Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Today Is...

Today is an introspective day…

I have been thinking about how Heavenly Father watches over us! I know that this is true 100% and I have countless evidences in my life that I have seen him and heard him and witnessed his love in my life.

Yesterday I went on a bike ride with Antonio. I saw some of the beautiful countryside of Spain. We rode along a dried out river and passed by a heard of goats some of them had bells. I stopped to take some pictures and video of them passing by. It is the strangest thing, but could listen to that heard of goats pass by all day! With the chiming of the bells like a hundred wind chimes in a summers breeze, the “baaahhhing” of the goats, and the marching of the hooves - It was the most beautiful thing!

We rode past a little village and I saw a church steeple and wanted to see it up close. So we switched back and rode through this little town. There were old Abuelas (grandmothers) sitting in the church courtyard conversing and children playing futbol in the streets.

As I rode though this little town I thought of how big this world is, how I ended up in such a magnificent place and how I have the privilege of traveling and wandering into other worlds and foreign places.

As I passed by those little Spanish houses I thought of how absolutely amazing that even though I am from a different place, and speak a different language and was raised in a different religion and have a different culture, etc etc etc. Even with all of the differences I am still connected to these people – because we are all children of God. And He loves us! No matter where we are from or what language we speak or what religion we practice. He loves us! And I find myself in deep gratitude that he is willing to be a part of my life… and not only willing but also he rejoices in being in the intimate details of our lives!

Let me give you an example:

Today is a hard day…

It’s a hard day for my family, especially for my amazing sister. One year ago her baby girl Autumn came into this world for a brief moment and then went back to her Father in Heaven. She texted me today and said, “You sent me a card…did you plan for it to get here today? I honestly didn’t think anyone would remember, thank you.”

My response was, “I think that God planned for you to get it today!”

I have to amend what I said in my response…

I do not “think” I KNOW that it was Heavenly Fathers intention for Emily to receive that card and some extra love today!

Before I left on my travels I felt prompted to write a card to Emily. I felt the need to express to her my love and how amazing she is and that I look up to her so much!

I sent it the day I left, from NYC – That was May 7th.

Emily received the card today – May 28th.

It NEVER takes that long for a card to get from NYC to Provo! Normally she would have received it in the mail 2 weeks ago. But Like I said- this was Heavenly Fathers plan! Through His Holy Spirit He prompted me to write that card weeks ago – so that he could deliver it to her today, when she needed it.

This may seem small- but I think it is hugely important!

Heavenly Father knows us intimately and is TRULY involved in our daily lives!
We just need to look for Him and we WILL SEE HE IS THERE!

Today is a learning day…

I am still learning to not be so hard on myself. I am a perfectionist in some ways; this is a good and a bad thing. I am working on continuing to make it to be just good.

I was reading El Libro De Mormon (the Book of Mormon in Spanish) today. And I started to cry. Ugh! I felt so dumb! Antonio asked me why I was crying. Its cause I as frustrated! I feel like I am in first grade all over again! Having to sound out words letters at a time. Trying to remember that I is E and E is A and A is Ah… and re-learning how to say the alphabet…UGH!!!!

This is REALLY frustrating for me! I know that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I am working on it.

Antonio embraced me and said, “It is hard moving to a foreign country and learning a language!”  (He knows! He has done it 3 or 4 times now)

This experience of coming to Spain and working on learning a new language is a new challenge for me. Yes it is a vacation of sorts… but I am still working. (I am so blessed to have a job that I can take with me wherever I go. Anyway… not only is it a new challenge – it is a BIG challenge!

I love to travel, I love to pick up words here and there and learn about the culture and traditions etc. of new places. But I have always been dependent on my English and grateful for the fact that most places in the world that we can go – I can find someone who I can communicate with in my own tongue at least enough to get by.

Now as I am here and I sit at family dinners and go out to places – I want to be part of the conversation and not have to have everything translated for me!

If you had asked me a few days ago what I feared I don’t know if I could have given you a good answer. But today I feel afraid of looking dumb. I feel afraid of failure.

As I talked to my sweet and wise sister about this today she told me, “It is good to be scared.”  I asked her why? And she responded, “keeps you humble”

Today I am humbled!

Today is also a happy day…

My parents have been married for 32 years!

Wow! I am SO GREATFUL to them for their example of a real live, imperfect, honest, hard working, loving, and adventurous, eternal marriage!

