Monday, March 26, 2012

Making Magic in Micronesia (#28)

How do you make 65 shy 6th graders come alive? Put them on a magic school bus, of course!

Which is exactly what we did! On Friday afternoon we went to Koror Elementary to introduce their sixth graders to drama. They were pretty shy about coming up in front to act one at a time, but when Elder Johnsen sat down and told them that they were on a Magic School Bus, everyone got involved. The sixth grade teachers were laughing pretty hard, and so were the children (You can see from the pictures.) Elder Johnsen took them up and down big hills, turned sharp corners and even blasted off on a rocket and became weightless. You should have seen the kids float!

Sister Johnsen talked about how we create characters with our bodies, our voices, and even our faces. She did find one talented young man though. He was quietly told to act out “sad” with his face to see if the other students could guess what his emotion was. He added the “Kleenex” and the big blowing sound himself.

So far so good. But the sixth grade teachers are hoping that we will teach every day for the next 6 weeks and have their students put on a big show for the parents. This feels a little beyond our expectations for the service that we hoped to render. Sister Johnsen has found some 1 Act plays for kids online and hopefully we can divide them into groups and have them prepare these mini-plays. We were not prepared for the amount of time and effort they were hoping we would perform.

The very same day we had to be ready for our institute party, our Spring Fling. We decided just to see what kind of fun we could create with flinging things. We thought everyone had a good time, but not everyone who promised to come, did come, which was disappointing, because it was a lot of work and expense. We started with flinging (lagging) pennies, moved to flinging spit wads from elastics (see Emily go), then we flung airplanes (view Elder Gubler special technique), we did a balloon fling, a javelin fling (straws) and a bean spitting contest at the end (Elder Johnsen was against it right up until the end, it just didn’t seem right to be spitting in church, but it turned out fine). We had small prizes for the winners and lots to eat. The highlight was Sister Johnsen’s dirt cake served in a flower pot, with gummy worms and an artificial flower to boot. After we were done the Elders wanted to know which games we left out, and when we told them about the Styrofoam plate fling. They wanted to try that, and it was the hardest competition of all. Finally Elder Wright figured out how to actually get a plastic plate to fling.

Elder Johnsen saved the day again on Sunday because neither one of the Sunday School teachers came to church, and the newly called Sunday School President didn’t come either. Elder Johnsen taught the youth and the adults again. Since he was teaching the allegory by Zenos in Jacob 5 he decided to begin with one of Aesop’s short allegorical fables. Everyone enjoyed it a lot. Here it is:

The Sick Lion—A LION, unable from old age and infirmities to provide himself with food by force, resolved to do so by artifice. He returned to his den, and lying down there, pretended to be sick, taking care that his sickness should be publicly known. The beasts expressed their sorrow, and came one by one to his den, where the Lion devoured them. After many of the beasts had thus disappeared, the Fox discovered the trick and presenting himself to the Lion, stood on the outside of the cave, at a respectful distance, and asked him how he was. “I am very middling,” replied the Lion, “but why do you stand without? Pray enter within to talk with me.” “No, thank you,” said the Fox. “I notice that there are many prints of feet entering your cave, but I see no trace of any returning.”

He is wise who is warned by the misfortunes of others.

The moral of the story is that you don’t have to make every mistake yourself; you can learn by others mistakes. And that’s the real magic! It makes life so much easier. We have discovered since reading Choosing Glory by Lili Anderson that choosing to live a telestial life is choosing a much more difficult and dangerous life. We want to save these people from telestial troubles if we can.

Great magical week!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Magnifying our Calling Without Getting Bugged! (#27)

Elder Johnsen had an idea for the perfect object lesson on magnifying callings. Unfortunately, Sister Johnsen was not as carefully informed as she might have been which led to some scary moments for her.

Elder Johnsen went out on the patio and found a nice big bug for his lesson to the teenagers for Sunday School. He didn’t want to smash it because he wanted to put it under the magnifying glass and let them look at how much better they could see it when it was enlarged.

