After having such a great Christmas last week and meeting about 25 “new to us” members of the church, we had a slow start this week because Sister Johnsen didn’t feel well on Tuesday, and couldn’t quite leave her bed. Fortunately, Elder Johnsen had so much Branch Clerk and Executive Secretary paper work to do that he was busy the entire day. At least one of us was working.
We have been asked to do a 15 minute presentation at the Senior Conference that is held in Guam every six months. This one is January 15-17th. Each couple gets an opportunity to talk about the work in their area, and so we have been putting together some ideas for our presentation.
Because it felt like we were a little behind in our work, we decided to go out in the rain and try to meet some members that we didn’t know. But the rain turned out to be akin to a tropical storm and despite the umbrellas, we were totally soaked. We came back to our apartment and still found plenty of work to do while we dried out.
We were so excited to get our air conditioned car back this week. But on Friday, when the Elders were supposed to bring it, we got a call that they had also encountered the same rain storm and our car had slid into a tree and gotten a broken tail light and a dent in the side. When they brought the car back though, this didn’t seem to be the worst of the problems. The Elders had forgotten to roll up the windows on one of the rain days, and they said the car didn’t smell very good (a serious understatement). Actually the elders said it kind of smelled like a baby’s dirty diaper. When Sister Johnsen got in the car she thought it smelled like 4 Texas footballs players after a summer practice, and we drove around with her holding her nose. We stopped to try to find some way to deodorize our car, but ended up coming home empty handed. Sister Johnsen decided to use the delicious mistletoe candle that our son, Clark, gave us for Christmas to see if that would help. We have been driving around with Sister Johnsen holding a lit candle, but oh does our car smell fab-u-lous! Problem solved!
The highlight of the week was the New Year’s Eve party at the church. The food was really good, and Sister Johnsen was in charge of the games. We talked everyone in to coming outside for a snowball fight. They were a little reluctant at first, and some of them just watched. One of our young women, who decided to watch, was laughing so hard at everyone that she finally decided to join in. Sister Johnsen asked her what was more fun, watching or being in the snowball fight, and she said definitely being in was better than watching!
After that we went into the church and played balloon volleyball, Do You Love Your Neighbor, Big Booty, I Never, and finally Honey, Do You Love Me? We all laughed so hard! It was the most fun. Afterwards we watched Turn Around, an Alma the Younger story, and at 11:30 it was time to clean up and go home. President Kesolei told us that we could go and they would finish cleaning and getting set up for our services on Sunday and we didn’t make him tell us twice!
We’ve spent the last two weeks trying to get used to having everything backwards on our car. We have done a little dance of “Which side are we on?” because I keep going to the wrong side of the car and so does Sister Johnsen. Our rental car was right hand drive, and after two weeks I had finally gotten accustomed to turning on the turn signal with my right hand and NOT turning on the windshield wiper at every corner. Now we’re back in a left hand drive car and I’m back to operating the turn signal with my left hand unfortunately I’ve made a new habit in the past 2 weeks, so I’m still turning on the windshield wipers when I make a right or left turn. That got Sister Johnsen and I thinking about the power of habits. I remember where I would sign and date a lot of documents; at the beginning of a new year, it took nearly the first 3 weeks to begin to instinctively write the New Year down—when you do something one way for 365 days it’s tough for the muscle memory to do something different. We can override it, but it takes conscious mental effort. As we establish those new habits however, we perform the action instinctively without conscious mental effort. It reminds me of the adage, "That which we persist in doing becomes easier to do, not that the nature of the thing has changed, but our power to do is increased." Author: Heber J. Grant Maybe that’s the whole idea in setting New Year’s resolutions: if we can press forward long enough with sufficient persistent effort we can actually make improvements which become second nature to us. Just like making a left turn normally doesn’t require any particular thought to activate- that’s the point we need to get to in all our good habits.
As we begin our New Year, we feel grateful and blessed to be able to serve here in Palau. There is so much work to do in the church, and we feel honored that the Lord would call us to serve in a place where we might help to build up His kingdom. Happy New Year to all of you!