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.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Sooooo Blessed

I feel so much gratitude today. I feel so blessed to be alive and to have my job and my amazing family. I also feel blessed to have amazing leaders in this church who lead and guide us and who love us.

I drove to Utah this weekend to interpret for general conference. I have translated some talks that we received in advance. It is strange how translating a talk makes you really understand it...but then there is always something more that you gain by listening to the speaker...I have the privilege of working with an amazing translation team. We had such a fun time today as we worked together. I didn't do much today except interpret the prayers and random things, the others did most of the work. 

I was so happy to hear the name of my good friend Sharon Eubank being called as a counselor in the RS general presidency. I can't think of a more perfect person for the calling. Sharon just glows! Her countenance just radiates and I think she will do so much good. I don't know how she will find time for this with her demanding job as the director of LDS charities. But, somehow she will make it work.

This conference was hard because they kept showing pictures of Elder Porter and spoke about him briefly. I still can't believe he is gone. I hope I can see sister Porter next week when I am in Utah again. She is another person who I feel radiates light. I feel honored to know such amazing people. Every person I meet teaches me something and I feel I am the person I am today because of them. I know some people think it is cool to meet celebrities. For me, knowing people like Susan Porter, and Sharon Eubank and associating with the many amazing general authorities over the years has been a highlight of my life.

I met with Sheri Dew today about my book and I keep getting more and more excited about it.  My friend read the introduction of my book the other day, and she said that it is something that she needed to hear at that time and she was touched by it. This is what I hope my book would do for people...I had met Sheri Dew in the year 2000 in Jerusalem. She did not remember meeting me, as she meets so many people. 

Here is a selfie I took (I am bad at doing those) Sheri did a much better job at it, so hers turned out better I think. But, well this is better than nothing. 



As I was leaving Deseret Book, I ran into Sister Wendy Nelson (Pres. Nelson's wife). I personally don't remember ever meeting her...but she remembered meeting me!! I was shocked. We met in 2000 in Jerusalem. I mean she met me 17 years ago, and she still remembers my story of sneaking in to go to church.  She had interviewed me for the BYU Women's conference in 2000. 

The weather was simply perfect today. Temple square was so beautiful with all the flowers. I mean people were mowing their lawn in Utah and there was green grass everywhere and blooms. How can we be 4 hours away and yet be a season away. We still have winter in Idaho and it does not feel like spring in any way. Maybe it is good because that means spring will last longer if it starts later.. (umm don't know if that is really the case) 




I can't tell you how glad I am that this past week is over. I really felt this semester went by fast, but that last week just went on and on and felt sooo long. We have a few more days of classes left, but at least I finished the material and will just do a review next week. So, it will be less stressful.  But, honestly, this week was insane. I had exams to grade, I was translating for general conference, and I had students in my office like every minute of the day. To add to the stress I had 3 people visit my class to observe my teaching (3 different days)--as part of the CFS process. 

I realized what stress does to a person when I got to Utah and realized that I didn't pack my clothes. I did laundry on Thursday after work (I was still doing laundry at 10:30 pm) and I hung my clothes up and said I will put them in my bag in the morning. So, I got up and closed my bag and didn't put my clothes in. How stupid can someone be? I needed new PJs anyway, so I went to Walmart and got some...

I spent some time with my friend Emily this evening which was really nice...and when I got back to the hotel, I tried to sit in the hot tub, but it didn't go well because there were kids diving in there...It has been a great day though, it can't be more perfect. 

I look forward to more of general conference tomorrow. I honestly can't focus well when we interpret...so I am going to have to go back and read all the talks or listen to them again.  

PS. I was interviewed by the BYU-I radio the other day. Here is the interview if you want to hear it:
Click here for the interview