Sunday, June 25, 2017

Milk Cans and more

It has been a busy week for the first time this semester. I feel that my class load this semester is easy compared to last semester. I used to work every evening trying to get things done. This semester, however, I seem to have more free time.

The weather has been perfect (well it is getting a bit hot), but I'll take this weather over snow any day. I love sitting outside and enjoying the nice cool evenings. Somehow being outside reminds me of home (because we were in our garden a lot). I grew tomatoes and cucumbers inside because it kept getting down to freezing at night. I finally started having bugs and got so tired of having my huge tomato plants inside. I moved them outside. Sadly, they are not doing so well. My cucumber plants are almost dead. My tomato plants are kind of ok (some of them). I think I am giving up on gardening, it's just not for me. I will just go to the farmer's market and buy good produce instead of growing my own. I can't wait for those amazing tomatoes they have there. Mine are taking forever to get ripe anyway.


I am thinking of having a BBQ, but I think it is not worth it to do on my own. So, I'll have to invite some people over. Maybe sometime during the summer break. I bought a grill and have not used it yet. 

My book is in the editing stage. Things are moving forward, and I will be recording it (for an audio book) in August. I am excited to have it done...It was so funny to see my students excited about my book the other day. I was telling them a story during class and they all said: "You should write a book!" They were so happy when I told them my book will come out soon.

On Friday, we had a milk can dinner with all the singles in the area. The dinner was amazing, and I would have never thought of cooking that way. They stuck potatoes, corn, meat, vegetables inside a milk can and just cooked it. It was soooo good and tender.  (similar as below, but this picture is from online)


I was also surprised as to how big their yard was. They had swings, multiple slides, miniature golf, a zip line...etc right in their back yard.

There was a wheat field right next to their house and it reminded me so much of home...There is a wheat field right next to my house and I loved to see that. That is the advantage of living in a small town. You get to see more than just buildings.

My Sunday School lesson today was about the second coming of the Savior. I showed everyone a picture of the spot on the Mount of Olives from where people believe Christ rose to heaven.  


 The angels then declared to the disciples who were watching the Savior rise to heaven, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1: 11)

I reflect on the dream I had about the second coming and I can't wait to see the Savior again. I want to be worthy to stand before Him and be worthy to meet Him at that day. I look forward to having Him rule over the earth in Justice and love. Even though He was born in the most humble of circumstances in a stable, He was and still is the king of kings and Lord of Lords. 



 

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Grateful for my Heavenly Father

Everyone in the US is celebrating Father's Day today. I have seen many messages on Facebook of people saying how grateful they are for their fathers and wishing their fathers a Happy Father's Day.

We don't celebrate Father's Day in our culture. I guess that comes from the fact that mothers do a lot more in the home than fathers do and men have enough recognition. But, even if we did celebrate, I don't have a father on earth that I could wish a happy Father's Day to. I wish I could talk to my father, but he passed away a long time ago. 

This Father's Day I want to express how grateful I am for my Heavenly Father. Even though I can't talk to my earthly father these days, my Heavenly Father is always there and He always hears me when I pray. 

My Heavenly Father has blessed me so much. I have had an interesting life, so I am not used to things going well for long periods of time. When things started to go well for me, I kept waiting for some bad news, or a trial, but months went by and nothing happened.  No checkpoints, no curfew, no humiliation...

As I look around this beautiful earth and all the wonderful people Heavenly Father put in my path, my heart fills with gratitude. 
He loves us all equally and wants to help us all return to live with Him. We should all strive to look at others with charity and see everyone for the child of God they are. 

