Sunday, March 30, 2008

March 30 News

Dear Family & Friends,

Several of you have asked what I (Pat) do in the mission office so I will now describe my duties.

First, I will explain how the mission program works. Every 6 weeks we have transfers. What this means is that all missionaries serve in pairs, but they don’t stay with the same partner or companion their whole mission. So every 6 weeks the mission president decides who should be companions and where they should serve. We have 60 districts with either one or two missionary companionships in each one. So they could either stay where they are and with the companion they have, stay where they are and get a new companion, or move to a different district with a new companion.

At the same time as these transfers are taking place, we usually get new missionaries to add to the mix, and we have several missionaries who are going home after serving for two years for the men and 18 months for the women. And the numbers will not match: we might have 10 coming and 16 going home. We also get word of new missionaries being called to serve here and the dates when they will go in the MTC for missionary training (if they already know the language, they will be there for 3 weeks) and for language training, if they need it, they will be there for 8 more weeks.

So I am responsible for keeping track of everyone—I record who is going to be coming, who will be leaving, what changes have been made. I send out letters for all of these events, plus letters to parents, Stake Presidents (who are the missionaries’ church leaders where they live at home), and to the missionaries themselves. Each day I check all in-coming emails, look for new information, answer the phones (“Moshi, moshi, Tokyo dendo honbu des” or “Hello, this is the Tokyo Mission office”), go through all incoming mail (all the missionaries receive their mail at the office and I forward it to where they are living at the time), etc.

I hope this is understandable to everyone. I love what I am doing, I’m just not very good at it yet and am still being trained. Thank heavens, Elder Lee who is training me is a patient man. He is also an incredible concert pianist. Elder Iida who is training Jim is a pharmacist. The other missionaries have not finished their university educations yet, but all plan to go back to school after their missions including Elder Lee.

Yesterday Jim & I were able to go see the cherry blossoms in bloom. They just burst out last Tuesday, and will last at most 10 days. If it rains or is windy, it will be even less. So we were blessed to see them at the peak of their beauty. The Japanese had also put out beautiful pink lanterns down the streets and in the parks. Many people were out having picnics and going for walks under the trees. Hopefully you’ll be able to get a sense of their beauty from the pictures Jim took.

Well, that’s all for now. More to come next week—

Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell (Jim & Pat)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

March 23rd news

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from the land of rain/sun. This last week we had sun last Saturday, partially cloudy Sunday, cloudy Monday, and rain, rain, rain until Friday, which was again cloudy and very cool, until yesterday (Saturday), then it was gorgeous sun all day and today. The sun we love, the rain we are trying to get used to. Jim says it reminds him of the time he spent in Seattle back in the early ‘70s when it rained a lot.

We have learned much this week in our office duties including Jim getting to go to the banks and learn to take care of the money there. We have 166 missionaries in our mission: 136 elders, 26 sisters, a local senior couple, and Jim & I. Each of those needs to have their money taken care of each week, either deposited to their accounts, rent paid, utilities paid, transportation paid, etc. Most have provided their own money into an account with the church, and the rest the church subsidizes as a way to equalize what the missionaries/families have to pay throughout the world. This means that each missionary or their family pays $400/month into the church funds, and the church pays out what the costs are in that particular area: $150/month in Mexico and $1000/month in Japan. Plus members of the church can donate any amount they want any time they want to the church missionary fund. This enable families with no extra money to still be able to have their child serve a mission. They pay what they can. What a blessing this has been to families and missionaries all over the world. Tokyo is the most expensive mission in the church and Jim gets to take care of the money for it’s missionaries. Dealing with this amount of money and trying to do it in Japanese is not for the faint of heart. Thank heavens for good people to help train (a wonderful young missionary named Elder Iida (EEdah), and before we left Utah, the previous senior missionary financial guy, Bro. Hatch. With their help and the Spirit to direct and support, Jim will be able to do what has to be done.

