Monday, February 13, 2012

Boy oh Boy! (#22)

We had an exciting week! Jocelyn and Nolan had their little baby boy which they named after Nolan’s two best friends and Jocelyn’s brother- Spencer Clayton Scharman. He was a little early, but we were pretty happy to have him here. We don’t know what we would do without Skype, cell phones, text messages etc. It is so fun to see the new baby despite the fact that we are so many miles away.

Sister Johnsen has been feeling increasing concerned about the amount of work there is to do (we just added a weekly marriage class to our already busy week) and wondering if it wouldn’t just be so much easier to support the ward in the many assignments that we have and worry less about trying to activate the many lost members. She had a serious conversation with the Lord about it and the next day in District meeting Elder Adams spoke about the importance of being diligent and doing everything we could in the service of the Lord. This felt like a direct answer to prayer. Elder Adams said that one of his companions always wrote the same thing on his 6 week planner, “A short time to serve; a lifetime to remember.” So we got busy again planning and calling and trying to find and fellowship the members of the Topside Branch.

Saturday night our Meyuns students participated in the spelling bee. We had practiced words that were really hard and almost completely ignored the simple ones, but round one started out with very simple words and our kids tried to spell them like they were complicated. It was sort of upsetting. We have been working with them since November. They should have been the top spellers there. The surprising thing was that none of the words that were on our study list were actually used in the spelling bee. We are hoping that they will let us help again next year. We know we can do better.

This week as we visited members, some at home and one in the hospital, we heard some great stories. We stopped at Sister De Leon’s house and after we read her a story from Divine Signatures she told us her conversion story. Her husband had invited the missionaries to come to the home and teach. Every time the missionaries would come Sister DeLeon would go out the back door. Her husband complained saying, “They can see you go out.” She said she didn’t care, but he convinced her that it was rude. Finally she agreed to listen to the missionaries. She said that it was unique reading the bible since that’s something that they never did in the Catholic Church. They decided to go to church and she felt that this was the right church for her, but she wanted their entire family to join and her sons were not home at the time, so they waited 9 months until everyone could be taught. Finally the whole family joined. It wasn’t long after that they were all members when her husband stopped coming. That didn’t stop Sister De Leon. She made sure that the rest of her family joined her at church every Sunday. The next big crisis was her oldest son who was planning to go to a Catholic college. Sister De Leon had heard about BYU Hawaii and wanted him to go there instead. He wasn’t happy about it but finally decided to go. A year later he was called on a mission, and he was the first Micronesian missionary. He served in the islands. Her other son also went on a mission, but he was called to the states in Fresno, California. Her sons are still faithful; one of them is currently serving as a bishop somewhere in Texas. After we departed Sister Johnsen and I were talking and realized that even when there’s someone sneaking out the back door, there is still hope! The people we are visiting haven’t been visited for 10 years or more. Sometimes we encounter a little resistance when we try to meet with them; we suspect that some of them are sneaking out the back door to avoid us.

We also visited Sister Oei several times this week; she is in the hospital. On fast Sunday last month she bore her testimony and told us that Father had told her it was time to come home and that even though she didn’t want to he said it was time. She has been in the hospital almost all month since that testimony. While we were there she told us about how her family members were prisoners of war in Indonesia and that her family had done something and the Japanese guards said they were going to slit their throats. They told them that they would let them live for one more week and then they were going to kill them. Sister Oei said her mother prayed to Heavenly Father and that when the called them back in a week they told them that they had decided to let them all live.

In Relief Society this week one of the stories was about a woman who had had a dream when she was called to be the Relief Society President. She said she didn’t think she could do it and that night she had a dream that she was carrying a heavy burden and the Savior came and carried it for her. We talked for a minute about dreams because Evangeline Andrews had related a spiritual dream in Sunday school. One younger sister who hasn’t been very active since we got here has been called as one of our Gospel Doctrine Sunday School teacher. She told us how she had a dream recently and said it was more like a nightmare. She said that there was a tsunami and she tried to pick up her boys and run with them. She was very frightened. Then there was an earthquake and she was even more terrified. Then there was a light in the heavens that started to descend and she started feeling very guilty and knew that she needed to come back to church. It has been so wonderful to have her with us every Sunday. We feel so blessed.

We had our first convert baptism this year. The branch President’s step daughter, Jenny, was baptized and it was a wonderful service. Sister Johnsen was privileged to talk about the Holy Ghost. It had been raining most of the day and again just like the last baptism (child of record), it stopped raining when we had to step outside to baptize Jenny.

On Saturday Sister Johnsen is working with Madelsar (pronounced Math e sar) on her singing, and to help her prepare a song for Sacrament meeting. They have been practicing “How Firm a Foundation.” At first Madelesar was singing so softly you could hardly hear her, but she is now singing out. Next we worked on her breathing and her posture and then on several other things. Next she sang “How Great Shall be Your Joy” by Janice Kapp Perry. Sister Johnsen recorded it and then they listened together. On the first song her sound is kind of pinched, but after trying a couple of things and then changing over to the second song, her voice was so much more beautiful. She was so excited and so was Sister Johnsen. After the practice Madelsar said to Sister Johnsen, “I thought singing was easy…”

On Monday nights we are trying to have a family home evening with different families. Two weeks ago we met with a woman and her daughter and Elder Johnsen talked about evidences of the Book of Mormon. This Monday we met with the family of one of our Meyuns spellers. The mother is a member of the church but most of the family members are not. Elder Johnsen taught a lesson on family unity and we played a couple of games and ate homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Last Monday the branch had a Branch Family Home Evening for Mitch Hibbard who is leaving this week. We will not only miss his doctoring but also his leadership and his great stories. We forgot to include his story about traveling to the outer islands and being caught in a terrible storm. He said he crouched on the floor of the boat and sang, “Master the tempest is raging…gasp gasp…the billows are tossing high…” He was pretty scared. While he was visiting these distance locations he was served fruit bat and described to us how they serve the stomach first because it is filled with the fruit. Every part of the bat is eaten including the fur. He said that he ate the whole thing.

Boy oh Boy has it been a great week in Palau!!

This is a picture of some captive fruit bats we walked passed one day as we were visiting members.

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