Sunday, July 14, 2019

Revelation from God

We had girls' camp this past week. I went on the last night, but it was fun to spend some time with the young women. I loved to see how they serve each other and care about each other. They really had a good time (except when they were being bitten by mosquitoes and horse flies). 
I have enjoyed my calling; serving with amazing leaders and girls. My lesson today in Young Women was about receiving personal revelation.

One girls shared how she felt a prompting from the Holy Ghost to serve a mother and her baby in an airplane and others shared how the Holy Ghost prompted them to be in a certain place to help someone.  

I had often thought that we have a silent God who hears prayers, but would never speak to me.  I discovered and learned later on, throughout the years that the more we listen to Him, the more He communicates with us.  Having a parent that is quiet all the time is unusual. What if you always speak to someone and they never respond? God wants to speak to you! He is your Father.

I want to share a favorite quote from President Russel M. Nelson:
"Pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknessesyes, the very longings of your heart. And then listen! Write the thoughts that come to your mind. Record your feelings and follow through with actions that you are prompted to take. As you repeat this process day after day, month after month, year after year, you will grow into the principle of revelation.
Does God really want to speak to you? Yes!"  

What I like about that quote from Pres. Nelson is that we can become better at receiving revelation. We can learn to be better at listening to God.

I often don't listen carefully enough to hear what God has to say. I say my prayers and I go to bed right away, or go about my day. I don't wait to hear what He has to say.  He speaks to us through feelings in our heart. And even sometimes in dreams. I heard His voice, it is real and it is clear. We just need to listen.

I had the girls talk for 20 seconds during the lesson. As they talked, I told them 3 things. None of them heard what I told them. "Wait, you said something?" a lot of them commented. We need to be still and quiet to hear God's voice. We need to be still to hear the still, small voice of the Spirit.

We have a Facebook page for those that are interested in our Church. The other day I saw a comment on there that I found interesting. The comment was from a Muslim man from Iraq. He said that he saw a few dreams in the past, and then his dreams started coming true. He said that in 1990 he dreamed about the war in Iraq and it did happen. He dreamed about other things that ended up happening too.

Then he said that he had a dream in 1990 about the second coming of the Savior. He said he believes the second coming is close because the events he saw happen before it are already starting to be fulfilled. He said he saw that there were many following the Savior, but many were not. 

He said that ever since his dream in 1990 (for almost 30 years now) he has been looking for someone who looks like those that were following the Savior. He said they looked different, and so all his life he has been looking for someone who looks like them.

He said he finally found someone the other day! He found out that this person is a member of our church (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). He did not learn much about this man because he only spoke English so they could not communicate. But, he found our Facebook page and is interested in the church because of his experience.

Now, I don't know if this person really has visions. And I don't think that is the point I want to make. What I am trying to say is that God is real, He does speak to everyone if they listen. 

The second coming is closer than we all think. As the time gets closer to that amazing event, things will get worse. We need the Holy Ghost to comfort, guide and direct us during these difficult times.
Here is another one of my favorite quotes from Pres. Nelson's talk:
"Our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ, will perform some of His mightiest works between now and when He comes again. We will see miraculous indications that God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, preside over this Church in majesty and glory. But in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost."
I include the talk at the end here if you want to listen to the whole thing: (I think I listened to this talk 10 times and still find new things in there)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Brief Post

I don't have much to say. The semester is almost over and I am so grateful for that. I can't wait to get a break from teaching. I have a lot to look forward to this summer. Some of my family members are coming to visit then I am going home in August. I am so excited to be able to go home.

I spent July 4th working on my garden and planting flowers. I avoided the parade just because it is always so crowded. I meant to go to watch fireworks, but after I was done with yard work I was so tired I could not even move. So, I stayed home and watched some of the fireworks my neighbors did.  It seems like the US spends 1 billion dollars on fireworks during July 4th! Strange! That is a lot of money. 

We had class on Friday, the 5th. Many of my students didn't come to class. I understand that they all want to be with family on this day...I wish I didn't have to go to class either :)

I left after work on Friday and went camping with my friend and her family. 
The weather was perfect...and other than a few mosquito bites, it was a perfect camping trip. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in the hammock looking at the trees and sky.  All your stress dissolves as you listen to the birds and watch the tall trees bending with the wind.

