Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Thanks (#63)

Now that we’ve completed our second Thanksgiving in the Republic of Palau, we thought it would be a good time to enumerate some of the many things for which we are thankful.  

First, we are thankful for Humor.  Almost daily we’ll find something “lost in translation” about which we get a good laugh.  The best gem from our week was a menu at the Rip Tide restaurant—lots of things here are decorated with flowers, but we don’t really believe that they intended to say that their sweet and sour chicken was “cooked in flower and fried . . .”

Secondly, we are thankful for sunsets.  Usually we miss them because we are back in our apartment at dinner time and our western view is obscured by trees, but occasionally we are out and about and are treated to some of the most colorful evening skies.  
Third, we are thankful for generous friends.  This week while our daughter, Karen, was visiting us from the states, President Kesolei and his daughter, Kali, took us all out in his boat where we cruised through the Rock Islands and visited all the usual tourist sites up the east side and back down on the west side.  Elder Johnsen was reminded once again of why he said 12 years ago, when he visited Palau on a business trip while we worked for ExxonMobil, that Palau was the most beautiful place God caused to be created.  
Fourth, we are thankful for people to serve and the elders with whom we serve.  On Tuesday we did our usual weekly service project.  This week we were back at widow Paz’s home and filled up the back of the Elder’s new Tacoma with trash that we collected from around her house.  We also completed the base board project that we began several weeks ago.  Not only was Sister Paz grateful for our help, but we all felt such a sense of friendship and camaraderie for each other while we worked together.  
Fifth, we are thankful for good food and good people with whom to share it.  This week we had two Thanksgiving feasts. On Thursday Sister Johnsen set a fine table decorated with local “flowers” not flour.
At 2:00 p.m. the Elders joined Karen, Eli, and Daniel and us in our apartment for a meal to remember.   Getting our big 22 lb. turkey stuffed and in the oven seemed easier than usual.  The turkey was reportedly the best we’ve ever made.  Was it the coating of olive oil and sea salt, or the fact that the power was on all day this year as compared to last Thanksgiving?  Dinner was very delicious.  Eli and Daniel actually prepared a good amount of the food; they brought a cherry pie, mashed red potatoes, green bean casserole, carrots, gravy and a yam soufflé.  That coupled with our turkey, dressing, rolls, pumpkin pie,Johnsen’s famous Jell-O salad, celery sticks w/peanut butter and raisins made the perfect meal.  After the dinner was over we cleared the table, rinsed some of the dishes, and played “Oh Heck” and several other games which were very fun.  But the big Thanksgiving feasts were not over.  On Saturday evening we had a baptism at the church followed by our branch pot luck Thanksgiving dinner.
We had a huge crowd, thanks to fliers made by Elder J and delivered by the Elders, and also about 30 text message reminders sent out by Elder J on Saturday morning.  Perhaps most gratifying was that the next day in Sacrament meeting, we had one of our largest congregations of the year attend our meetings.  

Sixth, we’re thankful for Family and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   We feel so blessed to have had Karen make the trip from the states to make a brief visit in Palau.  As we have taken her to see many of the places where we’ve worked and served during these past 14 months, we were reminded of how much we love her and how we’ve grown to love the people we’ve served here in Palau. 
This week also saw the passing of our brother-in-law, Jerry Hitchcock.  There were also deaths and serious injury in our extended church family back in Texas—all these incidents remind us that the certain door of death lies ahead for all of us, but because of the Savior, Jesus Christ, that door can lead to limitless possibilities together with our loved ones forever.  We truly have so much for which to be thankful!   

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