We celebrated one year in the mission field this week. Sister Johnsen made a poster. She has to admit it looks NOTHING like Elder Pauga’s signs. Oh well. We find that we have learned some things in the last year that we thought those who read our blog might find interesting. We also discovered this week that even after a year we can still have some new experiences.
On Monday Sister Johnsen decided she would try the Chinese massage and cupping procedure. It sounded pretty interesting. In retrospect, maybe she should have looked it up on-line first…”The air inside the cup is heated and the rim is then applied to the skin, forming an airtight seal. As the air inside the cup cools, it contracts, forming a partial vacuum and enabling the cup to suck the skin, pulling in soft tissue, and drawing blood to that area. According to the American Cancer Society, "available scientific evidence does not support cupping as a cure for cancer or any other disease". It can leave temporary bruised painful marks on the skin and there is also a small risk of burns.” For Sister Johnsen, the Chinese massage therapist attached about 15 bottles to her shoulders and back and left them on for about 10 minutes, and then they took them off. She looked like she had been in a paint ball fight and the paint ball hits were the size of tennis balls. Here she shows what one of her shoulders looked like.
In theory, after cupping, the darker the skin the more toxic is that part of the body which the cupping is “drawing out”. Sister Johnsen’s family line tends to have a little arthritis in their shoulders so you’d expect pretty dark spots there. Elder Johnsen thinks that the reason the shoulders are darker was because the curve of the underlying structure created a tighter seal, more suction and more bruising. Regardless of the efficacy, it will probably be awhile until she tries that again.
Speaking of new things, Elder Johnsen found that what we in the states call a putty knife has a different name here in Palau, at least in one of the Chinese hardware stores. Here is what he found while shopping. Luckily most people in Palau use toilet paper.
We find that we still have lots of work to do on the building and while the Elders painted interior doors, Sister Johnsen filed papers in President Kesolei’s office, and later in the week hung some pictures.
We also put up a few new decorations in his office including a small lighthouse. President’s Kesolie’s favorite hymn is Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy. Beside the lighthouse we created a framed picture that says, “But to Us He give the keeping of the Lights along the shore.” Elder Boyd K Packer related a story that gave that hymn special meaning to him. He and several others, including John Groberg, were attempting to make a 13 mile night crossing between islands in Western Samoa so they could reorganize a stake the next day at their destination. He said, “We made the 13 mile crossing on very rough seas. None of us realized that a ferocious tropical storm had hit Upolo Island. At Mulisanua, there is one narrow passage through the reef. A light on the hill above the beach marked that narrow passage. There was a second lower light on the beach. When a boat was maneuvered so that the two lights were one above the other, it was lined up properly to pass through the reef.
"But that night, there was only one light. Someone was on the landing waiting to meet us, but the crossing took much longer than usual. After waiting for hours, watching for signs of our boat, they tired and fell asleep in the car, neglecting to turn on the lower light.” Elder Packer then explained how with just that one upper light to guide them the captain tried and repeatedly failed to find the opening in the reef. He said, “It seemed like the boat would struggle up a mountainous wave and then pause in exhaustion at the crest of it with the propellers out of the water. The vibration of the propellers would shake the boat nearly to pieces before it slid down the other side.” After many attempts, the captain realized it was impossible to find the opening. All they could do was try to reach the harbor in Apia, twenty miles away. It took them all night in very heavy seas to travel those 20 miles with all the brethren holding on spread eagle to the top of the cargo hold to keep from being washed overboard.
In this song the Savior is the shining light house, but to us God gives the keeping of the lower lights along the shore. This song encourages us to let our lower light shine so we may rescue those who are struggling to find safe harbor in the ocean of life.
To celebrate one year in the mission field we ate at a little Thai restaurant where we have never eaten before. The food was amazingly delicious. We will definitely go there again.
One thing that Elder Johnsen says that he has learned from serving in the mission field for one year is that the Lord knew what he was doing when He sent us to Palau. We have come here with a certain skill set and it seems to be just what the branch needs. Eric Carlson, the previous second counselor in the branch presidency, told him that it always seems like the Lord sends just the right senior missionaries with just the right skills at just the right time. President Rawson, in his prayer to set Elder Johnsen apart, used those words in his blessing. He said that Elder Johnsen would use his education, skills, talents, knowledge etc. in his calling. It has been quite amazing for us to see how literally that has been fulfilled in our first year. Elder Johnsen has used Accounting, Computing, Scouting, Finance/Budgeting, Musical, Teaching, Carpentry, Painting, Car Care, Cooking, Cleaning, Laundry, First Aid, Ministry, and Administering skills almost from day one.
Elder Johnsen has also discovered that you can find and visit everyone-multiple times, improve the Sacrament meetings, create a home teaching night, improve the music and work with all the auxiliary programs and it doesn’t seem like it makes any difference to the majority of people. Our Sacrament meeting attendance this past quarter was basically the same as it was at the end of December last year.
Sister Johnsen says that she has learned that senior missionaries are truly needed in these “Piper Cub” branches. As Elder Uchtdorf suggested in conference some units of the church are F18’s and some are Piper Cubs. The work that senior missionaries can do makes a huge difference in helping the faithful few, and in the maintenance of the church programs in these “Piper Cub” areas. She sees it all over Micronesia.
Sister Johnsen has also learned that 18 months is a long time to be away from family, friends, fast food and fun. It’s a sacrifice, but it’s also a blessing in many ways. Just has to balance out, doesn’t it? Elder Johnsen always says that there’s balance in the universe.
So that is our one year anniversary analysis that we wanted to share. We’re still here, still doing the work, still trying to make a difference in Palau!
- ▼ October (5)