Sunday, February 25, 2018


I went to Time Out For Women this weekend. I will be speaking at a future event (not sure when yet) and I am looking forward to that. Speaking to that many women scares me, but at the same time I am honored to have that opportunity one day.

I have to do something with my name though. I am not sure why every time it is used, they misspell it. I mean you would think they can just copy and paste it instead of writing it from memory. But, I'm still honored that they saved me seats and I didn't have to wait in line.

The talks were great and inspiring. My favorite was a talk by Carol Decker. A woman who had sepsis while pregnant with her little child. This resulted in the loss of both her legs and one of her arms and she also lost her sight. What an amazing woman who survived that many trials and still found hope and joy in life. The scripture in John that she read (well, recited) had a completely new meaning "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life." She shares how she was in a dark place (and not just because she was blind)...And then she lost her brother. She said that she does not miss any of her limbs as much as she misses her brother. But, she talks about how the loss of her brother, as hard as it was,  was the turning point for her. Because his funeral was held in a church as she entered the chapel she remembered the feelings she had as she went to church and she wanted to return and it completely changed her life.

Some of my favorite quotes shared during the meetings were...
"If you saw the magnitude of the blessings coming, you would understand the battles you are fighting now."

"What God does not protect you from, he will perfect you through." -Manning

We had Brad Wilcox, Tom Christofferson, Marry Ellen Edmunds and Laurel Day speak. We also heard Calee Reed sing. She is really a good singer, I don't think I never heard her sing before. Her piece "broken" was really nice...I'll try and share it on facebook since it won't let me do it here.

I was amazed all all the strong women that bore their testimony. Every one of them has gone through very difficult trials, yet they rose above them and managed to find hope and joy through the Gospel and by following the Savior. 

Tom Christofferson is Elder Christofferson's brother and his story is amazing too as he is gay but managed to stay close to God and be obedient. His family's love encircled him and he found strength in the love they shared with him. He talked about the good shepherd, our Savior. And how His love is unconditional as He seeks after each of us that are lost.

We are so blessed for all that we have and if we focus on the good, then difficulties will fade and we will be able to overcome any challenges through the help of Him who is acquainted with grief, who suffered so we won't have to.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Feb 18, 2018

I don't have much to say this week. It has been a good busy week. I am grateful for the 3-day weekend which I completely am wasting and not doing anything productive. 
 Other than the strong wind we are having these past few days, the weather has been good. We had a little bit of snow, but it didn't even wait for me to clear my driveway and melted right away. I am sitting in my hammock and enjoying the warm sunshine....No, I am not outside. I would fly away if I was..and its not that warm!

I have had many students in my office this week seeking help. Hopefully this means that they can now do the project on their own.

I was starting to worry about if I will have time to prepare for next semester and so I started thinking about my classes. Hopefully planning and thinking early will help because the break between winter and Spring semester is really short.

Because of my book I connected with some old friends from years ago. Some of them ran across my book and bought it, then found me at BYU-I and contacted me. It has been nice to bring back old memories.  

The most memorable couple that came in to my book signing last week were these...I enjoyed meeting every one that came. The guy was so excited about my book and I just love to see people who are that excited about it. Darla kept snapping pictures of me as I visited with people. Out of my 200 students only ONE came to my book signing. Which is sad...I should have made my book required reading!

My sister Suhair is coming to visit in the summer and I am already so excited about it and can't wait. I am planning all the fun things we will do while she is here. I hope she can spend some fun relaxing time here. Sadly I have given up on getting my green card by July. I still have not heard back about my PERM application and there is a 7-8 month wait period on the next step after we hear back from that. So, I believe July is out of the question now. I am now shooting for going home for Christmas which should be great. I can't wait. It will also give me a chance to escape the Rexburg Winter for a few days.

I don't have much else to say...Have a great Sabbath everyone!


Sunday, February 11, 2018

My talk in church

I was assigned to give a talk in Church today... I was asked to prepare a 15-20 minute talk but ended up with less than 4 minutes at the end of the meeting. I was kind of hoping that I would skip giving my talk because I don't do very well with adjusting talks. To say the least, my talk was not good. I was actually kind of upset that I didn't get to give my whole talk, but when I saw how good the talk of the missionary who spoke before me was, I stopped complaining. After all, Heavenly Father just wants people to feel the Spirit and learn.

Since I didn't get to give my whole talk in church, I thought I would share it here. Because I think there must have been some reason I was asked to speak and prepare this long talk, right?