How do such tall trees manage to not break in the strong Idaho wind? They bend well I guess.  They are so tall but they are not thick. Sometimes bending when trials come is an important skill to have. When the wind is too strong we bend and get on our knees and pray for the strength to be able to survive our storm.

Meanwhile in the town where my cousin lives in California they had two major earthquakes. I have never been in an earthquake, nor do I know what to do when one hits.  It is scary that things like that can happen when we don't expect them. Thankfully my cousin and her husband are fine. We need to always be prepared. And just like the trees, we need to reach for the heavens and stand tall and look upward. So that when hard things happen, we will be able to survive them.

Here is me in my hammock:

Sunday, June 30, 2019

My Country, 'Tis of Thee...

I received my green card in the mail last week. Along with it, came this guide:

I can't quite identify my feelings. I have mixed feelings of happiness, relief and also a sense of loss. 

On my green card it gives my place of birth as "Palestine (Born before 1948)".

Do you think that qualifies me to be a senior citizen? I'm old!
I am still happy that it says Palestine. When I applied for my green card, my country didn't exist on their list of countries and I had to choose Jordan as my birth country even though I was not born in Jordan.  My country stopped existing on maps and many now recognize it as Israel.

As the Israelis celebrate their independence and the creation of their state, we, the Palestinians, commemorate what we call the Nakba (meaning the catastrophe). The day when our country ceased to exist and many of our people were driven out of their land. 

I am thrilled to be a legal resident of country (the United States). Even though becoming a full citizen is years away (about 5 years), yet the reality of that makes me happy in many ways. I will have rights as a citizen, I will be able to travel freely.  No one can send me to jail without a fair trial (don't worry I'm not going to commit any crimes here).

But is that really it? I mean losing your country and being given another should make it all better, right? Once you can say that America is your country, you will be OK not having Palestine back? Some of my family members don't have the right to return to Palestine and live there. They live in other countries and that is home to them, or is it? What is home really?
I go back to this song we sang today...

My country, 'tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
My native country, thee,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.

As in the above song, my country is where my fathers died, where I ran and played as a child, where I laughed and cried with my loved ones.  My country is where my Savior gave His life for me. My Palestine lives in my veins. It is not something that a new nationality can take away. 

My Israeli friend Daphna sent me some pictures from this beach in Askalan (now called Ashkelon).  My favorite childhood memories were on this beach. Playing in the waves and running on the warm sand. Maybe when we were kids, Daphna and I swam at that beach together without knowing it (I wish it was like that again). While my friend Daphna can now go there and enjoy it (for both of us), I can't. Even becoming an American citizen won't give me that right. I am still Palestinian and won't be allowed back to Askalan or any other Israeli areas. 

I am creating a place outside where I can sit and hear the birds sing and smell the flowers. (and even have Layali Lubnan-A Middle Eastern dessert) If I close my eyes it almost feels like home. 

I can even pretend to be home by watching a live broadcast of my nephew's wedding and even video chatting with my sister and feeling so close you can almost touch her.

I am sorry, this post was not meant to be sad. I am really happy to be here. I even fasted today in gratitude because Heavenly Father has been giving me one blessing after the other.  I am SO excited to go home in August (39 days left). I woke up this morning craving a falafel sandwich. I can't wait to go to EFteem in Bethlehem and buy one.  I am already planning to gain 30 pounds by eating all the amazing food.

Independence day is this week in America. I keep trying to make the sounds of the fireworks not scare me, but I have not succeeded yet. They still remind me in many ways of gun shots which I heard often. I am fine if I am watching the fireworks, that is actually fun.  But if it is at night and they are going off in a distance, they remind me of when my town was being bombed.  They remind me of the injured people I saw back home and of the many demonstrations I witnessed. 

But, for the first time this 4th of July holiday is not sad to me. I often see people celebrate Independence Day in America and long for a country. Well, I finally have one-almost- (it's not my Palestine), but it is a country that is mine and that I belong in. Happy Independence day to all my American friends and to ME! 

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Life is beautiful

I gave two talks last week. One was on campus about Palestine. I spoke with two others who spoke about their countries. I was shocked at how little I know about other countries and their situation. I need to be more educated about other countries. I am amazed at how much you can learn from different cultures.

