Sunday, December 21, 2008

Christmas Letter 2008

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE – 2008

Elder Jim & Sister Pat Hartzell -- Japan Tokyo Mission, 4-25-12 Nishi Ochiai, Shinjuku-ku Tokyo-to, 161-0031 Japan phone #011-81-3-3952-6802 email: jphartzell@hotmail.com

We can’t believe we are writing this year’s Christmas letter from Japan! For many of you who have taken the journey with us, what we have done this past year is not new. For some, you will be very surprised. We feel that this is the year of HOW MUCH!!

HOW MUCH:

· We enjoyed Christmas in our new home in Payson, even with lots of snow to shovel

· We loved being with our children and grandchildren last New Years

· We enjoyed living with Christi, Shawn, Lucas, and Abby when they moved into our home

· We enjoyed having two of our children and their families, and many family and friends at our Mission Farewell

· We felt the Spirit when we were set apart for our mission

· We have learned this past year about missions

· We enjoyed our training at the MTC in March

· We have enjoyed getting to know and work with Pres. and Sister Hill

· We have laughed with and loved the dear missionaries we get to work with each day

· We have learned about mission office work, both secretarial and financial

· We have appreciated God’s help when we were struggling and looking for answers and he answered our prayers

· We love Japan—what a beautiful country it is, even the hustle and bustle of Tokyo!

· The subway and trains can be filled with people (sardines in cans have more space during rush hour!!!)

· The people of Japan can be kind and helpful

· The member of the Nakano Ward have made us feel welcome and loved

· Things cost here (sometimes twice as much as America)

· We still want to learn and do and experience

· We love their parks in the middle of the city, all over the city—so well-planned and cared for

· We have learned in the different museums we have toured

· We enjoy seeing all the different Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines

· We love the peace and reverent feelings in the Tokyo Temple—truly an island of calm in the midst of a city of constant activity

· This year has flown by

· We are glad for the technology that allows us to Skype with our family every week

· We enjoy hearing about the adventures of the:

Brent & Becca Hartzell family with Isaiah, James, & Noah—3 yrs, Malachi—21 mo. , Elijah—7 mo.

Larry & Holly Hartzell family with Gary—4, and Bram—2

Joseph & Shanna Hartzell family with Nolan—2, and Shanna’s surrogacy pregnancy

Christi & Shawn Boyles family with Lucas—6 and Abby—3

Shelley & Derek Dean family with Edison—2 and Stewart—4 months

· We have enjoyed sharing the last year with so many of our family and friends

· We have loved getting your encouraging and supportive emails

· The Lord blesses those who serve Him—He has certainly blessed us this past year!!!

We wish you all a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!

We love you all very much—

Elder & Sister Hartzell (Jim & Pat)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dec 15, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

I have a correction to make—the food I like to eat is “tonkatsu”, not “konkatsu”. Sorry I misspelled it.

We were quite busy last week. Our Zone had their Training and Luncheon on Wednesday, and it was soooooo delicious!! We met together at 9:00 a.m. and were taught by Pres. Hill and our Zone Leaders, then went in for lunch, and afterwards sang Christmas carols (I played the piano) and heard cute Christmas stories. It felt so good.

On Thursday and Friday I helped Sis. Hill prepare the meals and clean up after, so I was at the Mission Home from 9:00 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. By Friday afternoon I was exhausted!!! I don’t know how Sister Hill does it so effortlessly. She really plans well and knows just what needs to be done, and I just followed her directions. I also played the piano on Friday as that Zone didn’t have a pianist. It is fun to hear all the songs, including many hymns that are not Christmas ones.

Saturday was a cleaning and laundry day and we also took it easy, too. That evening was a wonderful Stake Christmas program that included a choir, a small orchestra, and a wonderful youth musical production. It was about giving service instead of just gifts for Christmas—giving of your time and love. It was original and they did a great job!!

