Sunday, October 15, 2017

Because of Him...

It is a beautiful day outside and even though the temperature is not as high as I would like it, I love the sunshine and the clear skies.
Amazingly enough there is still a little bit of snow in my back yard! Yesterday I thought I would avoid cold Rexburg and go to Idaho Falls...well, I thought if there is a little bit of snow in Rexburg, there won't be any in Idaho Falls. Wow, there was SO much snow down there. But, it was so beautiful. I do like the snow (the first few times it snows), but then I kind of get tired of seeing white all over. I start to miss the green trees or even the brown soil. But for now, I would say it was quite beautiful to see the snow and to go to the Idaho Falls temple.





Time is going by fast, I can't believe more than one month has passed since we started the semester.  I still don't know most of my students' names. I feel horrible as I keep asking them for their names.  Actually last week was so stressful that I was forgetting a lot of things. I would even forget to write the rest of the word (or number) as I am writing on the board. My students would go: "you meant to write 11, but you only wrote 1..." Then I would think it was Thursday when it was Friday, or silly things like that.

That is why this Saturday, I decided to do nothing...I went to the temple and then just rested. It was nice...

On Friday I gave a talk to the Ririe Stake. I honestly have never heard of Ririe and didn't even know where it was. I thought my GPS would find the Stake center just fine. It turns out that the place that my GPS found was not a church, but a house. I tried to use my phone...well, my phone has no internet service there. I tried to call the Stake RS president...well, she had left her phone at home.

I asked directions from a gas station, I think the lady there has never gone to church, but she gave me directions to a place she thought the church was. Well, it was not there...

As the time of my talk was getting close, I honestly had no idea where to go or what to do. I stopped, said a prayer, then turned around and went down a little road and there was a church right there! Could that be it? I stopped and asked a woman there, "Is this the Stake Center?" She said it was. I don't know if she knew how happy I was at her answer.

The women there were amazing. I don't think I ever gave a talk where everyone was so focused and interested. I met so many great women and girls. One of the main messages that I felt Heavenly Father wanted to convey to the women was that we can do all things through Christ...

The atonement enables us to do many things because of the Savior.
We can be resurrected because He was...
We can have Charity because He did (and he can teach us)...
We can learn to forgive because He forgave (and he can show us how)... 
We can become clean because of Him...
Our sins though red, can become as white as snow because of Him..
We can become perfect one day because He is perfect...

I am giving a fireside for the youth of our stake in 2 weeks. I am looking forward to that one as well although speaking to the youth is always hard...It takes a lot of thought and prayer to know what Heavenly Father wants them to hear and what will have the most effect on them. I just love the youth in this Church and am always amazed at their strength and goodness.

 

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Look Around and Lift

It has been a good week. The temperature dropped briefly and it was so windy yesterday. We seemed to go from Summer to Fall so quickly. My trees have lost a lot of their leaves in just one day from all the wind yesterday. Then today I woke up to snow! It was pretty, but did not last long. The weather improved quickly. It did seem like we went from Summer to Fall to Winter in a week. I guess you never get bored that way.

I went to the Spori Summit this weekend. It is a yearly event that our university organizes. We go and spend a night at the Sky Mountain Lodge and this is my first time going. I learned a lot (and ate a lot) and enjoyed the beauty found there in the mountains.




The only bad part is that I didn't get much sleep. I mean it was a nice lodge, but I am not a camper. My back just does not like any bed. Good thing it was only one night.
 



I tried to take a picture of the snow today, but it just did not work well...


I got to teach Sunday School today...One thing that I have been reflecting on is how we hardly see those around us. No one wants to talk to anyone anymore.  Many are depressed, but they don't talk to anyone about it.  I walk down the hall at the Ricks building on campus and all I see are students either looking at their phones or who have ear plugs on and are listening to music. Do we look around and notice those in need around us? 