He carefully placed it in an envelope, and brought it into the back entry way and put it on the table. Shortly afterwards, during breakfast, Sister Johnsen heard a sound coming from the next room. She got up and tried to discover what it was. It sounded like water dripping from the ceiling or coming down inside the walls, but she couldn’t see anything. Elder Johnsen who doesn’t hear as well, and especially not since he had the problem with his ear, continued to eat his breakfast. Sister Johnsen was a little scared and couldn’t discover the source of the sound. After some coaxing, Elder Johnsen finally got up to see what it was. Unfortunately he still couldn’t hear it. Finally he put his ear down close to the table and realized that his bug was trying to scratch his way out of the envelope. He doused the poor exhibit with some bug spray and that should have been the end of our bug story…but NO.

Of course, he had to tell that story to his Sunday school class while the dead bug was still safely in the envelope, but as he was telling the story he brought the envelope up close to his ear and told the class to be very quiet and they could hear what the scratching sounded like . . . the room got very quiet as he held the envelope with the flap down and started scratching the envelope (making the same sound that had frightened Sister Johnsen) and on cue the big dead bug dropped from the envelope unto the demonstration table—you should have heard the young women scream! We don’t know if they will remember how Jacob magnified his calling from the Lord (Jacob 1: 17-19), but we’re sure they will remember how Elder Johnsen magnified the bug in Palau!

We were invited to Koror Elementary school on Friday to watch the kids do their native Palauan dances and songs. It was fun to watch, and we sat with several members. While we were there, Elder Adams called about something and heard the loud music. When Elder Johnsen told him where we were he said, “And that’s missionary work?” We know! Sometimes our work is just so hard! But Elder Johnsen says that when we are out in public with our white shirts and our name tags we are showing people that we are just regular people and we become more accessible and approachable.

Also we will be working with the kids at Koror Elementary school for the rest of the school year and the members who invited us thought we ought to mingle with the students. As we were leaving Sister Johnsen asked one of the women if her head piece was made of real flowers, and the women gave it to her. It smelled so beautiful, and looked pretty nice too.

The next 3 Friday nights are scheduled. This Friday is the quarterly Institute party which Elder Johnsen named, “Spring Fling.” We have no idea what we are going to be “flinging” during this party, but we have all week to figure it out.

Next Friday night is our big open house and we have had several meeting with the Branch Council to plan it. One member who works for the radio station has let us have a 45 second commercial which runs three times a day for the next two weeks. Grand total: $5. Really!

On the next Friday, we will have our First Friday Flicks where we will show our 3 ½ hour movie, “The Ten Commandments.” How much popcorn do you have to pop to last 3 ½ hours? Stayed tuned and we will tell you!

Just out here in Palau trying to “MAGNIFY” our callings and a few insects while we are at it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Snow in Palau and other Crazy Adventures! (#26)

Last week we mentioned that the Elder’s had a couple of tires explode. This week Elder Johnsen inspected the cars; we’re happy to report we might have figured out why we have exploding tires in Palau. A couple of the tires on the Elders car had over 70 pounds of air (the gauge only goes to 70 psi). We reduced them down to a more reasonable 35 lbs but the mystery may have been solved. Speaking of cars we finally got ours out of the shop, the dents the Elder’s put in it have all been repaired, and we’ve (Elder Johnsen has) been a little paranoid — worried about scratching our new paint job.

We had a pretty funny district meeting this week. Elder Adams and Elder Early reported what happened in their area. They found out one of our members that attends our Unit in Meyuns is pregnant out of wedlock. To make matters worse, the father is already married to someone in Saipan. They are teaching a guy who is super paranoid and thinks people are trying to kill him (including the Elders). One of the younger couples had a problem because she is having an affair and her husband found them together and stabbed him (he said he just poked him twice, but they still took him to jail). Someone else is hearing voices that say “burn the Book of Mormon” someone else wants their name taken off the rolls of the church and told the Elders “to never come back” and actually by the time they got done we were all laughing pretty hard. What else can you do when it seems like the whole world has gone crazy?

