We were definitely trying to be “good” this week because the two Assistants to the President visited Palau for three days. Of course, Elder and Sister Johnsen couldn’t resist donning their newly constructed pig noses during District meeting, and treating the Elders to real drama as part of their “area accountability” report. For some reason the Elders didn’t laugh when Elder Johnsen lifted his right arm and sniffed his armpit and asked, “Do I smell bacon, oh, it’s just me”.
The AP’s left at 2:50 A.M. on Friday morning, and Elder Wright left for Guam and his Zone leader’s meeting at 2:50 on Saturday morning. The Johnsens’ are part of the detail that helps departing Elders stay up until they leave for the airport. It’s really late duty! We were pretty tired by Saturday, but we’re still trying to be really “good” helpers.
It’s a little harder to go from “good” to “better” when the water goes off 6 hours a day. We have to fill our bottles early, and do our dishes because we aren’t going to have any running water all day long. One family in the branch has had no running water for 2 weeks, and others don’t get it until 9 at night.
Then to top off the week, on Saturday the air conditioning in our car went out, and the Elder’s had the starter on their car go out a few hours later. It seems like the only time we call Brother and Sister Anderson in the office in Guam is when something goes wrong! The Anderson’s are really “good!”
Speaking of Bad to Good, Good to Better . . . Elder Johnsen has been doing quite a bit of thinking about Elder Bednar’s address in the April Liahona where he wrote that “The grand objective of the Savior’s gospel was summarized succinctly by President David O. McKay . . . to make bad men good and good men better, and to change human nature. Thus, the journey of mortality is to progress from bad to good to better and to experience the might change of heart—to have our fallen natures changed.” (see Mosiah 5:2). Elder Bednar then quoted King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 3:19: “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord”. Elder Bednar observed that when we put “off the natural man” we are moving from Bad to Good. When we “becometh a saint” we are continuing the grand objective of the gospel and life’s journey to make “good men better”. Both parts of the journey require the Savior’s atonement, the cleansing power to move from bad to good and the enabling power to move from good to better. It was interesting to Elder Johnsen that King Benjamin constructed a Chiasmus (Hebrew poetry) right in the middle of his address to his people—if you take out the verses which are not part of his address there are the same number of verses before the Chiasmus in Mosiah 3:18-19 as there are after those verses. It’s as though King Benjamin not only wanted to give double emphasis to what President McKay and Elder Bednar said was the grand objective of the Gospel but also let us know it is central point of the gospel. When you couple the idea of Bad to Good and Good to Better with Lili Anderson’s “Choosing Glory” concept of the three realms moving from Telestial behavior to Terrestrial and from Terrestrial to Celestial you really begin to see what the prophets are trying to teach us. Elder Johnsen really likes teaching the gospel to his Sunday School students in Palau. He’s learning more than they are!
The District President for this area is President Mecham, who is also the Mission President, and because this mission is so spread out over many islands, he hasn’t been able to visit us since January. One sister needed a temple recommend so Elder Johnsen set up a skype video call from our apartment with President Mecham and she got her recommend renewed in this innovative way. We hope there isn’t anything in the handbook about getting temple recommends over the internet.
We find the work that we get to do in the mission field is not what we expected...it’s “better!"