as an example. 

As much as I miss my country Palestine, I feel blessed living in this great country of liberty.  I have so many blessings here that I can only dream of back home. I am reminded of that every day as I take a hot shower every day and not have to worry about the water running out or being cold. 

I hope that Americans can remember to be grateful for what they have and maintain that liberty and justice in their country. I hope that they can elect leaders who are kind and loving and accepting of everyone. And I hope they can continue to stand up and speak out against injustices and racism. 


 The Lord promised that this land will be a land of liberty and prosperity to all, UNLESS they turn away from the Lord their God. It scares me since I see many here already moving away from God and losing faith in Him who created them.

Lehi prophesied about America saying: "There shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord.
 Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.
Behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them. (2 Nephi 1)

And in the book of Ether:   
 "And now, we can behold the decrees of God concerning this land, that it is a land of promise; and whatsoever nation shall possess it shall serve God, or they shall be swept off when the fulness of his wrath shall come upon them. And the fulness of his wrath cometh upon them when they are ripened in iniquity." (Ether 2: 9)

May we all serve God and follow our Savior Jesus Christ. He is our rock and our salvation during these difficult times. Whoever leads our country, and whether we even have a country should not matter as long as we have Him, our Savior, as our Lord and King. He is just, merciful, loving and kind. He gave His life for us...there isn't a leader in the world that would do something like that for His people.  May we always trust Him and stand by Him strong and immovable against the winds and storms of the world.


   

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Greatly Blessed

I don't really have much to say today. I have had a good productive week. It is amazing how much you can get done by closing your office door for a few hours each week. I love my students, but there was no way I could be prepared to teach them or get exams written if they are in my office all day every day.

My computer isn't liking me so much right now. It is being so slow. I may need to restart it. This will have to be shorter than I thought.

My brothers and I are thinking of meeting up in Florida for Christmas. We will see how this goes. The tickets are so expensive, at least my first glance they seemed expensive. I will have to search hard to find a good deal. 

I already had 3 thanksgiving invitations.. I am looking forward to thanksgiving and mostly to having a short break and catching up on all that I have to do. My friend said she may come to visit me, but then changed her mind and said she wants me to meet her in Vegas. After this summer I decided I would avoid Vegas for a very long time. So, there is no way I am going again this month.

I cooked Mansaf today, turned out good, but not as good as the one Mom or Suhair make.  I can't believe after looking everywhere for good lamb meet, Albertsons had it all along!


 I have the most amazing home teachers. These are men assigned by the church to come to visit me and make sure I am Ok. I told them the other day when they came that I was looking for someone to help me with my yard. I needed my trees trimmed and my bushes and a lot of fall cleaning, leaves...etc. I asked because I thought they could recommend someone for me to hire. 

That week one of the men, Brother Richey came to my house with his wife and started working on my yard. It took him 5 days of work. This guy is like in his 80's at least! I mean I worked for one hour in the yard and got so tired and thought I was too old to do yard work. I felt so bad because I really didn't want them to do it themselves! They came when I was at work so I could not even help!

They took like 3 trailer loads and he did such a good job on all my trees and bushes which were all over the place.

I am grateful for a church where members serve each other this way and watch over one another.  Living alone, it is nice to know that I have friends and neighbors to count on for help. I didn't buy a lawn mower this summer because the neighbor's kid has been mowing my lawn for me. I think now that they are on sale, I should probably get one though.

I don't think anyone has done anything this nice for me for a long time.  Saying thank you to Brother and Sister Richey just did not seem enough.

I still have Halloween candy because I stayed late at work and didn't get home in time for all the kids to come. My students were happy to get the rest of the candy...
But, I still got many that knocked on my door. I loved seeing all the nice costumes. I also loved having these little cuties come over. They were in my old ward and I just love those girls. They looked so cute too dressed up.

  

Sunday, October 30, 2016

In Honor of the Martyrs

October 29, 1987 was a day I still remember as if it was yesterday. That day changed my life, opened my eyes, and strengthened my devotion to my country.

It was in the early afternoon when a demonstration started at Bethlehem University.  I was a freshman there at the time. The later morning classes were suspended by the student council and several of my fellow students went out to demonstrate against the Israeli occupation.  I still remember wondering, in my 16-year old mind, why they were doing this. I could not understand then, but I would definitely come understand by the end of that day.  I remember looking at the classmates I had known for the past few months and thinking "I had no idea they were political activists organizing demonstrations." I didn't know that I would very soon join these young men and women in their quest for freedom and justice. 

