“After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.
Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. Then the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast . . . . because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.
In singing praises to God, King David wrote, “He will cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:4).
The Savior mourned over Jerusalem, “ . . .how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 23:37) see also: 3 Ne. 10:4-6; and several others --Topical Guide – Wings
The scriptural references to “a hen gathering her chicks” will have new meaning if we remember the mother bird in the Yellowstone National Park fire.
Let us have the Faith of little chicks. Even though the storms (or fires) of life may rage about us, we must trust in the love and safety of the Savior. Remember, He died that we might live.”
During our trip we also fell under the wings of Hollywood—on Saturday afternoon. E/S Johnsen went to Les Miserables which was a touching and wonderful movie. Tuesday evening after dinner with other seniors we saw Lincoln (which we understand has been nominated for 12 Academy Awards). One of the many things that we miss on Palau is a movie theater with current releases. Although there is one Palauan advantage, we can usually purchase current DVD releases for $3.
Speaking of birds--Monday was an eventful day for us in Guam. In the morning Elder Johnsen got his golf need satisfied—a foursome of seniors headed to Anderson AFB to play on their 18 hole golf course. Elder J had the hot hand on the front nine—you should have heard the “Oohs” and “Awes” when he knocked a 5 wood 195 yards to within 4 feet of the pin on the par 3 8th hole. Of course he missed the birdy putt on the high side a sliding side hill putt—it was close— the ball made a complete 360 around the hole before popping out, but that’s golf! He doesn’t want to talk about the back nine, we’ll let you draw your own conclusion, but one par 5 tells the whole story—after two brilliant shots he was in the greenside bunker 10 yards away from the pin after 4 more strokes he was finally out of the bunker but now 20 yards from the pin down a steep embankment—it was a miracle that he only recorded a triple. He found every sand trap on the back nine and didn’t have one clean hit out. Nevertheless, it was so much fun for him.
Monday afternoon we both got our teeth cleaned and later that evening we were at the Mecham’s with all the seniors for a great meal and family home evening. The spiritual activity was to make a one word sermon. Both Elder Johnsen and Sister Johnsen were chosen by their group to deliver the sermon—SJ discoursed on the word GO and EJ talked about BEHOLD. It was a fun exercise. After that we played a jeopardy game composed of questions about individual seniors present. EJs group did well because they won the daily double and got the question right. After that we played four on a couch. That was super fun and funny. (everyone takes a new name of another person in the group--object of the game is to remember the new name of every person and get 4 people of the same sex on the couch). You have never seen so many “senior” moments! The women won!
On Tuesday the conference began, President and Sister Mecham spoke and wowed us with their enthusiasm. For the first time in many years the mission beat the baptismal goal—the Lord is clearly accelerating the work in Micronesia. We heard also from our seminary/institute director and from the office and service center staff.
On Wednesday each senior couple made a report of things they had been doing. E/S Johnsen reported on their work to update and use the new LDS on-line tools, priesthood service night, our transition plan, and also some things that we really enjoy about serving in Palau.
EJ was very excited to update LDS tools while he was in Guam and actually get on his iphone the complete Palau branch directory, with pictures and locations all of our members. He just thinks it’s way cool to see all our work so concisely accessible. Thursday was the concluding day of the conference, it consisted of a hike to a beautiful island location where we had a great breakfast followed by a testimony meeting.
It was a lovely way to end the conference sheltered under the outstretched limbs of trees less than 50 feet from the ocean. While the weather threatened we were able to complete the program without disruption. By Friday night we were back in Palau, back in the saddle again.
We now have only a few more weeks before we are sheltered back under the wings of the Klein Ward. We have lots of work to do before we leave Palau and come home!