This week we worked on updating the Priesthood service night visit roster and maps for the known additions of members who we continue to find. We are still beating the bushes for more lost sheep. While we were out searching for a lost member with the Elders we came across a group of men who were smoking, joking and drinking beer, one of them turned out to be our missing member—who was off from work in the middle of the day because his co-workers were out fishing in the rock islands. (He was very curious about how we found him) One of the guys who was sitting with him drinking beer was someone who must know a little about the scriptures and asked Elder Johnsen whether he was a sheep or a goat. Of course, he remembered the scripture and answered “Sheep.” After we finishing talking to the member, taking his picture and getting his phone numbers the guy was asking the Elders with us the same question—so we took the opportunity to break into the conversation and tell them S. Michael Wilcox’s story about a flock of wild sheep that he (Michael) found as a boy out in the desert in Utah. He and his friends got the great idea to catch them and bring them back to the ranch—and of course the sheep didn’t want to be caught but the boys thought it seemed like something they could do because there were 5 of them with Michael. As the boys inched forward, the sheep found a way to dash through their tightening circle. So they got the great idea of forming a semi-circle and backing the sheep up to a nearby cliff—when the lead sheep saw that there was no way of escape through the boys and that it would likely result in his capture, he turned the other direction and jumped over the cliff to his death on the rocks below. Now the startled boys backed off—but each of the other sheep in the flock followed the lead sheep over the cliff to the rocks below. Then Elder Johnsen asked them the million dollar question—do you know what the moral of the story is? They didn’t know, so he said, “ The Moral is Don’t leap with the Sheep.” Just because all your friends are engaging in destructive behavior doesn’t mean you have to follow their course. Since they were all drinking, I’m sure the lesson’s direct application to them went completely unnoticed.

After that visit, we headed out to visit and drop an Institute Party invitation with an institute age young woman. While we were there we saw all the women gathered outside around a big table and they we’re separating Palauan cotton from the pod, disposing of the seeds and putting the cotton in a large garbage sack to later become pillow batting. The pods come from giant 75 foot tall trees that grow wild here. We said “Ohhh” and “Ahhh” as they worked and then the matriarch brought us out two pillows that she had made and gave them to us as gifts. Now we have something to sit on when we go to the Unit or we can use them to make our computer chair more comfortable while we’re typing at the computer. (We’re using it right now and “Ohhh” and “Ahhh” this is awesome)! Elder Wright and Elder Gubler visited a house this week where the cotton was coming down out of the trees, and they said it looked like snow. Snow in Palau…cotton snow.

After that visit we stopped at a sister’s home to see why she hadn’t been coming to church, she said that her foot was really bothering her so we gave her the name and phone number of the Doc at camp Katuu and told her to give him a call—that he had an open clinic on Wednesday and all the drugs and the visit would be totally free.

Our final stop was at the Oei’s home they had just arrived home from the hospital after more than a month stay. We told them that we just saw them separating cotton and that got us talking about pillows. Bro Oei asked us if we knew what a Dutch Wife was. “No.” we said. He then explained that a Dutch Wife was a long, large pillow that you could sleep next to and drape your leg over to relieve back strain. He then told a story about a guy who was visiting in Holland from England. Someone asked him if he needed a Dutch Wife while he was visiting Holland—he said NO he had a wife back in England, and then they had a great laugh as they explained what a Dutch Wife was.

Elder Johnsen and the Elders went out to the scenic overlook on their preparation day to see if they could build a bridge across the water. They found that bamboo is hard to cut down and heavy. The bridge idea was totally scraped so they tried lashing together some bamboo to make a raft, to ferry themselves to the nearby (50 feet away) island but it also takes a lot of bamboo to make a proper raft and the Elders aren’t supposed to be in the water, but it was crazy fun adventure anyway. They all came back to our apartment and ate Poke and Pour cake and played a game.