Our lesson today was about the Handcart companies who got stuck on the plains and suffered so much due to starvation and to bitter cold weather. The saints in Salt Lake rushed to their rescue. We often desire to help and rush to help those in need when a tragedy happens. After the floods and hurricanes many went to Texas and other areas to help. But, sister Oscarson's talk keeps coming to my mind, are we helping those around us? Are we noticing those in our path that need help and reaching out to them? 

I sometimes don't know what to do, but maybe we should look harder and ask Heavenly Father to show us who needs our help today.  My neighbor made me treats today and had her kids drop them off. We can do just small things like that to reach out to others. 

The Savior would seek after the one, His mission is a mission of rescue. Ours should be that as well. We must search and gather and love His lost sheep.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

General Conference and Elder Hales...

I just got back from Utah after being down there translating for general conference. It was a great weekend aside from a few challenges. 

The drive down was HORRIBLE. I spent 6 hours on the road when it normally takes me 3-4 hours. Construction and traffic everywhere...I was also trying to get things done before I left and I was so tired by the time I got to Utah. Luckily my friend Emily had a great meal for me even though she didn't know I was coming.  I finally got to the hotel and tried to finish translating some of my talks, but I was so tired. I decided to go to bed, but did I sleep? No...The fridge in the hotel room was making banging noises. I actually thought the noises were coming from the hallway and didn't realize it was the fridge until 4 am after I had been up all night.

The first day of translating for conference was interesting to say the least. Half way through the first session, our language coordinator came to me and said: "Can you go to Provo right now and translate the movie Legacy for a Jordanian delegation that is here?" I agreed, but he told me they needed me there at noon and it was already 11 am. I would have to run to make it. As I left the church office building I realized I had obtained conference tickets for the Saturday afternoon session that I was going to give to my friends. If I leave now, I won't be back in time to give them the tickets. I tried to call them multiple times, but they didn't answer. Thinking quickly where to leave the tickets for them, and asking around, people told me that the ticket office at the conference center is the best place. Well, after walking in that direction for a while, I realized I had no time to walk there and back and still get to Provo by noon.

I got back to the conference center, left the tickets with the translation desk at the bottom floor and decided to call one of the people in our translation team and coordinate with them to have the tickets delivered. Well, it turns out that having two identical envelopes in your purse is a bad thing because half way down to Provo my friend calls and says, there are no tickets in this envelope you left. Looking in my purse, I realized that I left the wrong envelope at the translation desk.  It was too late to turn back now!

My friends were so excited to be able to go to general conference and I felt so horrible for making such a stupid mistake!

Well, the sad thing is, I got to the law building at BYU right at noon! I mean I ran and drove like a crazy person, but I was there on time!! BUT, they didn't start the movie until 1:30. Seriously?? I was pretty upset to say the least...but I got over it because it was a great opportunity to translate that movie. I actually was feeling angry still until I heard two Jordanian men talk about how great the movie was and that made all my effort worthwhile. 

I didn't make it back for the second session of conference. I went out and had bad middle-eastern food, even though it was better than anything I would eat in Rexburg.  

Today was a much better day. Translation went well. One of our Arabic team members, Ehab, got sick so I did one of his talks in addition to mine. One of my students Durid from Syria came to help. And we had him do a few things to sub for Ehab.  So, we were pretty busy that first session. 

Elder Hales was scheduled to talk and they filled his talk time with music. I had a dream a while ago that President Monson died conference day, but it was Elder Hales that died today. 
President Uchtdorf said the first time that President Monson was watching general conference from his home yesterday. Today He said President Monson is at home only. This indicated to me that President Monson would soon die too.