The gates of the university were closed and since my university was surrounded by tall walls and fences, no one was able to get out or go in.The Israeli soldiers who came to stop the demonstration did not enter the university, but did everything they could to stop the young men and women, inside the walls, from throwing rocks. They did this by firing tear gas bombs over and over. Bullets were fired as well when the students would attempt to climb the wall.
While waiting inside with other fellow students, we just smelled the tear gas and waited in fear...

I remember them bringing in injured students. I remember the site of blood as it covered our science department floors. Then he was brought in...Isaac Abu Sroor who had been shot in the head. The students told us Isaac had climbed on the roof of the university in order to hang a Palestinian flag.  He was shot attempting to raise this flag high. At the time, Israeli soldiers prevented us, the Palestinians, from raising our flag. It was a crime to raise it high. In Isaac's case, it was a crime worthy of death...

I still can't erase Isaac's image from my memory. As he lay there with a bullet hole in his head. For two hours, he just lay there...the reason, the soldiers outside the walls would not allow us to take him to a hospital. I don't know if Isaac was alive or dead when they finally wheeled him away as we watched.

As the students sang "It is ok if we die as long as we root death from among us..." something stirred my heart. Mixed emotions flooded my soul. Those were feelings of anger and hate towards the Israeli soldiers and feelings of unity and determination to do something.

My university, Bethlehem University, was closed after that incident by an Israeli military order.  I could not go to classes anymore so I participated in every demonstration in my town after that event.
During these demonstrations I saw many of my people get shot, arrested or beaten by the Israeli soldiers.

As I watched the video below I remembered the days of the uprising and remembered Anton (mentioned in the video) who was attending Bethlehem University at the same time I was. He was a classmate of my cousin Jane who was also majoring in business at the time. I remembered my cousin Jalal and his attempts to establish a way to be independent from Israel by helping the Palestinians produce their own milk. You would think that having cows should be a legal right of any human beings. But, not the Palestinians. Even such simple basic things were forbidden at the time.


Click here to watch the movie about the Beit Sahour Cows 

As I watched this video tears filled my eyes because I could again feel those emotions and could again remember every martyr.  I remembered the day Anton was killed.  I had three exams the day that followed and I remember praying and asking Heavenly Father that somehow we will have no classes the next day so I will have time to study.  That day, Anton was killed and classes at Bethlehem University were cancelled for the next 3 days. I could not help but feel guilty for his death.

Right after Anton was shot, curfew was imposed on us by the Israeli soldiers, yet we went out to the streets and demonstrated and asked for justice. The soldiers came and used tear gas on us. After being on so many demonstrations, my body developed immunity to the gas and it did not affect me as much as it affected others.  One of the young men in the demonstration fell to the ground (from the effect of the tear gas) and started shaking. I located the tear gas bomb and kicked it away from the young man. There was not much else to do until someone came to the rescue with onions in his hand.

We walked in the dark towards Anton's house. His family were in denial and could not believe Anton was gone.  I sat there shedding tears as his family showed us pictures of him and told us about his unfulfilled dreams.

I have been to the homes of many grieving mothers...
I saw the shattered glass of Salam's house after an Israeli settler fired bullets at his house killing him in front of his mother. I saw bloody remains of two ladies from my town whose bodies were blown to pieces when an Israeli helicopter threw a missile close to where they were standing. I was in a taxi in which the martyr 14-year old Mo'ayad was transferred to the hospital. He was shot with his school bag still on his back. 

Palestinians still die. A few months ago, one of my mother's friends was shot by an Israeli soldier.  And, just the other day, another young man was killed in Beit Ummar...


 Click for Story on Beit Ummar Martyr 

There are some small demonstrations still going on in Palestine although many of my people have given up hope of ever attaining freedom. They lost hope of ever having human rights and being treated like humans. 

I can't help but wonder if all these martyrs died in vain. Will there ever be a day when their efforts would be rewarded?
I did stop and wonder sometimes if it would be better if they did nothing. They know they would die or get arrested if they demonstrate, so why do they do it?

Then I remember how I felt that day in 1987 when I saw Isaac's body in front of me and something within me said "I must do everything to make sure his blood has not been shed in vain. I must speak out and let my voice be heard to stop the injustices being performed against my people.  If Isaac died honoring the Palestinian flag, I want to make sure that flag remains high and that a Palestinian state be established that would guarantee freedom to all Palestinians."

Deep down, that is the aspiration of us all...liberty and justice to all... Each of us humans should strive to establish a world where everyone is free and has the basic human rights. Where racism vanishes and we treat each other as brothers and sisters. My prayer is that we all will stand with the oppressed and pray for those that suffer all around the world. May we do all that we can to bring freedom and peace to all nations.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Gathering of Israel

I have mixed feelings today and was not quite sure what to write about. I think I will save my other topic until next week and simply talk about my Sunday School lesson today: the Gathering of Israel.

