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 Blogspot.com, 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