We often think of ourselves as Santa, putting people on a 'naughty' and 'nice' list. Sadly, I know people who think this way: "this person is Muslim, so they must be bad, or they are Palestinian so they must be terrorists". Who are we to judge? 

http://nerdsontherocks.com/christmas-rocks-santas-naughty-nice-list/


I was telling my students a few days ago about an investigator I met on my mission. When I met him, he was driving a motorcycle, had a black outfit, black leather jacket full of skeletons, he had long hair, earring, chains...etc. He also said he had two kids from two different women, he smoked and drank...I judged his outward appearance and though, "there is no way this man will join the church." But, this person's heart was golden, he loved the Lord and had a desire to do good. The Lord reminds us: "Man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." (1 Samuel 16: 7)

My brother, Mazin, just came to the US to give a few talks. My brother has donated a large sum of money to start a Natural History Museum in Palestine (the first of it's kind). He donates countless hours of his time to teach youth and children to serve and to love nature and animals.  He also advocates for those who are oppressed.  He stood in the paths of Israeli bulldozers as they were about to demolish Palestinian homes and confiscate their land.

Because Mazin has done so much in speaking out against injustices, he is now on the USA's 'naughty' list.  As he came into the US just recently, he was treated horribly and searched and humiliated even though he is an American citizen.  Since when did speaking the truth become illegal? Since when did serving others become despised and criticized? 

I am wondering if I would make it to the 'naughty' list when my book "Peace for a Palestinian" comes out.  I do tell the truth about what is going on in the Holy Land through my life story. 

I hope we all can be open in standing strong against injustices. In advocating for truth, and holding the hands of those people that are oppressed. For our Father is the same, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and we are all brothers and sisters. 

Unlike many think, our Heavenly Father does not have a naughty and nice list. He loves all His children and His arms are open to welcome any of them, if they but repent. He has an amazing place prepared for each of us, a place more remarkable that we ever imagine. All we have to do is head in that direction and be obedient to His commandments.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Refugees

Yesterday I went to Twin Falls with a group of students from BYU-I. They told me they wanted to do a service project for the refugees in the Twin Falls area. They said most of the refugees speak Arabic and so they may need me to help with translation.

We left Rexburg at 6 a.m. and after the 3-hour drive we finally made it to Twin Falls. We were hungry and tired, but we went to visit the first family because we had an appointment at 9 am. The family was from Congo and did not speak English or Arabic. We woke the teenage son up because he was the only one who spoke a little bit of English and we asked him to translate. I discovered I don't know anything about Congo...this family left their country years ago and finally had the chance of coming to the United States.

They still don't speak English, so it is hard for them to fit into this society. The second family we visited was the same...they had many children, below is a picture (sorry it is not that good).


We got yelled at and cussed out for parking by the home of the refugees even though there was no parking permit required. Didn't think anyone could be so rude.  

I later found out that some people have issues with refugees and don't want them there. The director of the Refugee Center explained it to us. He said if a refugee family gets successful and makes enough money to buy a car, they call him to yell at him saying "why do you use our tax money to buy these refugees cars?" He said the taxes most refugees pay into the system is way more than the assistance they are initially given when they first arrive.

The director also did his best to explain why refugees are not terrorists and the type of screening they go through as they come into the country.  I guess as part of his job he feels it necessary to convince people that refugees are not a threat. He also said that for a refugee to qualify to enter the US they must live in a refugee camp for more than 4 years.

After visiting that family from Congo, we went to visit a family from Sudan. This woman who was separated from her husband had 3 kids. Two of them were in school and the oldest never went to school. She fled from Sudan over 12 years ago and lived in Egypt for 10 years as a refugee.  She didn't say why she left, but my guess was that her husband was abusive. She worked in hotels until she had to have surgery and lost her job. Her son also lost his job after being injured at work. It seems unfair, but some places don't treat refugees the same as they treat Americans.

They have been unemployed now for a while. She said she could not pay the rent yesterday ($150). I took her information and hope to connect her to someone who could help her or her son find work.

We visited two other families from Iraq, but they seemed to be doing really well. 
As we asked the Refugee Center about the needs and what we can do to help, he mentioned kitchen items. He said refugees are not given many kitchen items when they arrive and donations like that are always needed. I also noticed that the family with many kids didn't seem to have many toys. So, I thought toys would also be good.

