Sunday, March 10, 2019

You are special

My book is apparently a best seller in the Rexburg Deseret Book. If you look carefully, you will see that the top 3 best sellers are not even books, but are journals. So, I can say I am the #1 best selling book. 

You may have read on Facebook about my trip to Meridian. It was an amazing day. I had a pilot waiting for me at the airport to pick me up, then he took me on a nice comfortable plane just for me. With chairs that were as comfortable as a couch not hard airplane seats. When I was done with the fireside the pilot was waiting to take me back and even waiting until I got in my car before he flew away. 

When I got to the Meridian stake center, the Stake presidency and Stake RS presidency were all lined up waiting for me. They all seemed so thrilled to meet me.  I think for one day I felt what it would be like to be someone famous.

 I also got to see the Tanners again. Jeff Tanner was over the BYU scholarships when I first got to BYU 23 years ago. I later saw them when they served in London at the same time I was there. It surely is a small world. Sister Tanner gave a tour of the Meridian temple. It was the shortest temple visit, but I was glad to see the inside of the temple.

I got to meet many people. This is always my favorite part of speaking. I gave a talk to the women in the stake. I loved to visit with the amazing sisters who have donated hours and hours of their time to make quilts that will be given to poor families in the area. There were amazing quilts all over the church building to display the work of these women.

After my talk, one of the women that came up to talk to me was an Israeli. I always worry when Israelis want to talk to me because I sometimes get comments like "you are not telling the truth" or things like that. But, this woman was so sweet. She said she has two boys that served in the Israeli army. She apologized so deeply and kept saying how sad she is about what is happening to my people. In response to her apologies, I said: "It is OK" to which she responded with tears in her eyes, "No, it is not Ok. It is not OK for your people to suffer like this." I hugged her. Just another proof to the world that peace can exist between enemies and hearts can be softened. 

I wanted to visit with every sister in the audience, and I almost did until the Tanners sneaked me out because it was getting late and pilot was waiting for me. 

I wish that we all knew (for more than one day) how special and important we all are. We are all so special and beloved of our Father in Heaven. 

One of my students (let's call him John--not his real name) shared this with me on Thursday and I thought I would share. He actually has disabilities, so he struggles in my class. But, he told me that while he was on his mission, he was not sure if he was making a difference. So, he prayed for Heavenly Father to give him an experience that would answer that question. He actually went on a service mission. 

One day he saw a 3-year old girl drowning in the pool. Her mother has gone to the bathroom and the girl fell in the pool. He got her out and by then she has been under the water 7 minutes. Her survival was unlikely. But, John got her out and performed CPR, but the child was not responsive and was blue. Finally he paused and said a prayer, and told Heavenly Father that he wanted this child to have a life, to play and see colors and go to school and get married...then he gave her a blessing and said: "Heavenly Father, by the power of the Melchizedek priesthood, please heal this child..." The minute he said that, the girl coughed up all the water and started moving.

The doctors later asked him what he did because they said that medically it was impossible for her to be healed and have no brain damage. He told them simply "I prayed!"

Heavenly Father cares about us and our needs. He can use even the weakest of us to perform miracles if we put our hand in His and do our best.

I am heading to Utah at the end of the week. I have two speaking assignments. I am looking forward to those. But, it will be a short trip.  

Sunday, March 3, 2019

You are of great worth

I gave two firesides last week, one for the youth and one for the women in one of the stakes in Idaho Falls.
The thought that kept coming to my mind was the worth of souls...and how much Heavenly Father loves us and cares about us.

On Thursday, I met the most amazing women I have ever met. Each of them is unique and each is a special beloved daughter of God.

I have seen so many women who get abused and then stop thinking they are good enough. That their efforts are not enough, that they are not a good mother or wife.

If you take a $100 bill and step on it and crumble it, then it is still worth one hundred dollars. Similarly, even if people say bad things about us and call us ugly, or fat, or short or tall or whatever...that does not lessen our worth. We are still daughters of God and are still worth so much in His eyes.

