After the meeting the local pastor, translator and many other members warmly thanked Elder Johnsen for coming. It is easy to see why the SDA church in Palau is flourishing if all visitors are treated as warmly as Elder Johnsen was. When he returned home Sister Johnsen asked him what he felt about the meeting. EJ commented about the warmth of his greeting and farewell, but sadly noted the lack of the spirit present.
Elder Johnsen contrasted that lack with what he felt the next morning as we opened our little zone conference meeting. There were just 8 of us present, the mission president and the 6 missionaries. As we sang the opening song he felt the spirit so strongly come into the room, tears came to his eyes. Just as Elder Bednar said in April 2005 conference talk called, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord.” To Elder Johnsen’s mind came this verse from the Book of Mormon: “But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.” Like Elder Bednar, Elder Johnsen knew that he was experiencing just such a tender mercy. A loving Savior was sending him a most personal and timely message of comfort and reassurance. This IS God’s work and we are in His service. Elder Johnsen was first on the zone conference program. In his talk he quoted Alma 33:22-23 where Alma told the Zoramite poor what the seed was they should plant—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in his atonement. He also related that teaching to Alma’s great Chiasmus in Alma 36 where the turning point of the chiasmus is when Alma the Younger’s mind caught hold upon the thought of Jesus Christ—that He could deliver him from the pain he was experiencing. Alma deliberately is using the focusing power of the Chiasmus to direct our attention to the central message of the importance to him of the Savior and His atonement—as it should be to each of us.
After his talk EJ sat down but immediately had to get up he felt like throwing up—so he went home and slept for the next 4 hours straight and missed the rest of the Zone Conference and spent all the next day in bed.
|Zone Conference Role-Playing|
Speaking of tender mercies we served taco’s for Sunday dinner to the elders. Now to those people who live in the USA, tacos doesn’t seem like much of a miracle Sunday dinner, but on Palau it takes about 3 separate miracles to happen at the same time—we NEVER (except for this one time) have fresh good iceberg lettuce, we rarely have tomatoes, nor sour cream. No one sells taco seasoning (Sister Johnsen got some from the states), only about ½ the time we can get flour tortillas but on this one week all the tumblers aligned in an improbable jackpot of tacos.
While President Mecham was here for Zone conference we also were able to confirm with him our departure date so we can begin to make our arrangements for returning home to Texas. We have a backlog of doctor and dental appointments to line up. We feel that it is also a tender mercy that we’ve been sustained physically during these past 16 months.
Sister Johnsen celebrated her second birthday in the mission field. We went out to dinner at Sarah’s Yum Yum which was reported to be good and where we have never been before. We won’t go there again; did Elder Johnsen’s flu come from the grilled salmon? Sometime a restaurant gets a bad rap from coincidence.
It week of little blessings and mercies and we were glad to be able to experience them.