I was asked to share thoughts coming from Elder Ladd's talk entitled "Make Thee an Ark"

Here is my talk:
Elder Ladd talks about that there is so much evil in the world today, so many natural disasters and so many crimes.
He says that in this difficult world we live in..We all need to build a personal ark, to fortify ourselves against this rising tide of evil, to protect ourselves and our families against the floodwaters of iniquity around us. And we shouldn’t wait until it starts raining, but prepare in advance. This has been the message of all the prophets in this dispensation, as well as the prophets of old.”

I want to talk about this personal ark today that we each must build.
The meaning of the word Ark is: a place of protection or security; refuge; asylum.

Ark is used in the scriptures in two different places: Noah’s Ark and the Ark of the Covenant.
But, even though the English word in those two phrases is the same, the Hebrew word is quite different.
For the Ark of the Covenant the Hebrew word ‘Aron’ is used which has a different meaning (means storage or cupboard).
For Noah’s ark the Hebrew word ‘Teva’ is used.

Actually the word used for Noah’s Ark, ‘Teva’ is used only two places in the scriptures. Once for Noah’s Ark and one for a cradle. The cradle or basket that held the baby Moses as he was placed in the river for protection. Water and Ark as you see, very similar to Noah’s ark. The Ark in both situation cradled something great. In the case of Noah, it protected all life and carried the most important of God’s creations. In the case of Moses, it held a mighty prophet who would save the children of Israel from bondage. Both Arks carried something precious and majestic.

So, I think protection, and salvation is the main meaning here for the word Ark. We need an Ark to protect us and save us from the evils around us. From the storms of life.
I think of another Ark or cradle that sheltered the baby Jesus in the stable during that first Christmas night over 2000 years ago. That child would save all humanity, He would be a Savior and a refuge to all.

My focus is going to be on Him today, rescuer of all of us, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

There are a many things that the Savior can help us with. I mention a few here.

1. Through Him we can find comfort and strength during our difficult times.

We all know the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew chapter 14:
“26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?

Peter doubted, because he was faced with the storm and the wind and the waves. The Savior could have calmed the storm. He could have commanded the Sea to be still as He has done in the past, and then Peter’s fear would go away and He would be able to continue walking on water. But, the Savior did not do that. Instead of calming the storm, He stretched forth His mighty arm towards Peter and lifted Him up.
When we face hardships, we should realize that the Savior is the creator of the world. He is our protector against harm. He CAN calm our storms. However, sometimes, He chooses not to. Instead He chooses to calm us and stretch forth His mighty arm and lift us up. Personal peace and safety comes through Him.

We often end the story here and forget to read verse 32 which says:
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.” Matthew 14: 26 – 32

When the Savior is on board our ship, there is peace, safety and comfort even while the storm still rages outside.
Elder Ladd said that we need
“to live with ever more attention to the life and example of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially the love and hope and compassion He displayed” (Ensign, July 1994, p. 4).
The most important thing we can do—young or old—is develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If we do, we will always be comfortable with ourselves. Any questions of self-esteem and self-worth will diminish, and we will have a quiet confidence that will see us through any trial. And the Savior’s promise to us is “Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world” (D&C 50:41).

2. Through the Savior we can find safety and protection as we stay close to Him and obey His commandments.

Our Savior is the source of protection for us during the storms of life. For 12 years as I sneaked in to get to church in Jerusalem, I had to climb hills and walls and hide from soldiers. I was shot at sometimes and almost arrested. But, every Sabbath was a miracle. I felt protected by the hand of the Lord.
President Nelson said: “Keep all the commandments of God. Obedience to all the commandments of God will provide physical and spiritual protection. Remember, God’s holy angels are ever on call to help us. When we are faithful, God and His angels will help us.”

During the trials of life we need to stay as close to our savior as possible. He is our only safety, he is our only sure foundation upon which if we build we cannot fall.

In Helaman 5:12 it says, “And now, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”

3. The Savior is the source of real peace in a troubled world. Through Him we can find peace even when things are hard.

I grew up in a country of conflict. I never knew peace was possible. I grew up hearing gun shots, smelling tear gas and seeing people arrested, beaten and shot. When I started to investigate the church, I felt an amazing feeling, something I had never experienced. I thought being at BYU, in a safe place gave me that feeling. But, that peaceful feeling stayed with me even in Palestine when things were hard.

I remember feeling peace even where there were bombings going on and when the electricity was out and it was dark and scary.

The only way for true peace in this life is by following the Prince of Peace who said “Peace I give unto you, my peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth give I unto you…These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16: 33)

Elder Scott Said:
“I bear testimony that living an obedient life, firmly rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ, provides the greatest assurance for peace and refuge in our homes. There will still be plenty of challenges or heartaches, but even in the midst of turmoil, we can enjoy inner peace and profound happiness.”