Every year my family and I picked our olive trees. When my siblings got married and moved away, my mom and I did most of the work. Because my mom is old, it was my job to climb the tree to reach the olives that are far from reach. I almost fell many times trying to reach them. I often had many scratches on my arms and hands because I struggled so much to reach those olives.

Each of us has someone who has chosen us and picked us. Someone who has marks on his hands and wrists to show the amount of sacrifice he has done for us. Our Savior Jesus Christ loved us enough to die for us and to suffer for our sins.

Sometimes when we are abused we blame ourselves and think we somehow were the reason for it. You deserve to have someone who treats you the way the Savior would treat you. Someone who honors and loves you. If that is not what you have right now in your relationships, I encourage you to do something about it. Talk to your Bishop or someone else and make things change.

We made some Palestinian food for the fireside on Thursday. I helped only with the hummus (I have never made that much hummus in my life). We had good baklava and other stuff. Jen whose house was flooded that day got everything ready even though she was carrying water all day in the mud trying to get the water out of her yard. Then she remarked to me: "I should not complain for my situation because there are others who have it worse." 

On Tuesday, I will fly to Boise (on a private plane) to give a fireside for the sisters in one of the stakes in Meridian. They really wanted to do that on a week night and since I am not able to drive 5 hours each way to Boise, they are going to send a plane to get me. I am looking forward to that since it will be something I had never experienced. I don't know if I ever will have someone willing to fly me on a private jet to give a talk again. I guess small planes are a little scary, so if you don't hear from me next week come searching for me in the fields outside of Idaho Falls.  

All the snow we had last weekend mostly melted. It is amazing how fast it melted. Well there is a strange yellow thing in the sky that is causing warmth. That could be the reason. I mean I got so used to seeing my driveway wet or full of snow that I actually wondered the other day why my driveway was this color. When I looked closer it was just the color of dry concrete which I have not seen in months.

Sunday, February 24, 2019


It snowed a lot yesterday. I cleared my driveway even though it kept snowing. I had a few inches and did not want it to get too deep.  I realized that when you clear your neighbor's snow, someone clears yours. I did mine and my neighbor's yesterday. Today someone from church came and did mine. It actually didn't snow much today, but it was windy. And since the snow was fluffy it blew and came back to my driveway.

Those are my birds that are always on my bare tree. I keep telling them to go south, but they sit and patiently wait for spring. I see them eating snow a lot. I tried to feed them, but it didn't go well. The food got buried in the snow before they even discovered it. So, I am letting them figure it out. I am not sure why they are here, but I appreciate the sound of birds. When I close my eyes, it makes me feel like it is spring. 

Ok, so I contemplated going and standing in the snow to show how deep it is. But, I didn't know how to take a selfie and show that. So, I'll settle for this picture below. It shows the depth sort of.

I actually enjoyed watching the snow yesterday. It was so pretty. I remember when I first got to Rexburg I would hate the snow and just stay home.  I was so afraid of driving in it. I am used to it now and don't mind driving in it. I just go super slow.

I am giving a fireside tonight for the youth and on Thursday another fireside for the RS sisters. 

Today I taught the YW lesson on Chastity and purity. I felt impressed to share certain things with the young women that I normally would not have chosen to say myself.  I don't know if my message came out the way I wanted it to...What I wanted to say is that they are of value. And that they need to make sure that people treat them with respect.  I have seen so many women get abused and treated horribly. I want every woman to know that she is a precious daughter of God and that she is loved by Him...That she is loved by the king of infinite space and everlasting time. 

I hope that we each know that our body is a temple and we should keep it clean and pure. Our Savior never casts us out when we sin. He accepts us with open arms. Our sins, though they be red, can be made as white as snow. 

On Monday I went to Idaho falls and visited my friends grandmother. I had lunch with her and she was so happy to see me. The weather was not that cold so I went to the river and walked around. Well, there was no river left. This place that my sister and I used to sit at in the summer and enjoy the waterfalls and the sound of the water, was so quiet. Everything was frozen solid...well there was a small area still unfrozen. But, for the most part it was white.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Why I believe in Christ

Our Sunday School teacher encouraged us to think about how we first gained our testimony of Christ. He also encouraged us to share that with others.

