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'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 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.