Monday, July 23, 2012

The Right Recipe (#45)

See if you can relate to this story we heard during our senior conference:

My aunt and I have had a bit of a communication problem with coleslaw.  When I was living in Florida she called me about it.  “Reatha,” she said, “it’s about this coleslaw recipe you gave me.  I made it last night and your uncle said it’s not as good as yours.  Now you get your recipe and we’ll go over it together and we’ll see what you forgot to tell me.”  “Yes Ma’am,” I said.  “First you start with chopped cabbage.”  “Oh, I never chop mine.” She said.  “Takes too long, I use my blender.” “Yes Ma’am,” I said.  “Sprinkle on some sugar. . .” “Sugar?” she interrupted. “I really don’t think you need sugar on cabbage. I just left that out.  Go on.” “Yes Ma’am,” I said. “Next add some instant minced onion.”  “Oh, I never use that,” she said.  “We have lots of green onions from the garden so I used those instead and I added some green and red peppers to give it some color.  Your coleslaw looks so bland.”  “Yes Ma’am,” I said.  “Then I put in some dill weed. . .”  “Weed? Oh, I used seed, it’s practically the same thing,” she said.  “Yes Ma’am,” I said. “And then I mix in salt and pepper.” “Just plain salt and pepper?” she asked.  “I find my things taste better with seasoned salt and lemon pepper.  That’s what I used.  What next?” “The last thing I use is just plain mayonnaise,” I said, “Just enough to hold it all together.”  “Plain mayonnaise,” my aunt said.  “I think sour cream dresses up coleslaw more.  Now is that it?”  “Yes Ma’am,” I said.  “I just don’t understand it,” she said.  “I followed your recipe exactly as you told me.  Are you certain you didn’t leave something out?  Well, I’ll try it one more time but if it doesn’t turn out I’ll be calling you again.”  “Yes Ma’am,” I said.

Finding the right recipe, and then using it are two ever present challenges. We felt because of our time in Guam we learned many new recipes for performing our mission in Palau. We all shared information with the other senior missionaries about our responsibilities, especially as they relate to CES (Church Education System). We learned a lot and discovered that the work that the seniors do is amazingly valuable to lives of the people on these islands. It was incredible to hear about how much the seniors do day after day in very difficult island situations, and yet they continue to have smiling faces and great attitudes. We felt more grateful than ever for our own opportunity to serve on Palau. We feel we have one of the most ideal situations. 

Elder Johnsen has been having a serious case of golf withdrawal as evidenced by his frequent golf dreams.  He was blessed on Sunday night to get into a conversation with Elder Eldridge. He and his wife are serving on Kosrae as a new senior missionary couple.   It turns out that he is an avid golfer and also retired military, so on Monday morning they hopped in the rental car and headed up to Anderson Air force base.  Elder Eldridge got them on the base golf course; for $38 dollars each they played 18 holes of golf, with a cart and a set of rental clubs for each of them (the guys at the pro shop even gave them a handful of used golf balls).  With no warm up Elder Johnsen stepped up to the first tee, 3 wood in hand, and stroked his first ball hit in 9 months to the 150 yard marker in the middle of the fairway.  The rest of the round wasn’t as impressive as his first drive, but for him it was nice to stop dreaming about golf and actually play a round.  This was definitely the RIGHT recipe for fun! They have a date to play again in 6 months at the next senior conference.

It was great for both Elder and Sister Johnsen to be in Guam which has more of the creature comforts found in US territory.  Sister Johnsen doesn’t have golf dreams, but she does think with longing for sugar free frozen yogurt.  She snapped this picture of Elder Johnsen enjoying a full strength yogurt at the Micronesia Mall.  During the week we counted 4 different trips to various yogurt shops around Guam to satisfy our craving. 

On Sunday all the couples are invited to President and Sister Mecham's home for lunch after church.
On Monday night for Family Home Evening Elder and Sister Norton who are also new seniors invited all of us to their place on Guam for dinner. They call their place Zarahemla ruins. They served a Café Rio menu and it was just the right recipe for all of us.

Elder and Sister Johnsen sat down with Liz and Chris Gittens who were in the Talisay Branch when they lived in Guam 12 years ago. They had been asked to come and speak to us. He is now the stake patriarch. We were richly blessed by the things that both of them said. Sister Gittens transcribes the patriarchal blessings and said that on the first one she felt like she would make some changes to the words because she loves English and want everything to be said correctly. She said she could NOT move her fingers when she got to the place where she was going to make changes. She said they were frozen on the keys. When she decided she just better type the blessing exactly as it was given her hands flew across the keys easily.

Brother Gittens talked to us about how most of the work of the church is being done by Ephraim and sometimes Manasseh and a few other tribes. He told us to picture the baptismal font in the temple and how it is held up by 12 oxen. He suggested that when all 12 tribes are doing the work it will spread rapidly over the earth. What a great day that will be. For now, Ephraim is to carry the work forward and find the elect. The elect are those who hear the message and follow it.

While in Guam Sister Johnsen had the opportunity to sing “An Instrument in his Hands” in the Dededo Sacrament meeting.  She also sang “I Have Not Seen, Yet I Believe” during a break on the first day of our senior conference.  The song covers instances from the Savior’s life culminating in his death and resurrection. Elder Johnsen created a windows movie that incorporated the song’s music track and scanned images of the Savior, which matched the words to the song.  That “movie” accompanied Sister’s Johnsen’s singing.  It brought a beautiful spirit to the conference as we prepare to teach the New Testament in Seminary and Institute this coming year.  

Besides all the conference activities both Elder and Sister Johnsen got their teeth cleaned, and stocked up on hard to get items (or items that are more expensive in Palau than in Guam).   They brought an extra suitcase for that purpose and had it filled with 47.5 pounds on their return trip to Palau on Thursday night.  

Friday night President and Sister Mecham arrived in Palau.  Saturday was our Zone conference and on Sunday we had Branch conference.  Elder Johnsen was sustained as 2nd counselor in the branch presidency; this is the 6th branch presidency or bishopric in which he’s served.  So Sister Johnsen is back to sitting alone in the congregation again.   Of course, he’s still executive secretary, youth Sunday School teacher, membership clerk, and YM advisor so what’s one more calling?  

President and Sister Mecham traveled to Palau with President and Sister Hales and so we felt like we should invite them to dinner on Sunday when we feed the Elders. There were 10 of us to dinner, and we sat out on the deck and had a pleasant evening talking and getting to know each other better.

Every day we pray that we will get directions from the Spirit (the right recipe) and then that we will have willing hearts and working hands to combine the ingredients to make a delicious feast for those around us.

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