After visiting families all day we were so hungry and tired (we were hungry at the start). We finally decided to leave and stopped by subway. I had stake conference that night and wanted to be back in time.  We ate fast and headed back to Rexburg.

I hope we all can pray for the many war-torn countries and pray for peace. It seems like the most things refugees struggle with is language and fitting in. If we can get local people involved to teach them English and help them find work, then they will feel welcomed and loved. We have been given much and are so blessed. May we reach out to help those in need.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Nature and Peace

I was nice to have Monday of last week off, but I wish I did something else other than work on my yard. I don't know how those weeds can come back day after day.

My tomato plants were doing so good, and the weather was getting better, so I thought I would take them and put them outside (bad idea). Now they don't look so healthy...They may survive. Luckily I put them inside the other day right before it started to hail. Yes, things like that happen in Rexburg even after a really nice day with no clouds in the sky.

Sometimes I wonder if I should go mow my lawn or do something outside, I look at the sky and see nothing but sunshine, but then 5 minutes later a storm hits. I am not quite sure how the weather can change so fast, but I have learned to not trust my eyes.

I had the opportunity to give a fireside to the youth, but the location was at May Family Ranch. If you don't know where that is, well it is three and a half hours away from Rexburg.  It was actually a really nice drive (well, a bit scary, but nice). There were miles and miles of nothing...mountains, grass, and nothing else. no homes, people or even gas stations. I started to freak out after one hour of driving without seeing any civilization, and thought I should have taken an extra thing of gas. I really thought I would just be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no cell phone service and no gas...

Luckily I found a gas station after 2 hours and I was fine. The place we stayed at was just amazing. Really quiet and beautiful as you can see from the pictures below. There were about 24 young men and women there. They treated us really well and gave us the best rooms in the place, they also fed us some amazing food. I hope what I said helped the youth.

There was another speaker there, a girl from Nepal who had an amazing story. She rode back with me to Rexburg and we got to talk on the way. She grew up in an orphanage in Nepal, and joined the church later in her life. She went on a mission to temple square in Salt Lake and she taught over 60 people from Nepal. People were just bringing them to her on temple square and she would teach them. She went to the Nepali branch in Utah and was shocked at how many people came up to her and told her that they joined the church because of her efforts.  Really great person...she is studying at BYU-Idaho now. I decided that Nepal is a place I want to visit at some point in my life.

On the way to Clayton, just beautiful nature...not much else: 



Sadly I didn't see much wildlife, except for one antelope, and the few animals that crossed the street in front of my car. Luckily, I managed to avoid killing them: A black rat, a rabbit or chipmunk-I could not tell, and a weasel (who really had a death wish because I almost hit him as he was going so slow in front of me).


The brother of the owner of the ranch is a famous painter. He painted many of the pictures we see in the church...Here is one of his paintings of Noah's Ark.


I went for a walk yesterday morning and these are some pictures around the ranch. They also had a big water slide that they made on the hill. The youth were enjoying sliding down it on Friday.




The family's dog decided to join me on the walk. I was glad for the extra support and protection...Reminded me of my niece's dog Abby:


I bought a hammock, and I was so tired yesterday after working on they yard then putting it together. It was good to just sit in it (for a little bit because I did not trust the clouds in the sky). Yes, I dyed my hair blond! what? you don't like it? (just kidding, I thought the picture of the stranger in the hammock is prettier than me trying to take a selfie of me in it)

My book is moving forward nicely. Deseret Book told me that we may have a few copies out before Christmas. I was thrilled about that possibility! The editing, cover design and all those things started and it seems like it will go by pretty fast. I can't wait to have a copy in hand. I am stuck right now because I am looking for certain pictures and a few maps. Not sure if I will find them or how to find them (especially the maps). I hope that won't be too much of a delay. 

