Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Week in the Life of Elder and Sister Johnsen (#9)

*A SPECIAL NOTE WITH THIS BLOG! If you make it all the way through this blow by blow, you are very tenacious! We promise never to give you all the details again!

Monday was our preparation day. We were worried that the store wouldn’t have power so we wanted to finish our shopping before 10:00. We skyped family members, and even got in a couple sets of tennis before our day was over. (the tennis court left a little to be desired; Sister Johnsen says that is an understatement.) Before the power went out we visited Walter who gave us the scoop on the power plant fire—while he’s retired he previously was an operator at the power plant so he knows quite a bit about the inner workings of the plant.

We spent the remaining part of the evening calling members on the phone (or trying to call them). Those without phones, we tried to look them up on Facebook. There are 85 names on the rolls that the active members don’t know. About 20 of those have phone numbers listed. So far most of those are NOT in service or the person who answers at that number doesn’t know the person we’re looking for. So we’re trying to find them and it’s not easy. We’re having a heck of a time getting the address of members who have left these islands for the states. We have leads, we call those leads, they promise to get back with us when they get the off island member’s address but so far only one person has actually called us back. In some cases the off island member has an email address but our emails to them have also gone unanswered. Are we discouraged, NO!

Today we were back at the high school helping Bro. Carlson with the drama section of his English class. There was no power at the HS until 10:00 a.m. (when ours goes off theirs go on, I guess). It was a relief when the fans came on—the two AC units in his class room are broken so in the best case it’s super hot in his 2nd floor class room. He seemed to be pleased with some of the individual help that we gave the students as they make plans for their “movie” project. It’s fun for Sister Johnsen and I to talk about drama since we’ve both been interested in it for most of our lives.

After we came back from lunch at our hot apartment (we cooked grilled cheese sandwiches on our butane stove). Bro. Carlson came out to tell us that school had been canceled because there was NO water and the toilets wouldn’t flush. So we went over to the library where Sister Johnsen picked up a couple more books while I looked at the local newspaper to find out about the power outage.

In the afternoon we tracked down Mary, a member where the phone number I reached was working and where the person who answered actually knew who I was talking about. His instructions on how to find Mary’s place was good enough that we drove right to it. Mary got married 6 years ago to a Palauan, they have 2 children. I was actually able to get their marriage date from the courthouse,( they’re getting to know me pretty well at the courthouse, ha) because Mary couldn’t actually remember her actual marriage date. We made a return appointment for Thursday to bring them some popcorn, which the kids have never tasted, her marriage date, and hopefully some information about her brothers who are still on Yap.

We also visited Ida a couple times to pick up some cuttings. We finally made it home about 5:00 and had just enough time to finish dinner and some of the dishes before the power went out at 6:00 p.m. Jon Hulme has agreed to be our remote accompanist so today Sister Johnsen copied a bunch of music and we dropped it in the mail to him, he’s going to record the accompaniment on a CD which we’ll use for practice and performance. Lucky for us these evenings when the power is off we have lots of work we can do on the computer—my lap top has a good battery and the dial-up works since the usb modem is powered by the computer, so as long as the phone service is up we’re good to go.

Our computer project today was to make an excel file record of the hymns that can be played on the player piano/organ. Not all the hymns are loaded on it. In our last set of Sunday meetings twice the person conducting choose a hymn that was not available. So Sister Johnsen and I thought that it would be good for us to choose the music which goes with the theme of the meetings but since we only have about 160 hymns to choose from it would be good to get that recorded on a usable file.

At 12:20 we were back over at the high school to help Bro. Carlson with his 3rd period class (which was canceled yesterday do to having no water at the school). The power outage has impacted lots of things. At 1:00 we had district meeting then at 2:30 Sister Johnsen had a piano lesson with a woman in the branch, Esmeralda. While she was doing that I went with the elders to find Alfred Ham, a Yapese member who we heard about from Mary but who is not on our branch rolls. After talking to his wife Connie and meeting their little daughter Abby I went back to the church and requested their records. There is so much work that needs to be done to get these records straightened out.

