It’s been a busy week or so, but that’s what makes it so rewarding. We get to the office before 7:00 each day, and Friday we left at 8:00 p.m. Today we got away at 6:00 p.m. Part of the unusually busy schedule has been due to preparations for this week’s mission presidents’ seminar, which runs from tomorrow through Friday out at Lake Atitlan. I’ve had binders to put together with lots of reports, charts, and other materials, along with fancy name cards to design and print to slip into plastic holders to sit on the tables. But it’s also been a busy time of year in other ways. Last Wednesday I had meetings beginning at 6:00 a.m., with the last ending at 6:00 p.m. I did get a few hours free in the afternoon, but Elder Clarke didn’t have more than a half hour break between meetings all day long. We started with our monthly area council meeting with the Area Seventies (in person and by videoconference). We then had an unusually long Area Presidency meeting, including meeting with our area DTA (Director of Temporal Affairs) and the properties manager to discuss plans for buildings in the area for next year. In the afternoon Elder Clarke was in a governmental relations meeting and then in a PEF videoconference. At 5 p.m. the Area Presidency and Virginia and I were in a videoconference with people from the Church History Department in Salt Lake City to receive instruction about how to compile the annual area history, which is another of my responsibilities.
Thursday we had a meeting in the morning with the DTA and the travel department manager to begin preliminary plans for the annual area review and priesthood leadership conferences in January. This year we’ll have Elders Ballard and Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Jay Jensen of the Seventy, and Bishop David Burton, Presiding Bishop, all coming. At noon I taught my weekly institute class. In the late afternoon we had our monthly videoconference with Elders Christofferson and Clayton in Salt Lake. Afterwards we went by invitation to be part of the 80th birthday celebration for Sister Hatch, who with her 82 year old husband lives across the hall from us. Elder Hatch very generously invited all the couples in the apartment complex plus the Area Presidency, MTC president and wife, temple president and wife, and others to a fancy restaurant. Their six children flew in for the occasion. I'm posting a fairly fuzzy picture of the group, but it gives you the idea.
Friday I met with the Area Presidency again to finalize goals for the coming three years as part of the annual area plan which must be submitted soon. I’m responsible for updating it, assembling the various components from the various department heads, and putting it into a cohesive whole, both in English and Spanish. Saturday we enjoyed the transmission from Salt Lake that many of you will also have seen concerning the new handbooks and the role of councils in the Church. Elder Lynn Robbins and his wife saw it with us, as they had arrived early for the mission presidents’ seminar, flying overnight from Chile for that purpose. In the evening Virginia and I enjoyed being invited to dinner with the Area Presidency and the Robbins.
Sunday, in addition to our normal 7:00-2:00 meetings and responsibilities (including the Primary sacrament program, for which Virginia was largely responsible), we represented the branch presidency and Primary presidency at the stake’s annual Priesthood Preview for 11 year old boys. We then went to the apartment of one of the local mission presidents, where Virginia practiced accompanying the president’s wife, who will be singing a solo at the upcoming seminar. Today, in addition to updating lots of charts with newly obtained statistics, I was part of an area audit committee meeting. All of this is on top of the most time-consuming tasks, which for Virginia are entering and/or translating missionary applications and sending out calls and for me are responding to unnumbered emails, special projects, phone calls, minutes, agendas, etc. But we’ve never had more fun on a mission, and it’s hard to realize that it’s nearly half over.
I’m enjoying playing racquetball again after about a month’s absence from the sport, as my former opponents were all taking time off for various aches and pains. But my current one needs to be broken down a bit more, as he’s regularly beating me now. I may not be having as much satisfaction in vanquishing the foe, but I’m getting a lot better exercise than I was getting previously. My current partner is a year younger and evidently used to be VERY good, having played almost daily for some 35 years. Now he’s just pretty good—but that’s good enough to get the job done most of the time.
I must mention a couple of new electronic discoveries that I’m enjoying. You may be aware of Dropbox, where we have stored many of our favorite files and memories. But a similar program called SugarSync gives you 5 GB of free storage, so between the two of them I now have almost all of my valuable files backed up and synchronized automatically between my various computers, except for my photos and videos, which I have at MyFamily.com. The other discovery is a program called TeamViewer, which you can install on two different computers and with which you can access the files on the other computer from wherever you might be. For example, from home now I can access all of the files on my office computer, including the entire large network drive I use there. So no matter what time I come home, I can continue working on office things from home, if necessary, and out at Lake Atitlan this week I should be able to keep tabs on all the emails that come in to the office and access any files I need to respond to them. What a great time to live! Here are a few photos for your enjoyment:
View from Elder Falabella's office.
View of the local artificial Christmas tree from the 5th floor (ours) of the area offices.
Elder and Sister Hatch on her 80th birthday, with other senior couples and dignitaries present.
Watching the recorded telecast from Salt Lake. Elder Lynn Robbins and his wife are in the middle right.