I called the office and asked what the situation was for going home and they said that the date is indeed December18th. They said President Funk wanted us home for Christmas.
I appreciate your points about punctuality and respect. In India, people aren't very time-conscious. In addition, people show their respect and courtesy in different ways that often is detrimental to timeliness. For example, I've often told someone I had another appointment to go to, only for them to bring out snacks or tell me to stay so I could eat a meal. I understand this is a "guest culture", however it is still frustrating and challenging. But if I can be timely here, I can definitely do it in any situation.
(I think I told you about an American family I met in Chennai; the husband worked in Caterpillar and one of his main tasks was to instill certain American values, eg timeliness in the culture there. For example, he would start meetings on time and continue giving 20 minutes of his presentation even when no one else was there, and refuse to go back. I thought that was pretty amusing.)
I have been thinking about how people get what they want. Basically people with their lips say they want a lot of things -- a happy family, peace in their lives, leaving bad habits, etc etc.
Some people aren't willing to do anything -- those ones are pretty easy to weed out. But these are others who are willing to do some things towards their goal, but their effort falls short of what is necessary. Those are more difficult to detect and determine if you can help them.
The same thing, of course, applies to me -- we'll always plan our goals in the beginning of the week but when the week is coming to a close we're often short. One of Elder Riley's strengths is that he tracks how we're doing, and is willing to adjust his actions accordingly. On Friday, we hadn't really found anyone to teach this week, so on his prerogative we scheduled our whole afternoon and evening to go knock doors and try to find some new people. And it worked. It's really good -- he's teaching me a lot about meaning the goals we set and being willing to adjust our actions accordingly.