Sunday, December 20, 2020

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

 2020 was certainly an interesting year. I am sure you all are anxious for this year to be over. For me, this year was certainly filled with some challenges, but also some good things.

In March, when I left my office on March 13th, I thought I would be back to my office in a week or two. I have not gone back to my office since then, except to pick up some supplies or print some documents.

Teaching via zoom has certainly been a challenge, but I can't be more grateful for the technology that allows me to keep my job and still teach even during a pandemic. Through technology I was also able to give firesides to missionaries in different countries. I was blessed to be able to meet such wonderful people.

I was planning to go home in the summer, and I thought that by July 2020, this whole thing would be over. It did not end...Now we are not even sure it will be over in July 2021. 

I still had a great year. My nephew and his family came to visit me. I also had some friends come visit in September. We had lots of fun despite COVID. I love living in Idaho and being close to the amazing forests and rivers close by. I am indeed very blessed!

I bought a motor home in August. I went camping in it a lot! I spent time in the outdoor, learned how to drive a big truck, and how to winterize a motorhome. I also bought a kayak and went kayaking and I enjoyed that a lot. I spent a lot of money in 2020. I extended my driveway to the side of my house so I can park my trailer and won't have to pay for storage. But, it will take 10 years of storage costs to pay for my little piece of concrete. It was expensive!

Time has certainly passed by soooo slowly in 2020. As I reflect on each of those events that took place, I feel they were forever ago. This was just a super LONG year. 

The best part of the quarantine was that I don't have to go clear the snow from my driveway. Well, at least I don't have to do it at 6 am so I can leave to work on time. I planned to hibernate this winter and not go anywhere. But then I found myself wanting to go clear the snow. Because it was the only time I was able to get out of the house. I must say I am starting to go crazy because I don't go anywhere. I am now talking to the walls. My cousin says that is absolutely normal, but I should seek medical help if the walls start talking back. They have said nothing so far, so I guess I'm still OK. 😅

I refinanced my house to get lower interest rates and took some money out from my home loan. I sadly have managed to spend a lot of that money, buying the trailer and doing the concrete and fixing my yard. It is not good because now I owe so much more on my house. I need to hurry up and pay that off. I am worried I won't have that paid off before I retire. 

I got an interesting letter last week. Well, it has been sitting in my mailbox at work since September (I never go to my office). It was from someone in prison. The letter really melted my heart. This guy read my book and was so grateful. I was so impressed with his faith and testimony even in a dark place like prison. He said he tries to teach other inmates about the Savior. He holds scripture study and studies 'come follow me' with several people in jail even though others mock them. 

It was so fitting to get this letter close to Christmas because it reminded me of the power of Christ and His atonement at transforming lives. People can change, hearts can change. Even a criminal who has spent the last 10 years in jail can feel the love of the Savior and start to follow Him.

During such a dark time in history, He, the light of the world, reminds us that if we follow Him, we won't walk in darkness. If we follow Him, we won't need to fear the unknown future. If we follow Him, a tiny virus won't destroy our lives and hopes. That little child, born in a stable in Bethlehem, gave light, hope, joy and peace to all the world. The gift of salvation He offers us is more precious than any other gift this Christmas.

May we celebrate Christ this season and be grateful for the hope He gives us of a better future. A future full of joy, love and peace.

Merry Christmas to you all and may the new year be better (you are probably thinking: can it really be worse?). May we always strive to become more like our Savior and be better disciples of Him as we continue to light the world around us.

Here is a short nativity video...Please watch it and reflect on the gift Heavenly Father gave you on Christmas: Click to Watch Nativity Video

Sunday, November 8, 2020

This too shall pass...

 It seems like I only write once a month these days. The one time I write, summarizes my life that month because all days are the same; days blend together and time goes soooo slowly. Can you all believe it is STILL 2020?!! Doesn't it feel like COVID started years ago?

But, the good news is, it is November and after this month there is only one month left of this year! Yay, isn't that exciting? I am tempted to put up my Christmas decorations super early just to start feeling that this year is winding down. Stores already have Christmas stuff out!

But, my life as a Palestinian showed me that "It can always get worse!" I don't think that is a pessimistic point of view, but more of a realistic one. Maybe COVID is the calm before the storm. Maybe in having us slow down and rest, God is preparing us for the real storm. Maybe we should not wait for COVID to be over, but use this time at home to prepare for the future.

The US elections are finally over. It seemed like many of the Palestinians I know were interested in the US elections more than Americans were. My sister called me so many times in the last few days asking, "Did the results come out yet?" Many Arabs and Palestinians didn't like Trump because he was so obvious in his pro Israel views. He even acted on them by moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and advising Israel to take yet more land from Palestinians. US presidents generally don't like Palestinians but they normally don't publicly admit that.  

I don't believe any US president will support my people, maybe we will always be known as terrorists by many.  But labels mean nothing to me. As long as I know who I am. As long as I know that I am a daughter of God and that He loves me, who cares what labels others put on me. If you feel outcast and alone, if you feel different, go talk to your Father in Heaven.  He will remind you who you are and how much He loves you.

We complain about the racism found in the world when we are all guilty of it. We put labels on each other, she's Palestinian, or he's black, or they don't believe in God, or he's Muslim. The world won't change unless we change the way we look at others.  I think changing the world starts with us. 

Next week I will be giving a talk in church (not our church). It is in an Arabic group that started meeting in California. This is a group organized locally, but a group that many Arabic members from all over the world can be a part of.  Someone like me who lives in Idaho can give a talk in church in California without having to leave my house! 

We live in amazing times when the Gospel is spreading all over the world. I think COVID (as bad as it is) has opened the door to the preaching of the Gospel in ALL countries. It proved to us that there are no borders and no restrictions as long as we have technology. I think it opened the door to unity like never before. We will probably shortly be teaching many people all over the world through zoom, why not? 

I was talking to one of my friends who serves in the RS general board. She told me that they are now able to do trainings and meetings with relief society sisters all over the world. It does not cost any money and it reaches so many sisters in far away places.

"My ways are not your ways..." the Lord says. He brings butterflies out of an ugly cocoon. He can turn around our hardships into blessings. Someday, He, who calmed the sea of Galilee, will calm our storms. For now, let's stop waiting for the storms to go away, but enjoy the fact that the Son of God, the creator of the world, is on our boat sailing with us.