Sunday, April 27, 2008
Dear Family & Friends,
This past week we were on the phone with our son, Brent, when our mission president, Pres. Hill, walked through the room. He asked if he could speak to Brent and we said, “Sure.” Pres. Hill proceeded to tell Brent how wonderful we were, how we fit in so well and were doing our jobs so well and were a great asset to the mission. Also, how much he and Sis. Hill enjoyed being with us and considered us good friends. Of course, this made us feel so good!
The Hills have 9 children, 8 of them are married and having families. Two of the children and their families have been able to come visit since we have been here. Each of those children took time to tell us how we were the answers to prayers and how grateful they were that we had accepted the call to come here and be such a help to their parents. And one of the daughters also told us how much our mission would mean to our children at home. That all the Hill’s children at home, though they missed their parents a lot, were so happy to have them serving here in Japan and how much it meant to them and their children. And the Hills are here for 3 years, not just 18 months!
To top all of this off, we had a very special conversation with Sis. Hill earlier this week. She told us that back in November they realized that the Hatches would be leaving in March (when they were supposed to leave) and that they had better request a couple if they felt prompted to do so. They had 3 different couples that they knew were turning in papers to serve missions. They prayed about each one but didn’t feel that any of them were supposed to come here and serve. So they and their family just prayed that the Lord would send the right couple for the position. They were delighted to hear from us just two weeks before we were supposed to come. They hadn’t even gotten word from Salt Lake City yet when we called. As we visited on the phone, Sis. Hill told us that they received confirmation that we were the ones the Lord wanted here to assist them. Our hearts were so full of gratitude to the Lord for allowing us to be the answer to so many prayers. Truly, the Lord knows us and what we can do and where we need to be.
We are learning our jobs better and better all the time. I (Pat) am connecting more and more dots in my secretarial duties and am starting to work on projects that I haven’t had time to do before. Things are going very well—we have had a great week. Jim had a fellow from the area office over accounting who came to observe and train. He learned a lot and was so grateful for the training.
I, Jim, have also been called to be the executive secretary in the Mission Presidency. I attended our first meeting, Friday evening and was set apart. It was a very special meeting to meet these other great men. The one who has been his first councilor has been called to be the mission president in Nagoya Mission here in Japan, and so a new presidency was organized that evening. There is a special, very spiritual experience for me to be in the company of these great men. President Hill was very complimentary of me and my dear wife for what we have brought to this mission. He said he had prayed us here, and so we are here. It is so wonderful to know there is a living God in Heaven who hears and answers prayers and is mindful of all his children and how to support their needs. There are many wonderful people in Japan who are prepared to receive the Gospel, we just will have to find them as Jeremiah in the Old Testament (Jer. 16:16) said we have to be fishers and hunters and find them in the mountains, in the hills, and out of the holes of the rocks. Pat and I are keeping the nets mended and fishing poles ready.
Saturday, a week ago, we were able to visit our first Buddhist temple, called Asukasa, and pronounced Ah-sock-suh. It was really interesting. It had a gate to enter the area, a long marketplace street, a neat parade (that was unexpected as it was part of a wedding party), and the temple itself was big and ornate, with symbolism and statues inside and on the grounds. Right next to it was a smaller Shinto shrine, and a tall 7-story pagoda that we were not allowed inside. We had fun looking at the shops, then took a ferry boat down the river to downtown Tokyo, then to Shibuya where we walked the Shibuya Crossing—supposed to be the busiest intersection in the world—people going every which way all at the same time when the traffic lights allow it. Really reminded Pat of growing up in Vegas and the crosswalks they had there that allowed diagonal crossings—but not nearly so many people. And we even ran into another mission president there with his family!! With so many people and so many streets all coming together, the chances of running into anyone without previously planning it are so small as to be negligible—but we did!!!
Well, stay tuned—more to come next week--
Love, Jim & Pat
Monday, April 21, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
We are going to have two subjects this time: The Office, and Transfer Week.
First, The Office: Since we have arrived in Japan we have worked in the office with 6 missionaries: the Assistants to the President (they help with the missionaries but not with the office per se), Elder Iida who is Jim’s trainer in the financial area, Elder Lee who is Pat’s trainer in the secretarial area, Elder Muroi who is the Commissariat (he orders everything and takes care of all supplies and makes all arrangements regarding housing), and Elder Maruji who is the Recorder (he records all baptisms, referrals, and information that the mission needs to keep records of).
