Thursday, August 28, 2008

Being a 70- a letter to Dean

"Dean, I am glad you mentioned about being a seventy. I had kind of forgotten we both were seventy. And that just reminded me of a comment that our Asia North Area President made. He is Elder Evans, of the First Quorum, and we had the privilege to be at the Yokoda AF Base this spring when they changed the District Presidency. Elder Evans was there it interview and call a new President and we were there as guest of President and Sister Hill. There was a luncheon after the Priesthood leadership meeting on Saturday and I was invited to stay. Being in the presence of a general authority just across the table, makes one just a little self aware, like why am I here with all these great people. But Pres. Evans is a way humble man and a great teacher. His discussion in the Priesthood leadership was great. Anyway at lunch he started talking and he commented on when he was called and set apart as a general authority in the Fist Quorum of the Seventy. He said that because he had been ordained a Seventy, like we were, years before, that they didn't have to ordain him a seventy, just set him apart as a general authority. I hadn't thought much about my ordination as a seventy lately, so that was a near reminder. Kind of like emeritus status I guess.

This next week we have Elder Stevenson, a new First Quorum of the Seventy, coming for a mission tour. He is the new First counselor to Elder Evans as of this last general conference. It is pretty neat to be among these great men. Last year they had Elder Bendar hear for a conference, which apparently was awesome.

If I didn't mention it before I am also the Mission Presidency Executive Secretary. So far there hasn't been much responsibility to that be to set up some meetings. There has only been two meetings so far, the first when a new councilors was set apart and my self and I took a few notes of the 5% of the meeting that I could understand. Even though I could not understand what was being said, the spirit was so strong I could get the feeling of what was being shared as the bore testimony to each other. Both the counselors are Japanese and all the meeting is in Japanese. The next meeting was when President was traveling and the councilors met him there. And we are trying to set up one for September."

Monday, August 25, 2008

August 25, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Sorry this is late this week. I am still trying to do catch-up from last week’s Transfer Week. We had 9 outstanding missionaries leave, including our Assistant to the President, Elder Olson. He has been with us since we arrived and helped welcome us and teach us. We will really miss him. So there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be done to take care of their files and 3x5 cards and lots of little things that add up to a lot of time.

Then we had 11 terrific missionaries arrive—7 Americans, 1 Australian, 2 Japanese, and 1 Korean. (As far as we know, he is the first Korean to serve in Tokyo Japan Mission so this is pretty historic. He speaks both English and Japanese so is doing very well here.) So there are photos to print, letters to send, and lots of paperwork that needs to be done to take care of the new missionaries. It will probably take another week until I feel totally caught up.

Elder Hartzell is really struggling with the new bank card. The missionaries are having no problems with it, but it has made a lot more work for Jim. He is still trying to figure out how to do reimbursements and collect money that is owed for orders. He worked until 9:30 Monday night and 10:00 last night. I worry about him, but I know the Lord takes care of him and gives him the energy for what he needs to do.

So on Saturday we opted not to go to a Japanese Festival because of how tired and hot we were at the Aquarium the Saturday before. So we just stayed home, cleaned the apartment, did laundry, ironed, read, took naps, and watched the Olympics. It was the best, most relaxing day. The bummer was the weather had turned cool and it was cloudy and would have been a wonderful day to do things outside!!!

We think maybe Fall is here. It dropped 20 degrees last weekend, and we have had rain all day Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Today is sunny and really nice, with a breeze.

Our word for this week is: “ganbatti kudasai” which means “do your best,” and “ganbaru”, “I’ll do my best.”

Our thought for the week is: “Put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good—yea, to do justly, to walk humbly.” Doctrine and Covenants 11:12

We hope you will all “ganbatti kudasai”and we will “ganbaru.”

We love you all—Pat & Jim

Monday, August 18, 2008

August 18, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Ohiyo gozaimas!! (Good morning!)

This past week we have been gearing up for Transfer Week that starts today (Monday, August 18, 2008), so we will have a lot more to report when it is over. I am pretty much caught up with stuff, but poor Elder Hartzell is really struggling with the new financial card system for the missionaries. Reimbursements have become a big problem that he is trying to find the best solution for. Please pray for him!!

We had two dai bo-okens (big adventures) this past weekend. Friday night we were invited over to some friends’ house, a young couple in the Ward named the Josens. In their tiny apartment they had 7 missionaries plus an extra friend and served us some wonderful food called “okono miyaki.” It was so delicious!!! I don’t know that I could fix it at home as you have a special sauce you put on it. You fry some meat, then add some vegetables, then take them out, pour out a batter and put the meat and vegetables in it and cook it all together. Then serve it with mayonnaise and the sauce over the top of it. (At least I think that’s how it’s made as I couldn’t see very well from where I was sitting). I took brownies for dessert and they were a huge hit!!!

