Tuesday, May 22, 2012

May the Force (of Faith) Be With You (#36)

The new air conditioning in our car sounds like we have Darth Vadar trapped under our dashboard.  Whenever the AC compressor kicks on there’s a heavy breathing sound that the dark side made while wearing that black mask.   But it keeps us cool, and since Elder Johnsen doesn’t hear very well, he doesn’t even notice it; so Sister Johnsen is just learning to live with it.  But with all the heavy breathing as a daily reminder, suddenly we are seeing everything from a Star Wars perspective:

“In a Galaxy Far, Far Away.”  Elder Adams, our District leader, is going home on Wednesday so he decided to transport us far from home in Koror for a District Preparation Day activity.  We drove for over an hour to the far north of the big island and spent the day at a member’s place which is right on the beach. We ate fish and rice out of leaf bowls, collected shells, rested in the hammock, and built things in the sand.   We explored the beach, swung on a rope over the ocean water, and climbed on the rocks.  It was a day apart from our work, and seemed like a galaxy far, far away.  

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this one.” Tuesday Elder Johnsen went shopping to get food for the RS Visiting Teaching convention. Sister Johnsen was asked to cut up the fruit and vegetables for the healthy snack after the meeting, but only six sisters came and, unfortunately, Mona, who is the President, and the only member of the RS Presidency at the meeting, got called into work so she had to leave after 30 minutes. Fortunately, she had handouts that we were able to read after she left.

“We’re going in and we’re going in full throttle.” The first week we were in Palau (seven months ago) we stopped at the local college, Palau Community College, looking for volunteer opportunities. This week they finally called us and asked if we could come in and talk about ways we could assist them.  We stopped by and visited Das (the Human Relations Manager) and got a short tour of the college, and saw the library. It is actually for the entire community and very nice. Now we see why the other library is so small and insufficient. People can and do use the college library.  Das said we also might visit his wife who worked at the Behavioral Health Center, and also volunteer there. He gave us a number, and we went over the next day.  After an interview with the manager of that facility they want to use Sister Johnsen to do some training for their counselors.  Das wants Elder Johnsen to teach a personal finance workshop to the facility at PCC. After seven months of waiting we’re going at full speed!

“Help me Obi Wan; you’re my only hope.” Friday night was our big seminary graduation and institute honors program, celebration dinner, and game night. Elder and Sister Johnsen have been working for weeks on the program and the awards and the menu and the games. Friday was the most intensive day; we worked from 9:30 in the morning until the ceremony started at 6:30.  Earlier in the day, one of the girls came to the house to learn the song for the musical number.  She had never heard it. Then our one and only graduate called to say he couldn’t come because he had another graduation program to attend at 7:00. We were a little dismayed by this because we had moved the graduation ceremony three times to accommodate him, but after a little cajoling he agreed to skip his HS graduation event and come to his seminary graduation (he was one of our main speakers).   10 minutes before the program was supposed to start one of the girls who was both speaking and singing called to say she couldn’t come. (she actually came to the meeting a little late, but just in time to give her talk;  that call increased our anxiety).  When the meeting was scheduled to begin neither one of our other speakers was there, and we only had one of our singers. Finally, 10 minutes after the scheduled start time one of our singers showed up, but she was going to leave early because she also had another graduation commitment later in the evening.  So what do you do?  Elder Gubler captured the moment for us with the picture he took at 6:30. We had one person there. We had made dinner for 40+. 


“Use the force Luke.”  Elder Johnsen said it took a lot of faith to start that meeting.  At 6:40 he had two of the three singers and none of the speakers. But after he started the meeting everyone showed up, and we ended up with close to 50 people.  The food was excellent (everyone raved about the Hawaiian Haystacks and Sister Johnsen’s poke and pour cupcakes) and the game of bloody knuckles was very fun. We had compiled review questions from the Old Testament, and there were two teams of about 10 at each table. Each table had answers to 40 questions.  Elder Johnsen read the question, and after the correct answer was located, a runner from the competing tables would dash up to the front of the room and grab for the largest point total (we used a 3 and 2); Sister Johnsen verified that the runner brought the correct answer.   The competition got very intense, and the kids had a really good time (the bloody knuckles part comes when both runners grab for the 3 at the same time).  Once we got rolling the program came off just like we had planned it.  Nearly everyone who had attended seminary or institute was present to receive their awards.  We couldn’t have been more pleased.  Sometimes you just have to use the force of faith!

“Do or don’t do, there is no try” President Kesolie asked Elder Johnsen to “try” to take a look at the branch budget. While operating within a budget is old hat for most of us who have lived and worked in wards and stakes in the USA, that’s not so true here in Micronesia.  So he spent a few hours on Saturday seeing where the budget money has gone over the past couple of years.  It was very helpful to the branch presidency as they reviewed the information in their meeting on Sunday. We will be reviewing it again with the auxiliaries in branch council next week as they, for the first time, establish a plan for spending for each of the organization, and keep the total within the budget allowance.

“Yes, the force is strong with this one” On Sunday we pulled out the farewell questions we first used on Elder Barlow who left Palau to go home shortly after we arrived here.  We gave all the same questions to Elder Adams since it was his LAST Sunday in the mission field. We heard lots of his mission stories that we hadn’t heard before. It was interesting and fun!  If you need a good laugh, ask him to repeat his answer to the question: “What was the worst thing that happened to you on your mission?”  He has a cockroach story about his apartment in Guam that will blow your mind.  We will greatly miss Elder Adams, the force of faith IS strong with him!  


  1. What crazy experiences!! But how wonderful! We think of you so often!! Jeff promised to get the CD's done today so I can mail them off tomorrow! Sorry about the delay! Hugs to you both!!

  2. You guys have the greatest experiences, and I love how you wrote this one!! The "force" truly is with you. Miss you guys! --- Linda