I had a memory come to me today of a time when I was younger and my parents were fighting. My dad came into my room and told me that even though sometimes they fight that he loves my mom more than anything – no matter what.

I am so thankful for my parents and for their love first for each other and also for us kids!

Today is a day to be Thankful!

I am thankful for the range of emotions that I experienced today! For the thoughts it made me think- only some of which I shared in this blog. For the feeling it helped me feel. For the connections it provided me to people that I love and for the Grace and Love that I have and continue to receive from my Father in Heaven!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


(Pictures are coming soon!) 

Saturday May 17th

I AM IN SPAIN!!! Look at my life! I am so incredibly blessed! I know that some people are wondering why in the world I would want to go to Iraq and now what I am doing in Spain.

Well I have told you about Iraq!

So now for Spain:

#1- Two of my very best friends in the whole world are in Spain!
Adam and Antonio! They were 2 of my first friends in NYC and they mean the world to me! They moved to Spain 3 years ago and when the car pulled away as they left me behind in Harlem I said to my friend who was standing there with me: “I feel like ½ of me just drove away.” His response was, “Well actually that would be 2/3rds “ And  I said, “Ugh! That’s MORE than ½!) Needless to say they are a very important part of me! And I have been wanting to come and see them for years now.

My initial idea was to come after I graduated for a few months and learn Spanish…but I realized that I had no money, so I couldn’t make it happenyet.

Not that I really have money now… haha. But that is something that I have learned about life and traveling – there is never enough time and never enough money! If I had waited for the “right time” and “enough money” to come along I would  never had been able to go anywhere and would probably still be in Provo Utah.

Don’t get me wrong- I LOVE Utah! I am just grateful that I have taken some crazy leaps of faith and gone head on to get what I wanted/want.

I get these ideas in my head. Of a place I want to go- or something that I want to do. And then I start talking about it as if it is a reality. Even though I have no idea how I will make it into a reality – I say. “I am going here… and doing this!” I believe that there is GREAT power to our mind set, our attitude and the words that we speak! This applied to many areas of life!

So- I try to make a point of leaving the US once a year… it had been 2 years since I have been able to travel – so it was time! So I got to go to Iraq and now here I am in Spain! I am very thankful that I have an AMAZING job health coaching – that I can do from anywhere – such a blessing! I love my clients and I love my job!

So I would like to share some of my personal goals for Spain... without a lot of detail.
-Learn Spanish (this scares me… but I’m going to do it!)
-Work on Myself
  body (exercise, keep practicing healthy habits)
-Continue to work and support my clients

I may go into more detail about these later on- or give updates on them – but there they are for now.

Today the Marruecos family took me into Granada to walk around downtown. Such a beautiful town! We had a lot of fun!

Sunday May 18th

Antonio and I went to church today.  It is nice to be “home” no matter where I am in the world I have my church family! Of course I didn’t understand much of the talks in Sacrament meeting because it was all in Spanish. But I understand how the meetings run – because it is exactly the same as everywhere else in the world!

Antonio kept me in the loop and would tell me what the speakers were talking about.

I can pick up a few words here and there – but I really need to expand my Spanish vocabulary! Luckily as far as church goes I can get the gist of it – because I already know the doctrine of the gospel.

Sunday school was fun. I was able to follow along a little better. Antonio was the rock star of gospel principles! He knew all of the answers and participated a lot. There were a few people there that realized in class that he is not a member and they were very surprised cause he knew all of the answers! Haha

After Church Anto and I took a walk in a really beautiful park and then we had a picnic lunch that we had packed. We then took a walk through another part of Granada down an avenue that has a lot of statues of people who are important in Granada and Spanish History. Writers, scientists, historians, and even a gypsy.

We took a bus back to Antonios parents and his mom had made dinner, we ate with Mom, Dad and Grandma was there too. We laughed so hard together! I love that even thought I don’t know the language I can still understand things. Plus Anotnio translates a lot for me!

It was a great Sunday!

Monday May 19th

After 2 weeks of traveling I decided it is time to start to put myself into some sort of routine. I have not been exercising – so today was the day to begin again! I did yoga in my room and then went running. Now the trick is to keep it up!

Antonio had school today – I stayed home and caught up on some work and then went to meet up with him in Granada after he was finished with his class.