I am sad for the loss of Elder Hales. I got to know Elder Hales in 1997 when my friends came to pick me up from the airport and said they had another couple to pick up arriving at that time. It turned out that those arriving were Elder and Sister Hales.  I was impressed at how nice Elder Hales was as he offered to push my cart, and offered me his suit jacket when I was cold. I was also impressed at how much he loved his wife and how he worried about her because she was not feeling well at that time.
(I know this is a horrible picture of me, but I didn't want to make Elder Hales pose again for another picture)




We took the Hales on a small tour before we headed towards Bethlehem. Elder Hales had never been to Bethlehem and they were excited to go. But, when we got to the Israeli checkpoint at the entrance of Bethlehem, the soldiers would not allow us in. I wanted to shout "Do you know who you are denying entry to?? This is an apostle!" After some argument they said they would allow me in, since I lived in Bethlehem, but everyone else had to turn back.

I managed to convince the soldier to let everyone through just so they can drive me home and promised him they would leave right after. Elder and Sister Hales wanted to stop by the church of nativity (the place where Christ was born), sadly when we got there it was late at night and the church was closed. But, we stood at the door and read the Luke account and sang Christmas Hymns. It was an amazing experience.

They then drove me to my house. I was reluctant to invite them in because my mom often says bad things about the leaders of the church and I worried she would embarrass me and offend Elder Hales (as she had no idea that he was a leader in our church). But, my family and especially my mom was kind to say the least. 

I was touched by Elder Andersen's talk on how Elder Hales actually wrote a talk he was going to deliver..and how in his talk he talks about meeting the Savior and being ready. I also was touched by the kindness and love of President Nelson who felt impressed to leave conference fast and so he made it just in time to be with Elder Hales during his final moments on earth. I am sure as president of the Quorum of the Twelve, President Nelson feels responsible for all the apostles and has a great love for all of them.

We will surely miss Elder Hales...
I am grateful to be part of this amazing church and being led by these amazing leaders who love us and care about us.

The three main messages I got out of Conference were:
1. Read the Book of Mormon.
2. Go out of your way to serve everyone equally, regardless of race, religion, or culture...
3. Trials will come, but they come only to make us stronger. Peace can come through the Savior of the world.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

BYU-I .... A great place

The weeks go by more quickly it seems. The semester is going well. I have had many students get sick and I think I will probably catch whatever is going on. I hope not though!

I had a fun day yesterday, we went out to eat then went and got ice cream then we rented the movie Wonder Woman and watched it.  Technology did not work well with us but we finally got it to play. I must say the movie was not what I expected, but I loved it. It has a good message too. We are all powerful and we all can make a change in the world. Even though the world seems to be in commotion and we see wickedness all over, there is goodness in the world. Satan can tempt people and push them to do bad things, but people are good deep down. There is hope, love and courage that exists in so many of our hearts. And we can't give up on helping people even if they appear to be sinners.

I was supposed to go to Utah this weekend, but will go next weekend for general conference instead. I am looking forward to it. I have enjoyed translating the talks I have for general conference, and I don't have a lot this time, which is good and bad. I really tried to free time so I can translate but I was not assigned many talks. I am worried that they will need me last minute and then I will be crazy trying to finish the talks in time.  I guess we will see.
I have a Syrian student in one of my classes and hopefully we can get him trained and he can help with general conference. His English is great.


I especially loved translating my friend Sharon's talk. It is so great to see her up there speaking at the Women's session of conference. She is an amazing woman and I am glad she has been called to be the first counselor in the RS general presidency.

I got my computer fixed, I am still worried about it because a new laptop should not die at the beginning. But, now that I have all the programs that I need on it and have my files there I don't want to bother taking it back. It will be such a pain. So, I am waiting and hoping it continues to work. I like how small and light it is. It is very portable and turns to an iPad which is great for traveling. 
Last week we had the inauguration of President J. Eyring. His father, President Henry B. Eyring came and so did some other apostles and general authorities. I was sad that some students chose not to come. Our BYU-I center was mostly full (but not quite). We had at least 13,000 in attendance I would say.  We have 18,000 students on campus, but some chose not to come. I mean how often do we get a new president at our university? I know we just got one last year, but that was a unique case. It amazed me that one building could have that many people, and within one second of Elder Oaks standing at the pulpit to speak all the 13,000 people who were there were quiet.