I honestly can't tell you of an individual moment when I gained a testimony of Christ and His mission. I grew up learning about him, but nothing I learned penetrated my heart. My testimony of Him grew the more I followed Him. 

My small testimony started when I first believed that He loved me. It grew as I realized that it was for me that He walked the lonely path to Gethsemane, that He carried my sins, that He allowed nails to be driven in his hands and feet, that He gave up His life willingly on the cross and then He did rise up again and He did all that for me that I, too, may rise one day to be with Him forever. 

My testimony in my Savior grew with every trial of faith. It grew as He carried me the long path to church each week and performed miracles so I can make it to church in Jerusalem. My testimony grew every time my prayers were answered, but it even grew more when my prayers were not answered. It was during those times when I realized that what I thought I wanted, was not even close to the magnificent blessings He had in store for me. 

He promised in the pre-existence that He would be our Savior, that He would save us from physical and spiritual death. That He would descend below all things that He may rise above all things. He fulfilled His promise. He was born as a helpless baby in a stable in Bethlehem. He was the lamb of God who would be sacrificed for the sins of all the human race. 

I testify that He is the light of the world, He is the fountain of living water, He is the good shepherd who leads us to green pastures, He provides us hope when hope is lost, He gives us strength when we can't go on, He gives us shelter through the storms of life, He gives us peace through the battles of daily living, He is my redeemer and my king. 

This hymn summarizes my feelings about my Savior:
Click to listen to the hymn here

Elder Holland said: "...may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear....may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,” for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone." (Ensign, April 2009)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

He picks us...

It is the end of a long week and I can't believe I am going back to work tomorrow. I can't wait to have a break. Why can't I just run away to the woods and go camping in the Winter? That's what I feel I need right now. Just to run away to a quiet place. My friends say that I must learn skiing and then I can be out in the Winter. But, I choose to be warm in my quiet house! I'm still not at the point where I want to be out in the cold by my own choice.

I don't know why there are birds in this area this time of year. I think if I had wings I would fly south for the winter myself. I honestly often wonder how they survive and how they don't freeze. This morning there were many birds on my bush nibbling on it. I don't know if they are eating the bush or what. At least they were finding something to eat. They are probably also holding on for dear life because there was a lot of wind last night.

I taught institute today and gave a talk yesterday. Both on the topic of the Gathering of Israel.  I have giving many talks in this area, that I often find someone in the audience who has heard me two or three times.  I asked one of them yesterday if it is getting boring for her to hear me 3 times, she said no. I do usually say the same things, but maybe for the sake of not boring people I should share different experiences.

The conference I went to yesterday was pretty amazing (and not just because I spoke at the end..haha). They had amazing speakers and the spirit was there. I think Br. Galbraith had everyone in the audience in tears.

I spoke about how sometimes the Lord hand-picks us. I felt that Heavenly Father reached out and picked me and blessed me so much. I was so depressed and miserable and He provided me a way to find the Gospel and find joy and peace in life. 

When I used to pick olives with my mom, I would often risk falling off the tree to reach one single olive. And I would have so many scratches on my hands and arms after we were done picking olives. The Savior has marks on his hands to show that He has reached out and picked us to give us life. He gives us hope and power and peace. 

I am so grateful to be here and grateful for the wonderful people around me who are amazing examples. My neighbor spend quite a bit of time fixing my couch for me. I am glad I can call on people here for help when I need it.

I would also like to tell everyone that my hip issue is so much better. I really can't believe how much better it is. I can sleep without pain and go on through the day without pain and that is such a blessing. It still bothers me to sit on hard chairs and I am actually doing my best not to sit on hard chairs. I just stand if I don't find any other option. I am grateful for the chiropractor who helped me and for my friend who recommended him.