Trying to build a bridge/raft to that island

Monday, March 5, 2012

Explosions of Fun (#25)

While Sister Johnsen was in the States taking care of family, Elder Johnsen was in Palau with the other Elders. An unmentioned event occurred the Sunday Sister Johnsen was gone. The Elders drove to the church and just before church started everyone in the chapel heard a huge bang that sounded like a giant balloon popping. They all ran out to the parking lot and saw that one tire on the Elders car had a blowout. That’s the first time Elder Johnsen has ever heard a tire explode on a parked car. Sister Johnsen missed that excitement, but was here this Sunday for the second explosion. But first a little explanation:

Sister Johnsen arrived home very late on Friday night because her plane had to circle Palau for 30 minutes due to bad weather. But that wasn’t the only late flight she had; the flight between Guam and Hawaii was also late, so much so that when she arrived in Guam they had only 5 minutes to dash to the gate where her connecting flight to Palau was departing. Needless to say her luggage and that of about 15 other passengers who had to run to make that Palau connection did not arrive in Palau. So Sister Johnsen was without many things all day Saturday, including make-up. This turned out to be Ok because Elder Johnsen had taken the car (which you will recall from an earlier entry was damaged when the Elder’s backed into a tree) in to be repaired. Because there had been so much rain the repair shop had not finished painting the car and they had no car to drive.

Saturday night Elder and Sister Johnsen borrowed the Elders car and drove back to the airport to get her bag and then on Sunday morning Sister Johnsen borrowed the Elders car again so she could drive Elder Johnsen to his 8 AM meeting at the church. The car was wobbling badly but they didn’t know what was going on.

45 minutes later, Sister Johnsen and the Elders were backing out to go to church and another tire popped. They couldn’t figure out what they had run over; it sounded like a mini-explosion. Well, it was just another bad tire. So with two cars out, Elder Johnsen had to borrow the branch president’s car to come get them for church. Two Sundays in a row--flat tires. (We felt pretty blessed that it hadn’t blow out on the way to the airport though.) Elder and Sister Johnsen got home via a member’s vehicle and a few minutes later they heard the Elders outside the apartment changing their tire and then it started raining, so they went out to watch and provide moral support from their covered balcony. The Elders were getting pretty wet, but then it started POURING! I'm sorry but we were laughing pretty hard! On Thursday we got a new missionary, Elder Gubler, from North Salt Lake (I mean new-
two days in the mission field) and he and Elder Wright were out there getting soaked changing the tire. This poor new Elder is probably wondering what he has gotten into. Besides that Elder Gubler put a "1" on the missionary interest form (meaning NOT interested) for his desire to learn a language. Yep! They sent him to Palau first thing. Sorry again, hope you like learning to speak Palauan!

Besides the tires exploding, the Meyun’s Elders were able to witness (from far away in the mountains), the detonation explosion of a Japanese WWll bomb. They say they haven’t seen anything cooler. The heavy sandbags on top of the bomb just flew 100s of feet into the air. They have pictures of the 10 foot deep hole and some sand bags high in the trees.

Elder Gulber and Elder Wright needed Elder Johnsen to go out with them on Monday night to go to some appointments which was possible because Elder and Sister Johnsen were carless. Elder Gubler was able to get the last laugh because Elder Johnsen fell knee deep into a watery hole while they were out going to an investigator’s place. Elder Gubler just couldn’t stop laughing.

The best part of the week for Elder Johnsen was the “explosion” of home teaching that took place as a result of our Priesthood service night. There were 8 groups of two men each, all the routes (which totaled over 100 households, were covered. The young men’s president and Elder Johnsen took Meyuns #1 and they were able to place 13 of their 14 first presidency messages in the homes where members lived, although only 7 members were actually home to receive our message. Elder Johnsen finally met for the first time two people that he has been trying to see for months. The groups had great visits with several of the families. Everyone that came back to the church was so pumped. Elder Wright set up 4 teaching appointments for later this week as a result of his visits. Elder Adams figures with Elder Johnsen’s 7 visits to less active families where a lesson was taught, his 7 and Elder’s Marshalls 6 visits, he’s set for the whole week. That’s 20 lessons taught to less active families by the “Elders” in his area. John Jr., our Elder’s Quorum President, was so excited about the success of the event that we’re sure we’ve begun a tradition that will carry on. We have it on scheduled on the fourth Tuesday in March.

It been so fun, so explosive around here, that we aren’t sure what will top it!