Sunday, July 27, 2008

July 27, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

It has been pretty quiet around the office this week—Jim went with President Hill, his wife, and the two Assistants to three Zone Conferences. They were gone Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. So I got caught up on a lot of stuff and Jim got behind. So each evening he would stay at the office until 10:30, and he had to do some work yesterday (Saturday) also, but next week should be much calmer and he will be able to get more done.

Our word this week is: jishin (geesheen) which means “earthquake.” You have probably heard on the news that Japan has had a couple of 6.0+ earthquakes in the last month or so. We have had no damage here, in fact we didn’t even feel the one up north, and the other Jim felt but I slept through it. So yesterday for our dai bo-oken, we went with the Relief Society sisters (5 in all) to an emergency preparedness center sponsored by the Tokyo Fire Department. For 2 ½ hours we watched and participated in earthquakes, fires, smoke drills, and resuscitation (CPR). They had an actual earthquake room where you could feel up to a 6.0 earthquake. We were sitting at a kitchen table and felt the room start to shake and had to drop to our knees and crawl under the table as completely as possible. We were told not to sit down but to stay on our knees as you had more control that way and to hang on to a table leg. It was really scary!! But we survived and lived to tell the tale! We practiced using a fire extinguisher, and how to bend over and follow the wall when the room was filled with smoke (if we stood up too high an alarm would sound), how to give two quick breaths and 30 compressions on a dummy (I think in America they say not to give mouth-to-mouth any more, just the compressions), and watched a movie about what happens in an earthquake. It was all so interesting and made us very aware of the things that we need to be able to do and think about. One thing Jim learned was that fire extinguishers need to be replaced a lot more frequently than he thought. (Check yours!)

It’s funny how people get used to things. The parents of the new missionaries who just came out emailed us after the earthquakes to find out how their children were doing—but none of the parents of missionaries who had been here longer than 2 or 3 months. Probably because their children had told them that they feel tremors all the time but are just fine. Of course, we hope we will never have to use any of the stuff we learned!!!!!

We hope you are all “genki”—we love you miss you—

Jim & Pat

Sunday, July 20, 2008

July 20, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

We have had a busy week of playing catchup from all the stuff that didn’t get done the week before because of transfers. Also, Jim has been getting ready for Zone Conferences this week and next—he has a presentation about the new bank cards the mission will be using. We are hoping that these will work well and we can discontinue using the other cards we used to use. This program works much better than the old way—but only is the different ATM machines here in Japan will accept them.

Yesterday (Saturday) we came over to the honbu to work—Jim to do yard work, and me to do office cleaning. I am banned from doing yard work due to the hives I keep getting. Then we went home to clean our own apartment because we were having a young couple in the ward over for lunch and a double-date to the movie, “Indiana Jones and the Cave of the Crystal Skull.” We had a great time with them and it was our first time at a movie theater here in Japan. The movie was in English with Japanese subtitles, so it was great! Also, the cost for tickets here is $18/each. But if the combined age of the two of you is over 100 (which Jim & I are), then the cost is $10/each. So being old saved us money! So that was our dai bo-oken for this week.

Our word for this week is: atsui des ne (aught sooey des nay) which means “hot, isn’t it?!” Of course, we agree totally. We are in the 90’s now with 90% humidity. They say August is the worst month—so we still have that to look forward to.

Hope you are all well—

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, July 13, 2008

July 13, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

This last week was transfer week so we stayed close to home. We have 14 missionaries leave, including one of the Assistants to the President, Elder Innes. We will miss him a lot—he made us feel welcome when we first arrived and was always concerned about how we were doing. His mom, dad, and a brother came to pick him up and brought us a bag of Swedish Fish and a bag of Mars candy Mini Mix. That was so thoughtful and so welcome!! We had three other missionaries whose parents picked them us and they will tour around Japan before heading home. The missionaries who left were some of the hardest workers of the mission and will be sorely missed!!!

Another change was that Elder Muroi, our Commissary, has been transferred back into the field and Elder Murase is our new Commissary. He is also native Japanese and speaks English with less confidence, but tries hard and works hard. We still have Elder Olson and Elder Lee, but changes might come in August at the next transfer time. Our new Assistant is Elder Daniels from Washington state. He is very nice and pleasant to be around.