My numb thigh is, well interesting. I am not sure how to describe the problem there. But my whole thigh is tender and it hurts if I try to touch it. Hurts a lot if I attempt to pinch it. But, the good news is, it does not hurt if I leave it alone. Well, until it shoots pain every once in a while out of nowhere. It's just weird and I can't explain it. I think my thigh has been overcome by aliens. 

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The gift of life...

We had a busy week at work because we had many candidates coming to interview on campus. We took them to lunch and dinner, went to interviews and watched teaching demonstrations. It is finally all over and we just have to make a decision and then hopefully things will get back to normal.

Tomorrow it would be 23 years since I got baptized. I love to reflect on that day especially now that our Sunday School lesson is about baptism. Our Sunday school teacher today mentioned that he does not remember much about his baptism day. I, however, remember EVERYTHING. It's not that I have better memory, it is because I was not 8 years old I guess. I remember the details of who spoke and on what. I remember walking into the font and Bryce baptizing me. I remember my bishop laying his hands on my head and giving me the gift of the Holy Ghost. The gift that would strengthen me, lift me, and comfort me for years to come. 

My bishop told me during the blessing that "I will do a great work while on the earth..." Because of all the events in my life and how Heavenly Father stepped in and how he never let me give up, I know that more miracles will come and more blessings will come if I do my part.

I remember how cold it was that night as we walked down to the Joseph Smith building at BYU. I still feel the Spirit every time I go into that building, because my life literally changed that day in that location. I found a new life...Heavenly Father gave me the gift of life twice. Once when I was born and once when I was baptized. I am so grateful for Him and for His loving care. 

I gave a fireside to the single adults last week and also gave one at the Homestead. I enjoyed meeting many people there and visiting with them. Betty who has read my book was so thrilled to be there. She is such a sweet woman.

I never realized how tall I was until I stood by Betty. 
I am looking forward to the other talks I will give especially the one on the gathering of Israel next weekend. I don't feel prepared, but I get to teach institute on the same topic on Thursday and I will get some practice ha ha. 

It has been a blessing in my life to meet so many wonderful people. The more I think about others the more I feel Heavenly Father's love for them.  I know that God is aware of all of us even if we don't get what we want right away, or ever. 

My sister had an accident. She is fine, but I often worry about losing someone in my family that suddenly.  In the past few years I lost many loved ones. It is always hard. My heart aches and longs to be home. Every time someone posts a picture from home I feel my heart suffocating. There is just a special smell, and feel to your homeland. It is unlike any other. I ask for your faith and prayers so I would get my green card soon.
That is her red car and her on the stretcher if you can see that small...

 I hope we all know how precious life is. I hope you are not like me and are doing something better with your life and time. I think I have been watching too much TV lately. I need to be reading and learning and growing.

In my Language teaching methods class, we had teaching demonstrations. I got to learn a little bit of Spanish and a little bit of Germany last week. I also taught them some Arabic. Most of them know Spanish and I am the only one there who has no clue. But, it has been a lot of fun to teach and be taught. Next time, I am going to teach them Turkish :) 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Reach out and bless others...

I have had a crazy week at work. We have people who are on campus for interviews (for positions in the math department) this week and next week. There are so many that it is hard to keep track on when their teaching demonstration or interview is.  It was nice to meet some new people and visit with them though. All our candidates seem great. I am looking forward to meeting the rest of them next week. 

I am going to a class called Language teaching methods and our week we so crazy that I completely forgot to go to class on Friday. It made me feel like a bad student because I had to email my teacher and apologize with a lame excuse "umm I forgot to come to class!" Our teacher is amazing though and the class has been fun. It is really Spanish language teaching methods, so I am learning a little bit of Spanish as well.

I am giving two talks, one today and one Thursday this week. I think at this point I am taking it a week at a time and just preparing the talk that is coming next. It helps me keep better track of it.  And even though I don't really stress about talks, I think about the people I am going to speak address a lot. So, it helps if I am only thinking about one group of people each time. It does get overwhelming if I think about all of them at the same time!  