Sunday we went to sing in one of the gaijin (foreigner) wards in their choir. It was under the direction of Elder Robertson who is in our FHE group. We had a wonderful time singing the beautiful Christmas music and were told we sounded great!! We are glad we got to do that. My school friend, Chuck Olson, also came and enjoyed it. Afterwards, he took us to a Unitarian meeting where we heard a woman who is a Baptist missionary here in Japan. She has lived here since 1990 and raised her family here. We enjoyed her presentation about the Savior and Christmas. There were about 15 people there and asked her some good questions, plus the woman who conducted the meeting talked about a book about the Bible written by Isaac Asimov. It was all very interesting.

Our thought for the week is: “By learning of Him (Jesus Christ), by believing in Him, by following Him, there is the capacity of become like Him. The countenance can change; the heart can be softened; the step can be quickened; the outlook enhanced. Life becomes what it should become. Change is at times imperceptible, but it does take place.” Pres. Monson, “The Way of the Master,” Ensign, January 2003.

Our word for the week is: kudasai. I think I have used it before, but I want to again because it shows how polite the Japanese are. It means “please” and they use it whenever they ask you to do something. We need to try to be more polite with each other every day, and they set a good example for us.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

Monday, December 8, 2008

Dec 8, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Sorry this is late.

It has turned quite cold here, so it feels good to bundle up. We had a nice day last Saturday so we took pictures of trees in the park that we like to go walking. We always love the beautiful fall colors—one of the main reasons we moved to Utah. Hope you are able to enjoy them once we get them downloaded to our blog.

Sister Hill is doing something different this transfer. Usually, when they do zone interviews, Pres. & Sis. Hill travel to each zone and do some training and interview them there. But for this transfer, they are having each zone (there are 9 total) come here to Nakano for their training, interviews, and a special big Christmas lunch that Sis. Hill is personally preparing for them. It is so wonderful!! The Mission Home and Office are all decorated for Christmas, the missionaries eat well, sing Christmas carols, hear Christmas stories, and get the royal treatment for Christmas. This is fun but lots of work. I help when I can. Our apartment is also decorated with a tree (about 24 inches tall) and decorations that have been left by previous office fufu.

We have been surprised with all the decorations and Christmas music in the stores since the beginning of November. Of course, it is mostly for the commercialization, but for us Christians, it reminds us of this beautiful time of the year. Cut evergreen Christmas trees are very expensive here in Tokyo, $100 per foot!

In the Church News for November 30, one of our apostle’s wives, Sister Oaks, told of being a missionary in Japan a number of years ago, and not seeing any Christmas decorations anywhere, and feeling a bit sad to be in a country with no Christmas. Then, one night, they heard a violin playing “Silent Night” coming from somewhere nearby. Suddenly she knew that God had not forgotten her, that he knew who she was and where she was and loved her.

We also know this—God knows us and loves us and helps us in our work each day. And he loves all of you, too, even more than we do (and we love you a lot!!)

We had Stake Conference this past weekend and enjoyed wonderful, uplifting talks. Our Stake President was all excited about missionary work and encouraging his stake members to share the Gospel more. Made our missionary hearts feel all warm and fuzzy!!

Our thought for the week is: “The Lord hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the Lord our God.” Jeremiah 51:10. “We have work to do, you and I, so very much of it. Let us roll up our sleeves and get at it, with a new commitment, putting our trust in the Lord.” Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley

Our word for the week is: konkatsu. It is the food I really like to eat here. It is similar to tempura, so I have been calling it the wrong name for awhile. It is fried battered pork and it is delicious. They have a wonderful meat sauce to pour on it or dip it in.

That’s all folk!!

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nov 30, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Thank you for all your good wishes and kind thoughts. We enjoyed both the cute and the sublime in the Thanksgiving messages and forwards you sent to us. It’s interesting how getting and receiving emails makes us feel not-so-far-away from all of you. Thanks for updating us on what you are doing and how your families are. We look forward to your Christmas letters to catch-up even more.