Adam is in Florida for the next 5 weeks and so there are certain things that I am not allowed to go do and see while he is gone. One of which is going to Alhambra, which is a city with a castle up on the hills of Granada. (The name Alhambra is Arabic for “The Red” because the city is red. Antonio is teaching me all sorts of things about Spanish History. There are a LOT of Arabic influences here. Spain was Roman and then the Arabic took over, then the Queen of England came along….etc. etc.)

So I can see this city/castle walking about in Granada bu we can’t go yet. Yesterday Antonio said, “well we cant go here… or there… but I am going to show you…” So today he took me up to see the Albaizin.  It is a neighborhood of white houses called Carmenes, that are up on the hill and there is an amazing view of the city! It was SO AMAZING! The neighborhood was incredible and I loved it!

There was a young man up there who was selling hand made jewelry that he had made himself.  I talked with him (through Antonio) and he even showed me how he makes his jewelry. He made me a little flower.  So sweet!  He was very nice. I only have American dollars because I have not had the opportunity to exchange my money yet, so I couldn’t get anything from him. But we want to go back and find him again!

We went back to Armilla (which is the town right next to Granada that we live in) and over to Antonio’s parents house for dinner. Mom made really yummy Spanish Tortillas’ which is like a think pancake made from eggs and potatoes.

Antonio’s mom is the epitome of a Spanish mother. Her cooking is amazing and she is sure to know that you have had your fill to eat… plus some! I really love her! Well… I love the WHOLE Marruecos family! They are so great! I am thinking that maybe I can marry Antonio’s little brother Jesus so I can be permanently attached to them all! He is a cuttie! Maaaaaaybe a little young for me though…  is 10 years difference too much? I have heard of crazier things! Haha!

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Rest of Iraq and a Little Bit of Spain

Tues May 13th

I feel SO MUCH BETTER today! Thank goodness! I guess I just needed to sleep for 24 hours. Ugh. I am still sad that I missed out on the trip yesterday, oh well. Such is life!

Last night I knew that there was another voice in the kitchen – but did not know who it was. This morning I met Daliah – she is a student at NYU and is part of the NYU Center for Global Affairs in the peacebuilding program, She is here for the conference and then will stay for an extra 2 months to do work here. It is also really cool because her parents are both from Iraq and she knows Kurdish!

Today was the first day of the Peace Building Conference that brought me to Iraq. It is held in a beautiful facility at the conference center at the University of Duhok.

At first, when we decided to submit an abstract for a paper, we didn’t fully understand what a big deal this conference is! We are so honored that we were chosen to come and participate in this conference! And it is REALLY special that along with being on a panel to present our paper they have allowed for us to have a 90 minute time slot to do an interactive workshop where we will be able to give the participants a taste of what Applied Theatre practices are.

When we arrived at the conference we were given headsets. The whole conference is being translated from Arabic to English and English to Arabic. The translators are pretty awesome they are able to go back and forth between the languages – it is really great that we can bring so many people together to talk about building peace in Iraq. There are many people here who are invested in this country for diverse reasons in their varied specialties.

After the conference Nadia, Michelle, Cooper, Brisa and I went to the Market. We found baby Cooper a stroller – He was so much happier to sit and go around instead of being held or having to walk.

Chai tea is HUGE here in Iraq. EVERYONE drinks Chai. For breakfast, in the middle of the day, after meals, etc.  I noticed in the market that there are men that walk around with a tray and sell tea to the vendors.

They have beautiful tea sets that they use here that are very specific to Iraqi culture. I only drink herbal tea, so I wont have any chai in Iraq. But I want to get a tea set to bring home so I have a special Iraqi gift in my home and I can use it for herbal tea! 

So the tea that is sold to the vendors is brought around in real glass teacups and saucers.  Later on I saw a man walking through the market with an empty try and he was clinking 2 saucers together. He was calling for his cups back. The vendors that had bought tea from him would bring him the cups as he walked by.

I LOVE seeing things like this! The systems that are in place and how things run and work is very interesting to me. It speaks a lot to the culture of the people here. Speaking of…

After the market we went to dinner at a restaurant close to our hotel. Women and families have to eat upstairs and then men eat downstairs. So interesting the cultural differences. Women here in Iraq do not have a public face. You really don’t see them much. At the Market yes- because they are shopping- or going to and from places, but mostly they stay at home. The vendors at the market are all men as well. They women do not work there.

