Tuesday, June 12, 2012

This is His Brother (#39)

Elder Johnsen used the following story from the New Era to introduce Alma 5 in his lesson to the youth Sunday School class on Sunday. In this story the children saw something in Mike that he hadn’t seen in himself.  This initiated a change in him toward actually becoming a disciple of Christ.  This is the same way that Alma viewed the people of Zarahemla.  

“When I was 18, as I was preparing to serve a mission, my bishop called me to teach the Sunbeams. I had never before learned to love others more than myself until I had served those children in such a simple assignment. With time and patience I learned how to keep those seven children in their seats and listening to a simple lesson.

“One day I invited Mike(name changed) to come to church and sit in my class. Mike was my age but had stopped attending church completely by the time he was 12. We had remained friends over the years as I had served as the deacons quorum president, the teachers quorum president, and first assistant to the bishop in the priests quorum. He had been the topic of many fellowshipping discussions and was often part of my prayers as the years had passed. Once in a while Mike would accept my invitations to come to an activity. It always surprised me when he did, so I kept inviting him.

“At that time, Mike had long, black hair and a beard. His complexion was dark and pleasant. I don’t remember when I invited him to my Primary class, but one day he showed up.

“’Class, I would like to introduce you to my friend Mike,’ is how I began my lesson. ‘He is visiting us today.’

“Mike sat next to me in front. The children sat in a semicircle with their eyes fixed on him. They were much quieter than usual. I was about five or six minutes into the lesson when one little boy got up from his chair and walked across the room and stood directly in front of my friend. The boy paused for a moment and then climbed onto his lap. I continued with the lesson as I watched the two of them from the corner of my eye.

“The boy sat looking into Mike’s face. Mike was quite uncomfortable but did not interrupt the lesson or turn the boy away. The other children watched the two of them for a few minutes.

“Then one of the girls climbed off her seat and approached Mike. I was intently interested in seeing how Mike would react and did not want to instruct the two children to return to their seats. The girl stood with her hand on Mike’s knee looking into his face.

“Then it happened. The boy on Mike’s lap reached up with both hands and turned Mike’s face directly to his. I stopped my lesson to see what was about to unfold.

“With the innocence of a child, he said to Mike, ‘Are you Jesus?’

“The look on Mike’s face was total surprise. It seemed, as I glanced at the children’s faces, they all had the same question on their minds.

“Mike looked at me as if to say, Help, what do I say?

“I stepped in. ‘No, this is not Jesus. This is His brother.’

“Mike looked at me as if in shock.

“Then without hesitation the boy in Mike’s lap reached up and wrapped his arms around Mike’s neck. ‘I can tell,’ the boy said as he hugged Mike.

“The rest of the children smiled and nodded in agreement as their simple question was answered. Mike blinked back the tears in response to the love he felt from this small Sunbeam. The lesson went on, but that day the teacher who taught the most was a three-year-old child.

“Mike spent more than a year getting ready to serve a mission. It thrilled me to learn that he left for the mission field a few months before I returned. I still think of the scripture in Matthew 18:5: ‘And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.’  (Ken Merrell, New Era, May 2000)

Last Monday we spent our whole preparation day cooking and preparing for a farewell open house for the Carlson family.  Eric and his two sons departed for Utah very early in the morning on Tuesday. The remainder of the family will follow in a month or so.  We had nearly 50 branch members join us for the light dinner and festivities.  Why did we do such a hard thing?  These are all His brothers.  The action photo that we’ve included was Eric playing a trick on Elder Early.  Eric was chief Unga Bunga and whatever actions the chief did the inductee had to do but with greater fervor.  The trick was when chief Unga Bunga stood up a wet sponge would be placed on the chair of the inductee—however, as you can see the chief also got a wet surprise when he sat back down on his chair.  

President Mecham, our Mission President and District President, joined us on the island this Wednesday to conduct temple recommend interview and to prepare men for advancement in the priesthood. Elder Johnsen spent hours and hours on the phone calling members who may be interested in renewing their temple recommend those we couldn’t call we visited one night in pouring rain. These are all His brothers (and sisters).

We prepared a special party for one of our inactive members who has two children. We invited several young members over to have dinner with them and to watch a movie (Pollyanna). Elder Johnsen made his famous popcorn and we had a good time getting to know these young children. They are definitely His brothers.

Sister Johnsen was at the Behavioral Health Center twice this week listening to teachers give life skill lessons to the underage drinkers. She was able to observe their teaching skills and will be able to give some teacher training classes in the near future.  All of this is for our brothers and sisters.

Elder Johnsen had a long Sunday as he started out at 8:00 A. M. with a Branch Presidency meeting and had to teach Sunday School, and then the young men in Priesthood. He sang with the choir in Sacrament meeting, and attended choir after church. After a short break for lunch he had to go back to the church early to prepare for the PEC meeting and also for Branch council. Home at 5 for dinner with the Elders and then out again to teach an inactive member and to plan the upcoming Wednesday night activities for the young men. He felt a bit tired Sunday night and as he left the house for the last time said that he “WAS weary of well doing” but he went out anyway.  He was doing it for one of the Savior’s brothers.

Sister Johnsen made a bookworm for one of her other piano students and took her to the library to pick out some books. She is preparing some rewards for reading the books. Her student was very excited and thinks that Sister Johnsen walks on water, just like her Brother, the Savior, did long ago.  

We had no air conditioning in our living room this week because the repair job that was preformed lasted approximately 5 minutes. We were patient with our “brothers” though and have used our standing fan and our bedroom air conditioning to try to keep the whole apartment cool.

Elder Johnsen also thinks that Sister Johnsen is his “brother” and took her out to dinner on Saturday night to Rip Tide the swimming resort just outside of town. It was a beautiful evening and there was a lovely view. The food was affordable and quite good too. 

We have been given 4 assignments for the upcoming senior missionary conference in Guam next month which will focus on our Church Educational System needs. We want to prepare the best presentation we can for the other “brothers and sisters” senior missionaries who will be attending. We look forward to these senior conference and getting together with the other missionaries and hearing about their progress and their ideas.

To all our brothers and sisters in the gospel, we hope you had a great week too!

1 comment:

  1. I love this blog!!! What wonderful, exceptional missionaries you two make. Thank you for taking the time each week to teach all who read your blog. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you and yours. Kathy Patty