My green card process got delayed one month. Last week, I was so happy that May ended because I was so sick of printing the ads every day. Sadly, now I have to print them for another 40 days!! ugh. We could not find someone to print the ISU ad for us and so we got them to give us a document that said the ad was posted, but then discovered their website crashed and ad was taken off. No one knows when it was taken off, so just in case, we are going to run the ads another cycle. It is frustrating, but hopefully it will all work out. I have learned to accept that everything happens for a reason, so I am not worried.

I can't be more blessed...things have been going really well for me. 

Today, we went to the Idaho falls temple dedication. It was the first temple dedication I go to and it was pretty cool. I am so grateful for temples. 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Heavenly Father's Plan

This past week has gone by so slowly. I am glad the weekend finally came. 

I worked on my yard yesterday. After I pulled out a few weeds I was so tired to even move. And I still had to mow my lawn and do other things. I finally moved my plants (tomato and cucumber and mint) outside. Hopefully it won't get below freezing outside anymore. My tomato plants are so big now, I really didn't expect them to get this tall (4 feet). I just hope the tomatoes that I get will taste good, and I hope I get some before august because I may be gone in August and my plants may die while I'm gone.

The weather has been great...It was so nice to sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather yesterday. 

I have been so homesick lately. I don't know why these days I especially miss my country, the people, the streets, the sea, the old houses and hills and valleys.  I hope to be able to go back to those places I love soon. I am so blessed here, I look around me and see how blessed I am. I have an amazing house that I absolutely love. I have a great job that I enjoy.  Yet, it is missing something. A family, a home...I guess we can't have everything. I am really not complaining because I really feel I have been given so much.  

My Sunday School lesson today was about the plan of Salvation. It was a great plan that Heavenly Father designed for us. As part of His plan, we would come to earth and obtain a physical body, learn and grow and become more like Him.  I watched a video about how this plan is like a 3-act play. Act 1: Premortal life, Act 2: Mortal Life, Act 3: life after death. If someone jumps in the plan in Act 2 without understanding act 1 or what has happened, life would not make sense to them.

It was like that for me. Growing up I had often wondered about why we are here on earth and where we are going. I had wondered why a loving father in heaven would allow bad things to happen. I often wondered why He does not make the pain go away, and help us find happiness. I have come to realize that trials are an essential part of His plan. Without trials we will never grow and learn, we will never be able to return to live with Him. I also realized that happiness was a choice. We can choose to be happy as we choose to follow the author of happiness, our Savior Jesus Christ.

I am grateful for my life and for the few difficult times I have had. They have made me the person I am today. Trials have built my faith and my testimony in a loving Father in Heaven and a loving Savior who suffered in the garden of Gethsemane so we won't have to.

We are beloved children of a mighty creator who loves us beyond measure. He makes all things work for our own good. Even though sometimes in order to get to the place we are meant to go, we must pass through hilly rocky roads. He leads us, guides us and even often carries us all the way to his mansions above.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Our Greatest Fear

It snowed here last week...strange you may say, but not for Rexburg. I learned to expect weather changes that were strange and fast. 
Yesterday I put some stuff on my lawn to kill the weeds, and it was not supposed to get any water on it. So, I applied it on a clear day no cloud in sight.  Shortly after that it started pouring.  So much for the money I wasted on that stuff.  

I have been addicted to a Turkish online show. It is very stupid and useless, but I can't quit watching. The good thing is that my Turkish has improved a lot. So, I justify it and call it useful. This past week I started using my Turkish to help Senior Missionaries learn Turkish. It has been so much fun. This one sister was so thrilled when I told her she does not have to say "soyluyorum" at the end of her testimony. She just could not say that word no matter how hard she tried. All this however is making me miss Turkey and want to go back. I miss the Turkish food and the sweet Turkish people.  I need to go back for a visit soon.

