Sunday, March 10, 2013

Isn’t the Gospel Wonderful? (#78)

For over a year now Elder Johnsen has been teaching the youth Sunday School class.  In 2012, the lessons were from the Book of Mormon, and he totally loved teaching that material; he was sure nothing could top that experience.  It has been an unexpected surprise for him to find how much he’s enjoyed teaching the new, “Come, Follow Me” lessons to this youth SS class.  It’s been an even greater joy for Sister Johnsen (who normally teaches in-service) to find that Elder Johnsen can use the material for our monthly in-service lessons. This past Tuesday we invited all the branch leaders and teachers to join the seminary and institute teachers for our monthly in-service lesson.  EJ reprised a lesson he taught in youth SS. To begin, he had Eli and Daniel demonstrate how US babies are fed in a high chairs (most Palauan families don’t have high chairs).  They really hammed it up; it could have been a skit from one of those TV comedy improv shows. The class was laughing SO hard.
Then he had the class read D&C 88:122 and contrasted the teaching styles, where a teacher just spoon feeds the learners, to a class where everyone is engaged, and students and teachers are edifying each other.  After the opening EJ assigned each participant a section from page 4-5 of “Teaching the Gospel in the Savior’s Way.”  Each student was to find a scripture that supported the “Savior’s way of teaching” discussed in their section. Then each person taught their section to the rest of the class. The lesson didn’t end until 8:30 (about 30 minutes longer than usual).  To close the meeting EJ asked each participant “What will you do in your next lesson to emulate the Saviors methods?”  SJ made an insightful comment about something she read about how people learn and how the brain works from an interesting book called, Evolve Your Brain.  She pointed out that the book suggests that research shows that we learn better when new information connects to something that we already know. Sister Johnsen said that this shows how brilliant the Savior’s teaching was. He always connected his teaching with something that people knew. He shared simple stories, parables, and real-life examples that made sense to them.  He helped them discover gospel lessons from their own experiences, and from the world around them.  He spoke of fishing, of childbirth, of working in the fields.  To teach about watching over each other, He told stores about rescuing lost sheep.  To teach His disciples to trust Heavenly Father’s tender care, He urged them to “consider the lilies of the field.” (see Matt 6:25-34) We felt good about the class. It was our final in-service on our mission in Palau, and we have a greater appreciation for the Master teacher, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

By Wednesday morning we had finally finished collecting all the supplies and tools needed to construct stairs down the slippery slope that leads to the Tervet family home in Ngerbeched.  The slippery slope was even more slippery than usual because it rained before we arrived, and also rained during our work.  While the Elders worked on the increasingly soggy slippery slope, Elder Johnsen was reminded of one of his favorite children books, "Horton Hatches the Egg" which is about an elephant named Horton who agrees to sit on an egg for the good-for-nothing, lazy bird, Maysie, so she can take a quick vacation. What he soon realizes is that the bird is not taking a quick vacation; she flies off to the beach and decides to never come back. Horton sits on the egg through the rain and the snow, and even when his friends ridicule him, he stays on the egg because "an elephant's faithful one hundred percent."  No matter how tough times were, Horton stuck to his word and followed through with his task until the end.  Likewise the Elders were faithful 100%, even though the work was hard and the rain poured down on them. We were pleased with the result as shown in these photos.

On Friday night we had Clair and Betty over to play games and eat food. They are two North Americans from the St. George Utah area. They are here in Palau with a mostly LDS crew working to repair the compact road (the road that circles the big island of Babeldaob).   We ended up playing Mexican train. About 1/3 way thru EJ got a call to go give a blessing to Jose Evangelista, so Clair was his companion. While the guys were gone Betty told Sister Johnsen the story of how she had just gotten up from her prayer to Heavenly Father when the telephone rang and EJ was calling to invite her and her husband over to play games. She had been asking Heavenly Father to bless her so that she could enjoy her time here in Palau more.  She felt that the Lord had heard and answered her prayer. Just a coincidence, right? We have come to agree with the idea expressed by Gerald Lund that a coincidence is when we can’t see the levers and pulleys being pulled on from the other side of the veil. Elder Bednar called those type of coincidences, Tender Mercies (see “The Tender Mercies of the Lord”, Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 99-102).  After the blessing the boys came back to the apartment and we finished our game. The party broke up about 11:00 and was super fun for all involved.  Elder and Sister Johnsen always say, “It’s all missionary work.”

Happy Birthday to Elder Fullmer! We had our Sunday birthday dinner for him and had our usual poke and pour cake which we haven’t had for so long that Elder Dopp had never eaten one! He missed all the poke and pour fun we had!  Wishing Elder Fullmer many, many more!

The other big event this week is that we learned that our replacements will be Allan and Kristine Carter from St. George, Utah.  (Yes, they know all the construction crew that is here fixing the compact road).  Just a coincidence, right?  They are a very talented couple in drama, music, and church leadership. If we would have had 100 couples to choose from they would have been our first choice.  It is such a relief to know that our “relief” has been named, and that our little branch in Palau will have such capable senior couple assigned to assist with the Lord’s work here. We fully agree with the sentiment they expressed in a recent email to us, “Isn't the gospel wonderful, and we have this opportunity to share it with the entire world?”  We sing in chorus, “Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!” (Hymn 193). (They say they will be keeping a blog, so you mothers of the missionaries in Palau can still keep up with your sons!)

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