The second talk I gave was for a relief society activity. It was held at a lodge at LaBelle Lake. It was a beautiful area. The lodge was beautiful and the food was amazing. We went exploring the lodge because it had secret passages. It had a book case in which if you pull out a book it would open into a secret pass to the other side of the house. 

One of the young women that was there was struggling with health issues. I could feel her burden and how much she wanted to have it removed. I wished I could help her...I told her that things will get better some day. She has to be patient. Some trials take years to pass (like 12 years for example-in my case), but blessings come in the end.

I went to visit Danae and her family that were camping yesterday. We sat by the fire and talked. It was a pretty day.

Even my friend's 96-year old grandma went camping!

The weather has been strange. the other day we had a strange storm. It hailed and the wind blew so hard. My poor flowers were ruined and my trees lost a lot of their leaves. I didn't think I would have to go collect leaves this early.

I got approval for my green card and I should get it in the mail this week. It was such a relief. On Wednesday I could not sleep because I was so excited. I have been blessed in many ways. 
We started the green card process in December of 2016. After months of revising the newspaper ad, we finally posted it in April of 2017. It was a long painful process, but I am so glad it is over. I am now officially a permanent resident of the United States. Actually, I don't think I am even a permanent resident of my own country. They can come and kick me out of Palestine anytime. Having the right to live in a place is a privilege that none of us should take for granted.

I booked my ticket to go home. Amazingly enough the only day where I could fly for $830 was on August 8th. Anytime before or after the tickets were $1500 or more. Actually, I contemplated not getting my ticket until Monday. I am glad I did because the price has jumped to $1400. However, the problem now is that the bridge may be closed the day I arrive and the day after. I was hoping to arrive at midnight and cross the bridge that night. But, I didn't think that it was a Friday and the bridge is not open on Friday nights. The next day may be a Muslim holiday and the bridge may be closed. So, I have to stay in Jordan two days it seems. 

This is our reality as Palestinians...we can't fly into our own country and have to fly into Jordan then cross the bridge to enter Palestine. Then we will be at the mercy of when the bridge is open and avoid the Muslim and Jewish holidays.

People ask me "how do you cross the bridge? Do you take a bus?" I don't often know how to respond to that question. If you have never been a Palestinian crossing the bridge, there is no way to describe to you what it is like. You get searched, your bags get searched and you take multiple buses and taxis and wait in lines in 110 degree heat outside. Line after line of waiting and bus after bus...You get humiliated, yelled at, and have to abandon your morals and shove and push because if you wait politely in line you will never make it. It can take 10 hours to cross sometimes...
But, we used to get strip searched on the, anything is better than that I guess!

This gives me more reason to rejoice for living in the United States and not having to deal with that humiliation and way of life anymore. Yet so many of my people live that life every day. What does not kill you makes you stronger they all say. I suppose the Palestinians are some of the strongest people in the world by now.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


People here in the USA celebrate Father's Day today.  Happy Fathers day to all the amazing Fathers out there. It is during these days that I miss my Father and my family the most.

Every time I make rice or cut parsley my father comes to my mind. It is strange how little things like that remind me of the amazing man he was. It was always his job to cut the parsley and cut other things and also to make the rice. He did such a good job at it and tried to teach me how. I'm not as good as he is at cutting parsley. I don't think I ever will be. He managed to make it so fine.

I miss my family during these times when everyone around me here seems to be with their families. I miss doing things with my sisters or brothers. I miss playing cards with my mom. I wish they were all closer. 

I am grateful though for friends here that invite me to be part of their family. One sister came up to me at church today and told me that I was invited to dinner with her family if I didn't have anywhere to go. But, the Romrell family has invited me to dinner already. So, I did have a place to go. We had a BBQ and played a game and had ice cream cake. It was fun.

I am preparing a presentation about Palestine and it is making me even more homesick. I realized that everything we do as Palestinians, and every song we sing shows we are connected to our land. The colors of flag, traditional clothes, our dabkeh dancing and everything tells the story of our history. Of losing our freedom and our land. We often seem like a tree that has been pulled out of the soil and is constantly looking forward to return to its roots.

In my efforts to feel more at home I am improving the outside of my home. I am creating a sitting area, planting more flowers and cleaning the weed from around the house. It has been a long project, but hopefully it will make me feel better as I spend more time outside.

