Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Raffa continued

Since meeting her... Raffa called me often, came to the Christmas concert (which is for another post..) and had us over for dinner twice. She called us her sisters- and my heart screamed out, "YES YES! If only I could tell you how true that is!! We are literally sisters!!". She brought us so much happiness and taught me through example more of how I want to be. She amazed me with her thoughtfulness, meekness, humility.. her ability to raise 5 kids so well AND go to school full time! She demonstrated true devotion to her God and lived the laws of Islam with sincerity and humility.

The night before we left.... I was at dinner... and was suddenly HIT with a very distinct impression of the words in my mind, "CHECK YOUR PHONE." I dropped everything and SPRINTED downstairs... feeling that it had to do with Raffa. I looked at my phone at there were 5 missed calls from Raffa. When I called her back, she said she had been at the gate for 30 minutes trying to get in to see us one last time. I didn't know she was coming, but the Spirit allowed me another opportunity to see her. I sprinted up to the 8th floor and ran out to the gate to find her, Hala, and her husband all in the car waiting to see us!!

Words can't express how sweet and tender the feelings were between us this night. She had brought us trays of baklava to bring home to our families...

and as we hugged kissed goodbye... we tearfully acknowledged that without a doubt... the Lord had ensured our acquaintance and that our friendship would always last. I am so grateful to have the blessing of meeting, being with, and learning from Raffa and her family. They brought so much love and bliss to my Holy Land experience. The essence of the warmth and love of the Palestinian people were perfectly exemplified by her.

Nursing continued...

This was Lutfi from Bethany- a sweet and gentle man. I commented on how good his english was- and he finally wispered to me, "I am secretly a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. I speak english with my brothers in Christ in a prayer room every week. This is how I become so good in english. Are you Christian? Oh I love my Jesus. Hallelujah!" We then had a bond tightly knit in the Savior. I was only able to tell him that I was Christian too and from then on he called me "his sister in Christ." I loved that and felt very much that he was my brother. I invited him to our Christmas concert and he enthusiastically asked, "Are they songs about our Lord?!!!" I confirmed, and he responded that he wouldn't miss it for anything!!

This is Muhammed- one of my favorite dialysis patients. He was 20 and a very sociable young man, but again, he spoke about as much english as I did arabic. By the end, we had nearly perfected the art of cherades and were very good friends. I also invited him to our Christmas concert... and after a while... once we worked out what I was saying... he eagerly agreed to come.

These were Sabrin and Mya- very little, happy, and helpful nurses at the mother baby hospital, Red Crescent.

My favorite native friend that I made here was a nurse midwife student at the Red Crescent hospital, Raffa. Michele and I were accidently on the wrong assigned floor for half of our shift and met this darling woman who spoke beautiful english. She glowed with charisma, strength, and joy. She told me that her name meant "happiness"- and that's just what she is. She is 36 with 5 kids and looks like she a single 23 year old. She says that her "secret" is food and laughter!! We loved each other from the beginning and became instant friends. We ate lunch together and I freely asked her questions about life as a muslim woman. She had much to tell and we had SO much in common. I loved finding common ground with her on modesty, chastity, motherhood, prayer, and love and worship of God. She gave me her information and invited me to their home for dinner.

Going to Raffa's home for dinners were some of the ultimate highlights of my whole experience. Being under her hospitality was a great honor- and she was an incredible hostess. I was sure take good notes on all the Palestinian hospitality that I experienced in the Holy Land- they truly love to take care of you!! Meeting Raffa's awesome husband and beautiful children was so exciting- by the end they made Anna, Michele, and I feel like part of the family! Her husband Abrim studied Veterinary medicine in Italy for 11 years and speaks Hebrew, Italian, and Arabic and understands most english and can make good conversation. Her daughters were the cuttest dark eyed and curly haired girls you'll ever meet!

Dana gave us all makeovers. - for free even! :)

This family is SO put together, loving, smart, and fun. I felt very comfortable in their home and was pained to part every time.

Monday, December 21, 2009


Well... I'm on a blogging roll.... no stopping me now!!

This would not be a complete account without telling of my nursing tales.

Some of my most meaningful, impactful, and memorable experiences have been in the hospitals. Often they weren't specific or drastic events that touched me- but simply the atmosphere, the countenances and auras of the sweet and beautiful Palestinian people I was blessed to be with.

Children of Palestine have forever reserved a cherished place in my heart. They are so beautiful- with their dark skin, hair and penetrating brown eyes. I want a brown eyed baby so bad!! :) Being with these children brought so much love and appreciation to me. Looking into their eyes taught me so much more about the Savior as they are some of the ones closest to Him.