We also had the elders show us were Caron lived so we could talk to her granddaughter about music lessons, we had a great visit and Sister Johnsen arranged a lesson for this coming Saturday morning. (while the power is still on) We then stopped at PNCC to pick up a new phone book (which they didn’t have) and then went to the Ben Franklin store to find a lost member who we got a lead might work there. She has left their employment, but happily, by talking to a couple of the workers there, we found that she is working at the $1.99 store. So we’ll try there tomorrow. Since there’s not much we can do making visits when the power is out.

We went home and cooked our dinner on our little butane stove and ate at the table with our little headlamps illuminating our meal. Sister Johnsen said that in her wildest dreams she never did see us doing that on our mission. Another funny thing happened today, Sister Johnsen, wore her crocks, but since it was dark (power out) when we left the apartment she put on one brown shoe and one black shoe and wore them like that all day.

Sister Johnsen is such a bull dog. This morning we traveled to Airai, which is about 8 miles up the road to visit Sister De Leon. She’s a long time active member now in a wheel chair who had reared an active family which includes several returned missionaries. After leaving a spiritual message we asked her about some “members” on our rolls who were unknown to the missionaries and the branch leadership. One name in particular, Henciana Harold. While she knew she was in Airai she gave us the names of several people who might know more.

After leaving and making several calls on the cell phone we finally talked to Sister De Leon’s daughter who didn’t know where she lived but knew where her non member husband worked. It took us another 30 minutes to track that down. By then it was lunch time, and I was ready to take a break but NOT Sister Johnsen. Undaunted we continued until we found him up, asked about his wife and where he “stayed”. Since he was on his lunch hour he had us follow him to his house where we had a great visit with Henciana. Sister Johnsen gave her a lesson, we obtained her phone number and GPS coordinates. Another lost sheep is found!

After lunch we tried to track down the member who previously worked at the Ben Franklin store. They told us she was now working at the 1.99 store, but when we went there they told us she had moved to the states. Now we’re back to square one—next step is to see if we can contact her family members (hopefully they have a phone, none of whom are members) to see if they have an address for her so we can transfer her records. Sister Johnsen did find some fabric for new curtains which she began working on last night. We also spent about 2.5 hours picking the music for sacrament meeting—we made it thru the month of May 2012. Our goal is to help our branch presidency become more organized administratively so they will feel like they have the time to minister to their congregation.

We spent the morning looking up names and getting our list organized for our visit to Carsala in the afternoon. After a nourishing grilled cheese sandwich we headed out. Carsala as usual was a fount of knowledge concerning the people that we were trying to find. She took four names on our list and agreed to try to get their off island addresses so we can send their records. She also gave us leads on where we could find some other folks. One of them wasn’t home when we visited (blue house).

We had difficulty finding the beauty parlor where the Filipino lady Nimpha Ramos worked, we stopped at Mariam’s place and she got in the car with us and we finally found a man who knew of Sister Ramos so we went to that location but she didn’t work there anymore but we got another lead. By that time it was time for us to gather some things for our party and hurry home before the power went out so we could cook. After the power went out we spent another 2 hours on the branch sacrament meeting planner and nearly completed picking all the music to go with the theme of all our 2012 sacrament meetings.

At 7:50 Bro. Hibbard arrived and we visited by flashlight until the power came on at 8:00. About 8:15 Geoff and Ida Ewing arrived and we spent the next 2 plus hours visiting. During the course of our discussion Bro Hibbard told us the story of the death of one of his brothers. The story was that he was born in the Las Vegas area during the atomic testing (both of his brothers have died of early deaths associated with cancer which could have been caused by their exposure to radiation when they were young. )

Mitch’s brother had just completed a regimen of radiation and chemo for his cancer when he was exposed to antibiotic resistant staph infection. His condition quickly declined as his abdomen filled with fluid (Mitch said that they ended up draining 7 quarts of fluid before his death). Soon his brother was on life support but the doctors said that there was no hope for him. So with the family gathered, including his brother’s young son, they pulled the plug. Suddenly, Mitch’s brother awoke from his coma sat up and had a 5 minute conversation with the family telling them where his son should stay, and giving them other instructions about his affairs all the time telling them that “they” were here to take him, and he kept pointing to the ceiling and asking if they could see “them”. Then after that 5 minute of complete alertness he fell back into his bed and within a minute was dead. What we teach about life after death IS true!

