Transfer week - DONE! The new missionaries arrived safely on Monday - an outstanding group of young, spiritually prepared young men and women anxious and ready to share our Savior's love. I had their arrival letter and photos emailed to all the parents by 1 pm on Tuesday. The most labor intensive part is downloading and organizing the photos from the president's camera memory card. Three photos (solo missionary, with President and Sister Bekker, and the new group) are then attached to an email with a letter and sent to each parent. It takes a while! Also on Tuesday I printed off all the departing missionary's letters. These are the weekly letters each missionary has emailed to the president during his/her mission, and the president's response. Some missionaries are faithful - write every week and have 40 to 50 pages of letters. I had one with only 17 pages - such a missed opportunity. The good thing is that I only had 8 departing, so I was able to get the books finished quickly. I'm so grateful for pre-punched printer paper - what a time saver!
The monthly mission newsletter was also due this week, and was published on time. Good thing I started putting it together early. When the articles finally came, I could pop them into the document. I'm actually getting quicker with this project. It was just hard to have it fall on transfer week this time.
I received updated, and in some cases changed, flight itineraries for the October departing group. I wasn't sure if missionary travel had emailed them to the parents, so I did that and updated our reports.
The Zone Conference lunches are provided by the various stake Relief Society presidents. Our previous mission president's wife took care of organizing this, but our new president has given that job to me.
We had two hurricane watches issued this week - Madeline and Lester. Our area authority and mission president thought it would be a good idea to partner with the Red Cross in having our missionaries be volunteer shelter workers in the event that shelters would be needed. This meant we would need to inservice ALL the young missionaries and some of the seniors before the weekend so they would be ready to serve if called. A conference call was set up. About 5 Red Cross workers, the Honolulu zone leaders, our area authority's executive secretary, the mission nurse, and myself met in the mission office for the conference training call. It really was amazing to be able to reach 180+ missionaries at one time over the telephone. We even had a question and answer session after the call. As it turned out, both hurricanes weakened, and pretty much missed Hawaii so no shelters were needed. Now we need to have everyone fill out forms and get officially registered with the Red Cross. Then, if they are needed in the future, all we need to do is initiate our phone tree. This also means we (probably me) will need to have every new missionary do the online training. I am the designated person to coordinate training and registering with the Red Cross.
We don't hear from parents very often, but this week we had several emails from parents of the new missionaries. They were worried about where their son/daughter was serving and if they were in danger from the hurricanes. I was glad to be able to reassure them.
I asked Devon how he would describe his week and he said "hectic/busy." He is still trying to find apartments for missionaries that are doubled up in other apartments. He has found some, but still needs two more. He found a wonderful one, but the landlord didn't like the idea that the tenants would be rotating every 6 weeks. He had never rented with the church before and was skeptical. His loss. The missionaries don't party, drink, stay up late, play loud music....and the church ALWAYS pays on time. So the hunt continues. He is also busy delivering mattresses, cell phones, bicycles, fire alarms and extinguishers. He had the tough job of telling one landlord that we would not be renewing the contract. She is a single, invalid lady, and really loved having the missionaries there. The apartment was the one with mold and mushrooms. The problem seems to have been fixed, but the sister missionaries are freaked out about going back. I think their parent's are worried about it as well. I would say nothing is ever stable for very long. You jump over one hurdle and there is always another waiting for you down the track.
Needless to say, the weekend was a welcome relief. Friday night we went to dinner with the Overduyn's to Eggs 'n Things where we had "br-inner".Saturday we did a little cleaning, a little grocery shopping, and lots of resting. It feels like a gift to think that we get a 3 day weekend! Saturday evening the Overduyn's came over and taught us a new card game - 99's. It was fun and we enjoyed laughing and relaxing. We also watched the last quarter of the BYU football game and were thrilled they won! GO COUGARS! Sunday we enjoyed church. I played the mighty tabernacle organ again...love it... and we had wonderful lessons. Sunday evening we drove to Laie for "break the fast" with the senior missionaries at the PCC and BYUH. Devon had to deliver some things to missionaries up there, so we made it a multi-task trip. It has been a wonderful weekend, and we still have one more day off - a tender mercy just when I need it!
The best part of our week is always when we get to talk with our family. We celebrate the positive - Marianne got a new job; and worry about the problems - Brad is sick and Stephen has a fractured clavicle and torn labrum. We do the best thing we could do whether there or here, and that is to turn to Heavenly Father to give thanks and pray for special blessings. We have faith that all will be well. There is purpose in everything, and God is with us every step of the way. We feel His love and are so grateful to have this opportunity to serve Him.