This is another reason why I think that this conference is such an amazing thing! There are quite a few women who are presenting papers both from Iraq and other countries: United States, Pakistan, and England. I think it is especially important that women from Iraq were presenting. There is still a lot of progress to be made, things like women’s rights and gender equality are very slow moving in some cultures. Every woman that goes on to achieve higher education and does things like presents at a conference such as this - I believe that every little step counts!

Nadia Michelle, Brisa, and I worked really hard tonight putting together the presentation for tomorrows panel! I put together the power point. We were up around midnight finishing up. Michelle and Brisa went to bed and Nadia and I went downstairs to the reception desk to ask them if we could print out the speech that Nadia and Michelle would present at the conference the next day.

I have become friends with the guys that work at the front desk of our hotel. One of my FAVORITE parts about traveling is becoming friends with locals! I love talking to people who are from the places that are new to me so that I can learn from them and hear about their cultures and traditions, etc. An interesting thing about this situation is that the few people that I have been able to speak with the most and become friends with are from Syria – They had to leave Syria because of the situation there and have been in Iraq for 1-5 months.

Nadia and I ended up staying down in the lobby talking (through Google Translate) to Jodi and Mohammad til 3:00 in the morning. They were teaching us how to say  words in Kurdish and Arabic. We were going through our phones and looking at pictures and asking how to say things. Nadia had some photos of some pretty random animals. She showed them a picture and they looked at it, they then typed into Google and the translation came up, “Is this a goat?” We laughed so hard. We stayed up very late- but it was such a good time. Nadia also said that it was good for her because she was nervous about the panel and presentation the next day so she would have had a hard time sleeping. I think it was totally worth it!

Wed May 14th 

Conference day 2

Nadia and Michelle presented our paper at the conference today! They did a great job!

After the Conference I went to the market with Nadia and Daliah. This was my last chance to go to the market and get presents for my family and some suveniours.  It was incredibly helpful that Daliah knew Kurdish! She helped me navigate through the market and we had a lot of shopping done in an hour – that would have taken me much longer otherwise. Daliah is such a delight! I think I have found a new best friend! I am really glad that she stayed with us! And I am so excited for her to be back in NYC again so we can hang out!

Alex is another new friend who is also affiliated with NYU and has been a big part of planning and putting together the conference. He has been living in Iraq for the past 6 months and plans to be here for about a year.  He hangs out at an Assyrian social club on a weekly basis and invited a bunch of people to go tonight and get a drink and have some food. On the way there we stopped at another little antique/suveniour shop and I got a really pretty ring!

We had a good dinner and a fun time socializing. I could hear some music going on and asked what it was. Someone said that there was a wedding at the building next door. Nadia and I went to check it out – from a distance. We could hear the music. There were children coming out of the building and playing in the front on the steps, and we could kind of see inside that there were people dancing.

We went back down and then a couple more people decided to go up to see the wedding. So 4 of us went up and one guy walked straight up to the doors to look in. There were some people there attending the wedding and they saw all of us and decided to invite us in. The coaxed us and pulled us into the hall to come and be part of the celebration. They asked us to sit down and then placed plates of fruit, sweets and drinks in front of us and invited us to eat. This was a true show of genuine Kurdish hospitality! This is how the people are in Kurdistan! Very warm and friendly and giving! I was introduced to the groom’s father and he introduced me to his wife. She then pointed out her mother and father and a couple of people handed me their babies to hold.

She then asked me if she could take a photograph with me. I felt a little under dressed for the whole occasion. I was in skinny jeans, V-neck shirt and a cardigan. So there I am getting my picture taken with the mother of the groom who is in a sparkly gown– by the wedding photographer.

This is what I get for being the token blonde girl in Iraq.  I get stared at a lot. You know that game, “One of these things is not like the other”…? Well I am for sure the one that is “not like the others” here!

It was the same for me in India and Rwanda. My blonde Hair, Blue eyes and light skin are an obvious sign that there is a foreigner in the midst. People would ask me if I was American – upon this confirmation they would always have a great big grin and say! You are Welcome here! The Kurdish people love Americans and they express so much happiness that we are here.

We didn’t stay at the wedding for long. It was a little awkward - we really didn’t want to crash the party. We said our thanks and goodbye and headed back down to the Assyrian social club.  We stayed for a little longer but needed to head back to the hotel.