4. There is light and clarity that comes into our lives when we follow the light of the world.

Trials are there to help us grow. As we follow the Savior we will have more purpose and direction and we will see the path clearly.
The Savior tells us: “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8: 12)

In "Music and the spoken word", April 2017 general conference, Br. Newell tells of a story of a child who was afraid of the dark. She learned to overcome her fear of the dark by focusing on some light in the distance. At night in her bed, she would look outside and find a dim light somewhere (street light, house light, or stars or moon). This calmed her fear and helped her sleep.
Br. Newell then 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 sorrows, 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 like “sunshine in the soul”.”

As the people in Lehi’s dream tried to head to the tree many were lost in the mist of darkness. Those that did make it did cling to the rod of iron. The iron rod is the Word of God and another name for the Savior is the Word. The only way to make it back to Heavenly Father’s presence is to literally cling to the savior. As we hold fast to the light of the world, we will pass through the darkness of the world.
Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge said: “The Lord’s way is not hard. Life is hard, not the gospel. There is an opposition in all things, everywhere for everyone. Life is hard for all of us, but life is also simple.
We have only two choices. We can either follow the Lord and be endowed with His power and have peace, light, strength, knowledge, confidence, love and joy, or we can go some other way, any other way, whatever other way, and go it alone—without His support, without His power, without guidance, in darkness, turmoil, doubt, grief, and despair. And I ask, which way is easier?”

The Savior invites us saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I testify that his burden is light. That if we come unto Him, He will give us living waters. He will share our burdens. His yoke is easy. He is our comforter, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Lord and King. He is the Prince of Peace and the only source of true peace in a troubled world. He is our protector against the evils around us. I love Him and I can’t wait to bow down at His feet and thank Him for the example He has set for me. May we all cling to our Savior and His Gospel as we walk this hard, rocky road of Mortality. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.  

Monday, February 5, 2018

February 4, 1996

It has been 22 years since the day I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It seems like yesterday when it all happened. I still remember my roommate leaving me along to pray right before we left to walk in the snow to the Joseph Smith Building on the BYU campus. That night I felt God's presence more than I have ever felt it. When my roommate left me alone and I knelt down, I felt the Holy Ghost more than I have ever felt Him. I just stayed there kneeling not wanting to get up. Jessica had to knock on the door and say 'we have to go' because I probably would have stayed there forever...feeling Heavenly Father's love and sensing His presence. 160 people attended my baptism and it was the most amazing day of my life.

It has been years since that day. The testimony I had then and the faith I had grew stronger with every trial that I faced. Heavenly Father has blessed me so much in my life. I keep thinking that this shower of blessings will end, but it has not. I continue to be blessed and to be strengthened by His mighty arm.

I can't express in words how much I love my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ. And I can't explain in words the change that that day in February, 22 years ago, had on me and my life. My heart changed, my life changed. From sadness to joy, from conflict to peace, from depression to hope.   

Today I taught Sunday School twice. My first lesson was about following the Savior and following Satan. Amazingly enough they both want us to be like them. I have noticed the difference that following Christ has done in my life. He is loving and kind and merciful. I can't imagine life without Him in my life. When He is in my life things are clearer and I am stronger. Not because I have less trials, but because with Him to share my burden it truly becomes light. 

My second Sunday School class I taught in Rigby to the 11 and 12 year old boys. I am not sure if they enjoyed the lesson and hearing my experiences. I think they enjoyed having me write their names in Arabic at the end of class more than the actual lesson. But, they were amazing boys. They shared with me times when they have prayed and their prayers were answered. To quote one of the boys, he said sometimes our prayers are not answered in the way we want because our wise Father in Heaven knows what is best for us and He does whatever would help us grow.  One of the boys talked about his mom having a tumor and one of them talked about his sister and her challenging illness. Sometimes we underestimate this generation. They are amazing! No wonder they are chosen to lead the church during these, the latter day.

After church I went to a friend's house and cooked them Palestinian food. It actually turned out ok, not as good as I wanted...but it was good. It was fun to visit with them.

I have been a little busy with speaking assignments, but not too bad. I had to ask Brother Tew to teach Sunday School for me next week because I am speaking in church and I am also giving a fireside. I am not complaining, but I do need to be better at preparing and not wait until the last minute. I am looking forward to my talk next week in church. It has been a while since I spoke in church. I miss it so much.

My book is selling well: 1276 copies sold in December alone. I don't get a report except every January and June. So, it will now be 5 more months before I get another report. But, I was glad that even though the book came out the end of December that many copies sold. I may use the money that I get to finish up my basement and I am excited about that because it has been a project I have been wanting to do, but never could afford it. We will see.