Here is a project that I almost regretted when I saw a hole in my back yard, but I am glad it is over now. I love to sit in my hammock and look at the sky. And can't wait to get a table and chair outside so I can maybe sit outside and eat sometimes. I have such a small back yard that you can't do anything there. When people ask me what I don't like about my house, I say "I just want to pick it up, turn it around and then it will be perfect." This way my front yard would be smaller and my back yard bigger. And I will not get sun in the afternoon in my back yard.

Here is my new sitting area in the back...

I also wanted a fruit tree. I figure if you are going to suffer in order to clean the leaves of a tree in the fall, it may as well give you something in return. I really want a Cherry tree, but many keep telling me Cherry does not do well here. I am trying plum. Even though I am not sure it is the right kind of plum. I am hoping it will taste good. So, here is my little cute plum tree. I am not sure I will want to wait 5 years for it to bear fruit. But, I guess the sooner I plant it the sooner it will bear fruit. Well, with the wind we are having outside, I may not have a tree tomorrow (ha ha).

What I would really like is a lemon tree and a vine. But, that will have to wait until I move somewhere else (maybe when I retire I will move somewhere where fruit trees grow well). Hawaii would be a great choice.

I still have not heard anything about my green card application. I am hoping to hear something on Monday. I called them and the guy I spoke to said they won't process my application until my priority date (which is May of 2020). My attorney thinks he's confused and that my priority date is current and I don't have to worry about it. But, he did put a note to expedite my case which could either push my case faster, or as my attorney says it could make it super slow. She said that sometimes they pull out the application when someone puts a note on it and that causes it to get out of the queue and makes it take forever. Sounds strange I think. But at this point I don't know what to expect. I'm still hoping to hear back soon and still waiting...Hopefully this week. 

My students are so sweet and they keep praying for me which I am sure helps a lot.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Interview and more

I am back from Boise and my interview is over. It is a relief to have it over. But, I wish I got a definite yes so I can relax. I have to now wait and see. They didn't really ask any questions except the usual ones in the application. "Do you plan to do an terrorist activities while in the USA?" and "Are you involved in prostitution and human trafficking?" and "Do you have weapons or bombs that you plan to use against the USA?" And on and on...

The immigration officer was actually very nice. And there was hardly anyone there so I didn't have to wait long. I should know within a few days if I was approved and hopefully if I was approved, I may get my green card this month.

The trip to Boise was interesting. I stopped for gas on the way and it was so hot. Then as I got closer I passed through a bad storm. The wind was pushing my car and then it started to hail really bad. I could not see anything in front of me. The hail was so big too and it hit my car really loudly. Most of the cars stopped, but I thought it is more dangerous to stop on the side of the freeway because someone could run into you because there was no visibility. I decided to keep moving. When it was really bad, I said a prayer that the hail would stop. Literally within seconds of my prayer (actually right when I finished), the hail stopped and the clouds parted and there was nothing the rest of the way. I never had my prayer answered so fast before. I took a picture of the clouds leaving because I was so shocked.

After my interview, I went to the temple and missed the 9:30 session, so I did sealings. The Boise temple's design was interesting. But, it was a beautiful temple.

For dinner on Thursday, I went to the Brazilian Grill. It was so good. It is not a fun place to go to alone, but I have been wanting to go there for a long time. There is one in Salt Lake but I always forget to go. It was amazing food. They keep bringing skewers of meat for you to try. They also have a buffet of salads and pasta and other things. The fried pineapple was my favorite of course.

I went to a Middle Eastern market. The owner was from Iraq and I asked her if there were any Arab restaurants in the area. She listed like 6 of them within the block! I was shocked that there were so many. She recommended the best one and I went there for lunch. It was not amazing food, but the lamb I had there was the best I ever had. It melted in your mouth and was so wonderful. It was totally worth the trip. I can never find good lamb here (well except at my friend Rasha's house because they raise their own sheep).

We stopped by Red Lobster for dinner on the way back...It seems all I did this trip is eat! It was gooood.

I made it back to Rexburg in the evening and we went to visit Danae who was camping by Rigby lake. The weather was not good, but she had a really good spot and we sat by the lake and played games.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Fun times outside (FINALLY)

We went camping last weekend. We had no internet service, so I was not able to do a blog post.
It was fun to be out in nature again. After months and months of cold weather and staying inside. It is amazing what being in nature does to you and how much happier you are when you are out enjoying Heavenly Father's creations.  It was cold and rained a lot, but we did enjoy camping by the river. We played games, walked and sat by the river.