The second dai bo-oken was to the Shinagawa Aquarium. Now I know we went to the other aquarium at Sea Life Park, but this one had both a dolphin and a sea lion show, and we really enjoyed watching both. It was an extremely hot day and the humidity was horrendous. We had to keep buying bottled water that was cold (they don’t have drinking fountains here so you have to buy their water. The Kirin Company must make tons of money) and sports drinks, etc. in the vending machines. This aquarium also had a tunnel you could walk through where the fish are swimming all around you, and a shark tank. It was really quite nice, but super crowded. Because we went on a Saturday, when school was out, and during a holiday called Obone (when the people go to the graves of their ancestors to honor them because they believe they have returned to their graves to be with their descendents), so we had 3 strikes against us: there were tons of people there and we could hardly move in some places. Good thing we are not super claustrophobic!!!

What we have been able to watch of the Olympics has been great!! Though they have way more badminton, table tennis, judo, and wrestling than I like to watch, and not enough gymnastics and equestrian events and diving. And they really focus on the Japanese athletes—what’s up with that? Oh, yeah, I’m in Japan!!!!!

Our scripture for the day is: “Therefore now let your hands by strengthened, and be ye valiant.” 2 Samuel 2:7.

This applies not only to missionaries but to everyone, we all need to be strengthened and valiant.

We hope you are all doing well—and keep the emails coming!!

Love, Jim & Pat

Sunday, August 10, 2008

August 10, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

There is a feeling of nostalgia in the air. First of all, it is my (Pat’s) mother’s birthday. If she were alive, she would be 103 years old. So we have been thinking about our parents and siblings and children and grandchildren. Family is so important to us—we love you and miss you all very much.

Second, we saw a broadcast of the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square performing with the Osmonds. That certainly took us back in time as they did a lot of the old hits and showed photos of the Osmonds from the time they started performing 50 years ago!!! What a trip down memory lane that was!! And made us think of many of our friends that we have shared stuff with through the years: my old friends from Vegas and BYU, our friends from Colorado and Henderson and Glendale, and our new friends from Payson. What an adventure we have had to know and still be in touch with so many great people. We want you to know how important you are to us and how much we have learned and grown because of you. Anyway—enough of that!!!

This past week Jim has been busy (that’s not unusual) but new stuff is complicating things—the Church is asking us to use a new and different bank card than the ones the missionaries have used previously. Well, it doesn’t work the same, so Jim is having to figure out different ways (or the same old ways) to do what the old card used to do. Lots of fun!?!!

I have been helping Sister Hill and our Recorder, Elder Lee, in making copies of pages to put in the Blue Books that each missionary has. They contain a variety of different kinds of informational and instructional things that the missionaries need to have, and they haven’t been kept up as much as they should have, so I have been giving Sister Hill copies of the pages so that she can give them to the missionaries who need them. I have probably made about 1,000 copies in the past week, maybe even more!! Thank heavens we just got a new copy machine that works like a dream and has made life much easier here in the honbu!!!!

Our thought for today is: “Ofttimes the wisdom of God appears as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that, when God speaks and a man obeys, man will always be right.” Pres. Monson, General Conference Priesthood Session, April 1986.

We are sad today—last Sunday the Bishop of the Ward here was released because he and his family are moving, and a new Bishop was put in. We will surely miss this family—they have made us feel very welcome even though they speak no English. They have made sure we had translation equipment and have asked how we are doing and if we need anything. We have had a special time with their son-in-law. His name is Kenji Okubo and he is an MBA student in the Marriott Graduate School of Business at BYU. He has been back here in Tokyo on a summer internship with He asked for our help to help him improve his English in preparation for a presentation he had to present to some of the American executives who were coming to Tokyo. We started helping him back in May, usually every or every other week, practicing with him as he went through his presentation, correcting his English both written and oral. He was a hard worker (otskare sama des) and made improvements each time. He finally gave the presentation last week and they seemed to really like it. Now we had to say goodbye to he and his wife and two children as they fly back to America next Saturday in preparation to begin his last year at BYU. He will graduate next April. We feel so good that we have helped to make a difference in his life—he has certainly made a difference in ours!

Well, the Olympics have started, and we are lucky enough to be only 1 hour ahead of China, and Japan broadcasts some of the events, especially the ones that have Japanese athletes in them. So I am able to keep up with some of the competitions. I will admit to being an “Olympic-aholic” and am glad I can still see parts of it. Jim watches some and reads or does other things the rest of the time.