The church is now sending sister missionaries to Turkey. Nothing makes me happier than bringing the gospel to the good people of Turkey. I remember the many times I got asked the same question as I walked on the street with sister Ellett (a missionary). Talking to me they would say, "Why does she glow like that? tell us what she has?" I wished I could tell them that she had the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost made her glow and radiate.  But, at the time we were careful about sharing the gospel to strangers. We were even scared to invite anyone to church and worried about our safety because there were many anti-christian people around.

I still regret not sharing my testimony with that woman on the street who stopped me and said: "I don't normally talk to strangers, but I could not help but notice the light in your eyes." She told me how hard her life was and how alone she felt. Why didn't I tell her that she wasn't alone and that she was loved by a Father in Heaven? My Turkish was broken and not that great then...so, I just listened to her. 

Everyone will hear about the Savior one day...We had a missionary who spoke in church today. He said he left the church for a while and thought he was happy. But, when he came back he realized what happiness really is. He realized that it was the gospel that made him happy. He thought he would love to share that with others.

He was so excited to go on his mission, but said he was scared because he does not have the courage to talk to strangers. Yet He said the Savior will make his weaknesses become strengths. He said he had the answers to questions many people ask...He would be selfish not to share what he had with others.

My colleague Bonnie put this quote on her board, and I had never heard it before, so I thought I would share it with everyone...

"It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won't feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of
God that is within us.

It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others."

—Marianne Williamson


 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to those celebrating it today. Even though we don't celebrate Mother's day today (we celebrate on March 21st) I still think of my mother today and am grateful for the person she is.

Last week, I was asked to share a moment when my mother taught me something. I don't really remember mom teaching me using words. The only thing I remember her teaching me was how to read, and then she proudly would brag that her 2-year old daughter can read. 

But I remember many things that my mother taught my by example. She taught me the importance of education by her example. She would go to school in Jerusalem during the Second World War and her bus was often shot at, yet she went to school anyway. When her friend, Hayah, was killed by the Israeli army while working as a teacher along with the children she taught, my mother still aspired to be a teacher and still loved teaching. I still remember the love she had for her first graders as she would buy them all sorts of gifts to reward them when they would do well in their school-work. 

I love you Mom and miss you so much. I hope to see you next year.

Last week we went out to dinner to celebrate our birthdays. I have two friends that have birthdays close to mine and every year we go to Stockman's for dinner. It was a great meal and I ate so much I thought I would explode. We always get their cheese cake which is amazing, but this time I got Strawberry Shortcake and it was amazing too!

I was going to work in my yard this weekend, but I didn't. By the time I went shopping, did laundry and cleaned the house I had no time left. Besides, the weather is not helping. It really is not spring yet it seems. It rained so much on Saturday and today it is cloudy. So, I guess I will wait for Rexburg to decide to be warm. My garden is getting big and I don't want to leave it inside, but they keep saying the temperature will go down to freezing at nights and I don't really want the plants to freeze.  I guess I will wait!

My garden still looks horrible compared to others, but my grass is looking a little better after the weeds started to die (thank you Br. Richey).  The birds are also eating my worms, maybe I won't have so many and will have a normal lawn. We will see.

 
 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Spring and Funerals (for lack of a better title)

It has been a good week, I can't believe I have already done exam 1 for my students. Time is flying by so fast as usual. But, that is good because that means the summer break will come fast.

I have enjoyed having a house and a garden except these past two weeks when I realized how much work it is. You have to trim bushes and weed and plant flowers, and mow the lawn. So, I got a lawn mower and have done it twice and I am done...it is a lot of work. After doing yard work most of the day yesterday I could not move. Now every part of my body hurts...I am going to find some nice kids in the neighborhood and have them help me.  

I tried to plant some flowers and after digging for 5 minutes, the ground was so hard and the soil seemed bad...I was done...I went and bought plastic flowers from the dollar store and put them outside. You can't even tell from a distance...what's the point! 
Also, everyone's tulips seems so pretty and mine seem dead already. What am I doing wrong?

