Sunday, April 14, 2019

Happy Palm Sunday

We just finished the semester and we start back again next Monday. I don't feel that the break is long enough to rest. I still have to set up my classes for next semester.  I loved the comments from my students on the last day of class. "thank you! you really made math fun." and "I didn't think math could be easy!" and my very favorite, "Thank you, you made math bearable!"

I drove down to Pocatello on Friday and gave a fireside. I spent the night with a sweet lady who took me all over Pocatello and showed me around. She took me to the new temple site and to Idaho State University. She showed me pictures of her trip to the holy land back in 1992. That made me very homesick.

I feel really blessed to be able to meet such amazing people who teach me so much. They pay for my trip and also give me amazing gifts. Thank you Anita for an amazing statue. 

On Saturday I spoke to a book group. Heather, below, wants so badly to visit Palestine. I hope she gets to visit soon. I got her book Women of the New Testament as a gift. We signed each other's books. It is interesting because my friend Camille wrote the same book, but they do different approaches I hear. So, I can't wait to read Heather's book.

It was a beautiful day as I drove down to Utah after the book club. I love to see the Utah mountains as they start to show along the way. I do miss the majestic mountains of Utah. If I had enough faith I would be able to move some of those mountains closer to Rexburg. 

I cooked some chicken today and we had dinner at the Gunthers. It is nice to spend time with them and their family while I am in Utah. Tomorrow, I am going to the family history center in Salt Lake City. I saw that they have some old records from my town and wanted to go see if I can find some names for some ancestors. I am not very hopeful, but it is worth a try. I have a friend who is a Palestinian member of the church and he inspired me by how much family history he has done. He even connected some of his family to my neighbors back home (Alshomali). 

I am going to a middle eastern restaurant tomorrow for lunch with my friend Sharon. It's always a blessing when she can find time in her busy schedule to see me. 

John and Lisa showed me today how to get cheap tickets to Amman. I found tickets for $900 in the summer. Now I wish that my green card would come out so I can actually go home. I'm still praying and hoping. But, my brother is visiting in August and I am going to a conference in Colorado, so we will see if that ends up working.

Today is Palm Sunday. And although it is not a big thing here, I know that back home people celebrate this day. I love to reflect on this day because it is one of the few days in the Savior's life where he was actually honored. Where people gathered to welcome him for a change. They shouted for joy and welcomed their king as He entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  Shortly after that, those same people would reject Him and desire that He be crucified.

When the Savior asked His disciples "Whom say ye that I am?", Peter declared "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matthew 16: 16) Then the Savior charged his disciples that they should not tell anyone that he is Jesus the Christ (verse 20). 

He knew His mission was to suffer and die. He actually did not want many to believe him because they may not crucify Him. He wanted to die for us. He willingly gave His life and suffered so that we may not suffer if we repent.

This Palm Sunday, I bear my testimony of Him, just as Peter did. He truly is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He bled and suffered more than anyone can imagine. He willingly gave his hands and feet to those who drove nails in them. He did this for you and me. I love Him and am so grateful for what He has done for me. I can't wait for the day when I kneel and kiss his wounded feet and thank Him for what He has done for me. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

General Conference

I just got back from Utah and I am super tired. But there are so many thoughts on my mind that I wanted to share. 

I continue to be amazed every time I translate for conference. The spirit I feel on temple square and while I listen to and translate talks can't be described. I love this Church and I love our leaders. 
This is also a great time of year to have conference because it is so close to Easter. I love to reflect on the atonement and what the Savior has done for us. 

The thought that came to me today was regarding the parable of the good Samaritan. I don't know why I didn't notice this before. But, the good Samaritan is the Savior and we are the ones who are beaten and left on the road to Jericho with no hope of salvation. It is interesting that the good Samaritan poured oil and wine on the wounds. The Savior did that for us. What better representations of the atonement can we have than this parable? Why did I not notice that before? 
I mean the Savior healed our wounds. He healed them with his. The wine and oil represent the blood he shed for us. Like Sharon Eubank said in her talk, His blood makes us white. It makes no sense for something red to make something white, but it does.

Here is our Arabic translation team:

Our university president, Henry J. Eyring got called as an area authority seventy. I was shocked to hear his name. 

Today while preparing to start translating for conference, we were told that Elder Soares of the Quorum of twelve apostles was going to come and speak to the translators. He kept thanking us and telling us how much he appreciates all the work we do. He said he had to go ordain the newly called seventies before conference, but even though he had no time, he made time to come and be with us for a few minutes. 

If it was not too weird, I would go stand in the parking lot of the church office building after conference so I can meet all the apostles and general authorities. I ran into a few today like Elder Gong and others. 

I really tried to talk to some that I know regarding how fast people speak in conference trying to tell them that we can't translate that fast. 

Speakers need to be allotted a number of words in addition to a number of minutes. I'm going to keep trying to get this problem higher until it gets somewhere. I really feel we lose part of the beauty of the talk when we read every other sentence due to lack of time, or read so fast so it sounds like we are reading.  I would have to say that I am glad Elder Hales is not due to speak again anytime soon because he was doing 180 words a minute. I'm glad I didn't interpret his talk. If we have more like Elder Hales, we may need a new scale where the maximum isn't 180!

I read Elder Christopherson's talk before I went to bed last night. One thing kept coming to my mind: The story the Savior shares about the Lord of the vineyard and that he called people to work in the 11th hour. All night I kept feeling 'this is the 11th hour'. And that there isn't much time before the Savior comes again. I also kept feeling that it is not too late for those who join in now.  They will be rewarded the same even if they serve for a short period.  I don't want to be one of those crazy people that go around preaching that the end is near, but I do feel that we need to be prepared. 

President Nelson said: "Do the spiritual work to find out for yourselves and please do it now. Time is running out." I also heard him quoted more than once from last conference "In the coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding influence of the Holy Ghost."

Here is a link to general conference if you have missed it. Please watch at least part of it. If you are not a member of our church, I invite you to listen to one talk and one song and see how you feel.

Click here for the website where you can listen to conference

I loved walking on temple square. It is spring there! Lucky them. I guess spring started here (sort of). At least my lawn isn't as brown as when I left.

I ran into this amazing lady who I have not seen since our Jerusalem days. Ever since I met her at the Jerusalem center and felt impressed to call her as my counselor in the Relief Society Presidency, I knew that she was an amazing woman. She had a strong faith and determination. Her faith has been tested so many times in the last few months. But, she continues to be strong.