I think many misunderstand the Gathering and even associate the word Israel with the current State of Israel. I hope people can understand that the State of Israel today has nothing to do with the people of Israel mentioned in the bible, and the gathering of Israel has nothing to do with the Jews going to Palestine. 
The word Israel was given to Jacob by God. It means "Triumphant with God" It is actually a good word, even though some try to pollute it.

As I prepared the lesson today I have come to realize two main things: 
1. The house of Israel are the covenant people of God. They are those that believe in His son and make covenants with Him and keep His commandments.

2. The main reason for the gathering is to help people come unto Christ, have faith in Him and make covenants with Him. That was why the early members of the church were asked to 'gather' in the US in the early days of the church. Because it was the only place they could have a temple so they could receive ordinances and make covenants with God.

 
When we follow the savior and are baptized into His church we become part of the house of Israel. We become the people of God. 
The gathering happening today is a spiritual gathering...many are coming into the fold of God to be numbered among his people. In the Book of Mormon we read:
"For behold, I say unto you that as many of the Gentiles as will repent are the covenant people of the Lord; and as many of the Jews as will not repent shall be cast off; for the Lord covenanteth with none save it be with them that repent and believe in his Son, who is the Holy One of Israel."

Some mistakenly think that the gathering of the Jews to the land of Palestine is a fulfillment of prophecies. It is not! That gathering of the Jews is not the promised gathering of the children of Israel.


Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: "Let there be no misunderstanding in any discerning mind on this point. This gathering of the Jews to their homeland and their organization into a nation and a kingdom is not the gathering promised by the prophets. It does not fulfill the ancient promises”


The land of Palestine was given to the 'Covenant people of God' anciently. At the time, the covenant people of God were the Jews.  God made a covenant with Abraham and told him that if his seed was faithful, they will inherit the land of Canaan. But, that is exactly what that was, A COVENANT. When we keep our end of the covenant the Lord keeps His. When we don't, we have no promise.  The children of Israel anciently broke that promise and because of that they were scattered and driven out of their land of inheritance.  

When, and only when, they come to the knowledge of their redeemer who is Christ, and follow Him, then they will be gathered and blessed. 


President Joseph Fielding Smith said: “Every person who embraces the gospel becomes of the house of Israel. In other words, they become members of the chosen lineage, or Abraham’s children through Isaac and Jacob unto whom the promises were made. The great majority of those who become members of the Church are literal descendants of Abraham through Ephraim, son of Joseph. Those who are not literal descendants of Abraham and Israel must become such, and when they are baptized and confirmed they are grafted into the tree and are entitled to all the rights and privileges as heirs”  

I am proud to be of the House of Israel and a descendant of Abraham. I hope we all realize that we can have those blessings given to Abraham. We are His seed and are children of the covenant.

I am amazed at some who think that everyone must support the current State of Israel in order to be a good Christian. Like the lady I met at church one day who seemed so confused when she expressed how much she supports Israel and how we should all support them. The 8.5 million dollars Israel receives from the US EVERY DAY is used to buy weapons to kill my people, or used to build more walls and checkpoints to restrict their movement.  I don't support the State of Israel and I don't think anyone should. Not the way they are treating the Palestinians.

Sadly there are US presidential candidates who think most Palestinians are terrorists and that they need to send more weapons to Israel so they can kill us all...I am a Palestinian and I am not a terrorist and I don't appreciate being referred to as such. I wish people could be more understanding and more accepting of others.

I am impressed with the many Palestinian and Israeli women who are marching for peace. I hope we all can realize that we are all brothers and sisters. I know that we all can love one another...As we come unto Christ, and abide in His love, we can develop some of His attributes. Attributes such as forgiveness, tolerance, love, patience, sacrifice...Then will He gather us, as a chicken gathereth her chicks under her wings. 

I look forward to the day when the Jews, also, will be gathered into the fold of God; when they will be converted and believe in their Savior, the Holy One of Israel; when they no longer wait for a Messiah, but understand that He actually did come. And then they will be gathered and then will the Lord remember the covenant He has made with them.

The Savior loves each and every one of us. He is the true Messiah, the one who the Jews rejected, the one who the Jews have waited for and continue to wait for. He DID come...He came to His own and His own received Him not. He was rejected, persecuted and crucified. Yet, He lives today...And He will come again in His glory. He will part the clouds and appear from the East...all will see Him, all will recognize Him, and every tongue will confess that He is the Christ...Every knee will bow before Him, who is the King of King and Lord of Lords...the Savior of the world.