We had a wonderful week. Monday and Tuesday were all about preparing for Wednesday’s All-Mission Gratitude Conference. And what a highlight it was!!! It was fun to see every missionary in our mission in the same place at the same time. They are a wonderful-looking group!!!!

The Theme of the Conference was: “The Power of the Book of Mormon—Especially as It Testifies of Christ.” Pres. and Sis. Hill both gave powerful talks about the Book of Mormon and it’s warnings to follow the prophets and be obedient to what they tell us to do. Pres. Hill read a testimony written by one of our missionaries who told of reading the book in Japanese (must have been a gaijin) and then praying to know whether or not it is true. He received a warm and powerful witness that it is true and was sent by God to help us come unto Him!!

Then some of the missionaries stood up and shared their favorite scripture from the book and what it meant to them.

We also heard from Elder and Sister Aoyagi who bore their testimonies, and Sis. Evans who talked about what the Book of Mormon meant to her. Then Elder Evans spoke about how we need to teach about Nephi and Lehi and what they teach us right from the beginning of the Book of Mormon—about the importance of families and obedience to parents, about prayer, about the guidance of the Holy Ghost, about following the prophets, about forgiving others, etc.

We also had 4 musical numbers: a men’s sextet, a violin duet, a women’s duet, and a piano solo.

Everything was so beautiful and reverent and filled with the Spirit, that we felt we had been very richly blessed for being there.

Then, after the meeting was over, we went into the Cultural Hall for a feast prepared for us by the Relief Society of the Tokyo South Stake, both gaijin and Japanese sisters. The food was so delicious (ham and all the trimmings), the tables beautifully set with cute stove-pipe pilgrim hats filled with candy and a sweet Thanksgiving message on top, also flowers and other lovely decorations. They served us with such kindness and love that we stood and sang “As I Have Loved You” to them and clapped and cheered.

We were overwhelmed with the feelings of love and peace and joy that were with us throughout that day.

Then Thursday we had a quiet day, some of it at the office and some of it at home, until 6:00 when we went to the mission home for a true Thanksgiving dinner. There were 24 around the tables (3 set end-to-end) and we ate turkey, stuffing, and everything else. I contributed the rolls and Waldorf Salad. It was such a wonderful feast and we enjoyed it very much.

Friday was a regular office day, and Saturday was “clean up the apartment and wash the clothes” regular P-day stuff.

Our thought for the day is: "The face of sin today often wears the mask of tolerance. Do not be deceived; behind that facade is heartache, unhappiness and pain. .. YOU be the one to make a stand for right, even if you stand alone. Have the moral courage to be a light for others to follow." Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Righteousness", Ensign, May 2008, 65–68.

A saying that goes along with this is: Wrong is wrong even if everyone does it, and right is right even if nobody does it.

We love you all and hope you will always “Choose the Right.”

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, November 23, 2008

November 23, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!

We hope you will all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, with lots of good food, family, friends, and fun!!!

Our coming week is pretty special: on Wednesday, we will have an All-Mission Gratitude Conference—which means that all 170+ missionaries will be gathered together in one place to hear from Pres. David Evans, Area General Authority, and Pres. Hill. We will have a big luncheon (put on by the sisters in the foreigner or gaijin wards—but it won’t be turkey as it is too expensive here), then finish the conference with other talks, music, and testimonies. I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week.

On Thursday, we will have Thanksgiving dinner at the Hills’ home. She did buy a small turkey for about $40 and will serve it and all the trimmings. I will make dinner rolls and Pomegranate Waldorf Salad (they have beautiful pomegranates here, and my sister has told me a new way to get the seeds out. After I try it, I will let you know how it works). We will have other food, too, but don’t know yet what the pies will be. So we should have a very nice time.

This past week was nice, especially Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Friday evening we had one of our favorite young couples, the Josens, over for dinner, along with a sweet young sister in the Ward who translates for us—Sister Tan. I fed them Spaghetti, which they loved, and brownies for dessert, plus they brought a delicious chicken dish and a small fruit dessert .