On the way home we went and got Kurdish Ice Cream at a little dessert shop. Daliah was raving about it and said that is was a must try! They had all kinds of sweets, and cakes and Baklava!  I asked the man who worked at the shop what one thing and what his favorite dessert was. He gave us some free samples to try. It was all very good!

We got back to the hotel and did some session planning for our workshop tomorrow. Everyone went to bed and I did some packing and started to prepare to go – we check out tomorrow after the conference and will have to drive back to Erbil to catch a flight that is in the middle of the night/early morning (3:30 am).

I usually travel with some thank you cards/stationary. So that I can write notes to people, somehow I forgot to bring some on this trip.  Actually I discovered that I had no paper at all. I really wanted to write a note to my friend Jodi who works the night shift at the front desk. I looked through all of my things- hoping that maybe I would find something that could work. Then I remembered… right before I left I saw a small travel size copy of the Book of Mormon on my bookshelf. I decided to bring it with me just in case. 

I wanted to give Jodi that Book of Mormon. Of course all of the unsurities and negative voices came into my head about why that may not be a good idea. But all of the reassurances came too. I decided that I would tell him, “This book is very important to me, and I want to share it with you because you are my friend.” I wrote a note in the front cover of the small  book and went downstairs to see Jodi. It was probably 12:30 or 1:00 am by the time I got down there. He greeted me with a smile and asked how I was. I told him that I sadly will be leaving tomorrow – but had something for him. 

I asked him if he believes in God- he said yes! I gave him the Book of Mormon. He was grateful for it and told me that he will take it to study along with his other religious books.

Jodi and I ended up talking all night- with the aid of our smart phones and a translator app we talked about home, family, culture, dating, etc. and had a really really great conversation!
I went back to my room at 7am and got ready for the day. I didn’t even lie down. Kind of crazy yes… but it was an important conversation to have and I am grateful for it!

Thursday May 15th

Conference day 3

We took a Taxi to the University- our driver wasn’t the most assuring when it came to directions. We went to the University in a very round about way. But we made it!

Our Workshop today went SO WELL! We had a pretty good turn out – as far as attendance goes. About 20 or so participants. Some were there for part of the time, others where able to sty the whole 90 minutes! We also had a translator for our session. There were some theatre students that came and were able to be a part of our workshop.  

I am very proud of the work that we did!

After our workshop we went to a couple more panels and then had lunch. Brisa and I left conference a little bit early so that we could go to the market and then pack and get ready to go.

I wanted to run back to the market to show Brisa this really cool section that Daliah and I had discovered that Brisa had not seen yet. I also wanted to make an exchange and this was my only chance! I bought a tea set and the vendor gave me the wrong saucers for my cups. We got that sorted and had a nice quick trip back to the market! Mission accomplished! I got the right saucers for my tea cups! Let me know if you would like to come over for some tea friends! I will bust out my new pretty Iraqi tea set!

There was a special closing dinner arranged for the conference tonight. There were certificated handed out- complete in a fancy “University of Duhok” diploma holder.

We went back to the hotel to get our bags and left Duhok at 10:30.
Brisa and I rode in a Cab- we couldn’t fit all of us and all of our bags into the car that Tom and Michelle rented – so we needed more space. Plus this way we were sure to not get lost! Remember the whole no maps/ no GPS / No harry potter dot thing?!
I was so tired! I was in and out of sleep most of the 2.5 hour drive back to Erbil.

Tonight bleeds into the early morning hours of…

Friday May 16th

We Got to Erbil Airport at 1:30am.
Our Flight left at 3:30 am

We Landed in Istanbul at 6:30 am – Tom and Michelle went on their way to catch their next flight to JFK. I had a 4 hour layover and Brisa had an 8 hour layover – so we got to keep each other company until I had to go and catch my connecting flight to Spain.

While we waited we got internet connection and I was able to facetime with my mom and dad (who are in California) and update facebook and send out some texts and emails to let friends and family know that the traveling is going well.

My facebook status update said:

Once again in Istanbul on a layover. This time headed to Granada Spain. I miss Iraq already - my new friends and will always cherish the amazing experiences I had there. #abouttocry #whydoialwayscryinIstanbul

It is hard to explain the emotions that I was feeling during that layover. On the way to Iraq I cried in Istanbul. Because I found myself at the climax of a LOT of emotion.

