I am having a great time in Arizona. The best part is being able to see green grass (yes even in the middle of the desert) and plants and trees with leaves. It has been one of the coldest weeks they have here, but it is still 30 degrees warmer than Rexburg.
I was able to see some of my old friends from BYU days. Some of them I have not seen in over 20 years. They still look the same!
Bryce (my friend who baptized me) also came to Gilbert and we went to the temple together. It was nice to see some old friends and catch up. The Gilbert temple was beautiful.
I am staying with Bob and Sue Allen who I knew from the Jerusalem center. They are still as amazing as I remember. I love this couple, they just serve others every day of their lives. They have done everything in their power to make my stay here enjoyable. They planned a fireside for me to speak and they have been bragging about me to everyone they see. Even the people in the street who they don't even know.
On Friday, they took us to a Lebanese Restaurant. It was amazing food and great company. We got to watch the belly dancer also. The guy was playing live music and kept playing Fairouz (my favorite singer) and it made me feel like I was home!
My sweet friend Meridith drove me to Tuscon where I met with my cousin Rana and her husband. It was nice to see them and spend time with them.
Who knew the desert could also be beautiful sometimes...Only when it is not too hot.
We went to Christmas lane to watch the lights...sorry not great pictures:
And we fed the fish that seemed so full and spoiled...
Wait, a waterfall? In the desert?
I finally got to go to the 'Giving Machine'. There are very few of those in the world. Our Church started these and it has been a great success. They partner with various charities around the world. Our church pays all the fees of getting the things and so all the money we donate goes directly to the people in need. I got to donate: two chickens, a fish farm, and clothes for refugee children.
It was so easy to donate using these machines that I had to walk away because I would have kept buying things. You could donate vaccines, school supplies, air fare for refugees, food, ...etc. I almost bought the goat and donated that, but the chickens were cheaper.
This morning the Allens had a baby blessing in their home for one of their great grandsons. They have a very big family (9 children and 50 grandchildren-almost). We had 70 people over at their house and it was nice to see everyone. We will see how many names I remember by the end of this trip!
I hope that this new year will bring you and your family blessings and happiness. I promise you that as you follow our Savior, you will find an increase of love and joy this coming year. I see the difference in families that have the Savior at the center of their lives and those who don't. And His name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace...and that He indeed is! He brings peace and joy into our lives.
Happy New Year!