We had a Missionary Workshop for the members last Friday night. The idea of having a fireside to teach active members ways they could share the good news of the restoration came from our Branch Mission Leader—he conducted the meeting, but our District leader, Elder Early, handled the introduction to role playing. Then all the missionaries took a group of 3 to 5 members into a separate corner of the chapel and we practiced introducing the gospel to someone, or inviting a friend to hear a gospel message from the missionaries in our home. Elder Johnsen’s group, of course, was the nosiest; he dreamed up some scenarios which the participants thought were fun and funny. After the role playing was complete we all gathered back together for a discussion of friendshipping led by Elder Johnsen. We originally wanted to keep the meeting to just an hour but our role playing and discussion was so interesting that people just wanted to keep going. Meanwhile, Sister Johnsen, who provided a “nursery” for the children, was practically dying—her games and activities ran out when the meeting was scheduled to end—her service felt more like work, while Elder Johnsen’s service felt like fun.
On Sunday, Elder Johnsen was asked at the last minute to be the final speaker in Sacrament meeting. The topic was on Father’s (since it was Father’s Day). He began be telling one of the things that his father (Earl) had often repeated while he was growing up—that was get all the education you can. Earl always felt that his career with the Minnesota State Highway Department was limited because he didn’t have a college diploma. Elder Johnsen then described how he followed his Dad’s council and got a master’s degree from BYU, and how that had helped him to better provide for his family. Then Elder Johnsen said something that caused a hush to fall over the congregation—he said that he hadn’t always chosen the right path—at that point Sister Johnsen was praying that she wasn’t going to hear a belated confession about some malignant sin—then, after a dramatic pause, he shared his story about being lost while driving home from the Chicago temple. He explained that after a 4:00 a.m. departure from Litchfield Illinois, a long drive to Chicago, to visit a museum, and then spending several hours in the temple doing baptisms for the dead the youth and leaders of the Litchfield Ward were finally driving back home. Elder Johnsen had been sleeping while another ward member was driving the vehicle. When he took over driving duties at Bloomington he was still a little groggy. Just outside of Bloomington the road divides. Interstate 55 and the way home to Litchfield goes to the right and another freeway goes to Champaign/ Urbana, and eventually Indiana. Elder Johnsen explained how he was in the fast lane (left side of the road) and wasn’t aware that he missed the I-55 junction. While passing thru Champaign he figured he was going thru Springfield and about the time he figured he should be arriving in Litchfield the Jr. Trivia game was ending and he began to notice that none of the surroundings looked familiar. The final nail in the coffin was the sign announcing the Indiana boarder. He was incredulous! How could he have gone over 100 miles on the wrong road? How could he have missed all the road signs along the way? How could this have happened? You can fill in the gospel messages and parallels that can be drawn—bottom line, our life is a journey—we’re all on the road of life trying to safely reach our heavenly home—we’d better observe the road signs posted (by both earthly and heavenly fathers in the scriptures) and always choose the right! In addition to speaking in Sacrament meeting Elder Johnsen also taught the youth Sunday School class, and then taught the YM lesson during the 3rd hour—a service Sunday.
Later that day President Kesolie asked Sister Johnsen if she would rotate teaching adult Sunday School with Rilang so that she doesn’t have to teach every single Sunday. Rilang has so many other responsibilities.
Monday we had the Kesolie’s to dinner. We had decided to ask them, and then President Kesolie happened to ask Elder Johsen if Sister Johnsen had a good recipe for homemade Chicken Pot Pie. So Sister Johnsen spent a large portion of her preparation “day off” baking homemade rolls, 2 chicken pot pies, and brownies. The Kesolie’s had planned to have Elder Wright and Elder Early for dinner on Monday so we had the whole group here. The Kesolie’s son, Jae, came because the Kesolie’s wanted him to spend some time with the Elders since he is not a member of the church. There were 9 of us. Elder Johnsen taught a lesson on the 5 Love Languages: quality time, service, physical touch, gifts, and words of affirmation. Sister Johnsen decided we could play “I Never.”
Tuesday morning we met all the missionaries at the hospital so we could wash hospital windows. While we have visited people at the hospital we have seen the very dirty windows. When we volunteered to wash them the hospital administrator said that they are supposed to be washed by the employees in the particular area, but they are so overworked they can’t get to it.
After cleaning windows for an hour, Elder and Sister Johnsen went home, had breakfast and then went to the church to clean out the shed. The storage shed has been a sore spot for Sister Johnsen for the past 8 months. You can’t find anything and all the “A” items are located all over the place.
Every morning from Tuesday-Friday we have been at the church working on the shed. Sister Johnsen was not entirely thrilled to share the space with the Hunter Spiders, but she continued on. Just one more thing left to do: sort and organize the nails, screws and misc. small parts. It’s the hardest part of the job.
A sister who needed financial help this week talked to us, and we had to repeat that missionaries are not allowed to loan money to anyone. However, she had given us some bananas and Sister Johnsen made 5 batches of banana bread and gave the sister 6 loaves (she was so delighted). We gave two to Elder Early and Wright (they actually “re-gifted” one, the one that actually was for Elder Gubler and Pauga), and we shared one with our new member that moved in at PCC (she just loved the chocolate chips in the bread). Thanks to plans sent by Randy McQuay, Elder Johnsen had the young men build a giant tower utilizing their pioneering skills; ½ of one loaf of the banana bread was a great treat to celebrate the topping of the tower—but don’t feel too sorry for poor Elder Johnsen, he did get one half of one loaf all to himself!
Finally, we held a party for the kids. Because we are trying to cultivate two children of a less active member whose husband and family belong to another church--we thought a regular event would help them to feel comfortable with LDS church members. We ended up with 12 kids here. Last time we had about 6 kids when we had popcorn and a movie.
This time we decided to have “make your own pizza” and play games. We found a pizza dough recipe and made it on Friday afternoon. Then we had to decide whether to precook them or just cook them with the ingredients on them. Elder Johnsen decided to go with the pre-cook, and frankly they looked more like pita bread than pizza. Sister Johnsen suggested that in the future we use less yeast, but Elder Johnsen liked them, and the kids had a good time putting their own toppings on them, and of course eating them.
We played Balloon Volleyball, Do You Love Your Neighbor, Musical Chairs, and Statues (you dance until the music goes off and then you become a statue.) They liked the last game best although you couldn’t tell from how much fun they had all evenings.
We served popcorn and strawberry cupcakes and at 8:00 P.M. we were glad that they all belonged to someone else and we could REST! It’s been a great but frankly, tiring week. But it always feels great to be of service!