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!