But, I am looking forward to summer. I bought a grill and I am going to have a BBQ sometime soon and make all the maza salads from home now that I have my own mint and parsley and hopefully tomatoes and cucumbers in the future.  I am missing home a lot. Hopefully some Palestinian food will make things better.

Actually, my nephew told me that the wait time for Green Card applications has gone down from 1.5 years to 3 months. I don't know if that is true...I am hoping that once we file in January it would be fast and I won't have to wait a year and a half for my application to get a turn.

We have started the process of advertising for the job. BYU-I has to prove that none of the applicants are as qualified as me. So far, we had no applicants. Which is amazing considering that we posted this ad everywhere. Newspapers, online, radio...etc. 

For the sake of my department head who has to interview each applicant within a 24 hour period, I hope we don't get many applicants.

I also have to go online each day and print the ads we posted to prove that we did post them for 30 days. I also have to get copies of the newspapers to prove that the ad was put in them. I had to drive for 2 hours today in order to buy a newspaper. And I will have to drive 2 hours next Sunday as well. I was lucky today because after searching at gas stations I found the last copy of the paper. I hope I will find one next week easily. 

I am not sure why they make this process so difficult...I'll be so glad when this is all over.

My friend's (Danae's) grandmother's sister died last week. Yesterday I went to the luncheon after the funeral. I know what you are thinking, why am I going to my friend's grandmother's sister's funeral luncheon. Well, Grace was actually in my ward, and her daughter, Pat, and I are friends.  Grace died at an age of 93 I think. She had 205 descendants. She had one great-great grandchild. I was amazed at how much posterity can come from one person. 

As I spoke to Danae's grandmother last Sunday I was amazed. She had just lost her sister that day, yet she seemed happy. She kept saying she was happy for her sister and knew that her sister was in a much better place.

One interesting thing is comparing funerals here to funerals back home.  Back home everyone is dressed in black, people are all crying and depressed. Here you come in and see a celebration of the person's life, their family and the good they did. You see color and joy because they believe in eternal families and know that death is not the end. Here is a picture of the tables and how nicely they were set up:


They asked Grace's granddaughters to come up, there is 21 of them:
 

Last week, Danae made a birthday cake for me and wen went over to her parents' house to celebrate. Danae, her mother, and her grandmother all gave me gifts. I feel like a member of the family...And as you see I'm even going to funerals with the family.

I have been sick the last few days. Honestly I don't ever get sick, but it seems like I have been getting sick so often recently. My throat had a bad infection in it and blisters all over. Now I have a horrible cold that I can't seem to shake off. I laughed at those who take the flu shot, but I am seriously contemplating doing that next year. I am sick of being sick...

I submitted my final manuscript of my book to Deseret Book. I keep thinking "I should have included this, I should have changed this"...but it is now too late. I hope they will make good suggestions and maybe we can improve. Laurel told me she was going to read my book while on her vacation because she was so excited about it.





 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Unity


I want to thank everyone that wished me a happy birthday. I felt loved because of your sweet comments. 

I had a busy day on Saturday (my birthday). I went shopping, I learned to fix my sprinkler head (hopefully it works), cleaned the house, and worked on my book most of the day. I have to submit the final draft tomorrow (Monday) and I still feel there is a lot to do. 

I also started a garden. It still gets cold outside sometimes so for now, my garden is inside. I love how my mint is growing so fast and that my parsley is already showing...I still need to do some cucumber plants, but it went down to freezing temperatures last week and those didn't look that good. I will buy some a little later. 

  My home teacher has been so sweet in helping me take care of my lawn and garden. He is going to spray my weeds this week and hopefully my lawn will look a little better.
 