Saturday I did an “English-cooking Class” and taught how to make my version of cinnamon rolls that I make into Christmas Wreaths (many of you have had these). They were very impressed, as were their families when they took them home to share. It was so fun to do this and to show them how to do something that I love so much. They were very appreciative.

Today at church a sweet older lady (in her 80’s) gave us a gift of cookies just because we took a photo of her in her yukata (summer kimono) at the Ward party last August. We finally printed up a copy of it and gave it to her about 3 or 4 weeks ago, and now she gave us this nice gift. People treat us so well here—we have been warmly welcomed and love them in return!

Something fun happened at our little gathering on Friday night—we asked the Josens to bring a game that we could play. They pulled out a deck of cards and said we would play “Rich man and poor man”. As they started teaching us the game, it turns out they were teaching us “Scum”!! This is a game we played one year ago on Thanksgiving Day at our cousin’s, the Tuft’s, house!! We were so surprised and pleased—it made us feel so much at home—the world is really a small place, isn’t it!!!!!!

Our word for the day is one we have taught before: Arigato gozaimas – thank you very much!

Our thought for the day is: “Live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” Alma 34:38

So we want you all to know we love you and hope you are healthy and happy, feeling God’s love in your life and thanking him for it. We are thankful for your love and support and especially thankful to our Savior for great gifts to us all.

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Nov 16, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

This past week was Transfer Week and things went very well. We had 1 Japanese sister, 4 American sisters, and 4 American elders go home. They were some great missionaries and will be missed!! Coming in we had 1 Japanese sister, 2 American sisters, and 10 American elders. Though tired from the long trip on Wednesday, they did well at the training on Thursday and looked ready to go to work. Of course, we enjoyed the breakfasts we had at the mission home on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the luncheon on Thursday, too. This is a bittersweet week—lots of good food and corresponding weight gain!! I need to walk more and eat less!!!!!

Friday we worked all day to take care of all the stuff from everyone coming and going. It was a harder weak because poor Elder LeSueur had the flu and was only in the office 1 ½ days total all week, but he is better now and no one else has gotten it so far (knock on wood).

Yesterday Jim & I had a dai bo-oken: we went to the Edo-Tokyo Museum. This is a wonderful museum, built in 1993, with a very modern look on the outside, and a lot of large-scale models of villages and enormous castle enclaves of the Edo period (1660 to 1867), the Meiji period (1868 to 1923), the 1923 earthquake and resulting fire that changed the look of the buildings to much more European/American, the Pacific War time, and the post-war technology boom. There were lots of artifacts from the earlier times and scale models of things, and photos from the later times. They had some dancers and musicians who put on a really good show. We spent 5 hours there and enjoyed every minute (and were so worn out when we were done!!) Check out the photos on our blog. Then we went to the temple and had some nice quiet, reflective time.

Today was a quiet Sabbath and we feel ready for the doings of the coming week.

Our thought for the day is: “Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings.” Doctrine and Covenants 108:7. “Do not indulge in put-downs, in pessimism, in self-recrimination. Never make fun at the expense of another. Look for virtue in the lives of all with whom you associate.” President Gordon B. Hinckley. Good words to remember.

Our word for the day is: “tai yaki” which is a bean paste pancake shaped like a fish and “dora yaki” which is two small regular pancakes put together with bean paste in the middle so it looks like a pancake sandwich. They are really quite good, though Jim doesn’t think very much of them. Anyway, fun to try new things.

We love you all and pray you are all doing well—

Jim & Pat

Edo-Tokyo Museum Movies

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Edo-Tokyo Museum Movies

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Edo-Tokyo Museum Photo and Movie

A picture of the musicians playing traditional Japanese music.
















Picture of traditional Japanese women dancers
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Photos

This is the actual sword and scabbard from the original Shogun of 1860's. See how well-preserved it is and the fancy decorations on the scabbard.















Pat and our wonderful tour guide. She spoke English quite well, but like all Japanese, kept apologizing for her poor English. They are so polite.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Photos

This model of a park and European-style building is built under the floor--you can see Pat's tennies standing on it.