We have enjoyed settling into our little home/apartment. There is a tiny entry where we take off our shoes with a cupboard where we can store them. Then you come into the main living area with the tiny kitchen on the left and the living room/dining room straight ahead. The kitchen has a small 2-burner stove, no oven, a nice-sized sink, cupboards and shelves. The LR/DR has a nice big desk and shelves with one chair, a dining table with 2 chairs, a little stand with microwave, toaster oven, rice cooker, and phone on it, and a ladder that goes up to the loft which is tiny and used mostly for storage. There is a double mattress on the floor for company. There is a bedroom with tatami mats on the floor which absorb sound and have a little more give to them than a regular floor. In the bedroom is a small leather loveseat, a large wardrobe that acts as a closet, a chest of drawers and a large cupboard built into the wall where we store a lot of things including our futons. The bathroom has a small sink, a water closet (small toilet room, and a large shower/tub room. We will have pictures on our new blog, The Hartzell Line, at, that our daughter Christi helped us set up the night before we went into the MTC. There you can see what we have been describing. It’s small and cozy and we really like it—not a lot to take care of. We also have a heater/AC in the LR and one in the bedroom so we can we toasty when we want. Hopefully it will cool us off in the heat/humidity of the summer.

We went to church today at the gaijinn (guygin) or foreigner ward that meets over by the temple. It took us 45 minutes to get there on the subway (3 floors under ground). It was all English-speaking and had a lovely Easter program. Nice to understand the language but noisier than the local Japanese ward we attended last week and that we will attend most of the time.

We hope you are all well and look forward to reading your news when you have time to send it.

Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Saturday, March 8, 2008

March 8 News

Dear Family & Friends,
We are trying to recover from the constant activity of the last week. Monday through Friday we started classes at 8 a.m., stopped for lunch between 12 and 1:30, resumed classes until 4:45, and ate dinner. There were 15 minute breaks about every hour or so, but that was usually to change classrooms. Thank heavens we didn’t have far to walk. On Tuesday was a devotional with Elder Jeffrey Holland (those who want to read a summary of his talk, let us know and we will send it to you). On Wed., Thurs., and Fri. eve. we had Japanese class from 6 to 8 p.m. Today (Sat.) we have been catching up on sleep, laundry, and breathing! Most of the instruction has been how to more effectively share your knowledge the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how Jesus Christ is so central to God’s plan of happiness for his children for them to learn and be able to return to him. On the internet there are two really great sites to go to, one is about Jesus Christ: and the other is where there is lots of great general information about the Church and the ability to ask questions.
Do we regret any of this? No, no, no!!! We have loved it! We have learned so much in the book, Preach My Gospel. It is the most incredible book next to the scriptures. We encourage everyone to start reading it now. It helps so much in understanding the Gospel in the most basic way. It explains things so clearly. Everyone in the Quorum of the 12 and First Presidency over the past 4 or 5 years has had input into it. It is truly incredible. We wished we had started studying it carefully as a manual for learning the Gospel when it first came out. Now we have talked about it, we studied it, and we had to present discussions from what we studied and prepared. We feel much more ready to share the Gospel. And the Spirit we have felt has been unbelievable.
One of the more powerful talks were presented by some returned Senior missionaries: a married couple of about 85 who were first supposed to go to Greece and ended up in Jordan for their first mission and Geneva, Switzerland and Luxumberg for their second; and two single sisters (one of about 65 and the other about 85) who met as companions and spent their whole time in a little town in Australia called Finlay. Their stories were incredible, their missions uncommon, totally out of the norm, and their excitement was palpable. What beautiful testimonies they shared of missionary work.
We have made some wonderful friends. Our Japanese is not great, but we expect to continue to improve. We already told you our travel plans for early Thursday morning. So we will write next after we have arrived in Tokyo.
Thanks for wanting to share our mission with us.
Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Monday, March 3, 2008

We took Mom and Dad to the MTC today!!!

We wish Mom and Dad all of the luck in the world as they go forth on their new adventure! We love you guys!!!

Good Luck!

Today, my parents enter the MTC and begin an 18 month mission to Tokyo, Japan. We are so proud of their planning and sacrifices to make this happen. They have waited a long time to go and now, that day is here. Know that we will be praying for you and that we all LOVE YOU VERY MUCH!!