Elder Johnsen has faithfully been watering the plants that Elder and Sister Hansen left behind, and a few more recent additions that were given to us by a sweet Filipino member. He likes his plants and has nurtured them carefully. Recently he noticed that a bird had built a nest in a small potted tree by our front door. Now the watering and nurturing took on a completely different meaning. Inside the nest the mother had two eggs. Just 2 weeks ago the eggs hatched and two small birds were tucked into the tiny nest. We’ve be watching them grow and before we headed to Guam Elder Johnsen noticed that the babies had developed feathers. When we came back from Guam they were gone! The mother and the little birds have flown. The cycle of life continues.
Six little missionary birds have also flown this week…all the way to Guam. Our early morning Friday flight which usually leaves at 2:35 AM left early and we arrived in Guam at 4:24 AM instead of 5:10. We all made it to our destination thanks to the faithful Senior couple who serve as the office staff, Elder and Sister Anderson. The Elders slept and Elder and Sister Johnsen put on their exercise clothes and went for a walk. We were kind of tired and Elder Johnsen felt a little dizzy. We managed a shower, breakfast, and a quick trip to Kmart before our conference with President and Sister Mecham and the newly called Area President, Elder Ringwood. His wife attended with him. We found out after the conference that she is the daughter of Russell M. Nelson.
One of our favorite stories from the conference was about a young Elder who was tracking with his companion, and at one door the man told them that he wasn’t interested and don’t come back. The Elders left and then one of the young Elders turned around and went back and knocked on the door. The other Elder had no idea what he was thinking. When the man opened the door the man said, “I thought I told you to never come back.” The young Elder pulled out a picture of a horse from his shirt pocket. He said, “This is my horse. I loved him more than anything, but I sold him so I could pay my way on a mission and share the message of the restoration of the gospel with you.” The man let them come in. We loved this story because it captured the sacrifice and blessings of coming on a mission. We were really surprised and touched when Elder Ringwood singled us out at the end of the conference by commenting on the great work we were doing as a senior couple. He mentioned how much we had sacrificed and done for the young Elders and for the work we were doing to strengthen our little branch in Palau. It was as though the spirit had just shared some information with him, and he suddenly had a window into our life on these little islands. He expressed his appreciation to us. It felt like the Lord was speaking to us.
In the Book of Mormon, Moroni talks about praying with real intent. In the conference Elder Ringwood suggested that real intent can be defined as “really intend to change.” It’s like our little birds that were transformed from eggs to little fuzz balls with beaks, and then to birds capable of solo flight in just a few weeks. They definitely had real intent to change.
The conference was inspiring and helpful to all of us. We all heard something that we needed. We had interviews with President Mecham (Elder Johnsen got his temple recommend renewed) and then we ran out to do a little shopping, and grab a quick dinner before leaving for the airport. We had barely enough time to make our flight. Why is it that the TSA staff always selects you for special screening when you’re LATE? We were the last people on the plane. When we got back to Palau we were all pretty tired and went right to bed. We were really grateful to have the unique opportunity to have the Area President spend an entire morning with just 6 missionaries.
We have been delivering cookies this week. Sister Johnsen makes a fresh batch of four dozen chocolate chip cookies every morning as she studies her scriptures, and we take a dozen cookies and the 17 Points of the true church to four members whom we have prayerfully picked. Sister Johnsen has been working on a book about Floyd Weston and the 17 Points of the True Church on her Preparation Day, and so we are sharing these with the members that we have recently found.
One sister, Anne, was found a few months ago and she told us at the time that we she was happy with her spiritual life and that she wasn’t interested in the church (she wouldn’t tell us where she lives) and she felt no need to make changes in her life. Undaunted, we found out where she works and last month Elder Johnsen ran the first presidency message up to her. This week we delivered the cookies, the 17 points and a note to her. She was so pleased and surprised when she saw Elder Johnsen coming into her office with a plate of warm cookies. She asked, “What’s the occasion?” He said, “We were thinking about you, and we love you.” She was really delighted.
We had our 38th anniversary this week and didn’t really plan anything special which was a big mistake. At the end of the day it felt like we really should have done something. Elder Johnsen ended up in his usual Branch Presidency meeting, and Sister Johnsen went to seminary. Opps! An anniversary really should be CELEBRATED! We found that like the birds, the years really have flown.
We have decided to see what we can do to be of service to the Koror library, so we went in to meet the head librarian. She is really young. We asked her if we might find some scout troops at home to make some donations of books. She said that there were some off island library groups donating books and that she didn’t have room for even those. We asked her about expanding the library and she said that she had asked about that, but the land on the sides and the back of the library cannot be used. She was told that she would need an upper floor. When she inquired about that she was told that the foundation was not solid enough for a second floor and that a new library would have to be built. When she inquired about that, she was told that there were no funds for a new library. In this case, the funds have flown. I see why they sometimes give up in their efforts to make improvements. Their reference books are over 20 years old but Elder Johnsen has found some materials on DVD that he can buy for a minimal cost. He can load these onto their computers (they have five brand new computers but they are not networked together, plus the internet is so slow even if they were networked together basically the WWW would be of no practical use). We hope there is more that we can do.
Some members of the branch sent some boney fish with Elder Wright and Gubler last Sunday night and they brought it into our apartment; it smelled really bad to Sister Johnsen. She held her nose until the fish had flown. Elder Gulber and Elder Adams tried the fish and didn’t think it tasted too bad. You should have seen Elder Gubler try to down the fish head, eye balls and all!