Parts of those emotions are from the fact that I love people! Because of that part of my personality sometimes I find people that I am able to connect with on a deeper level. When this happens it is really hard to say goodbye, and very hard to leave them! Especially when I do not know what will happen to that relationship once we are apart or when I will see them again. I am filled with a lot of emotions and thoughts – there is a lot of thinking and processing to do!

My flight left Istanbul at 9:40 a.m. and I Landed in Malaga Spain at 1:30 p.m.

It's a 2 hour bus ride to Granada. There is a bus at 16:00 that on the Internet said it was full- I am going to try to get on it. If I cannot then I have a ticket for the 18:30 bus.


I made it to the airport and waited for the bus to come. Just before 16:00 the bus to Granada came- I asked the driver if I could take this earlier bus – he said that I could not switch… even with paying the difference in the ticket prices.

At this point I just wanted to go! So I just paid the bus fair and got on! It wasn’t very expensive anyway- and it was going to be worth not having to wait!

I arrived in Granada, but I had not had the chance to tell Antonio that I got on the earlier bus. At the bus terminal there was a little computer room that you could pay to use the computer. So I got on for 15 minute and luckily Adam had sent me Antonio’s phone number – I was able to find a pay phone and call him and tell him I was already there!

Antonio was just finishing at school- so his mom and dad came to pick me up and greeted me with big hugs and kisses! We picked up Antonio from school! When he jumped into the car we exchanged hugs and kisses and I started to cry. Oh my goodness! Why am I such a baby!? I told you… SO MANY EMOTIONS! Haha…It is so good to see my Antonio again!

We brought my things to our apartment – HA! Our apartment! YOU GUYS!!! I AM LIVIGN IN SPAIN!!! This is so CRAZY! HAHAHA!!! Adam and Antonio put together my room for me! It is a beautiful apartment and I am so happy to be here!

Antonio’s  family lives just down the street – we walked over for dinner. Silvia and Jesus were there and we all had dinner together! Oh Sweet Spainish – I have a LOT of learning to do!

So YES! I am Here! In SPAIN!!! Ready to get settled in and learn some Spanish! Wish me luck! I will be updating and hopefully adding photographs soon! (at least to facebook) I like these blog posts to have photographs in them SO MUCH MORE than just words!


Monday, May 12, 2014

Another update from Iraq

May 11th

Happy Mother's Day to my amazing mother!!! I stayed up late and got to FaceTime with my mom last night. It was still Saturday for her - but it was Sunday for me so that counts! Plus she is going on a motorcycle trip to California with my dad in Sunday so It was a good time for me to interrupt their gardening and say hello and I love you all the way from Iraq!

Our other team mate Nadia arrived early this morning. She got in at 6:30 - we chatted for a while and then all went back to sleep. 

Around noon we went to the market - at the market we saw women with strollers. Michelle thought it would be a good idea to get one for Cooper. I asked a group of woman if we could find one there at the bizarre. One of the women (the one in the group that knew English) said that she was from SanDiego! Ha! Very cool! The pointed us in the right direction - we went down an isle and turned a corner and looked up a staircase.... There was LOTS of baby stuff up there. We did find cooper a stroller! He was much happier riding along instead of being held or walking. And he kept saying, "thank you! Thank you!" 

I don't think that I can adequately describe how large the bizarre is... And really you can find EVERYTHING there! You just have to know where to look. Things are kind of groups together... And really you can find EVERYTHING there! It is a huge market! 

We had lunch out at a restaurant. We ordered A LOT of food! Not on purpose. But the portion sizes were much more than what we thought they would be. We thought that we were ordering 1 kebab each and they came back with 4 each. Plus all of the appetizers- salad, soup and flat bread, sheesh! 

Michelle and her husband Tom and their son Cooper went to meet up with a friend of theirs and have dinner. Back at the hotel Brisa Nadia and I hung out and talked... We felt a little like we were waiting for something- but there was really nothing to wait for, just sat and talked and waiting... For nothing. And used the internet on and off when it was working. 

I have found myself in my head a lot today. Michelle actually asked me if I was mad at her. That happens when I get into my head - people think that something is wrong or that I am upset- cause it's not my usual MO. But I am fine... Just a lot of thinking and processing about a lot of stuff. That happens when you travel! I was talking to my friend Alex about that! He said: "Life is always evaluated when your traveling." That is very true for me. Lots of life evaluation happening here! 