This morning we arose early to do our usual Saturday laundry, we wanted to finish before the power went out. At 8:00 there was a church cleaning project so I thought I’d help with that (and I was glad I did since there were very few people that came). Sister Johnsen arrived at 9:00 to do a piano lesson with Carein a very cute and talented 9 year old. After the lesson was over Sister Johnsen joined in the cleaning fun. We ended up leaving the church after 12:00. After another grilled cheese sandwich lunch I rested while Sister Johnsen worked (one of us must have worked harder cleaning than the other).

We then headed back to the church to gather additional info. From MLS on some of the members for which we’re looking. We got back just in time to finish cooking dinner before the power went out again. The elders came over and helped us finish our dinner. While the power was out we also completed work on the branch sacrament meeting planner which I’ll give to the branch presidency tomorrow in branch presidency meeting. We heard back from Jerry Saka, a name we found in the phone book who we thought might be related to Edmond Saka, a member on our branch records who we believed had moved from Palau. Jerry confirmed Edmond’s move and actually had his address in Aurora, Il. So tomorrow I’ll send his record out. Success after a ½ dozen phone calls trying to reach Jerry. Tonight we also printed some pictures and driving instructions for some of the members which we visited.

Sunday is a particularly busy day and this one was not exception. I was up at the church at 7:30 to get ready for our 8:00 a.m. presidency meeting. I wanted to have copies of the sacrament meeting planner printed for the branch presidency, also make copies of our branch council and presidency agenda. Neither of the counselors arrived on time so pres. Kesolei and I ran the callings list to make sure it was up to date.

Sister Johnsen and I were only able to stay in the Koror branch sacrament meeting until 9:45, because the zone leader is in Guam for a zone leaders conference I was asked to accompany elder Roco to our group meeting that meets south of here and speak. Sister Johnsen prepared a beautiful musical number which really brought the spirit into the meeting. After our one hour service, Sister Johnsen and I walked up the hill to visit with a member family who we wished would had come to the meeting. We then traveled back to Koror and finished out our meetings there.

At 2:00 when the power came back on we were back at the branch building for a music practice with Eric Carlson, Madishar, Sister Johnsen and myself, For the beauty of the earth. Sister Johnsen was forced into the unaccustomed role of singing alto, but I’m thinking our little group will perform well. At 3:00 we had a PEC meeting and at 4:00 branch council. These poor leaders here, they have so little support in their presidencies. It’s hard for us to see why we wondered during our first week here what we’d have to do. There is so much to do!

We were home at 5:30 just in time to make dinner before the power went out. This power outage we were introduced to a new problem, our water stopped working. So we were forced to wash our dishes in emergency purified water which the Hansen’s had stored. But all is well about 9:00 the water was back on and I could refill the water bottles. The elders, came over and hung out after all their appointment had concluded. We have a good time laughing with them. Sister Carlson brought over some fresh baked wheat bread that was awesome! I’ve noticed that I’m getting plenty of calories in my diet just not many vegetables. (although Sister DeLeon did give us a bunch of bananas fresh off her tree and I ate them all week, that counts as part of the 5 servings of fruit and vegetables right?)

1 comment:

  1. It might seem too detailed to you, but I am eating it all up. I really like knowing what your daily life consists of because it helps me to feel like I am connected to your experience!! Make sure mom spends some time writing blog posts too-- it good for us to hear her insights and thoughts and musings about what is going on!! Please keep up the great work and keep us informed! I check your blog every day to see if you have written! Love you both.