It has been a blessing to think about people and what they are struggling with. It is humbling and makes me realize how blessed I am. Today I had the Young Women in our ward do 3 service activities (in one YW class). I didn't really have to teach much, because just the fact that they practiced what they learned would help. I tried to help them be aware of others in the world who are not as blessed as we are. 

I told them about Merve (who has no arms and one normal leg--can't walk) and who is full of life and loves to brush her hair and play on the computer (with her one functioning foot). And about Erdal who has to crawl up and down his steps to go get on his wheelchair that our church gave him so he can get to school on the dirt rocky road of his village. He was so grateful for the wheelchair because it helped him get to school.

I hope we all realize how loved we are by our Father in Heaven. He knows each of us and cares about each of us. We could be in a small village in Turkey or Syria or Palestine, but He knows us and reaches out to lift us and bless us.

I have been liking the weather in Rexburg this winter. It actually has not been very cold, and there were many days when it was just magical outside. The fog and the frost on the trees makes it look like a winter wonderland. Last week I cleared the snow from my driveway after work. But, as I was finishing up it started to snow. I went back inside just to come back outside to find snow covering my driveway. I was actually happy about it because I wanted an excuse to be outside and enjoy the pretty snow. I chose to shovel it instead of snow blow it so that it would take longer and I would get to enjoy the snow more. It was 30 degrees (-1 or so Celsius) and was not even cold. Well, do you think I am a true Rexburg resident yet?   

We had a math society activity last week where we had our students use measurements to build an accurate replica of the Rexburg temple. Some of them did well, others not so well. Here is one of the nice ones that won the prize on dimensions:


Sunday, January 20, 2019

Talks and Firesides over the next few months

I thought I would share the talks I will be giving over the next few months in case any of you live in the area and want to come. Please message me on Facebook and I can give you more information if you would like to attend one of these.
I am looking forward to each talk and love to meet new people and share my story with them.

Rexburg, Idaho Sunday, January 27th at 7:00 pm Fireside for the single Adults. 

Rexburg, Idaho Thursday, January 31st at 4:00 pm Talk at the homestead - Assisted living center.

Rexburg, Idaho Thursday, February 7th at 7:00 pm Teaching an institute class.

Ucon, Idaho Saturday, February 9th at ?? Speaking at an event about the gathering of Israel. (This may not be open to the public)

Rexburg, Idaho Thursday, February 28th at 7:00 pm Fireside.

Boise, Idaho Tuesday, March 5th at 6:00 pm(?) Stake Fireside.

Logan, Utah Saturday, March 16th at 7:00 pm Fireside for Stake Relief Society. 

Pocatello, Idaho Saturday, April 13th at 5:00 pm Speaking at a book club. 

Auburn, Washington Saturday, May 18th at 7:00 pm Stake Relief Society Fireside (YW invited). 

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Pretty Frozen Rexburg

We had a long first day of classes. I had long waiting lists for my classes and had people begging me to get into the class. I finally seem to have almost no one on the wait list. 

I have enjoyed getting to know some of my students. I have so many names to memorize and I have not had time to do that at all this week. But, similar names are helping. It is easier when you have 4 caleb's in one class and other similar names. 

Though some places have classes cancelled on snow days, we almost never have classes cancelled. It actually has not been super cold here. We did have a day where we had a long of wind and the snow was blowing everywhere. The schools had a day off, but we didn't.  I do like how pretty snow can be sometimes especially when the temperature is not as cold.  This was the temple on Thursday when I went. Looking around me, I felt I was in the north pole or something...So, ya you do get days when Rexburg looks like a winter wonderland...

 If you have not been to the temple this year, please go.  I got to translate all the temple ordinance into Arabic in September. So, I knew about all the changes in advance. I know that every single change was inspired. I did have a great time on Jan 2nd watching the reaction of people who didn't know there would be changes. There was one sister who was so touched that she kept crying throughout the session.

Frost days are the best here, especially when it is not below zero and you can actually walk around and enjoy it.

And I guess you know you live in Rexburg when your river is covered with snow and is frozen solid.  Sorry, I took this from my car so it is not a great picture.