Our office is arranged thusly: I am at the front desk to welcome visitors, delivery people, answer calls, and forward mail. You go around my desk to get to the main back area where the Assistants, Recorder, and Commissariat sit. From that room you access the Mission President’s office and Jim’s financial office. We also have a large storage room, and hallway with two bathrooms.
This has been the way things are until this last week. Since it was transfer week, two of our missionaries were transferred out: Elder Maruji (my trainer, Elder Lee, is taking over his position, and Elder Iida (Jim will have to be on his own now! AAGHHHHHHH!! [Do you sense any panic?]) So we all went through a period of mourning.
Second, Transfer Week:
Monday was mostly a preparation day of making copies and handouts and getting things ready for the missionaries going home and those coming in. The missionaries going arrived at the mission home Monday night for interviews with the mission president and to spend the night.
Tuesday morning we all had a delicious breakfast at the mission home with Pres. & Sis. Hill, the returning missionaries, and all of the office people. We had scrambled eggs, toast, and bacon, and juice. Then Pres. & Sis. Hill took the returning missionaries to the temple for lunch and a session. When they got home, they had a nice dinner and a testimony meeting and went to bed.
Wednesday we all had a delicious breakfast at the mission home—a wonderful breakfast casserole and cinnamon rolls. It was fantastic!! Then Elders Iida and Maruji left (so hard to see them go!) Then Pres. & Sis. Hill and the Assistants took the returning missionaries to the airport. They took two vans with everyone’s luggage. They sent the missionaries off on their various flights: two to Australia, one to the U.S., one to her home in Japan, and one sister had her parents come over and will spend the next 10 days going around Tokyo and a few other places in Japan to see where their daughter served. Then the Hills and Assistants stayed at the airport until the plane arrived with 11 missionaries from the Provo MTC. They had all their luggage shipped back to the mission home and brought the missionaries back where they met the missionaries from the Japan MTC who came on train from the JMTC which is about an hour from here. The Hills gave them a nice “Welcome to Japan and Your Mission” dinner and bedded them down all over the house. The sisters were all in the guest bedroom area where they had their own bathroom, the elders spread to all the other rooms. Missionaries were both in beds and on futons.
Thursday morning we all had breakfast at the mission home again—this time they served French toast and orange slices and yogurt. Then we started our training. Jim went first to talk about the financial stuff. Pat was second and talked about passports, gaijin (foreigner) cards, had them write letters to home (very short), fill out an information form that Sis. Hill keeps, and letter-forms that they are to fill out and send to Pres. Hill each week. Then the Recorded and Commissariat taught them. We started @ 8:30 a.m. and finished @ 11:30 a.m. Then we rearranged the tables and chairs to accommodate all the new missionaries, office people, and all the new Senior Companions (those missionaries already in the mission who will train these new missionaries)—so there were about 40 there. What was really fun was that the Assistants told everyone that it was my birthday, so they all sang Happy Birthday and then took a few pictures. I was asked to give the blessing on the food, and then we ate Okinawan Tacos, which is Tacos without tortillas or chips, but with rice. It was delicious!! And we had brownies for dessert!!!!!
Then the office staff went back to the office to work while the new missionaries and their companions had some meetings to help them get started, then they collected all their stuff and left. Suddenly, everything was VERY quiet! We just kept working and trying to get things done. We all had lots to do to organize all the stuff on which we have been working.
Friday was so quiet—recovering from all the activity of the week. We had had so much to eat all week that we probably gained 5 pounds (unwanted pounds!!!). And since we haven’t had any time to exercise, just walking back and forth to the honbu, we really feel tired. We hope this next week will be more normal and maybe we can exercise some. This week I (Jim) have not been home before 9:30 any night. I hope things settle down next week.
If you have any questions about this stuff or anything else, please feel free to ask. We also enjoy hearing from each of you about the things going on in your lives. We love all of you,
Elder & Sister Hartzell (Jim & Pat) (Mom & Dad)
Thursday, April 17, 2008
These are photos from my birthday party!!
