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?

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


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.