I would love to sit on this rock forever. There is something magical about hearing the river and being surrounded by water. 

See the clouds...ya it will rain soon.

On Tuesday, we went on a hike with the young women. After hiking diamond head in Hawaii, this was easy (well, we stopped and rested every two minutes). But, it was scary because it was sand over rock all the way so it was slippery. The YW made it to the top so fast. I loved to see them so excited to see me finally come close to the top and start to cheer for me. It really made a difference. I wish we cheer each other more down the path.

Going up was not the scary part. Going down without falling and slipping was the scary part.  On the way up I saw a man with his 3 year old son going down. The boy was way ahead of the father wearing cowboy boots (not the right kind of shoes) and jumping and slipping on the rocks and the father walking behind. That about made my heard jump. I had to say something because that child could roll down the mountain easily.  The minute I said something the child slipped and his dad caught him (I mean he was walking 10 feet behind him until I said something). 

The young women had fun. I mean when I made it down safely I could not believe it. I was proud of myself for making it down without breaking my arm or falling or something. 

Ricks gardens on campus:

I love Spring. I wish it lasted longer than a week (ha ha). It is super short here. It will be hot soon. But maybe we can have a longer spring. It has been unusually wet here recently. So, things may stay green longer. I know because I can't mow my lawn fast enough. It keeps growing. And I have to mow it in the little times where we have sunshine because it has been raining so much.

I have my green card interview in Boise this Friday. I am so glad that the day is finally here. I need lots prayers that everything will go well. I am leaving Thursday and spending the night in Boise. I will try and explore the area a little on Friday before I head back to Rexburg. My interview is at 8 am Friday morning. I am hoping I will get approved right then because I won't have to wonder anymore. We will see.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Quick Seattle Trip

I went on a quick trip to Seattle, Washington this weekend.  I was invited to speak at the Auburn Stake. I spoke to over 180 women and young women. I was overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of every woman I met there.

They had an amazing breakfast prepared. The design and setting was simply amazing. 

I stayed at Sloan's house. Sloan and her husband used to live in Saudi Arabia and now her husband is applying for a position in Dubai. Her son just got called on an Arabic speaking mission to San Diego. He is so excited to go and I think he will be an amazing missionary. 

We went to see the falls and it was a beautiful day on Saturday. It was just for a few hours though since it got cold at night. We also went to the temple. I love how green Washington is in many areas. But, I would not want to live in a place where it rains this much. I am not too fond of the rain. I'll take snow over rain any day. 

I also got to see my nephew and his wife. Sadly I completely forgot to get a picture with them. We went to a middle eastern restaurant. It was strange that everyone at the restaurant at some point was an Arab and we really felt we were back in Palestine.

My friend Danae bought a new trailer. Ok, the picture is dark here, but it is really a nice trailer. I am looking forward to going camping with her next weekend. It is still cold and there may be some snow at the camp grounds. But, we are so excited to go. I miss being in nature. I really feel my soul is nourished when I am out in nature. 

It has been raining a lot! And it will rain all week. My lawn is so long that I am afraid I won't be able to mow it. I have to wait until this rain stops. There was a flood warning today...It should have said 'start building an ark'. 

Anyway, below is a cute video to explain to you why we should go back to being outside like we used to do. I grew up spending very little time indoors. We climbed hills, went into caves, ran in the street, biked all over town and at night we lay on the roof watching the stars and the moon.

click HERE to watch the video about nature

Please get off your computer or stop watching TV and go outside. If it is raining dance in the rain, if it is sunny let your body feel the heat of the sun, if it is cloudy watch the clouds go by, if it is night time watch the stars and moon. God created this world for us to enjoy. We should not sit at home and stare at a stupid rectangular screen all day. 

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Listen Beyond the Noise of Gunfire

I am reading the book "Faith Is Not Blind" by Bruce and Marie Hafen. In the prologue they talk about an experience they had when they went to a place close to Wadi Qelt in Palestine and contemplated how the Savior fasted for 40 days in that wilderness.  