My friend Susan invited me to lunch and we had a great lunch at Sizzler's. Today, my friend Danae and her mom are making a cake for me.  Tomorrow, a few friends of mine are throwing me a surprise birthday party. Yes, I totally blew up the surprise, but it is still nice of them. I think they had to tell me about it because I was not planning to go. 

I taught Sunday School today and the lesson was about spiritual gifts. I felt bad because I had no time to prepare this week because I was working on my book. I briefly prepared yesterday, but we have amazing members who participate and share thoughts. So, it went well even though I was not quite prepared. I also know they felt the spirit as I showed a video about Brigham Young's conversion. I need to be a better teacher. I am trying to invite the Spirit into the classroom, but I learned today that there are many ways to improve on that regard.
 
Last night I went to a concert for Women of the World. I loved it! They are four women from Italy, Japan, Haiti and India who go around the world and sing. I was really impressed by what they do and how they do it. They motivate unity between people and that is needed SO much these days. They sing songs in about 31 different languages and some of them speak many languages. They help people realize that unity is possible between different cultures and religions.  




I didn't think I would feel the Spirit by hearing a Hawaiian song sung by a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Christian...They gathered everyone at the end and sang together. It was amazing. 

I wish that somehow every person who discriminates against others can see proof through these amazing women that diversity can only strengthen us. We are all sons and daughters of God regardless of culture, language, religion or skin color.  We can have a bond of friendship and be unified even if we speak differently or look differently.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Idaho Falls Temple

This is a short post (Sorry).  I had a great first week. I met a few of my students and I just love them. They are amazing.  I have never had so many international students in one class.  It is kind of cool.  One of my students comes from a poor country. He told me that after his friend served his mission and told him that many people die because they don't have enough money to get medical care, he was sad. He decided he wanted to study medicine so he can help people. 

I bought a treadmill...I could not resist the cheap price. It is almost new and was $50 only. It runs great...even though I have not had time to actually use it. I have been busy trying to get a decent garden going. My mint plants are the only ones I managed to plant, but they are doing great, and I look forward to the rest of my garden.

I bought a lawn mower and had a hard time mowing my lawn for the first time. Not sure if there is a good way to do it, but it does not look that great. I guess I will get better at it with time.  

On Saturday we went to the Idaho Falls Temple open house. We took with us a friend from Libya and her mother. Her mother felt uncomfortable at first and did not want to go, but I think she enjoyed the tour. I tried to translate the video for them and hopefully they understood a little bit about what temples are.  The Idaho Falls temple is so beautiful inside and has many amazing paintings. Sadly, the tour goes so fast that you can't stop and admire things. It was a beautiful day and the flowers on the temple grounds were amazing. Here are some pictures.










Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

I hope you all are having an amazing Easter and enjoying this beautiful spring day. 
As I shared on my Facebook post, I love Easter. I love the hope that the atonement provides. I lost many loved ones this year. My uncle, my aunt, and just recently the sudden death of my beloved cousin, Wisam. I am grateful for the Savior and what He has done for me. Because He walked out of His tomb alive, so will my beloved relatives. 

This talk by Elder Holland is still my favorite video about the atonement...
Click to watch: None Were With Him 

Elder Bednar reminds us that the atonement is not just there to help us repent of our sins and be forgiven. It is also not just something that helps us conquer death. The atonement is there to help improve the quality of our lives. Because the Savior suffered in Gethsemane we don't have to suffer that much. He bears our burdens and gives us strength. Through the atonement we can tap into a power beyond our own. The power to change our circumstances or the power to go through what life brings our way. Here is the full talk if you want:
 Click here for Elder Bednar's talk 

We start our new semester tomorrow. It seems like we just finished a semester (wait, we did just finish). I finished grading on Tuesday and turned in the grades and now we are starting again!  I am hoping this semester won't be as stressful. I have only two different classes so I don't have 3 preps as I did last time. It should be easier, right?