Model of a town of the 1890's.













Traditional bathrooms like this are still in use today. Pat has to look for a "Western bathroom" sign (if it is written in English--it's usually in Japanese kanji)
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Photos

An actual portable shrine that is used in parades. Notice the rooster on top--this is a symbol of good luck. They really like to make these elaborate.














Full-size mannequins wearing the apparel of the kabuki theater. Very rich and beautiful.












Jim standing in front of a full-size model of a kabuki theater--notice all the minute detail.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Photos

The last 4 panels of a woodblock art print. Notice the layering of colors and designs. This kind of art is very popular in Japan.


















The inside of an ancient department store that sells kimonos and assorted apparel.












The outside of the department store showing their unique roof style.












A 1/10th scale model of a fishing boat with Pat standing in the background.
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Edo-Tokyo Museum Pictures

This is a model of the commoner's village in edo time-period.

















A full-scale model of a box-makers shop, which is also his home. Notice the futon on the back corner.
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Pictures from the Edo-Tokyo Museum

This is a scale model of the compound of the daimyo (lesser lord over a bunch of samurai warriors) showing the Shogun gate. The Shogun was the head of all of Japan and had more power than the Emporer, who was more of a figurehead during the Edo period (1660 to 1867).
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Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

The weather has gradually turned colder and colder, so now we are wearing sweaters, coats, scarves, hats, and gloves. The highs are in the 50’s and the low’s in the 40’s, heading toward the 30’s. It does snow here occasionally, but doesn’t stay around long. We had had a few sunny days, but mostly cloudy, and sometimes rain. Sis. Evans, wife of our Area President, said that the next 8 months are like this. She remembers one Christmas day when it was balmy outside. You just can’t tell what the next day will be like.

Last week we did a variety of things:

Monday we went to the Area Office for our monthly potluck dinner. The theme was Fall and there were no assignments given. I took one of two salads, and we had 2 chilis, 4 soups, and 3 desserts, so it was a great potluck.

On Wednesday, for Eikaiwa, we talked about driving and cars. Of the 7 students in the class, only one owned his own car, but everyone had driven their parent’s cars (the students range in age from @22 to 70). But not one of them had ever changed a tire!!! We were so surprised. They had all had some interesting experiences while driving, but now most just took the trains and subways and rode bikes. And they didn’t know what a “back-seat driver” was and laughed when we told them.

Our word for this week is “yakiniku.” On Thursday we out to eat at a yakiniku restaurant. I didn’t think we had ever been to one before, but we had, only not as nice as this one. At a yakiniku, they have thin-sliced raw meat or fish or shrimp. When you get what you want, you go back to your table where there is a grill in the middle. You put on the meat and vegetables and cook them the way you want. This restaurant also had several salads, a soup, some pizza (Japanese style which looks and tastes different from American), some curry and rice, and a nice selection of desserts. So we ate well and stuffed ourselves!! We were with Pres. and Sis. Hill and the 4 office missionaries and the 2 sister missionaries who live close. So we all had a great time!!

Saturday we went to a special symposium on the family—and had 4 speakers in a panel discussion, 2 women and 2 men. One woman had been a stay-at-home mom and raised 10 children. The other had one set of twin girls and had worked as a teacher while her husband was a teacher and a principal. One man was from America but spoke fluent Japanese and was President of a local bank. The other man was one of the main officers of Nissan. All were members of our Church and talked about how hard it was to raise a family here in Japan because of the work culture. In the Church we teach family first, church second, and work third. In Japan they teach work first and second, family third, and they don’t need church. Workers are not supposed to leave until their supervisor does, so they all stay very late at work (not necessarily accomplishing anything). Also, they often stop at a bar for awhile and go home very late and often very drunk.

Our thought for the day is: “Kindness is the essence of greatness and the fundamental characteristic of the noblest men and women I have known. Kindness is a passport that opens doors and fashions friends. It softens hearts and molds relationships that can last lifetimes.” Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, May 2005, 26-28.