Actually, these are photos of all the new missionaries (greenbeans, called "Beanies" here) who just arrived on Wed.. Thursday, my birthday, was also their training day. So when we stopped for lunch, they all gathered round to sing "Happy Birthday" to me and take these pictures. Now I have to explain the pose they are in: the elder who trained Dad, Elder Iida, had a pose he liked to do--turn at a 45 degree angle, lean toward the camera, hold one hand over the other wrist, and give a "look". Even though Elder Iida has been transferred (we miss him very much), they all decided to look like Elder Iida. The one who comes closest is the missionary in the bottom right corner, one of the A.P.'s, Elder Innes. But look at Dad in the back left corner--I think he does the Iida look pretty well. (It reminds me of Popeye!). Even though I missed very much being with all of you, these missionaries tried to make up for it by drawing me cards, saying "Happy Birthday" all day long, and just treating me so well. I loved reading all of your snail-mail cards and e-cards from Hallmark. I am truly blessed to be in this place, with my eternal sweetheart, doing God's work, with the support of my wonderful children and grandchildren. Life just couldn't get any better!!!!!!!!
My hearfelt love to all of you--
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Happy Birthday, Mom!!!
We love you and are so proud of you! We hope you have a great Missionary Birthday!!!
We wish we could give you a big hug and kiss for your special day, but we hope you can watch the video over and over- it is even better than hearing it on your answering machine- don't you think? We love you so much!
Christi, Shawn, Lucas, and Abby
Monday, April 14, 2008
Dear Family & Friends,
This week has been really busy. Our missionary trainers have left us to do more and more on our own. So not only Jim has been staying late at the office, but so have I. Our regular hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but not this last week. We have been staying until 9:30. And on Friday, Jim came home for dinner with me, then went back to work until 10:30 p.m.!! Poor guy was exhausted. There is also a lot to do to get ready for transfers this week—April 14th & 15th the missionaries who are done will go home; then on Wed., all the other missionaries trade around to different companions; and on Thurs. the new missionaries come (this time we are expecting 17 which is a lot!), and on Friday we train them and give them their new companions. I’ll let you know next week how it all went.
On Thursday Pres. Hill took all of us to Shabu Shabu again, this time to celebrate my birthday a week early as next week some of the missionaries will be gone from the honbu. All the good food and you cook it yourself on the table. !!! On Friday Jim & I went to Ikebukaro by ourselves for the first time and did just fine. You will laugh—we ate dinner at Subway! No kidding—and it was pretty good. It was just the same as the ones in America with a few different things such as no yellow peppers or Jalapenos. The menu wasn’t quite as extensive, but had a lot of the old faithfuls including my favorite, the Club. Saturday we went by ourselves to Hiro-o where the Area Office is which is our main headquarters for all of Japan, South Korea, and Micronesia (this is spread out the distance of the United States coast to coast, but has only 7,000 members of the church). We got to meet other senior couples who are serving here and it was fun to hear some of their stories. Some of them have been here for years (they live here because of the husband’s work), and some have been on their 2nd or 3rd mission here. Lots of nice people.
We had the sister missionaries over for dinner (there are two serving here in our district). Sis. McMurtry was born in Brigham City, UT, and raised near Kirtland, Ohio. She is the 5th of 7 children—3 brothers and a sister older, and two sisters younger. All the older ones have gone on missions to places such as California, Argentina, and the Canary Islands. She just graduated from BYU in Math Education and loves to teach. She did her student teaching in Payson, UT!! She played basketball in high school, loves other sports, camping, hiking, fun swimming, etc. Her mother teaches music and has different musical instruments at home so she plays the piano and cello.
Sis. Matsumoto was born in Fukuoka Prefecture. She has one older brother and one younger sister. She was raised Buddhist, but her parents changed from one temple to another, so she didn’t go to just one place. She joined the church when she was 21. Her sister joined, too, when she was 19. Her parents weren’t too upset about her but, under 20 is still under parent’s supervision and they were angry with her sister. She has worked lots of different jobs, but she wants to study interior design and learn about furniture especially. She loves to sing, write songs, play guitar. Also likes basketball, and to have fun and laugh and preach the gospel.
These are both delightful young women!
We finally were able to watch Conference this weekend. It was truly a wonderful experience! There were a number of talks that really touched us. The solemn assembly was especially moving. We can remember doing it for Pres. Hinckley in 1995 when it was in the Tabernacle. I was so excited to see Elder Christofferson become an apostle because I know him. I served with him in student government at BYU. He even sealed our son and daughter-in-law, Larry and Holly, in the Mt. Timpanogas Temple. He was always a great person so I am not surprised by his call, just pleased. Some other talks that touched me were Sis. Lant (Family Traditions of Righteousness), Pres. Eyring (the Church is both true and living), Elder Gerald Lund (opening our hearts to the Holy Ghost), Pres. Uchtdorf (small degrees of error, and faith of our father, and Father), Sister Tanner (I Delight in . . .), Elder Ballards (Young Mothers), and the several talks by Pres. Monson, (in the Priesthood session about making a difference in the world – the greatest force in the world today is the power of God as it works through men, and Sunday morning session where he spoke of following the Lords path that leads to eternal life, and not the dead end ones of man, and sharing the history of his grandparents, and his closing tender comments about his sweet wife), Elder Packer (the keys of the kingdom), Elder Bednar (How to make our prayers meaningful), and Elder Holland (God continues to speak today). Of course, all of them were marvelous, what great counsel!!!
Well, TTFN (that’s all for now—quoting Tigger), we love you,
Jim & Pat
Sunday, April 6, 2008
Dear Family and Friends,
This last week we had several long days at the office. Sometimes I would stay and sometimes I would head home before Jim. Last Friday was not only end of the week stuff where we had to travel to Ikebukuro to two different banks and had lunch, then to a third bank on the way home, but they (Jim and Elder Iida) also had to prepare the month-end reports. So Jim came home with me at 6:00, had dinner, then went back to continue working, finally getting home at about 10:30 p.m. He doesn’t know what he will do when Elder Iida is transferred in less than 2 weeks and he will be on his own. There will still be two Japanese elders in the office, so if he or I have trouble reading anything, we can ask them for help.
Yesterday we went on our first adventure by ourselves. We traveled by subway to the Tokyo Temple (took 50 minutes and one train change) and went through a session there. Then we traveled by subway to Ginza (took about 25 minutes) where we hoped to find help at the Apple store, but they didn’t have what we needed. Then we came back home by subway (35 minutes) and transferred to the train (15 minutes). Of course we have to walk to all the stations and up and down lots of steps so we are surely getting our exercise. We are grateful for those ekis or stations that have escalators for going up. Here you stand on the left and people pass you on the right. There is only room for two people abreast so they are always full. The Japanese have built wonderful subway, train and bus systems so it makes it nice to get just about anywhere. We are learning to read the maps, and the more we do, the more we realize they have English everywhere that helps us get where we are going.
I would like to introduce two of our missionaries:
Elder Jacob Lee is my (Pat’s) trainer. He was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. The family moved to Provo, Utah, when he was 8. His mother is Japanese and a convert to the church when she was young. His father is from a long-time Mormon family with pioneer ancestors. They met at BYU-Hawaii. He is the oldest of three—one brother and one sister. He is a classical pianist who started learning when he was in Kindergarten. He loves to play the piano and I have heard a CD he made of a concert and he is very impressive. He also likes downhill skiing and video games.
Elder Takayuki Iida is Jim’s trainer. He is from Nagoya City, which is the third largest city in Japan. He is the eldest of 4 children, with one younger brother and two younger sisters. He was raised in the church. His mother joined when she was 16 and his dad when he was 19. He has training and has worked as a pharmacist for two years. After his mission, he will go back for 2 to 3 more years to get his PhD in Gene Therapy. He wants to do research. His hobbies are: eating out (he loves food and knows all the best restaurants), riding his motorcycle in the country, and playing billiards (what is the difference between that and pool?). He has a girlfriend waiting for him at home. He learned English in school, but learned how to speak it better on his mission.
These are both great young men and we are so glad we know them.
Elders Lee and Iida came over for dinner this evening. Afterwards Elder Iida shared his favorite scripture which comes from the Book of Mormon, the book of second Nephi chapter 18: it says “ Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I (Jesus Christ) am the light which ye shall hold up – that which ye have seen me do. Behold ye see that I have prayed unto the Father, and ye all have witnessed.” He said it was his favorite because he learned it by observing his mother and how she served others. She was doing what Christ had taught and Elder Iida observed that when he was a boy and it has been a guide to him in his life. We believe that is a great principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we need to follow the examples Christ taught by the way he lived his life. Doing unto others what Christ would do even if they sometimes don’t even appreciate it. Christ is our light we need to reflect his light by our words and works with others around us.
We love you all and love getting your emails. Hope to hear from you when you get a chance,
Love, Jim & Pat