It was a pretty laid back day- it's nice to have our whole team here (with the acceptation of Lili who sadly couldn't join us for this trip - miss you Lil!) 

Monday May 12th 

Last night I was starting to feel queasy. Kind of like that car sick feeling. Except for I was just sitting in our living room.

I woke up at about 5 am and threw up. 

I woke up again at about 9 am and threw up again. At this point people were heading down to breakfast and getting ready to go on an excursion that we had planned for today to go to Amadiya. 

Tom and Michelle told is all about this place. Because we are here for the conference and to work we don't have much time to do touristy things and see some of the incredible places that there are to see in this beautiful country. But we had today to be able to visit Amadiya. 


Here is a little bit of information from Wikipedia about Amadiya: 

Amadiya (Kurdish: Amêdî, also spelled "Amediyah", "Amadia", "al-Amadiyah" or other variations), is a small Assyrian and Kurdish town along a tributary to the Great Zab in the Dahuk Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan.[1] The town is perched on a mountain, formerly only accessible by a narrow stairway cut into the rock. The history of this city goes back to 3000 years B.C. to the time of ancient Assyria, since it has always been a strategic place as it is built on the flat top of a mountain. For several centuries, after the expulsion of the caliphs from Baghdad, it was ruled by a pasha, a prince who was from the royal Abbas family, reputed to be one of the richest rulers in the region.[2] Amedi was the seat of the semi-autonomous Badinan Emirate, which lasted from 1376 to 1843.

>>>>>>>>>>>> (this for me is the coolest part!!!!) 
The region in which the city rests is also believed to have been the home of the Magi or priests of Ancient Persia. Amedia is believed to be the home of some of the most significant Magi priests, the Biblical Magi or the "Three Wise Men", who made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to see Jesus Christ shortly after his birth.[3]

There are also ruins from the Assyrian era and ruins of a synagogue and a church in the small town. At the turn of the 19th century, the population already numbered 6,000, of whom 2,500 were Kurds, 1,900 Jews and 1,600 Assyrians. [4]

Although Amedia is just 10 1⁄2 miles (16.9 km) from the Turkish border across the Beshesh Mountains, the only border crossing into Turkey is now at Ibrahim Khalil border on the road Amedia - Dohuk - Zakho, 56 miles (90 km) away. There was formerly a border crossing at Habur. Proximity to the border means that at the current time, the Turkish army has an unofficial military presence within the town, despite being deep within the Autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq. The city is situated 4,600 feet (1,400 m) above sea level. It is 1,100 yards (1,000 m) long and 550 yards (500 m) wide. It houses 6,000 citizens in almost 1,200 houses.[citation needed]

Amedia has a well-integrated community of Assyrians and Kurds that share the city and local social events.


Also check out the link to see a couple pictures:

Tom told us that is is quite the site to see as you Sri e up it looks like the city is floating - plus to go and see the place that might have been where the 3 wise men traveled from! plus to go and see the place that might have been where the 3 wise men traveled from! 
Needless to say I was excited to go and see Amadiya. 

But I felt sick. 

This happened in Rwanda - we were going on an excursion to Lake Kivu and I was not feeling well that morning. I had decided to suck it up and went anyway and was glad that I did. 

This time around I just didn't think that I could stomach a 2 hour bus ride (each way). I stayed in bed... And slept ALL DAY. 
I have not slept that long in a looooooong time. My whole body was sore and my stomach hurt. 

They got back from Amadiya at about 4:00 and went off to the market. I tried to get up and see if I could go but still was not up to it. I went back to bed. 

They all got back and cooked dinner. I was in and out of sleep. I could smell the dinner that they were making - I knew that it was supposed to be a good smell- something that I would usually enjoy and be happy about- but dinner did not smell good to me. I stayed in bed going in and out of sleep and chatting with a couple friends online as my internet went in and out. 

I got up after everyone else went to bed and took a shower. 

It's 1:30 am now. 

I don't feel like throwing up any more which is good! I think it was some kind of 24hour flu that I got. I am really sad that I was stuck in bed all day today... But I am hoping that I will feel all better tomorrow. The conference starts in the morning! My team presents at a panel discussion on our paper on Wednesday and we have our workshop on Thursday. 

I think that I may be hungry.... But food has absolutely no appeal to me right now. I think that I am going to go back to sleep now and pray that tomorrow my body will feel strong again in the morning. pray that tomorrow my body will feel