We hope everyone had a fun Halloween and are planning a great Thanksgiving!!

We love you—

Jim & Pat

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oct 26, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

This email has two parts: Visits and Things to Know

First, Visits—

Last Monday, we were honored to have Elder Richard G. Hinckley visit our mission offices. For those who don’t know, he is a General Authority in our church and is the son of recently-deceased President Gordon B. Hinckley. He is a wonderful man with lots of warmth and personal interest. We had heard he would be coming about a week before he came, so we spent a lot of time cleaning and fixing up and making everything look nice. After he was shown around the mission office, missionary apartment upstairs, and mission home, we were invited over to the mission home living room to sit and visit and enjoy some light snacks prepared by Sis. Hill. What a gracious and kind man!! We very much enjoyed the time spent and the interest he showed in each one of us. He remembered his father spending a lot of time in Japan and other Asian countries and how much he loved the people and the various cultures. He was glad to come and enjoy places that his father had loved.

Then on Wednesday Jim and I were able to have lunch with one of my old school friends. Chuck Olson and I had gone to the same elementary, junior high, and high school, often being in the same classes. He has lived here for the past 34 years, has a lovely Japanese wife and two beautiful daughters, and, after going through a wide variety of jobs, is currently CFO of MTV Japan. We had such a good time eating at a nice Italian restaurant and remembering old times and old friends, plus bringing each other up-to-date on where we are now in our lives. We still have much more to talk about, so will get together from time to time. We would love to see more of Tokyo through his eyes.

Second, Things to Know—Some little things about Japan that we want to share with you—

Every home or apartment in Japan has a small area inside the front door called a “genkan”, pronounced to rhyme with “get con”. This is where they take off their shoes and leave them. Extra shoes are kept in a small cupboard or shelved there. Sometimes there are small stands containing 2 or more pairs of slippers for guests to use. No one wears shoes inside. The exceptions are offices, including our mission office, the church, restaurants, and stores, etc.

It is considered “very Japanese” to give a small gift to someone when you go to their home as an invited guest or to someone who has done something for you to show appreciation. So when I took some homemade dinner rolls and cinnamon rolls (thanks for the recipe, Christi) to our lunch with Chuck, he said “How very Japanese!” And today at church, one of the sisters who regularly leads the music when I play the piano in Relief Society gave me a gift bag containing a bag of cookies, some candy, and two individually-wrapped oranges to thank me for sharing my talent. This is such a sweet and thoughtful thing to do.

Everyone here still bows to each other as they meet or say goodbye, though they also often shake hands, so you get the best of both worlds.

They still have tatame mats on the bedroom floors, and still sleep on futons, which I have mentioned before. Often the size of a room will be described by how many tatame mats are on the floor (our bedroom is a 6-mat room).

Slurping soup is totally appropriate as you suck the noodles in (Jim says I am better at slurping my cereal!).

So that’s more about life in our part of the world. Thanks for sharing it with us!!

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Oct 19, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

We enjoyed a wonderful Zone Conference on Wednesday. The theme was “Unity.” As we have unity with God and with our companions, we will be able to do the Lord’s work so much better. Truly, as a married couple, we know how important unity has been in our home and with our family. And as we have worked in the Church throughout the years, we have found that whenever there is disharmony, things do not go well and the Spirit leaves. We have loved the harmony we have felt here on our mission. We enjoy working with Pres. & Sis. Hill because they have such a spirit of unity. The elders who work in the office treat each other and us with love and respect. It is the best feeling to go to work every day and enjoy the Spirit of God in all we do.

This is the best!!!

From Jim: This week I was audited by the Church audit system. The audit went well, I passed with flying colors (yippee!), and the best part was the visit the auditor and I had after the audit. Brother Etoh is a convert to the church and joined some 30 years ago. I asked how he was introduced to the church. He told me that when he was 18 years old he began to wonder about whether or not there was life after death. I do not know why he began thinking about that, but he said that even though he had no belief in a god, he decided to pray and ask that, if there is a god and if there is a life after death, that he would have a foreigner contact him and help him to know. The very next day he met missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. After study and prayer, he received the answers he sought and was then baptized. What a great example of faith in a god he did not know, but asked in faith anyway and received an answer. I hope we are all asking in faith to receive the important answers we seek.

