Elder Early and Elder Wright (the Zone Leader)
Elder Adams (our District Leader) and Elder Marshall
As we stepped out of our apartment Tuesday morning to take our usual early morning walk, we had no idea that one of us wasn’t going to be walking that day. In front of our apartment there are a row of garbage cans. We noticed that the neighborhood dogs had been foraging in the garbage cans and had left a mess of scattered paper, tin cans and wet garbage strewn around the entrance to our apartment building. The garbage cans are only partially protected by a covered enclosure which is open on the front but has a big heavy steel hinged cover. Elder Johnsen opened the lid and stooped down to set upright the overturned garbage can and as he stood up the heavy steel lid decided to come down and caught Elder Johnsen on the corner of his left eye brow, then hit his shoulder before settling in its customary closed position. The heavy blow caused Elder Johnsen to stagger around, and Sister Johnsen tried to hold him up. Immediately a HUGE bump appeared on the left side of his forehead, and just above his eye. But did he swear? He did not! Sister Johnsen continued her walk while Elder Johnsen went back to the apartment to apply an ice pack. By the time Sister Johnsen was back from her walk Elder Johnsen thought he had been cured. The bump was down and he had only a small abrasion and a sore shoulder. But now everyone is asking him how he got the black eye. He just says, “You should see the other guy”. Elder Johnsen is quite the walking wounded guy, his right ear is still plugged and now everyone in the branch is jokingly asking if Sister Johnsen punched him out.
We were also surprised this past week when President Mecham closed Ngaraard and moved Elder’s Adam and Marshall down to Meyuns. This has been a big blessing to us because we now have another set of hands to not only help find our lost members in that area, but also make follow-up visits and re-teach them. We have found so many members that we’ve been wondering how we were going to be able to get all the work done that we need to do. But as usual, the Lord knows what we need and has provided the answer to our prayers. We spent about 2 hours going over the names of the members that we’ve found in the Elder’s new area, and also the names of the members that we hadn’t actually met; during their first week in the area they were able to make contact with five of those “lost” members, and also set up a lot of appointments to teach nonmembers and less active members alike.
After searching for a couple weeks we were finally able to track down a 26 year old woman who was still listed on the branch roster as being at home with her less active mother but in reality has established a household of her own. When we walked up to her house we heard a man singing church hymns. Then we noticed that he was in a bed in the summer kitchen. The young woman told us he was paralyzed. Sister Johnsen asked this sister what her favorite hymn was and she surprisingly said, “God be with you, till we meet again.” So we asked her if we could sing it to her and to the paralyzed uncle of her husband, and she said yes. Sister Johnsen sang solo on the verses, and I came in with harmony on the chorus. It was a sweet experience for both of us and also we hope for both of them. We were surprised that this sister knew the name of a hymn and even sang along with us.
Elder Wright, our zone leader, told an inspiring story in District meeting this past week. While he was studying the Book of Mormon he felt a prompting that he should re-read Alma 36. That’s where Alma testifies to his son Helaman of his conversion by an angel. We love that chapter because it a beautiful example of the Hebrew poetic form called Chiasmus. Dutifully, Elder Wright re-read the chapter, but couldn’t see why he would feel impressed to read it. Later that day, while Elder Wright and Early were teaching, he felt prompted to change what they had planned and pick up the book of Mormon and read Alma 36 with the investigator. He said that as they read together they all felt the Holy Ghost in a strong and affirming way testify that what Alma so beautifully wrote was true. As he related the story we all felt edified and enlightened as he testified of the great value of following the spirit in our teaching. He then read the following scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants 100: 4-8. “Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls. Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.” It is incredible to us how these scriptures come alive as we immerse ourselves in this work. And often surprising what will happen when you just listen and follow the inspiration you receive.
Every Sunday night we are surprised that another week has gone by, and that we have been in the mission field almost four months. There is always so much to do and we are very surprised at the overwhelming feeling of joy that surrounds this work that we do and the happiness we feel at being in Palau and being able to serve the Lord here.
What will the new week bring??? We just expect the unexpected!