This morning we just got everything all ready. It is hard to believe that the students are already coming in. This last semester went so quickly, I am worried that this one will go even more quickly and we will be done before we know it. Scary.
The flight with the first group of students was delayed. So we got to wait another hour before we left. There was an accident on the freeway, and we were afraid we would miss the students coming in. But just after we got there a student came out. We waited and waited for more. I walked around looking to see if they were there and we missed them. We waited and waited. It seemed too strange, so we called the cell number of one of the students who was supposed to be in the group. We learned that they were still stuck in JFK. They were hoping to catch the next flight out, which meant that at the earliest they would get in 24 hours later. There were no hotels, so they just slept in the airport. Crazy. In the end it took them 50 hours of airport and airplane time to get in. That is not fun. There were 16 of them, and they have come to be known as the sweet sixteen.
After a while more students got in. I love meeting them. They are so excited, they are so wonderful. And again I could detect a different personality to this group. They are all different, they are all great. It took us a while to collect all of them, but we did, we got them on board the bus, we had a nice time on the way to the Center, and we got them here. I love to see the look on their faces as they come up to this beautiful building. It is hard for them to believe that this is their home for the next while. It is an amazing place.
We had a great dinner, a nice meeting, and got them all ready for class. They got to meet the kids, and all seems well.
The next day we did our little walk through the Old City, around East Jerusalem and into West Jerusalem. It is so much fun to see them as they realize the places they get to go to. My group seemed great. The walk was a little different than normal because we had to go on a Friday, and usually we don’t let anyone go into the city on Friday because of everyone flowing towards the Dome, but we made sure we were out of that part of town before 10. That had us moving along pretty fast, and then we just kept going. We took them along Saladin Street, out Nablus Road, past the Garden Tomb, in through Damascus gate, to the Austrian Hospice for a great overlook, then along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, then out through the Christian quarter, out of Jaffa Gate, along the Old City walls, through town hall, down Jaffa Street to Ben Yehuda street. Then we let them have some time for looking around and enjoying themselves. They love it!
We just keep them going for the next several hours, trying to get them up to speed on what they have to do to live here, and keep them awake to help them adjust to the new time zone. Late that afternoon the sweet sixteen finally got in, and we gave them a mini orientation.
The next day we met as a Branch Presidency, and then issued a number of callings. We are working on having the place largely staffed very soon. I spent most of my morning calling people to positions, then most of my afternoon in setting people apart. It is a wonderful work. It is a great way to meet these people and get to know them well. The blessings help me see how much the Lord loves them, how great he thinks they are. These are amazing folks.