Well, our love to all of you—Jim & Pat

Monday, August 4, 2008

August 4, 2008

Dear Family & Friends,

Instead of a word for the day, today we have a thought for the day:

“Many of us get so involved in our day-to-day tasks and worldly pursuits that we do not notice the many

small miracles that constantly occur around us. This is one reason we may lose contact with the Holy

Spirit and lose awareness of His promptings.” Ronald T. Halverson, Ensign, August 2007, pp. 56-58.

We hope you are all watching for small miracles in your lives.

We had a busy weekend. Saturday morning we were here at the honbu—Jim working in the yard, and I was in the office vacuuming and dusting. Because of this new rule, I no longer have hives, so that is good. Afterwards we went home, cleaned our apartment, cleaned ourselves, had lunch, and headed out for a fun afternoon.

We went with a fellow in our Ward, Brother Saito, and also with Elders Lee and Murase, to two Japanese parks. The first one was one we went to back in June, only this time we had a guide who told us many interesting things about the park and the plants and the design. Elder Lee did the translating for us, as he often does. The guide had mosquito repellant to spray and we were very glad as they were plentiful!

The second park was really nice but we didn’t have a guide for it, so we just wandered wherever. It also had tons of mosquitoes and we had no repellant with us so we were bit a lot. I tried to do what I called the “Japanese Mosquito Dance” so that they would not land on me, which had Elders Murase and Lee laughing, but did no good at keeping the mosquitoes off me—so lots of bites to itch and scratch.

We took the subway to and from the parks, but when we went from one park to the other, Brother Saito paid for two cabs to ride in. They were very nice, new cars, clean and well-kept. And the biggest plus was they had air-conditioning!! The day was so hot and muggy we were dying (at least I was!). The subway cars are also air-conditioned—the newer ones are better than the older ones.

At the end of the second park, we split up as the missionaries had an appointment. Brother Saito took us to his house, which was a condo on the 10th floor of a nice building. He paid $400,000.00 for it and it has three bedrooms, one bathroom, a small kitchen, a living room and an eating area, and laundry which we didn’t see. It had a great view of the city and tons of other buildings, many as high or higher. He speaks good English, but his wife does not. She fixed us an awesome sushi and fresh fruit and vegetables dinner (her family owns a huge farm and they have given us cherries, peaches, and plums from their farm. Fruit is expensive here so these are very generous gifts. We were looking at some family picture albums and saw a picture of a sweet potato that they grew that was probably 3-4 feet long and 2 feet wide. Brother Saito said that was the only one they have ever had that large and hadn’t done anything special to grow it. The rest of their tubers are normal size). They sold their car as the apartment building charged them $50/month just for parking. So they take trains and buses everywhere. We know of other apartments that charge $70 per month for parking and an annual contract fee on top of that. We are going to rent a new apartment this week in Shibuya and the initial cost is going to be 1,187,410 yen. That is about $11,000 just to get in. It does include the prorated portion of the August rent and the September rent. Monthly rent will be 174,000 yen or about $1,700. I have not seen this apartment, but it is supposed to be fairly nice. It will house 4 elders. That usually means 2 bedroom areas, a kitchen and eating area, bathroom and utility area.

Elders Olson and Daniels joined us for dinner, after which we went outside to watch the fireworks. They were pretty far away, and the low ones were blocked by other buildings, but the high ones were wonderful. The first Saturday of August is a big fireworks day all over Tokyo, and maybe even Japan. The ones we were watching had about 450,000 people in attendance (hence our NOT going). Most of the women wore their pretty summer flower kimonos—it was so fun to see them on the subway all over the place when we were riding to and from the parks!!’

It was a great day, but we went home exhausted and worn out from the heat and humidity, and the parks were lovely but not a flower in sight, just lush green everywhere. We think we will not do any more parks until the fall!!!

Sunday we had all 4 missionaries to dinner which was lots of fun. Elder Olson goes home the next transfer—August 20th. Elder Daniels will get a new companion to be an Assistant to the President with him. Elder Murase will stay here as Commissary, but Elder Lee (who has been here since JANUARY!!) will be leaving for a new missionary assignment. His replacement as Recorder is Elder LeSueur who just came in yesterday (Monday) and is now being trained. We will miss Elders Olson and Lee but know that change is inevitable. The missionaries have a baptism scheduled for next Sunday for an awesome young man from Myanmar so they are very excited.

Well, long letter with nothing real exciting, just our life as we know it. Thanks to those of you who are keeping us up on what is happening in your lives, too. We love you and miss you all, Jim & Pat