We hope to download the photos of Nikko today or in the next few days, but have been too busy to do it sooner.

Our word for this week is: otsukare sama des (oat skarday sama des) which means “you are a very hard worker and I respect you.” Otsukare is hard worker, sama is a word you would use to address someone more important than you and is used when talking about God, and des means “is” or “are”. We are glad to have wonderful family and friends who are “otsukare sama des!”

Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell (Jim & Pat)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

My July Miracle

I wanted to share with you a special miracle that happened today, Fast Sunday, July 6th, 2008.

Sis. Hill bore her testimony about this miracle and it was added upon.

To explain: During interviews this last three weeks, Sis. Hill has visited with each companionship and used the three questions asked by Elder Rasband in his April Conference talk, Sat. morning session, called "Special Experiences." He said, "Brothers and sisters, think of the special experiences you have been blessed with in your life that have given you conviction and joy in your heart. Remember when you first knew that Joseph Smith was God's prophet of the Restoration? Remember when you accepted Moroni's challenge and knew that the Book of Mormon was indeed another testament of Jesus Christ? Remember when you received an answer to fervent prayer and realized that your Heavenly Father knows and loves you personally? As you contemplate such special experiences, don't they give you a sense of gratitude and resolve to go forward with renewed faith and determination?"

So this morning during Relief Society testimonies, Sis. Hill shared with us how she was prompted to use this talk. Her faithful Visiting Teachers taught her this lesson in May. She had been searching for the right thing to do during the next transfer interviews, and this was like a revelation to her. So, in her testimony, she thanked her Visiting Teachers for being faithful and helping answer her prayers.

Then one of her Visiting Teachers stood up and told us the "rest of the story." When she had been searching for which Conference talk to share with Sis. Hill in May, she couldn't decide which one would be best. Then the Spirit directed her to this talk, and she felt really good about it, and so this is the one they presented. She did not know that it would be used with 170 missionaries!!

I was amazed but not surprised at the sisters who followed the Lord's guidance and what a wonderful result came from it. I know I was very touched during the interview Dad & I had with Sis. Hill when we shared our answers to these "rememberings." And Sis. Hill said she had an incredible time listening to all the missionaries share their wonderful stories.

This is such a powerful demonstration of following the guidance of the Spirit. I know that this is God's work and he is with us as we do it.

In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Love, Mom

July 6 - Our Dai Bo-oken to Nikko National Park

The Nikko National Park sign and a photo of the lushness and beauty of the landscape, including the Kirifuri Falls.

This is the main temple gate in Nikko. It is called the Nikko Toshogu Shrine. It is so beautiful and majestic.
There is a closeup further down the blog.

To the right we see the long walk up to get to the main temple complex.

Jim is standing in front of a 5-storied pagoda, 35 meters high. Originally dedicated in 1650, it was rebuilt in 1818 after the first burned down.

Detail on one of the out buildings.

This is a fierce guard to keep the enemy out.

This building on the left is the Royal Stable which housed the royal horses. Look where the guide is pointing for the school children to look.
This close up below shows the three monkeys: hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil. This is where that saying comes from.

The building to the left has carvings of birds all around the walls.
Below is a view of the main temple buildings as you approach them.

This is the roof of one of the buildings and to the left is a close up of one of the families carved into the roof.

At the gate to the main part of the temple buildings are some special guards. Look at the closeup and see the fine detail that they used.

This is the ceiling of the portable shrine house.

This is a closeup of a portable shrine. It reminds us of the Ark of the Covenant.

There are wild monkeys at Nikko, but they can be hard to spot. We were lucky to see some sitting right along the road. The one on the left is a mother and baby, and on the right are monkeys doing what monkeys do!!

This lake is called Lake Chuzenji. It is such a beautiful lake and the growth around it is lush and comes right down to the edge of the lake so there are no beaches. We enjoyed a nice boat ride around the lake.

This is a photo of Pres. Hill's sister Donna, Pres. Hill, Sis. Hill, and us at the Falls.

