Monday, February 11, 2013

Making the Leap of Faith (#74)

This week at seminary we were studying John 10 in which Jesus is spoken of as the good Shepherd.  While we discussed verse 4 where the sheep know His voice, we heard a unique story told by Eli about the value of knowing the voice to follow. During WWII, a ship was sinking and another ship was alongside to remove the men from the sinking ship. The ships were both rocking furiously, but at exact opposite frequency—that is, at one point their sides would be together and the other point their sides would be far apart.  The rocking frequency was such that in order to make the jump from one ship to the other the seaman would have to make his jump when the vessels sides were farthest apart; then while the person was in the air the vessels sides would rock together and he would safely land on the deck of the rescue ship.  If they jumped when the vessels sides were next to each other the gap between the ships would open while the seaman was in midair, and he would fall in between the ships and be crushed and drowned in the ocean below.  Many of the men being rescued knew and trusted the man who was commanding them when to jump.  While it was difficult to implicitly trust his command to jump when the ships sides were farthest apart, those that did so were saved.  So it is with our faith in the good shepherd, we make the leap of faith at the command of the good shepherd trusting that the outcome is according to his will.  Sister Johnsen likes the saying she found in the book The Artist’s Way which says, “Leap and the net will appear.”

We had one of those trusting experiences on Tuesday night when we opened up our CES inservice lesson to all the branch leaders and teachers.  Elder Johnsen’s lesson was about teaching after the manner of the spirit.    After laying the groundwork by reading D&C 50: 13-22 and using Matthew O. Richardson’s October 2011 conference talk on the subject of “teaching after the manner of the spirit”, not in front of, not behind, but BY the spirit, we divided the attendees into teams of two.  Each team used Teaching No Greater Call (teaching by the spirit section) to create a list of things we can do to teach by the spirit. After their reports EJ concluded with ideas from Richardson’s talk where he suggested that we must teach as the Holy Ghost teaches. He “teaches what we must know and do so we may become what we must be” and secondly “the Holy Ghost teaches by inviting, prompting, encouraging and inspiring us to act.  Christ assured us that we come to the truth when we live doctrine and act accordingly.” Our final section was to have each person individually answer out loud the question, “How can you use this material to teach by the spirit.” Each person found at least one thing (from our long list on the board) that they committed to do so their teaching would be BY the spirit.   Sister J made rice crispy squares for a treat—the meeting couldn’t have gone better.  After it was over EJ received a text from the Elder’s Quorum President, “I really enjoyed attending in-service.  I learned a lot and felt the spirit. Thanks.”  For us it was a leap of faith to invite the busiest people in the branch to ANOTHER meeting, but it was gratifying that the good Shepherd would send the comforter so the instruction would model the lesson we were trying to teach.  

On Tuesday morning we were up at the church doing service. We actually had two project choices. We could put a second coat of paint on the new doors on the BP and FHC (which some of you will remember were destroyed during our church break-in about a month ago), paint the back of the shed, and do some other deep cleaning work, or we could go and move some dirt at Diane’s place on Dead Dog road. (That’s our name for the road that Diane lives on because the day we found her house there was a dead dog on the road). We finally decided to split up and do both. We feel very happy that we made that decision. As we were concluding our work and the Koror elders had come back to the church, a guy from the Czech Republic stopped by the church and visited for a while with EJ. He was just walking to the crocodile farm, saw our church sign which said that visitors were welcome, and just stopped in to see what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was all about. He was actually surprised to learn that the church has a presence in the Czech Republic (which we knew because of our friends, the Hrncirik's served a mission there).

Elder Fullmer and Gubler actually had a “real” discussion with him, gave him a Book of Mormon and later that day had a follow-up meeting where they gave him more church literature.  Talk about divine positioning.  He’s been here in Palau for a month. This is the first time he’s stopped at the church, and this is the only Tuesday we’ve been at the church doing service this month.  He took the leap of faith as prompted by the spirit, and missionaries were at the church to answer his questions.  Coincidence?  We don’t think so!   

We just can’t stop bragging on our awesome Palau missionaries.  This week the elders in Meyuns, Elder Fullmer and Pauga taught 51 lessons and Elder’s Gubler and Dopp taught 61.  These are not just lessons for the sake of numbers, these are lessons taught to real people who are making and keeping commitments.  The elders have taken the leap of faith which resulted from recent training, and we are astounded by the way the work of the Good Shepherd is going forward.  Elder Gubler also celebrated his 20th birthday this past week, but he was in Guam on his actual birthday, so we celebrated it a week late.  When we asked him what he wanted he said, a German chocolate cake. We were impressed to find the cake and the frosting in the store here…it’s the little miracles! 

We’ve also continued our work this week with our 5 bright and dedicated Koror Elementary spelling bee students.  Since we were only called in to help beginning January 24, and the island wide Spelling Bee is this coming Saturday (February 16th) our students have had much less preparation than did our Meyuns students last year.  Nevertheless, they’ve been working hard and also taking a leap of faith that the extra hour they spend with us each day after school will pay dividends in a better spelling bee performance.  
Ralph Waldo Emerson says, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters, compared to what lies within us.” As we look inside of ourselves for our own faith, we are able to move forward in ways that we didn’t previously think possible. Every day we can practice our own special “leap” of faith!

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