In the meeting some of the presidents of BYU-I were mentioned. As I sat there, I felt so grateful to work at this university. How many universities are there out there who have had apostles lead them? We are so blessed to be here. The privilege of feeling the spirit during meetings at the university is something you can't experience other places.

Graduation is the only time I feel that I am working at a usual university. Everything else about my job is so unique and different that it really does not feel like a normal job. As I serve and teach the students I feel my job is more than teaching.  Sometimes I feel students come here because they were not accepted at BYU Provo. I hope they can come here because they want to be here and for the great institution this is.

I am going to include a link below of the Inauguration if you have not seen it, please watch it. I especially encourage you to listen to the last hymn sung by the students (at the end). It is a favorite of mine, and the power in which they sung was unmistakable. You will feel the spirit as you hear they angelic voices. The link to the video of the Inauguration and the words to the hymn are below:

Click here to watch the inauguration

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wondering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee
Prone to wander Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above

Music:  John Wyeth
Arranged By:  Jenna Mosley

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Nothing interesting to say ;)

It was a good week. I met all my students and would be lucky if I can remember 10% of their names. I thought having them come to my office would help, but after meeting 50 of them the names start to mix together. I do have amazing students this semester and I think it will be a great semester. 

It got cold here, well at least it does not feel like summer anymore. I also see leaves in my yard which tells that fall has started. Of course that means I have to collect all the leaves which does not make me happy. My yard needs a lot of work, and I don't know where to find the time.

As I visited with my students I noticed some of them love the snow, can't wait for it, and some say "what in the world am I doing in Rexburg?"  

General conference starts earlier this year, and on Friday I complained because I had not received any of the talks I am assigned to translate. So, I got 3 talks that day. I am glad to finally get some and start translating. I don't want to be doing these at the last minute. I am looking forward to conference...I love this church and I love our leaders. They are amazing and it is such an honor to translate their talks. We are truly led by living prophets and apostles who love us and care about us. 

My new computer stopped working the other day. It would go to a black screen and do nothing. My old computer turns on, but won't connect to the internet or do anything. And now after using my new computer I could tell how SLOW my old one was. I have no patience for it anymore! So, I am putting it away before I break it from frustration. I am grateful I have a laptop at work, so when both my home laptops decided to die, I went to work and brought that home. 

Finally, after hours of holding on line with HP they got my new laptop to work. Now it just won't update which is stupid I think...I am still frustrated because I should not be having issues with a brand new computer. I am contemplating returning it, but that means being without a computer again. I think I am going to give it a second chance and try it for a week or so and see. 

I don't have much to say...so I am going to stop talking and let you all go do something important with your time.

 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

New Beginnings

We start the new semester tomorrow. We had a week of meetings. That may sound bad to someone who has never worked at BYU-I, but to me those meetings are the best part of my job. They always inspire me and generate new ideas in my mind about how to become a better teacher.  They remind me of the great job I have and the amazing people I have to associate with every day. I am so blessed to teach at this great university.  I often reflect on those good moments especially when there is a thick layer of ice on all the roads, when it is 20 degrees below zero and when I can't get my car out unless I spend time clearing the snow from my driveway. 

Here are a couple of pictures I took on campus as I was walking up to my office the other day...




I took an old lady from our ward to the State Fair in Blackfoot last week. It was fun...but I think I made her too tired. Hopefully she is still alive. She said her son used to take her and she has not gone to the fair in so long. It was nice to spend time with her, it reminded me of all the good times I spent with my grandmother and made me feel guilty that I wasn't more aware of her needs.  

They do a contest on the best "tomato" or best "pumpkin"...etc. Also, the best sheep, horse, ...etc. It was kind of interesting seeing all those vegetables winning prizes. I guess if you live in Idaho (a place full of farmers) you would expect things like that in a fair. 


They also had contests for the largest vegetable. The below pumpkins don't look large but they are up to my waist and weigh more than I weigh for sure.