Then they heard sounds of machine guns close by that rattled the atmosphere. The sound of guns was making it hard for them to feel the Spirit.  They started to leave. But, one woman in their group wanted to stay because she said she heard a clear voice say: "Listen below the noise. I made these hills. I am the Creator. All the gunfire is just superficial noise to me. I can blow it away in a breath. I put the pulse in this earth. I put the same pulse in you. Listen below the noise for My voice...and stick with me." (Faith Is not Blind, page 1-2)

I was talking with my Israeli friend Daphna on the phone the other day about what is happening in our country. I love how Daphna kept referring to the children in Gaza and the suffering people there even though the whole world often focuses on the Israelis (her family actually) that are affected by the rockets fired from Gaza. I love and admire Daphna for her compassion and charity towards others.

It is only when we all listen below the noise of gunfire and hear the voice of God that we can realize who we are and realize that He is in charge. He created this earth and all those on it. He knows each of us and loves each of us just the same.

A thought I read the other day kept coming to my mind. Shortly before He was betrayed and crucified, Jesus washed the feet of the very person who would betray Him. He knew Judas would betray Him, yet He welcomed Judas at dinner, He ate with Him and then the Savior knelt down and humbly washed the feet of his betrayer.  

I don't know if we ever will develop that much forgiveness, that much charity, and that much humility. But, that very act showed us that the Savior sees us all in the same eyes. He loves us all. He does not set aside sinners and say you sit there and tells the righteous you sit here. He loves us all equally. We need to strive to be like Him.

In the parable of the prodigal son. Both sons were lost. One sinned and was welcomed home, but the other son also came back from the field and his father went out to meet him. None of us are the 'perfect' son or daughter of God. We all have sinned. We all need saving. We all need to repent.  And, no matter who we are, we all have a Heavenly Father who runs to meet us on the road and embraces us.

On this Mother's Day, I hope we each can realize our true identity and value as Children of God. One of the speakers in church today called Mother's Day 'Divine Nature' day. I liked that because we are not all mothers. But, serving others and guiding others is part of our divine nature. We are spirit sons and daughters of God and as such have been endowed with gifts that come from Him. 

My admiration goes to all mothers. Especially those mothers affected by the terror of war and devastation and who have lost children or loved ones. Below is a picture of a mother in Gaza who lost her daughter, Leila, from tear gas used by the Israeli soldiers.

I am grateful for my mother who continues to inspire me by the sacrifices she has done in her youth and for what she has done for me growing up. Palestinian Mother's day is in March, but it is good to have two days a year to honor mothers.

The great thing about mothers is that the charity and love and sacrifice they provide for their children is the closest to the Savior's love when He sacrificed His life for us. He loved us and suffered for us even though we are not the perfect children. I am grateful for His example and the example of mothers on how we each should behave towards each other.  May we each strive to have this highest degree of charity.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

So blessed

Another week of the semester is over. This one even went faster than the first. I am glad this semester is going by fast because the previous semester was the slowest I felt. It just would not end. And I felt the last week of the semester was 2 months long!

I love my students this semester, they have already taught me so much about faith and endurance. Some of them are the only members of the church in their families. They went against the tradition, and joined the church and served missions.  At age 15, one of my students was so rebellious and even wanted to stand up in church and yell at the speaker, but then felt impressed to walk up to the missionaries after and say: "will you teach me the gospel?" He said he was more shocked at the words that came out of his mouth than the missionaries were.

Today I have an appointment with the missionaries in New York where we will teach a Muslim who is interested in hearing the Gospel. We will see how that goes.

Last month I asked a friend of mine, who happened to know congressman Simpson, to help me with my Green Card case. The office of the congressman was willing to help inquire about my case. I was hoping they would tell them how much longer I had to wait or give them an update. But, the congressman came back saying that all they told him is that I needed to wait. They didn't give him any additional information. I really want to go home in the summer and I was hoping to get the case moving forward because I have been waiting for a whole year without any updates.

However, I feel that having the congressman ask about my case moved it along even though he didn't come back with any update. Just less than a week after he asked, they put an update saying they will schedule my interview. Now, they say my interview has been scheduled and I am just waiting for the letter to come in the mail.

My interview will be in Boise, so I have to miss a day of work and drive 5+ hours each way go go there. But, I am so happy to finally have this move and finally see the end in sight.

