This week didn’t turn out the way we expected. Sometimes, despite our other plans, life happens. This week, Elder Marshall came down with a serious case of congestion and pink eye. So basically all our plans were disrupted as we found someone to stay home with Elder Marshall while Elder Johnsen became companions with Elder Adams. They actually taught some good lessons together, a couple of them were to an investigator who will be baptized this coming Friday night.
On Saturday afternoon Elder Johnsen went to President Kesolei’s house to help them move to their new place while Sister Johnsen had a singing practice with a YW in the branch. President Kesolei had a truck that was supposed to be there at 1:00, but it was 45 minutes late. By 1:30 the Elders had carried all the packed boxes out of the house and had them ready to load as soon as the truck arrived. So instead of standing around waiting, Elder Johnsen went exploring with Kali (Kesolei’s 9 year old daughter). We’ve decided that Elder Johnsen is really a 9 year old trapped in a 61 year old body. In back of the Kesolei’s house is a Mangrove Swamp, which is a tangled mass of trees that can live in the shallow salt water which at high tide put them in 2-4 feet of water, and at low tide the muddy bottom of the ground is exposed. This adventure was at Low Tide.
As Kali and Elder Johnsen worked their way back into swamp Elder Johnsen noticed what looked like 2’ long pointed stakes coming out of the muddy ground. They reminded Elder Johnsen of steel rebar coming out of a footing. In the mangrove swamp the trees grow at odd angles which made it fun for both Kali and EJ to move from tree to tree, root to root, keeping their feet out of the black muddy ooze of the ground below. Kali took the low road, but the high road about 5 – 10 feet above the muck seemed to be the best route to EJ. At one point Kali told him to watch out for a rotten branch, but he felt certain that it would support his weight without breaking. However, remembering his Boy Scout rock climbing training (3 points of contact) he made sure as he put his full weight on the questionable branch that he had a secure hold on another branch so if the one gave way he wouldn’t plunge into the muck and be impaled by the pointy things sticking out of the muck (which are called pneumatophores). Just a Kali predicted, after moving about 5 feet farther into the swamp on the questionable limb, it gave way with a loud crack and EJ found himself dangling over the ooze suspended by his arms just like we did when we were kids playing on the monkey bars at school. He quickly was able to move to another spot where he had all four of his extremities in contact with something solid and safe. The experience in the Mangrove Swamp reminded us of our institute lesson on Thursday night which recounted Job’s experience of having every prop pulled out from under him. His wealth was lost and all his children were killed; a short time after that his body was covered with boils. He was having nightmares, his friends deserted him, and the Lord stopped answering his prayers. Yet he never lost faith; he hung on to what he knew. In Job 19:26 we read, “And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” Having the faith to hang on to what he knew saw Job through to the end of his trial, just as hanging on to the branch above saved EJ in the mangrove swamp.
We watch for little miracles and find we have them every day. Wonder of wonders we found Apollo Gurvey. The story of his discovery is quite unique. We had no phone, no address, no place of employment and he’s from Yap. So we were thinking that he might have moved back to Yap. However, President Kesolei remembered that he had come to church one time about 10 years ago to get married. So the idea came to us that maybe we could find his wife’s name down at the court house associated with his marriage to her. We actually found that and also that his last name is not as it appears on the branch list, rather it’s Mengloi. So using that as a lead we looked in the phone book, but didn’t see any Mengloi’s. The next day Sister Johnsen was looking in the phone book for another “M” name and found about four Mengloi’s. We don’t know how we missed it the first time. We began calling all the Mengloi’s in the phone book (our usual practice) and on the forth number we found him. The person on the phone knew that he worked out at Palau Pacific Resort. On Wednesday Elder Adams and EJ went out to PPR and had a nice meeting with Brother Mengloi, got his “address” at least close enough so we think we can find it, his picture and also his party line phone number.
Friday was our “First Friday Flicks” night. At 5:50 we were off to church to get everything set-up, make punch, set out tables for the games, and for Johnsen’s famous popcorn. We also set up the projector and computer/sound system. It basically took the full 40 minutes that we allowed. The first movie in our series was “The Best Two Years.” It is a comedy about 4 elders serving in Holland. We had about 30 people come, 7 of them were non-members and 3 of them are being taught by the elders. While the turnout was a little lighter that what Sister Johnsen and I were expecting, it certainly exceeded the 1 person we had at last month’s first Friday Filipino FHE which this replaced. We played games prior to the movie and everyone had a great time. Two of our institute students brought a young woman from the Japanese embassy. She laughed just as hard at the movie as the rest of us, and told her friends that she felt something different than she has ever felt before. We ran out of popcorn and out of drinks (although I’m quite sure everyone had enough). So next month we might have to up our quantity a little.
After church on Sunday we had a baptismal service for one of our 8 year olds who is the daughter in the Tervet family that was baptized about a year ago. Her dad has cancer of the mouth from chewing beetle nut before he was baptized. It doesn’t look like he qualifies for “off island” treatment.
Sister Tervet said the closing prayer, and in it she thanked the Lord for leading her to His true church where “we’ve been loved like we’ve never been loved before”. As she hangs onto the gospel we know she will find the strength and support she needs for her faith!