 There are other advantages of cold weather...all the bugs freeze. There are no flies, no mosquitoes, no cockroaches...nothing.

I have been cooking a lot. I often think about where to eat out then just give up and go home to make something. Whatever I make is better than any restaurant. I know that I won't have a lot of time to cook, but it is nice to have Palestinian food every now and then.

I made Musakhan yesterday. I am not really too fond of this meal, but my friend gave me good bread and I had to use it.

I have made Katayef again using a different recipe and it turned out better. I think I will keep trying until I perfect the recipe.  I am loving this so much that I keep eating it. But, I am close to being so sick of it. I always crave something sweet and it is nice to have these in my fridge to snack on.

 I am giving a few talks over the next few months.  I will be doing a little bit of traveling which should be fun. I am mostly excited about my trip to Seattle in May. I have never had someone invite me to speak that was in a different state (I mean other than Utah). 

I am giving a fireside in Rexburg on Sunday, the 27th. It is for the single adults, but if you are interested in attending, please message me on Facebook and I can send you the details.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Back to Rexburg

The first post of 2019! I can't believe it is 2019 already! It seems like yesterday when we were celebrating the start of the year 2000!
I am back in cold Rexburg. The weather in Arizona got a lot warmer after I left. I think I brought the cold with me. I mean it hardly ever snows in Arizona, but it did this year!

I gave a fireside last Sunday in Gilbert. I felt some of the youth were especially touched by the fireside for which I am grateful. I got to meet a lot of people which was great.  Amazingly enough many of those I met have been served in one way or another by the Allens. They have touched so many lives. I am so blessed to know such amazing people! The Allens were amazing hosts and did an amazing job organizing the fireside. Sister Allen had an amazing display with olive wood and cookies and treats in the back after the fireside. Sadly I didn't take a picture of it.

Sister Allen was introducing me to everyone in the streets and trying to get everyone to buy my book and come to the fireside. It made me feel famous!

I met a Palestinian man and his family who happened to learn about the fireside through his daughter and Facebook. It was nice to meet him and visit with him and his family.

I finally got to watch the movie "It's a Wonderful Life". And I got to watch it at my friend's theater. I was so shocked that they actually had a movie theater right in their house with leather reclining chairs. And they just kept waiting on us, can I get you a drink, can I get you a blanket? This is the life!
Even their son had a mini movie theater in his room. It was fun.

On New Years eve I went with the Allens to their son's house who was celebrating his 50th birthday. It was fun, but there were too many people! They did so many fireworks. It was cold outside, so I didn't stay outside all the time, but the fireworks lasted for 3 hours! They lit a fire and that made it easier to stand by the fire and watch the fireworks.

Here is a video of some of the fireworks we did...

It was also fun to enjoy the animals and feed the pigs and chicken. You know you have been away from Palestine too long when you actually enjoy seeing animals. It was actually a reminder of home...all the sweet smells (not).

They gave us fresh eggs which had amazing colors. Sadly, I had breakfast with my friend so I did not get to try the fresh 'blue' eggs!

 Our new Moran View ward had the first meeting today. We had a lot of callings and sustainings. I kept my calling in the Young Women for which I am grateful. I do love the Young Woman and enjoy being with them. 

It is great to belong to a church that is so organized. I mean when you can create a whole congregation from nothing, and have people called in such a short time. Then everyone just gets to work and serves so willingly and without pay. 

I am almost ready for the semester to start. Tomorrow, my family back home celebrates Christmas (Greek Orthodox use a different calendar). And yesterday my friend invited me to celebrate New Years with them again. I guess dates don't matter. I wish we could celebrate Christmas every day. But, maybe we can as we make Christ the center of our homes and serve Him every day. Because of Him we have everything....He is the greatest gift that was given to all mankind.
Because of the Savior we can be forgiven of our sins...
Because of Him we can live again...
Because of Him our lives can change...
Because of Him we can learn to love others...
Because of Him we gain an identity as Children of God...