They also had a horse race. The Indian horse race was interesting because they switch horses after every loop and occasionally someone misses a horse and the horse would be on his own racing. 
 

I am looking forward to this semester, but dreading it at the same time. I have 200 students and I am not sure how I am going to remember all their names. I also am teaching a new class which makes me a little worried because that is always a lot of work. 

My heart goes out to all the people in the world who are suffering from natural disasters and war. May we keep everyone in our prayers. 

Everything that happened this month clarified to me that the second coming is really close. I look forward to that day...But, at the same time I feel so unprepared. I am going to do better to prepare to meet my Savior and embrace him.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Being Good Disciples

I am sorry I didn't post anything last week. I wish I could say I was busy, but I wasn't. I didn't do much last week except prepare for classes and watch my Turkish show. Everyone died in the end! Miserable! I've been watching it for months now just to watch everyone die. 

We start with meetings this week and classes start next week. I am starting to see some leaves on the ground indicating that summer is almost over. This makes me very sad. I kind of got used to going out in nature and enjoying the beauty all around me. I will soon be buried under the snow and will need to stay inside and stay warm. The snow is pretty in its own way I guess.

The eclipse was its own beautiful event. I am glad I was here in Rexburg to watch it. My nephew Dany also came up from California to Idaho to watch it. I got to visit with him and it was nice. What amazed me is that when the sun was getting covered by the moon, the horizon looked like it was a sunset. You could see light in the distance as if the sun was setting, but it wasn't. It was still there!
My friend's brother took the cool picture with all the stages.



 
My other nephew, Peter, and his wife had a baby boy, Max, on the 20th of August, right before the eclipse. He is such a cutie. Here it looks like he's praying "Oh please don't let the world end tomorrow after the eclipse"...My little cute faithful "second" nephew...



I finally gave up and bought a new computer. It was expensive! I am not too impressed with it, but it is way better than my old one. It is light weight and little which makes it good to carry anywhere. I am hoping to get my green card next year and start traveling the world. I can dream can't I?

My friend just returned from Ghana and said that people there are so poor. There are so many all over the world that are suffering and we have no idea. We often forget how blessed we are compared to others. 

Sometimes I hear others say to me "Wow, you had a hard life and you sacrificed a lot in order to go to church", even though I really didn't. There are so many out there that have difficult lives. My home teacher the other day told me about a man who was in his ward in the Philippines.

He said this man was 81 years old and he walked 9 hours each way to get to church!!  That is 9 hours!! He would leave his house in the mountains at 3 a.m. to get to sacrament meeting at 12 noon. And he spoke in church every week. 

I hope we can learn from this man's example and dedicate our lives to the Savior.  I am hoping to do better this school year and do more to serve.

 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Difference Christ makes

I spent a few days in Oregon visiting my Israeli friend Daphna. 
We gave a fireside together, and it was amazing. It is great when you have an Israeli and a Palestinian stand in the same setting and testify that peace is possible between the two sides. The Savior is the Prince of Peace and if people come unto Him, all things become possible. I love Daphna, she is an amazing person, and her family is so wonderful. Oregon is beautiful. We got to see amazing waterfalls and nature. Then in the middle of nowhere we locked the keys inside the car. Luckily, two nice men helped us break into our own car! It took quite a bit of effort.

 
I also got to visit with my dear friend Wendy who I have no seen in years. Her kids have grown up so much. The last two girls I don't even know, it has been way too long. But, it was fun to visit with them.


I also got to visit with sister Porter (wife of Elder Bruce Porter of the seventy). She told me she was going to the Middle East/North Africa mission reunion and asked me to come with her. I used to go to those things because Sharon Eubank would often invite me. I did not serve a mission in the middle East, but I got to know some of those amazing missionary couples while living there. It was great to see old friends and visit. The video shared by Sharon about the children was so cute and had a lot of pictures from the Bethlehem Primary kids (and me). I'm glad sister Porter insisted that I go.

I look at all those people I got to visit this trip, the carpenters, Sharon, the Gublers, sister Porter, Daphna and others and I am amazed at how great they are. The Savior's touch can make people great. His light radiates from those people and I am so blessed to know them. 

Here are some pictures from Oregon:






Crater lake, the deepest lake I believe. So beautiful...
 

I also went to the Medford temple with Daphna. It is a small temple, and I expected it to be crowded, but it was not. I wish people take advantage of having a temple close by.
 

 I finished recording my audio book on Saturday. Now, Kenny will have to deal with fixing all my many mistakes and trying to make my pronunciation sound better.  There are some words I just can't say! I am still glad I recorded the book in my own voice and can't wait until January for it to be published. 

I drove to Rexburg yesterday and I expected to be stuck in traffic forever....Well, normally when I drive back there are like 2 cars on the road, so now there were like 30 cars, but it was smooth and no delays at all...Maybe everyone will come tomorrow, who knows.
They told us that since the best place to watch the eclipse is Rexburg that we will have a million people come into town. So far I don't see many that are here...We will see.

The sun is going away for 2 minutes tomorrow and you notice how crazy people are getting just over that! I mean they have been planning this for months and are so excited about the event. I look at the signs all over Rexburg and I have to laugh..."No trespassing", "No parking overnight", "No parking on the freeway" (seriously??)
I mean there are portable toilets all over BYU-I campus. We will see how many people we actually get.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ibin Batoota

 I am starting to feel like Ibin Batoota (he is someone we always use to refer to someone who travels a lot)...I'm Still traveling. I honestly can't wait to be home although it has been fun to travel and I have seen some amazing places and ate amazing food.

I am going to Utah on Wednesday and will be there until Friday (hopefully). I really hope I can be done on Friday so I can avoid some of the crazy traffic going to Rexburg. The eclipse is going to make Rexburg insane and traffic horrible. I am planning to get home as soon as possible and stay home until the whole thing is over. Will watch the eclipse from my back yard or something. People in town are renting their homes for $10,000 a night. I mean is that crazy or what?? I actually considered it, but then decided I may have to buy new furniture (after they steal it) and fix the damages the renters leave, so it is not worth it.

I was in Seattle for a few days visiting my nephew Rani. We had a lot of Middle-Eastern food, which was amazing. But, I would have to say restaurant food is not as good as home-made food. The best meal was prepared by Vera the last night I was there. Her Tabouleh was amazing and the BBQ meat and chicken were great. She also had an amazing 3 layer strawberry cake for desert. 



Sadly, we could not see nice views from the distances because of the fires they have had in the area. There was still smoke in the air.

We went to Pike Place and had Filipino food and French pastries. We went to the lake and took a jet ski all over the lake. I was scared about driving one, but it was easy. I parked it in the middle of the lake and went swimming. The water was amazingly clean and refreshing! As long as you avoid my nephew who constantly tries to get water all over you, it was a fun ride. It was a really big lake. I didn't think you could drive that far on a jet ski! The below pictures hopefully shows how big the lake is.
 



Lots of great seafood!
 

 The gum wall. So much gum stuck on this wall (and this is after it was just cleaned a short while ago). It is kind of disgusting, but kind of cool too...
 


We went to Susquehanna falls. It was so pretty there. The hike up was too exhausting because it was all up hill, but it was fun.



 




 Yesterday I arrived in Medford. I am visiting my Israeli friend here and we are giving a talk together tonight about peace in the Holy Land. It should be fun I think.



Isn't it great that friendship can exist between an Israeli and a Palestinian? There is still hope in the world. 



Sunday, August 6, 2017

and the Baltimore adventure continues...


I got back from Baltimore on Thursday/Friday. My laptop came back to life...I'm grateful for the internet and instructions on how to bring a dead laptop back to life. I really thought I would lose all my documents, but luckily I didn't...