Our weather this past week has been gorgeous!!! The leaves are starting to turn color and fall, the temps are in the 70’s during the day and 60’s at night. I asked our mailman what to call this kind of weather—the phrase is “sawayaka des ne” which means “pleasing, nice, comfortable isn’t it?” Then the missionaries taught me the phrase “I ten ki des ne” which means “good day, huh?” Well, it is great!!!

We have been saddened to learn of the passing of some dear friends from Glendale, AZ: Randy Black and Stan Buell. Both are close to our age and both died of some form of cancer. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their wives, Joy and Holly, and their families. Also, we pray for our family members and friends who are struggling with various illnesses and cancers that their treatments will be effective, and my sister who is trying to endure shingles.

Please know that we love you all and are so grateful for your notes of encouragement from time to time. We are so glad to feel your support and to have you share what you are doing in your lives with us.

Our best to you all—

Jim & Pat

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Oct 12, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

We just finished a week with two wonderful experiences:

First, this past Saturday and Sunday we were able to watch the Semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City. We heard such wonderful and uplifting things. A few of the thoughts we want to share and remember are:

5 new temples are planned for Calgary, Alberta, Canada; Cordoba, Argentina; the greater Kansas City area; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Rome, Italy.

“Faith is not just a feeling, it is a decision,” Elder Neil Anderson

“How we react to adversity makes a difference in our lives and our happiness.” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin

“Angels are sent from God, both seen and unseen….People are angels, too.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

“Zion will only come as we are unified, become a holy people, and care for the poor and needy.” Elder D. Todd Christofferson

“To help our prayers become more meaningful, we must 1) counsel with the Lord in all our doings, 2) express heartfelt gratitude, and 3) Pray for others with real intent and a sincere heart.” Elder David A. Bednar

“To love our enemies takes faith and Christian courage. True disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition.” Elder Robert D. Hales

“We will always have change, but we need to find joy in the journey. Always give thanks.” Pres. Thomas S. Monson.

Second, we were able to take a quick, one-day trip to Mt. Fuji. We rode there by bus with a great tour guide who helped us understand how much Mt. Fuji means to the people of Japan. We saw beautiful country and mountains—turns out Japan is mostly mountains, which we didn’t know because we spend all our time on the plains of Tokyo.

As we were driving closer, we could see the tip of Mt. Fuji above the clouds, but by the time we got to the Visitors Center, we were under the clouds. The hike up has 10 Stations (they call them Steps), and you can drive to the Fifth Station, which our bus did. But we were in the clouds there so we could still not see Mt. Fuji. Then we went to have lunch at a hotel at the base of the mountain. We ate with newfound friends from York, England, Bill and Joy Hawthorne. They were great people who have done some traveling so we had fun visiting with them. We also had people on our bus from Australia and Sri Lanka and, of course, Japan.

After lunch, they took us on a cruise of one of five lakes at the base of Mt. Fuji. The one we were on was Lake Ashi. They let us off at the bottom of a cablecar run up Mt. Komagatake. We enjoyed the ride up and the spectacular views of Hakone and Lake Ashi and, in the distance, the Pacific Ocean. But it was pretty hazy so we couldn’t see it clearly.

After we descended, they took us to the train station to ride the Shinkansen (the bullet train), home. Because it was dark, we didn’t get any photos. We hope to take it again sometime and get some pictures. We did post our photos and copies of postcards onto our blog, and it included a postcard of the Shinkansen with Mt. Fuji in the background.

What a subarashi week!!!

Hope you are all doing well—

Love, Jim & Pat

Mt. Fuji Trip

The temple at the top of Mt. Komagatake with its Torii gate. The temple is not currently in use.























