Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Waterfalls, Windows, and Wastebaskets (#64)

Monday was our preparation day, and  Karen’s last day in Palau—a perfect time for a zone outing to the waterfall at Ngardmau.  Even though Elder and Sister Johnsen had recently taken a group of single adults and CES directors there they were still excited to go again. Two of our Elders (Fullmer and Pauga) plus Karen had never seen the highest waterfall in Micronesia.  It was a great day to be at the falls.  The Elders worked on a dam to make the water under the falls a little deeper.  Several of our group stood under the heaviest flow of the falls and got the most vigorous water massage that you’ve ever seen.  The water was coming down so hard that Elder Pauga’s neck was red and he’s Samoan!
We even got to explore the upper part of the falls which is rarely seen by tourists because it is protected by a sign that says danger.  This last picture of Elder Fullmer shows that the danger was greatly exaggerated.  Elder Johnsen’s mother would always say that the forbidden fruit tastes best—we don’t know about that but it was fun visiting the top of the Ngardmau waterfall.
Our next stop on our Zone P-Day activity was to stop out at Toby’s beach—the elder’s threw the football around while Elder Johnsen got a little shut-eye.  Hey, that’s what you’re supposed to do on your P day right?  That night we stayed up late to take Karen to the airport. It was hard to see her go. See you in 16 weeks, Karen.
Tuesday was our service project and it also had a lot to do with water.  We washed windows at the church—the chapel windows were not so bad but we’re not sure that the family history center, library and the branch president’s windows had ever been cleaned—that’s not possible, of course, but they were super dirty.  But all it took was a couple of hours and some elbow grease and they are squeaky clean.  
Tuesday was also our Priesthood Service night in the state of Koror.  Elder Johnsen has put together 7 geographic routes totaling 140 households—in one single night we attempt to visit them all and leave first presidency messages or Liahona magazines with the family.   On the previous Sunday night Elder Johnsen made visits in the state of Airai where 18 households reside—for the first time ever all 18 families were home—not bad for one night of home teaching!  The elder’s quorum president and his son who accompanied Elder Johnsen couldn’t believe it!  Tuesday night was also the night that we received some alarming news—a storm was brewing and was headed for Palau—most of the families that we visited hadn’t heard the news and we’re glad we notified them.
The remainder of our week has been consumed with preparation activities associated with the typhoon Bopha bearing down on Palau—as we write this Advisory 25 has been released showing that the storm will arrive at about 4:00 a.m. Monday morning with 145 mile per hour winds.  The center of the storm is projected to pass over Peleliu about 20 miles south.  The system is so large that Typhoon force winds will buffet all of Koror as well as the entire “Big Island” of Babeldaob where we just played on the beach last Monday.  As we write this all our windows are boarded up, we’ve stocked our shelves with canned food, we have 20 gallons of filtered drinking water on hand, and we’ve even filled a 33 gallon wastebasket with water tap water to insure that we’ll have water to flush the toilet and wash ourselves and our dishes.
The car is filled with gasoline.  Elder Johnsen even purchased an inverter for the car so we can charge our cell phone and laptop computer.  When a storm half as powerful as this one passed through Houston, our power was out for a week.  We are expecting and have prepared for a much worse result with Bopha.  We’re much better off than over 90% of our members—we live in a concrete apartment building (although it has only a steel roof).  Most of our members live in wooden frame houses covered with galvanized corrugated steel.  The trees here are very tall, it’s been 22 years since the last typhoon brushed these islands—we foresee widespread damage caused by the combination of wind, rising water, and falling trees.  Assuming that power, water and internet access are restored by next week we’ll try to  include some before and after pictures—we took the “before” pictures today while we were on our usual morning walk.  

Tonight we had our 12th baptism of the year, a young woman, Keisy, with whom we have had the opportunity to work in the Meyuns spelling bee, piano lessons, family home evenings, summer game nights at our apartment, and other activities, was baptized.

We are reminded that water can be beautiful when it falls from a high rock cliff, it can be helpful when cleaning building windows, it can be lifesaving when it filtered and used as drinking water, can help with sanitation when we use it to flush or clean our bodies and it also has powerful symbolic meaning when we participate in ordinances such as baptism and the sacrament.  “And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.  And also, the voice of the Son same unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do”. 2 Nephi 31:11-12 We express our gratitude for the “living water” provided by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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