Monday, August 13, 2012

Rising to New Heights in Palau (#48)

Our Tuesday morning service projects have become part of our weekly routine. We get to the church about 7:30 A.M. and paint until about 10:00. The church is looking better in so many ways, and in so many places. We are very pleased with the work that we have done. This Tuesday after the Elders left, we just planned to work a little longer, but we didn’t get back to the apartment until 12:50. Sister Johnsen was doing some touch-up work on the fascia and had a little more paint in her bucket so since the ladder was leaning up against our class room building she thought she’d climb up and paint the peak.  The only problem is getting up to the peak is a lot easier than getting down.  Elder Johnsen tried to talk her down in imitation of Amalickiah trying to get Lehonti down from the mount Antipas, but finally had to go up the ladder and guide her down.   We are rising to new heights in our service!
On Wednesday the Young Women came to our apartment to learn how to cook something.  Sister Johnsen showed them how to make simple yeast dinner rolls. They all loved it, and each girl helped with one part. While our rolls were rising to new heights, they learned how to make a poke and pour cake (the cake was baked in advance.)  Then we went out on our patio and ate. Evangeline, the YW president, had gotten some other food and we had a little feast. By the time we were done with that, our dough was ready to form into rolls; this was so much fun for the girls. They didn’t get to stay to see them bake, but they ate them on Saturday night during our CES Kick-off event.
Before we could do our CES event on Saturday, we went to the church for a baptism for Herry Frank. This is Palau’s 8th baptism this year. We were very excited for Herry, and Sister Johnsen’s chocolate chip cookies were gobbled up as they usually are.  

Our CES kick-off event was held at the very end of the village of Nermid, at the dock area on Neco Bay. There is a covered waiting area there, and also lots of water. This year’s course of study for Seminary and Institute is the New Testament. We started the evening with an opening song, “Master the Tempest is Raging” and then had an opening prayer. We had arranged to have a boat there to take our kids out on the water. Since the boat operator was ready to go, out we went.  When we got out in the middle of the bay, Joni, our seminary teacher, talked about the scriptures in Matthew 14 where the Savior came walking on the water and Peter said to him “bid me come unto thee on the water”. Then Peter lost his faith and began to sink into the water. He called out, “Lord, save me.”  The Savior took his hand and raising him out of the water, saved him.

We know that sometimes no matter how strong or committed we are, or how much faith we have, we still sometimes call out, “Lord, save me.” And he takes us by the hand and helps us rise to new heights. It is one of the great miracles of our lives!

After our boat ride, we ate our dinner of tropical chicken, rice, jello with tropical fruit, corn and (the young women’s ) homemade rolls. We served brownies for dessert.  

We have a finicky oven and so when we put four casserole dishes containing our tropical chicken into the oven, two on the top and two on the bottom, we just had to hope they would cook correctly while we were at the baptism. Unfortunately, the baptismal service ran a little long and when we came home to get them and go to our Seminary Kick-off, the bottom two looked kind of crispy. Everything in our oven burns if it is not on the top. Fortunately all the kids liked the look and taste of the caramelized chicken the best. It went first and fast. Who knew?

After dinner, Sister Johnsen continued the program and talked about how the Savior had to get into a boat to teach the people because they were pressing, or trying to get nearer to him, to touch him. (Luke 5). After teaching, he talked to Peter and told him to launch out into the deep and let down his nets. Peter told the Savior that they had been fishing all night and had not caught any fish, but that he would do as the Savior suggested. When the net was rising out of the water it began to break because of the large catch of fish. Partners were called to share the fish, and their boats began to sink because there were so many fish. We know that following the Savior will lead to huge blessing beyond our ability to contain them, and that we will be able to share those blessing with others.

Elder Johnsen (borrowing an idea used by S Michael Wilcox) concluded the meeting by going back to the story that Joni told, only he described how the disciples had been toiling all night in rowing and had only gone 25 furloughs (about 3 miles) because of the contrary winds and high sea. Their 6 miles trip, which should have taken about 2 hours was now in it’s 9th hour (the forth watch is from 3:00 a.m. – 6:00 a.m.) and they’d only made it ½ way. Then the Savior came “in the 4th watch” and calmed the storm.  He shared from Joseph Smith First Vision how the Lord didn’t come to save until “this moment of great alarm” and also how the widow of Zarephath was fixing her last meal for herself and son when Elijah commanded the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil to fail not.  The Savior is a first watch God when we are repenting, but sometimes when we are facing adversity and trials we just need to “keep on swimming” (Finding Nemo) or keep on rowing even when the wind is contrary and the sea (of life) is threatening to swamp our boat.  Sometimes our hands are blistered on the oars—the attendees laughed when Elder Johnsen suggested that when we reach the end of our rope, tie a knot and hang on a little longer—the Savior will come in the 4th watch and lift us to new heights.  
We’ve had a memorable week!  

1 comment:

  1. Being a missionary sounds so fun! you guys are lucky