Jim with the beautiful Lake Ashi and some of the town of Hakone in the valley below.
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Mt. Fuji Trip

We are having a Japanese style lunch with our new friend, Bill Hawthorne, from York, England. His wife Joy is taking the photo













This is the tour boat we took on the cruise of Lake Ashi.













This is the pirate tour boat we wish we had been on













Jim is getting ready to board the gondola on the Mt. Komagatake Aerial Cableway.
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Mt. Fuji Trip

This is the countryside of Japan on the way to Mt. Fuji. Turns out Japan is mostly mountainous, which we didn't know because we spend all our time on the plains of Tokyo.














Jim is standing at the beginning of the trail from the Fifth Station. Notice the start of fall color behind him.












You can see Mt. Fuji peeking above the top of the clouds. When we were at the Fifth Station, we were totally in the clouds and could not see the top of Mt. Fuji.
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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mt. Fuji Postcards

We visited Mt. Fuji yesterday (Thursday, October 9th). We picked up these postcards that show Mt. Fuji in different seasons and from different points of view. We will post our own photos and story on Monday.


Mt. Fuji Postcards



Sunday, October 5, 2008

October 5, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Well, we survived Transfer Week again!! Things went smoothly—partly because we only had 6 missionaries leaving and 6 arriving, so we can get everything done much faster. We get three great breakfasts: Tuesday was pancakes and scrambled eggs, Wednesday was Breakfast Casserole and cinnamon rolls, and Thursday was French Toast. Then we also get lunch on Thursday, which was Lasagne. This is one week where we all gain weight!!! even though you would think we would burn it right off with how busy we are.

We had such a fun adventure on Saturday—we became kids again! Because the last of the Hill children, Andrea, and her husband and family came on Friday, the Hills took them and all us office missionaries to a great park called Showa Kinen. It is huge!!! We had to rent bikes to get around the park. We would ride to different places, park the bike, enjoy whatever activity was nearby, then get on our bikes and ride further, etc. Now I know you are all shocked—when was the last time you saw Mom/Pat/Trish on a bike?! But I did it (we even have photos to prove it).

The activities we participated in were: miniature golf (Japanese version is a series of putting greens without any silly stuff), a huge hammock play area (a series of nets strung out for the kids to play on), a humongous bouncing dome (air trampolines), several climbing hills that look like Central American Incan temples, a dragon area of different sizes of dragons with colorful mosaic tiles on them, and a couple of roller slides (like what you see at the post office or airports only these are for people and not packages).

There were gardens we didn’t get to see, an observation tower, and a museum in honor of the Emperor Showa whom the park is named after. We plan to return for another fun outing to see these other things.

Jim has finally had success in doing some money transfers—he has been waiting for the fix to occur in SLC at the main computer center there, and it has finally happened!! Yeah!!!!!!

Our thought for the day: President Abraham Lincoln was once criticized for his attitude toward his enemies. “Why do you try to make friends of them?” asked an associate. “You should try to destroy them.” “Am I not destroying my enemies,” Lincoln gently replied, “when I make them my friends?” We are trying to make many friends here in Tokyo, Japan. And we are so grateful for all of you dear family and friends.

Love, Jim & Pat

Showa Kinen Park

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Showa Kinen Park

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These are the awesome dragons with mosaic tiles on them. They were quite colorful and fun for the kids. The red one even had a roar that would go off occasionally. One time a little girl was inside the mouth when it roared and she came out of there like she was afraid he was going to eat her. It was so cute!!!




























This was a walkway with windmills, and a beautiful fountain area. They do many things that beautify an otherwise plain area.
This is part of the jumping dome, an air trampoline that extended a long way. You can see Elder Hartzell up on top with his arms up. He is one of the missionary white shirts.


This is the whole gang, The Hills, The Driskills, The missionaries, and Jim at the very top. Doesn't this climbing hill look like something from Central America?







The missionaries doing "Hurrah for Israel", Pres. Hill looking presidential, and Sis. Hill pointing the way we should go.