This is a picture of Kegon Falls, which is 98 meters in height. Notice all of the little side water falls that come out of the rocks.

Dear Family & Friends,

We had an awesome dai bo-oken last Tuesday. Pres. Hill’s sister, Donna, was visiting for a week and they wanted to take her to Nikko and invited us to go with them. What a wonderful day we had!!

We left about 9:00 in the morning as it is a 2-hour drive to get there. As we left the downtown Tokyo area, the country got greener and more beautiful. We started passing farms and gradually got into some nice mountainous area with lots of lush growth of trees and bushes. Huge trees!

“Nikko Toshogu Shrine has 55 main structures covering 80,000 sq. meters. It was built during the Edo period during the 1600’s to honor Ieyasu Tokugawa, a Shogun born in 1542. He succeeded in unifying the country and made great contributions to the foundation of peace and culture for modern Japan. He died in 1616 and his son built the shrine for the veneration of his father. The buildings have undergone very extensive reconstructions over 20 times since its first construction.” These are quotes from the booklet we bought about the shrine. They were doing lots of remodeling while we were there, and a lot of photos in the book were much richer and brighter in color than were the actual buildings when we saw them.

The town called Nikko has built up as a tourist town to support this awesome shrine. It was very nice and quiet, but we were there in the middle of the week and missed the weekend traffic.

We drove across the river on a new bridge, but could see the original cantilevered red bridge that could be raised in time of war to prevent the enemy from crossing. We saw two waterfalls of the many that are in the area. The 2nd one, called Kegon (Kaygone with a long O sound), was spectacular!!! We even took an elevator built into rock down about 2/3 of the way to the bottom to see more of the river and other smaller waterfalls coming into it.

The shrine has lots of stairs to get to all the different buildings, but the main area was incredible with some wonderful buildings all close together. Their stables were decorated as if they were palaces. We saw gates and huge lanterns and such delicate, ornate stone and woodwork. We even saw the sacred stable building where the original three monkeys (“see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil") were carved.

After we walked all over the complex and up and down lots of steps (thank you, Sherry, for warning us about all the steps), we got in the car and drove the winding road up the mountain (great memories of our wild taxi ride up the Mt. of Transfiguration in Israel). But on this trip we got to see some wild monkeys. They sit by the side of the road and just watch the world go by.

Up at the top of the mountain is another tourist town on the shores of this wonderful huge lake, Lake Chuzenji. We took a boat ride around the lake and enjoyed the dense trees all the way down to the shore and waved at the small fishing boats as we passed them. Then we enjoyed Kegon Falls which I mentioned earlier, drove back down the winding mountain (oh, one road goes up and the other goes down, so you don’t worry about meeting traffic but you do worry about getting car sick. Thank heavens, no one did!!) We had a nice dinner back in Nikko and then headed home, much tired at the end of a long and fantastic day!!!

Give us a couple of days and we will get the photos downloaded so you can enjoy them on our blog. We hope you can see the detail on the buildings.

The rest of the week has been anticlimactic after that!! We did go shopping at Costco on Friday—an almost 2 hour drive right here in Tokyo because of the traffic on the freeway (only an hour if no traffic). It’s in Chiba, lower right corner on the map we sent out, #55. The airport is at the far right of the map, #57 and 58. This was Jim’s first experience of driving the roads and freeways. It is a little weird driving on the wrong side of the road and turning on the wipers (which is on the left) instead of the turn signal (which is on the right). Thank goodness the gas pedal is still on the right.

We are gearing up for transfers this next week. We hardly ever have the same number going home as we do coming out. This time 14 going home and 9 coming out. We will miss two of the missionaries that have been here at the Honbu. One of the Assistants, Elder Innes, is going home and Elder Muroi, the Commissary, is being transferred. We have known them both since we arrived and will miss them both, they are great missionaries and great men. With men such as these, we have hope for the wicked world we live in.

We also celebrated Pres. Hill’s birthday yesterday and today. It’s actually July 5th, but we had the big dinner today. He is a great man and we were glad to celebrate with him and Sis. Hill.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat