Sunday, June 29, 2008

June 29

Dear Family & Friends,

This has been a nice week. Things are pretty calm, but we are starting to gear up for transfers next week. We will be having 14 missionaries leaving (12 Americans, 1 Japanese, and 1 Australian) and 9 coming (all Americans).

This weekend we helped with the yard work around the honbu, mission home, and chapel. We had ward members also helping us. However, I (Pat) broke out in hives later that day. And this is the 2nd time that has happened. Apparently I am allergic to something that is growing here during the summer, as I never broke out all during April and May. So, Jim says I can’t do yard work any more as we don’t know what is causing it. I have big welts and itch like crazy. Thank heavens, our daughter, Christi, mailed us some Benedryl and Calamine lotion, anti-itch cream, and I found some Aloe Vera gel here, so with all of that, I am able to get by with minimal scratching. I do tend to be sleepy during the day, but try to combat that as best I can. Sometimes, I have to go in Pres. Hill’s office (when he is out doing interviews or at Zone Conferences, etc.) and sleep on his couch.

We also did some fun shopping at the yaku en store (100 yen or dollar store). They sure have a great variety of stuff you can buy for just 100 yen. We mostly got stuff for our apartment, nothing real exciting, but we are proud that we can go do something like that on our own and not get lost!!

The word for this week is “sugoi” (sue goy). It is an expression that people say that means “great!!” or “wonderful!!” So we hope that everything is “sugoi” with all of you.

Love, Jim & Pat

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Meiji Temple & Garden/Forest in Harajuku

This a bride and her maid of honor in traditional Japanese wedding attire.
This is the same bride with her groom, also in traditional attire.

This is a wedding procession for a different bride. It shows the priests leading the bride and groom with their family and invited guests.
Jim is standing next to the gate leading to the temple grounds area. Look at the size of the gate!
This shorter gate is the entrance to the temple area itself.
This is the prayer tree, like a multi-sided prayer wall. Each tablet costs 500 yen (about $5.00)
It reminded us of Western Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

This is the temple itself, very ornate and much wood carving, quite interesting.

The big main gate is covered as they do some restoration work on it. This is the covering we mentioned before that they use all over Tokyo when they are working on buildings and want to contain the dust and debris.

The sign is the entrance to the Meiji Jingu or Temple grounds. Pat is standing on a bridge crossing the creek in this lush forest park.

Jim is standing by the entrance to the iris garden.
The iris garden keeps going past the end you see here. It is filled with over 150 different kinds of irises. It was very beautiful.
This shows the crowds shopping in Harajuku on the street they call the Champs Elysee (sp.) They have stores like Gucci, Chanel, Dior, Yves St. Laurent, etc. Almost like being in Paris!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

How we came to move to LV, and other uplifting stories

1) The story surrounding our move from Colorado to Southern Nevada began as I was riding in a car pool from our home in Broomfield to Longmont where I was working. I was reading the May Ensign 1983 Conference talks, and as I read Elder Monson’s talk entitled “Anonymous” I became overwhelmed with the emotion for this man who had sacrificed his life to save all the others he could before perishing himself. And as I thought about that sacrifice, and the comments by Elder Monson I had it come into my mind that we needed to move to Las Vegas.

Now to put that into perspective for you, at the time I considered Las Vegas as the last place I would ever want to live. To me it was just on the other side of where ever Satan lived. So this was not good news to me, but I felt I had received direct revelation from God, for some unknown reason to me, that we should move. This came as a tremendous shock to your Mom, who wondered who I was and what had I done with her husband?

From a work perspective I was kind of on a track towards a beginning level of management at STC. They seemed to like me, and I was doing pretty good. My salary was great, much better than I had had just 4 years previously with Western Area Power, we lived in a beautiful place and a fine new home. So from a Worldly, personal, and even immediate family perspective, there was no reason .I would want to move.

But move we were going to do, so I began making some inquires about jobs and took two job hunting trips to try and find a job in the Las Vegas area. I was considering anything, even the dreaded “sales” type of jobs. As had been my luck every time I had ever looked for a job, the market was very flat, and lots of competition for positions. Why would a company in Las Vegas want to hire me when there were lots of engineers already there? I eventually began looking at possible positions even back with the Federal Government. Eventually I found a position to apply for at Hoover Dam back with the Bureau of Reclamation. I just had a phone interview for the position. I learned later that they had selected another person, but he got a better offer somewhere else and declined the position. So I got the job. Some times the Lord needs you in a certain place and by faith you go, not knowing before hand why. At least this time I was listening, and obeyed the still small voice.

We had our house on the market, but again the housing market was slow and it didn’t sell before we had to move. We moved in with your Grandma Stewart and were blessed with a very mild, rain free winter when a lot of our stuff was stacked around on her back patio. There were hardships in the move. My new job paid much less than the one I had left, we did find a nice house in Henderson, but for 9 months had double house payments until ours sold in Colorado. That took a number of years to recover from financially. But then it never was about the money, was it.

Within two weeks of our arriving in Las Vegas, Erma got sick and we were there to help.

You kids don’t really remember much about your Grandma Stewart, but she was a very special lady. All of her life she helped others. If someone needed her to come help, she was there. I think this was one of those tender mercies that the Lord provides his faithful saints to say thank you for a job well done and returning some charity to one who gave it so freely. You should look forward to meeting her again as will I.

This is the part of the story Elder Monson told in his talk:

“A year ago last winter, a modern jetliner faltered after takeoff and plunged into the icy Potomac River. Acts of bravery and feats of heroism were in evidence that day, the most dramatic of which was one witnessed by the pilot of a rescue helicopter. The rescue rope was lowered to a struggling survivor. Rather than grasping the lifeline to safety, the man tied the line to another, who was then lifted to safety. The rope was lowered again, and yet another was saved. Five were rescued from the icy waters. Among them was not found the anonymous hero. Unknown by name, “he left the vivid air signed with his honor.” (Stephen Spender, “I think continually of those—” in Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison, New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, p. 291.)”

2) You also asked about the circumstances of a blessing I gave to my Mother just a short while before her passing away.

Mom had been sick for a while. She had a congestive heart failure condition. She had one a couple years previously and was in a nursing home for a while recovering from that, but eventually got better and was able to come back home and resume her functions, but it really slowed her down, and the congestion began again. This was a little more than she could take mentally and I believe she gave up. She turned over all the budgeting and care of the home to Dad and would just sit, not wanting to read or watch TV. She had always enjoyed laughing, and had a great smile, but that went also. I know it had to be very hard on Dad, and we got a glimpse of that later, after he passed away and Dean and I had to go to California and close our all their accounts and put the house up for sale. But as to Mom, she eventually was placed back in a nursing home and slept most of the time and slipped into a shallow coma I assume. I went to visit, and I did twice a year when they were both well, and then more frequently after she got sick.

It was in early May of 1992 I had flown into the Sacramento Airport, rented a car and drove to Modesto. I visited her with Dad in the hospital over the next few days, spent time with Dad at home, and then had to leave. I am sure Dad knew she wasn’t doing well, but he never wanted to talk about those sorts of things, and I didn’t want to press. As I was leaving town, I stopped by at the hospital alone to say good bye to my mother. I just knew that she wasn’t going to recover and felt I needed to give her a blessing so she could quietly return to her loving Father in Heaven. So in the quiet of her private room, as she lay sleeping, I laid my hands upon her head and released her from any blessing that may be keeping her from returning home. It was a special experience I will never forget. It was a very hard thing to do to let her go, but it was the best thing for her progress. I didn’t share this with my Dad. I am not sure how he would have felt about it, but I knew it was right from the promptings of the spirit. She passed away within two weeks, actually on Christi’s birthday.

My Dad loved my Mom very much and I think that was just more than he could take losing her. He passed away 10 months later. They are now sealed together, and I hope and pray they have accepted the gospel and the sealing that Dean and I did for them in the Chicago Temple in 1995.



June 22

Dear Family & Friends,

This week has been good. Our Eikaiwa (English) class went well and Jim even gave the Devotional talk at the end when all the classes get together. I have to do mine next week. We have some pretty good English speakers in the class. Some are university students, but one is a retired professor who considered English a hobby. He has toured the world so it’s interesting to talk to him. He even invited us to lunch at his house on Thursday. It is a small but very nice home and he cooked a lovely lunch of vegetable and chicken. We had a good time.

We had a dai bo-oken yesterday: We went to Harajuku to see the Meiji Temple, forest, and iris garden. It was very beautiful. The temple was built in the 1800’s by the Emperor Meiji and his Empress Shonan. It burned down during World War II and was rebuilt in the 1950’s. It is a Shinto shrine, not Buddhist, so no statues, just buildings. They do have a washing place outside the courtyard to cleanse their hands before going into the temple, a prayer wall (like the Western Wailing Wall), and a temple area. There are a few steps between these areas so somewhat of a progression in height as you move towards the temple itself. In the temple from area they have a place where worshippers throw coins and then shout a word or two. We were able to see three brides and bridal parties, all dressed in the old Japanese way. It was really cool!! And they were so beautiful!!!!

The forest is made of trees from all over Japan. It was created in 1920. It is cool and dark inside, the trees are so huge. It felt like 100% humidity—every time we stopped to look at something, Jim’s glasses would fog up! The iris garden contains over 150 different kinds of irises. It was truly beautiful!

Afterwards, we went to see another place in Harajuku—their version of the Champs Elysee (which is what they call it). It was filled with tons of people, and we passed stores such as Gucci, Yves St. Laurant, Chanel, etc. We could have been in Paris, except that all the people looked Japanese!! It is where the Oriental Market is, but we were too tired to go in by this time, so that will have to be another trip.

Today the rain is just pouring down. We are at the honbu (office) doing our emails and are not terribly excited to go outside, but we will need to in order to get home. We have just concluded a wonderful Stake Conference and broadcast to all the Stakes in Japan. Elder L. Tom Perry was the presiding authority and main speaker.

The word for the week is: sodesnei (“so des nay” - I see or I understand or I get it). They use it often in their teaching and conversations. So our hope is that when we write these letters, you will “sodesnei.”

Love, Jim & Pat

Monday, June 16, 2008

Our Visit to the Tama Zoo

This is the Nakano District at the Tama Zoo.
This blossom was huge, and it's close to our apartment.

The lion as viewed from the Lion Bus
Look at the little joey in his mama's pocket.
This elephant would make a good pointer if he would just
lift his trunk!
Jim enjoying the beautiful birds.

Jim's wild ride with Elder Lee.

The beautiful butterflies in the butterfly house.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

June 15

Dear Family & Friends,

Ohio go zaimas! (spelled like you say it, not the correct spelling) Good morning! How are you all doing?

We have had a very good week. Some frustrations, of course, but over all very good. We had a dai bo-oken yesterday in honor one of the missionaries birthdays and Father’s Day today—first we had a nice waffle breakfast at the mission home with the whole district (all 10 of us). Then we went to the Tama Zoo!! It is a great zoo with lots of fun animals. It is built on the side of a hill, much like the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, CO., so you go up and down a lot. Some of the animals we got to see were a tiger, orangutans, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, chimpanzees, a Japanese pig (looked similar to the Javelina that live in Arizona), etc. We especially enjoyed the butterfly house (everywhere you looked, something was moving), and so many pretty colors!! And, the best was the Lion Bus. We drove around past about 20 lions total. Some were sleeping, some chewing on bones, some chasing each other, and some licking the bus (that’s right—licking! Apparently they put little pieces of meat on the bus so the lions come up and lick and bite us. This was almost scary!!) It was wonderful!! But we were exhausted by the time we got home (an hour trip by train and bus).

On Wed. we had our Zone Conference. The theme this time was on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It was powerful as we studied scriptures about the Atonement, and then people told stories about how the Atonement had changed their lives or the lives of people they knew. Some were stories from earlier in their lives, others were stories from their missions. It is amazing the difference we see as people who have no purpose in life or who don’t know that they are children of God start to learn about the Gospel and the Plan and about Jesus Christ and his Atonement. There is an observable change in how they feel about themselves in how they dress and talk and act. There is the more subtle change in how they treat themselves and others. It is so amazing and powerful!! We are so grateful we can share this wonderful message and help people become happy and at peace with themselves and with God.

Two new words: “sodesune” (sodesnay) which means “I see” or “I understand” and

“aganai” (ah gan nye) which means “Atonement”

We love you all—Jim & Pat

Monday, June 9, 2008

Look at the contrast!! The rich gold buddha
is what you usually see. But I just
could not resist this cute little stone
buddha. What a cutie!!

Each buddha has a special meaning and symbolism. The little statues

are there to
comfort the
souls of

Lots of intricate detail and gold leaf.

Photo of 5 sisters are Sis Evans, Sis McArthur, Jean, Sis Jarvis, and Sis Marker. Photo of 3 sisters is Sis Hill, Sis Evans, Sis Hartzell (me)!
These stairs were really steep and my knee has been bothering me so I didn't get to see the extremely old bell that was up at the top (125 stairs, they counted!)

These irises were so beautiful and several different colors and kinds. Hope you enjoy them.

Hydrangeas in Kamakura

Many different kinds and colors. These are just a few of the many photos I took.

Kamakura, Flowers, Gardens

Some are very old and some more re

Sunday, June 8, 2008

June 8

Dear Family & Friends,

This week I (Pat) was able to go on two dai bo-okens. The first was on Friday to Kamakura (# 13 on your Tokyo map). It is about 2 hours away by train. It is most famous for it’s huge statue of the Buddha, but we didn’t even go look at it—we were there to look at the hydrangeas! There was a gaggle of gaijin women, seven to be exact: Sis. Hill, Sis. Evans (wife of the Area President), Sis. McArthur (wife of the Pres. of the Japan Missionary Training Center), Sis. Marker (wife of new Area Executive Secretary), Sis. Jarvis (wife of Area Psychiatrist), Jean (a friend of theirs who is from England), and me (Pat)!! We all had a great time together and enjoyed looking at the temples, buildings, statues, Buddhas (one was created in 721 A.D., another in 1100 A.D.), bells, hydrangeas, irises, waterfalls, ponds, etc., etc., etc. I am going to download the photos onto our blog. We stayed there in the area for 5 hours, going to 3 different sites. All were interesting and beautiful!!

Then on Saturday Jim & I went to a beautiful garden here in Tokyo that was built in 1650 A.D. It was carefully laid out to be pleasing to the eye and gladden the heart. We loved walking around and looking at everything. It had a beautiful garden of irises, a pond of lily pads, and the remains of some very old buildings. It’s hard to imagine it could be in the middle of this big city, but it was here first and the city grew around it. There are a number of beautiful gardens in this city and we are going to try to see them all, plus all the other neat stuff that is here.

Our word this week is: o-nagai shimas (oh naguy she mas) It means “please”.

Jim & I celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary yesterday and today. We love each other more today than we did 35 years ago. We have so many wonderful memories of children and family and friends—and you are all included in these great memories. Thank you for making our lives richer and better by being a part of them.

We are feeling the affects of age—both of us have knee problems, I have weak legs, we both have graying hair, etc. But we are happy doing the Lord’s work and feeling the peace in our lives that the Gospel brings.

We pray that all of you are happy and well and enjoying your lives. We know we are!!

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Elders Innes, Olson, Muroi (with his fish face), Lee (with typical Japanese pose), and Sister Hartzell, all standing in the mist/rain at the aquarium.

June 1

Dear Family & Friends,

This past week was transfer week, our second one. We think things went pretty well. We had stuff ready to give to the missionaries who were headed home, and stuff to give the new missionaries who were just coming out. We enjoyed visiting with both groups—those going home had a steadiness and maturity about them, those coming out had eagerness and enthusiasm. So it was a great week and went off without a hitch.

We did have an accident happen to one of our missionaries. Last Sunday evening while Jim & I were still here at the honbu, we got a call from a sister missionary that her companion had had a bike accident and was in the ambulance headed for the hospital. So Pres. and Sis Hill and Jim all headed to the hospital (an hour and a half away) to be with her and help take care of her. They knew that she had broken off some teeth and found out from x-rays that she had broken her jaw. So they brought her back to the mission home to spend the night. The next morning they left early to go back to the hospital and discuss what options they had. To help them at the hospital, they had the American doctor who is an advisor to the missions here (he cannot legally practice in Japan but can consult with the Japanese physicians), the sister missionary’s local stake president and bishop, and on the phone they had an ear, nose, and throat doctor who is an advisor to the Church in Salt Lake City, and her parents at home in Montana. Between all of them, they decided to fly her back to the States for surgery, with the intent that when she is all recovered, she will return to us here in Japan. She has a great attitude and is determined to finish her mission. So she left on Wednesday with the other missionaries who were flying home.

We had a dai bo-oken yesterday!!! After taking care of cleaning our apartment, we came to the honbu for a pizza lunch (paid for by Pres. Hill to thank us for all our hard work this week and how smoothly everything went), then us missionaries left to go to the Tokyo Sea Life Park Aquarium. It was really neat and we enjoyed walking around and looking at all the different kinds of sea life. We even saw a couple of fish that we hadn’t seen before. One was a sea horse that looked like it had seaweed growing all over it—called a “Seadragon.” The other I don’t remember the name of the other ones. We watched the feeding frenzy of the tuna being fed, and then the penguins getting fed. We had a great time!! We will try to put photos on our blog.

We have strange rain here—it rains mist, that’s the only way I can describe it. When you look at the photos of the aquarium, you will see one of us missionaries standing outside in the rain. I don’t think you can see the misty rain, but that is what it did all day long. Really weird!

Can’t believe it is now June 1st! We hope you all have a wonderful, happy June!

Love, Jim & Pat

Tokyo Sea Life Park Aquarium

The jelly fish were gorgeous, almost etereal.
The many colored fish were from the Caribbean.

The Sea Dragon is a seahorse but would be able to hide easily in a patch of seaweed.
The coral had a great variety of color.
The hammerhead is so unique, always fun to see.