We had a great time in Baltimore, although I must say that I am glad to be back home. The hotel I stayed at was horrible. My brother fell on their uneven steps/pavement and badly hurt his hand.  My charging cable even got stolen from my room the last day and all they could say was 'sorry'.  I am glad 2 sigma was giving out free charging cables at the conference and I happened to grab one. My phone was completely dead and needed to be charged. I got a lot of free stuff, two t-shirts, flashlights, bags, notebooks...but honestly did not expect to get the Pillsbury dough-boy at the conference. Rida won a $150 gift certificate. I hoped to win the apple watch, but I guess it was not meant to be.
(with my brother Maher and nephew Peter)
 

We didn't go to the baseball game, but Ryan and Craig went. The team apparently won even though it rarely does.


We got free tickets to the aquarium. It was fun, but I was so tired at the end. They had a rain forest and some tropical areas and it was really nice. We got to see a silly dolphin show too. They kept scaring us from sitting in the 'splash zone' and I was thinking I would get wet...nothing...


The Jelly fish were the most interesting.  They even had a place where you can touch sea creatures (and jelly fish). The place was meant for kids I believe, but it was fun to touch them and pet them (ha ha).


Still not sure how the divers were swimming and feeding the fish with the sharks. But, I guess not all sharks are deadly...


This snake looked so relaxed. Even though I don't know quite how he got to this position.


 This huge turtle was missing a leg...but he seemed to enjoy swimming around...

We took a boat to Fort McHenry which is where the battle of 1812 happened and later was recognized for the place where the 'Star Spangled Banner' song was written which later became the US national anthem. I had to think for a minute about war because I really just don't get it. I don't know how people rejoice about victory and how they go fight and kill each other. War is something foreign to me. But, seeing the US flag high, which was the original flag then and had 15 stars only, helped me start to relate. 



It started to rain right as we got on the boat. It was interesting to see that much rain while we were on the water. We were lucky though as it stopped when we got off. We have come to realize that there is no such thing as light rain in Baltimore. When it rains, it pours.
 The best part of any trip to a big city is the food. Craig's rule, which I have adopted is to not eat anything you can find in Rexburg. We had lots of seafood, which was amazing. Baba gump restaurant and other places. Then we had different foods...
This is an Afghani restaurant where my brother Maher got us a good deal on a meal. Everything in Baltimore was expensive, so a cheap meal was like $20 or so. 

   
Craig dared Maher to buy a rose for $1 and he went and bargained with the guy and came back with a rose for Rida, who said this is the first time she gets a flower from Maher. (here is the rose)
 

 We also found a place which sells shawirma and falafel. It was actually good falafel which surprised me.






The last day, right before heading to the airport we went to the art museum. That last day was the longest day I have ever had because I got up, went to the conference, then we walked quite a while in the heat to get to the museum. It was a nice museum, but we didn't get to see much of and had to run to catch our flight.



 
I loved this quote by  Martin Luther at the museum which says: "This life is not health but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise. This is not the end, but it is the road."


We made our flight, but had to sit on the plane for an hour because there was a thunder storm going on...we missed our connecting flight from SLC and were not sure what to do. We could rent a car and drive, but who would want to drive after such a long day (we would make it to SLC at 9 pm or so). 
We got there, and decided to run to the gate hoping our flight was magically delayed, but it was not. We decided to go to Pocatello and switched our flight to that one. We still had an hour and a half from there to Idaho falls where we left our car. We got to Pocatello hoping we would rent a car and drive to Idaho Falls, but the rental car agencies were closed when we get there and there were no cars available. This nice lady we met offered us a ride. She was heading to Idaho Falls too, so it worked out perfectly. I got home at 1:30 am (3:30 am Baltimore time). I still had to unpack...I was so tired...

I am heading to Utah on Tuesday to catch a flight to Seattle and then to Oregon. I still have not finished setting up my classes for fall and it feels like the vacation will be over when I return. Time sure flies when you are having fun!