This room of women cracked me up! We came in to take their childrens vital signs.. and I looked up to see them flocked around us- facinated and very excited about these American girls with blue eyes!! They spoke just about as much arabic as they did English... but they sure tried their hardest to talk to us! We ended just laughing, smiling, hugging and kissing each other- very happy to meet each other even if we could hardly speak a word to each other. Sweet and dear women. :)

Oh little Muhammed!!

final Galilee entry- I promise!

Can't ever get enough sunset pictures here...

Yoga at sunset in Galilee...

Could it have been any better?

We also went to Mt. Carmel

where Elijah called down fire from the heavens and dominated the prophets of Baal. It was awesome to be where such an incredible event and miracle took place.

Yet, I think my favorite part about that experience was being able to listen to different preachers tell the story and testify of the truth in all their different languages, words, and fashion. At all of these sites- it is so wonderful to be surrounded by fellow Christian pilgrams that also know and love our Redeemer. I love all hymns by so many people of many places, colors, languages, and traditions that praise the Lord. It is so beautiful to witness worship and devotion in this Holy Land.

We had the great pleasure of going to the restaurant and feasting on a traditional Galilean meal....

....it's all about the "experience"-right?

On our way back, we stopped in Haifa... a much needed and very significant stop for my friend Angie Clark and I.

Here in Haifa my relative John Clark was buried. He is a significant character in the history of the church in the Holy Land. He is a big part of the reason that the church is able to have a center in Jerusalem and that the BYU program is there. He was the first missionary to the Holy Land in 1893 and died there of smallpox. I read all of his letters home to his parents throughout his mission and got to share his story with my classmates in the cemetery.

John told his father, Ezra T. Clark, that he would give up all of his inheritance if he would be supported during his education and mission. He LOVED the gospel and was SO excited to preach the gospel to the world. His letters were beautiful- he was faithful and obedient and anxious to do the Lord's work. As I was telling my class about him... another group started singing, "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go."- my dad's favorite hymn. These traits of John and that specific song are so dear to me- especially right now as I am dying to serve a mission and am striving to "give up my inheritance" and do everything possible to go. I was immersed in the Spirit, and inspired to follow John's legacy. I was again reminded of the good name of Clark that I bear. I felt close to John- like I knew him personally. I think it was because I could see the prominate and honorable Clark traits such as hard work, perserverance and faithful obedience that I've always been taught- in the story of his life.

I want to live up to the name of Clark- to be like John- to give up my life from all to small ways to be an instrument and allow the Lord's work to come through me and to help build the Kingdom of God.

Even more Galilee!!...

The sunsets there were unbeatable. Oh my heart hurts just looking at this.

Akko was another beautiful place. It was a port on the shore of the Mediterranean and was where Napoleon was defeated and where Paul passed through on his way to Jerusalem. It is filled with Crusader buildings now inhabited by a Palestinian community.

Anna could tell you better... but we went to the Galilee branch in Tiberias. It was a house converted into a chapel with a beautiful view onto the Sea of Galilee.

It was a small, humble place with a powerful and sweet Spirit. People from all over the world with many languages gather there. You could taste Zion in that little building- that all were unified in Christ.

In a place that provokes such deep and genuine gratitude... it was a perfectly fitting that we celebrated thanksgiving there. We stayed on a little Kibutz in bungalos on the shore of the sea. The Israeli workers of the Kibutz wanted to recognize and celebrate our american thanksgiving. They wanted to honor our traditions... but rather... they started my new and future traditions.

We were surprised to walk into the dinning hall and see red white and blue decorations. Apparently... these Israelis had 4th of July and Thanksgiving meshed into one. I found it very fitting- I am grateful for America. :)

As we were marvelling at the decorations... the lights suddenly went out.... and out came....

Sparkling turkies!!

I will forever put sparklers in my thanksgiving turkey. :)

We went to Mt. Tabor- known as the Mt. of Transfiguration.
We sang "High on a Mountain Top" - a hymn written by my ancestor Joel Hills Johnson- a very special song for my family. I thought a lot about my family- especially my sweet father as we sang. I am constantly reminded the honor in my heritage and the examples that I have been blessed with.

As we sat on the Mt. of Transfiguration and read about the apostles recieving the priesthood and the sacred events that took place on this mount, I was filled with reverence and a deeper love and understanding of the Priesthood. All the brothers with the Priesthood stood together and sang, "Ye Elders of Israel".

It was so simple, beautiful and true.

All of it.

I love Galilee.