Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How Firm A Foundation! (#46)

Let’s start at the end this time. Saturday night Elder Johnsen was putting the finishing touches on his Sunday School lesson, and Sister Johnsen was working on music and they heard a creaking and crunching sound. Elder Johnsen jumped up to see what was happening outside. (Earthquake?) To his dismay the kitchen floor INSIDE was rising. He called Sister Johnsen in and they watched their tile rise and their grout break apart.  Unless one wants to stub ones toe or risk breaking the partially loosened tiles which are sticking up about ½ inch from level, one has to develop new traffic patterns in our apartment.  Apparently this is not a new affliction to the apartment building where we live, and can be fixed! How firm a foundation, indeed.

Friday night a gale force storm blew in; talk about rain and wind! We thought we understood RAIN in Texas, but no, this is even more amazing! So, our big Saturday youth conference to Peliliu had to be postponed until next week because no boats were going to be running on Saturday. It is too dangerous for boats to travel in this wind, even inside the reef there was very choppy water.  Later in the day the weather cleared up, but it was too late for our trip.  Another in-firm-ity!

We had our last summer party with the kids 8-12; they felt sad to see Friday Fun come to an end. We don’t know if it’s sad that the parties are ending, or just that school is starting on August 6th! So lest anyone at home feel badly about when our schools start in the states, think of these kids. They don’t get out until the end of May either.

Senior missionaries are able to set their own schedules, and do the work they feel needs to be done. They are uniquely in a position to be “….anxiously engaged in a good cause and do many things of their own free will.”  Because we want to be doing many good things, we have been working on painting the chapel, the shed, and other buildings in the church yard. Apparently our work is not yet finished. Elder Johnsen happened to notice a beautiful little fern growing…out of the trim of the building. We think it is time to climb the ladder and scrap and repaint the trim on the building.  Have you ever noticed that when you start a project it seems to grow in magnitude—the untouched portions seem to cry out, “What about me?  I want to look new too!”

This week we thought we would quickly paint the storage shed/bathrooms but discovered that we had to do major scrapping to prepare the surface. Elder Johnsen scrapped right through one wire brush, so we purchased another one.  President Kesolie thinks our painting job looks so good they might cancel the refurbishing project they have planned for next year. We think that by next year it will definitely need to be done again.

We got permission to take out 4 poles that were set up just outside the entrance to our chapel. They were supposed to be like a trellis and have flowering vines growing around them but not one flower has adorned these poles since we got here over 9 months ago. When we started to take them out, they just slid out of the holes because they were FILLED with termites. The Elders helped us and just literally lifted them out. We have been given permission to paint the free standing steeple, but have been told to be careful because termites have also taken up residence there. In-firm-ity all around.

Elder Johnsen shared the following excerpts as a handout with his youth Sunday School class. It is from an article in Meridian Magazine. They studied Alma chapter 36 in the Book of Mormon this past Sunday, and this is where Alma the Younger recounts his conversion experience to his son, Helaman:

“We credit John W. Welch, a prominent gospel scholar, with the discovery of a beautiful poetic pattern that underlies the chapter.  Brother Welch noted years ago that the entire chapter is an impressive chiasm, a carefully structured pattern of mirror-image repetition used by Hebrew and Classic Greek poets in ancient times.  In the first half of the chapter, he recounts what his life was like before coming to Christ. As an arrogant young man, he “exalted himself,” persecuting the church and becoming the “vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4).  He fought against the Lord until, struck down by an angel, he awakened to a sense of what he had done and became “racked with eternal torment” (Alma 36:12). 

By magnificent contrast, in the second half of the chapter he describes his deliverance from torment: “there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (v. 21). 
At the heart of the chapter is his appeal to Jesus Christ, and the relief that he felt when he called upon the Savior and was “born of God” (v. 18, 23).

Here is a mirror-image outline of this great discourse, as described by John Welch. Each element of the chapter is designed by a letter of the alphabet, with the mirroring verses indicated by a superscript ‘. The verse numbers are in parentheses.

A Mirror-Image Outline of Alma 36
(a) My son, give ear to my WORDS (1)
   (c)DO AS I HAVE DONE (2)
    (d) in REMEMBERING THE CAPTIVITY of our fathers (2); 
     (e) for they were in BONDAGE (2)
      (f) he surely did DELIVER them (2)
       (g) TRUST in God (3)
        (h) supported in their TRIALS, and TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (3)
         (i) shall be lifted up at the LAST DAY (3)
          (j) I KNOW this not of myself but of GOD (4)
           (k) BORN OF GOD (5)
            (l) I sought to destroy the church of God (6-9)
             (m) MY LIMBS were paralyzed (10)
              (n) Fear of being in the PRESENCE OF GOD (14-15)
               (o) PAINS of a damned soul (16)
                (p) HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS (17)
                 (q) I remembered JESUS CHRIST, SON OF GOD (17)
                 (q') I cried, JESUS, SON OF GOD (18)
                (p') HARROWED UP BY THE MEMORY OF SINS no more (19)
               (o')  Joy as exceeding as was the PAIN (20)
              (n') Long to be in the PRESENCE OF GOD (22)
             (m') My LIMBS received their strength again (23)
         (l') I labored to bring souls to repentance (24)
           (k') BORN OF GOD (26)
          (j') Therefore MY KNOWLEDGE IS OF GOD (26)
         (h') Supported under TRIALS, TROUBLES, and AFFLICTIONS (27)
        (g') TRUST in him (27)
       (f') He will deliver me (27)
      (i') and RAISE ME UP AT THE LAST DAY (28)
     (e') As God brought our fathers out of BONDAGE and captivity (28-29)
    (d') Retain in REMEMBRANCE THEIR CAPTIVITY (28-29)
   (c') KNOW AS I DO KNOW (30)
 (a') This is according to his WORD (30).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Is the Center of Our Faith
The remarkable symmetry between the opposing elements of the chapter testifies to the great care Alma took in composing this message. His themes are captivity and deliverance, spiritual death and rebirth, paralysis and renewed strength, arrogance and humility, exquisite pain and exquisite joy. 
But the focal point of this grand symphony of opposition is the figure of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Brother Welch observes, “I am especially impressed with the repetition of the name ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God’ at the very center of the chapter. . . . the structure of the chapter powerfully communicates Alma’s personal experience, for the central turning point of his conversion came precisely when he called upon the name of Jesus Christ and asked for mercy.”
In this passage we understand what it means to pass from corruption to perfection, from death to life, and it is entirely due to the merits of Jesus Christ.”

And so it is with us, the Lord Jesus Christ is the center of what we do and the sure foundation in every situation (Hymn 85) and keeps us working and moving forward in Palau every day!  

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