I am working on my medical exams for my citizenship. Sadly I don't have any record of any immunizations, so I have to do those again. But luckily my insurance will cover those. They won't cover the medial exams though, which will be about $500. At this point I just want to get it done and the money is not an issue. 

I look back at my life and how often the Lord intervened in the last minute to make everything work out for the best. I feel exceedingly blessed. I am left wondering why Heavenly Father loves me and blesses me so much. 

I love living here and working at BYU-Idaho. I could not ask for a better job. I love working with amazing people who are kind, loving, and so smart. They teach me so much.

I was going to go to Colorado to the Joint Statistical Meetings. I have never been to Denver and was looking forward to it. But, for some reason going didn't seem right. If my paper work comes through, I am going to go home this summer and I want to use the time in July to prepare for my Fall classes. I have not done much to prepare to teach Arabic and I need to focus on that. So, I decided to not go to the conference. My brother Maher was disappointed because he is going. 

I met one of my students and he brought a Lebanese student to my office and I got to meet him. I didn't think there were any Arabs on campus other than Durid and his sister. But I guess there are.

My brother Maher is going to come visit me the first week of August and my brother Walid may come too. I am excited to have them visit and show them around the area here.  There are some fun things I am thinking of doing, but I worry about how adventurous my sister-in-law may be. I will have to convince them to do things they have not done before.  Like Zip lining! It took my sister half an hour to get on it for the first time, but I think she would now testify it was the most fun thing she has ever done.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

We are led by prophets and apostles

I had a great first week of classes. The best part of it is that it is over. But, it really was great to meet 190 new students all in a matter of days. I didn't do so well trying to memorize the names. I have two students that I already know because they were in another class of mine last semester, so I only need to memorize 188 names! yay! They are all amazing and I am looking forward to getting to know them this semester.

I had the honor of having Elder and Sister Rasband in my home for dinner today. They gave a great devotional/fireside at BYU-I today. I was asked to give the scripture before their talk. Even that was stressful for me. I have never spoken in front of 10,000+ people. The scripture that kept coming to my mind is D&C 76: 22-24
"And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God."
I love that scripture. I always feel the Spirit when I read it. Because it is a solid testimony of a prophet that has seen the Savior. Hearing Elder and sister Rasband bear testimony of the Savior, you get the same feeling. Elder Rasband is an apostle and carries the keys, just as Peter did in the time of the Savior. His testimony of the Savior is powerful. 
I still remember when I visited Elder Rasband in his office in SLC with Eder Kacher years ago. As we walked out of his office, Elder Kacher looked at me and said: "Wow, did you feel that??" I had felt it, he didn't need to explain what he meant. I felt how much Elder Rasband loved and cared for me. These are the kind of amazing men that we have leading our church and I am so grateful for them and their devotion.
Elder Rasband said he gave 5 talks today! Wow. Giving one fireside makes me tired! I asked him if he repeats the same talk, he said, "no, they are all different talks!" 

In his talk he spoke about the dedication of the Rome, Italy temple and what a great experience they had there. He said his second favorite picture is a picture of the first presidency and the quorum of the twelve apostles dressed in white in front of the statue of Christ and the original twelve apostles in the background found in the Rome temple visitors' center. 

His first favorite picture is that of president Nelson embracing him with joy and happiness on his face. It tells how much the prophet loves him and is happy to see him.

I gave the Rasbands a copy of the LDS living magazine with my picture on the cover. He even had me sign it (he says I'm famous). He also signed his book for me. I'm glad my friend gave that to me so that I would have it here for him to sign.

I participated in an event on Thursday about immigration that was organized by the 5th grade of one of the schools here. I was amazed at what the kids have managed to put together. They had a panel and I participated in that. Their main theme was that we are not all different even though we come from a different background.  

Before the start, they played many videos about refugees. It always makes me sad to see what people go through. When Syrian kids were asked about what they miss, they mention their home and friends and family that have been killed. Sometimes what we own in material possessions matters very little after we lose loved ones. I also was proud of the Syrian kids who were doing all they can to gain an education and go to school amidst all the hardships. They were able to play, smile and find joy in the life they had even though some have lost everything.

I don't know why countries often interfere with minor things, but when it comes to major things they stand still. I hope we all can advocate for justice and love for all. We are all children of God and He cares about each one of us. I hope we could see others the way Heavenly Father sees them. I hope we can welcome refugees and other people from different backgrounds.