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)