Susan and I took a trip to Big Sky (Ski Resort) last week. It was a nice drive. Sadly, we didn't see many animals (I guess the bear couch will do). I don't know where the animals were hiding. There was lots of snow up there, but the weather was not bad. Here are some pictures, really beautiful...






The only thing missing from Big Sky is a good restaurant. It took us a while to find a place to eat...

Anyway, Happy Easter...I hope you will enjoy a snow-free weekend.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Happy Palm Sunday



The semester is over and we are almost ready to start a new one. I still have not finished grading my finals or setting up my classes for next semester and I have no idea how I will ever be ready. I wish we had a longer break because I really feel I need a vacation. I guess I have to wait until July :-(

I came to Utah on Friday with the math department. We went to the MAA conference at Weber State University. It was great and I enjoyed it a lot. I got to grade my papers while we drove down and will take a shuttle back to Rexburg and so I can grade on the way back as well. This is the main reason I didn't bring my car, I just didn't have 8 hours to waste driving down.  The banquet we had at Weber State. It was good...

 
It snowed here last night! weird since it has been relatively warm. And we have some snow still on the ground which is even more strange.
 


Many are celebrating Palm Sunday today. As I look at the picture of the Savior entering Jerusalem I am surprised. Many in that picture are rejoicing welcoming the Savior into the city. You would think they are all dedicated disciples of the Master. Yet, only a few days after this event, some of those same people yelled: "Crucify Him". I wondered why that is, and I wondered how someone could have a change of heart that fast. Actually, when Christ stood to be judged by the people, no one stood with Him or defended Him. Even His very disciples had left Him. How could some people there deny that He was the Christ? He performed miracles, raised people from the dead...Could they not see?
 
In the book of Mormon we are told, "Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ...should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.
For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God." (2 Nephi 10: 3-4)

Is it that the people in Jerusalem were that wicked at the time? And are we getting to be as wicked as they are these days...
I look around me and I see the same kinds of people. Many are leaving the church these days, losing their faith, straying from the path. Even those who have had strong testimonies once and have been good disciples of the Savior.  

The darkness found in this world is so thick that many are letting go of the iron rod and leaving the path that leads them to eternal life. Just like it was said in the Music and the Spoken Word last week, we all are afraid of the darkness and we all like the light. It is natural for each of us to seek after light, yet we sometimes get overwhelmed by the darkness that we forget the light is there.

Br. Newell talks about one child who could not sleep because she was afraid of the darkness. So, what she would do is look into the dark night out of her window and look for some dim light. It could be a street light, or a star or the moon and focus on it. The light calmed her and helped her sleep.

I hope we all can focus on the light...the Savior is our light. If we keep our eyes on Him we will never go astray, we will never lose our path. Sometimes the clouds gather around us and the darkness seems so thick and we get scared, but if we focus on Him, the light of the world, all will be well. 

If the Gospel was true 10 years ago, it is still true today. If you have left the church and turned your back to the Son of God, please come back. He waits with open arms. He won't judge you, He won't chastise you, He will only love you and embrace you. 

Br. Newell said: "When the darkness around us seems overwhelming, when we can’t seem to find any light, it helps to remember that even when we can’t see it, the sun is always shining. It may be hidden by the shadowy clouds of daily living, but it is always there. Perhaps night has made light seem like a distant memory, but darkness is ever the herald of dawn. No matter the darkness in our lives, the light of God’s love still shines, and it can fill our hearts. It gives us hope in our suffering, joy in our sorrow, and light in our darkness.
Yes, there is much in this life that brings sadness and distress. But God has also filled the world with an abundance of His light and love. If we seek it and receive it, this light can fill our lives."

Just like the people of Jerusalem 2000 years ago, I hope that this Palm Sunday we can welcome the Savior into our lives and into our hearts. I hope that we will stand by His side even if we are mocked and even if we stand alone by Him. His second coming is closer than you think. When He comes again, those who stood by Him are those that He will take to be by His side forever to dwell in a state of everlasting joy and peace.