Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jan 25, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

We were able to enjoy going to the temple on Wednesday and feel the reverent, peaceful feelings there. Then we went to a park where we were supposed to be able to enjoy a huge greenhouse full of exotic flowers. However, the greenhouse was closed for renovation and wouldn’t be open until 2011. From the outside it looked a lot like the greenhouse we went through at Denver Botanical Gardens a couple of years ago, so we remembered that and how beautiful the flowers were. We did enjoy just walking around the park and taking a few photos which we will put on our blog.

By the way, we have downloaded the photos that we wrote about last week of the Mochi tsuki taichai or Rice Cake Making Party, and of the girl who turned 20 this year and had the Coming of Age celebration. For those who have forgotten, our blog is: (don’t forget the 3 small L’s in the middle).

Wed. night was our first Eikaiwa for this semester. We had a large class of 10 people in our little classroom, some former students and some new ones. We talked about giving directions on a map. One thing that is really hard here is that they don’t have street names for every street on all the street corners, so you have to tell people how to get somewhere by describing landmarks. It can be soooooo confusing. We put street names on our pretend map and taught everyone about things like “kitty-corner”, cul-de-sac, u-turn, up/down a street, skywalk, pedestrian crossing bridge, etc., trying to help them learn English words for these things.

Today Jim gave a wonderful talk in Church about personal revelation. He told the story of how, when we were living in Colorado, the Spirit prompted him to move our family to Las Vegas. He didn’t know why, just that we had to do it. I knew it had to be God telling him, as he wouldn’t even put Las Vegas on the list of possible places we might consider living in. So he spent about 3 months finding a job and getting us ready to move. And then, 2 weeks after we arrived at my mom’s house to live while we were looking for a house of our own, my mother went to sleep and slept for 3 days and we were so worried about her that we took her to the doctor. They never could determine what had happened, just that she suddenly became very weak and tired and never completely covered. With my sister’s help, we took turns taking care of her until she passed away two years later. I am so grateful he was living worthy to receive that direction from God and willing to “go and do” what God asked him to do.

Our thought for the week is: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father, ‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 Nephi 3:7.

Our word for the week is: yuki which means snow. Saturday we had our first snow here in Tokyo!!! Of course, it was only a few flakes at a time for about an hour, and none of it stuck, but it was pretty and fun to see! Today is beautiful and sunny, still cold but so much nicer than it has been.

We had a special event this week in our family—our daughter-in-law, Shanna, gave birth to a baby girl that she was the surrogate mother for. The real mom and dad are from Sweden and flew to Phoenix just after the birth and will stay with Joseph and Shanna for two weeks while Shanna nurses the baby and the couple prepares the baby’s passport. They named her Cornelia!! Shanna and Cornelia are both doing fine. CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!

Hope you are all well and happy—we love you,

Jim & Pat

Dad's Talk on Personal Revelation

Personal Revelation – Jan. 25, 2009 Nakano Ward, Tokyo Japan--jhh

I have been asked today to speak on personal revelation. As I considered what I might say I have thought that I should look at how others were able to receive revelation, and how I have been able to receive revelation.

I believe for a person to receive personal revelation we need to have certain conditions or requirements.

One condition or requirement might be for our own personal need.

Or another condition might be for the need of those we have some stewardship to serve.

Sometimes both of these conditions are met at the same time.

If we look at the life of the Prophet Joseph Smith I believe he is a great example of one who received personal revelation. So what did he do to receive those revelations?

In Joseph’s account of the first vision he stated that there was an unusual excitement on the subject of religion and the various faiths were contending one with another trying to convince those who would listen, to join their religion.

Joseph said this caused a lot of confusion for him and for others. He was only 14 years old at the time and felt inadequate “to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong."

So what did he do to find out which of all the churches to join?

First of all he read the scriptures and was familiar with the words of God. He had read the scriptures on his own and with his family. They had discussed the scriptures as a family. He had asked the leaders of different religions about how they understood the messages in the Bible.

What he found was confusion. These preachers would interpret the same scriptures differently and so he didn’t know who was right and who was wrong.

One day he was reading in the Book of James in the New Testament, and read:

aIf any of you lack bwisdom, let him ask of God, that cgiveth to all men liberally, and dupbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

But let him aask in bfaith, nothing cwavering. James 1:4,5

He began to think about this scripture over and over again. We call this pondering.

He knew he lacked wisdom, he had not been able to gain that wisdom from others so he decided to do as James directed – to ask God.

And so Joseph did ask. He went to a private, quiet place, and prayed to know which of all the churches was right.

Joseph received an answer to his prayer, just as each of us can receive answers to our prayers.

His answer from God was that none of the churches on the earth at that time were right and he was to join none of them. Later, he would pray and study more and receive additional revelations that would restore the Church of Jesus Christ once again to the Earth.

Joseph’s pattern to receive personal revelation was to 1st--study the scriptures, 2nd--ask questions of people who have knowledge, and 3rd-- ask God in faith, believing he would receive an answer, to find out what he should do.

Joseph had a personal need. He wanted to know the truth about which church to join and God also had a need to call a prophet once again to serve his children here on the Earth.

In my life I have had times when I used this same pattern as Joseph Smith to know the truth.

When I wanted to know if the Book of Mormon was true, I used this same pattern.

I read the Book of Mormon every day for several weeks. I asked a member of the church questions I had about the Church. Then I prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was truly God’s word and was Joseph Smith his prophet.

As I prayed I came to know by the whispering of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon was God’s word and that Joseph Smith was his prophet. I received this because I wanted to know for myself if it was true.

I also have another experience with revelation that I want to share. This was because of the need someone else had. In this case I was not praying to receive an answer, but God knew of a need that I could help with, and so I received a revelation.

I was prepared to receive the revelation because I was reading my scriptures regularly, and was trying to keep the commandments.

One day I was reading a conference talk by Elder Thomas S. Monson, who was a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles at the time. He was sharing in his talk a story about a rescue that a man had made, who was able to save many people’s lives, but in the process lost his own life.

As I pondered that message the Spirit told me that we needed to move from Colorado to Nevada, where my wife is from. It was a very strong impression.

Well I didn’t really want to go.

We lived in a beautiful place in Colorado, I had a great job, and we loved our ward and had many friends. However, I did not question the revelation I had received.

I have always been very impressed with Nephi and how he was always willing to do hard things.

My favorite scripture is 1 Ne 3:7

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I awill go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no bcommandments unto the children of men, save he shall cprepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

So I obeyed the prompting, and over the next several months eventually found a new job in the Las Vegas, Nevada, area, put our house in Colorado up for sale and we moved.

When we arrived we still didn’t know why we were supposed to move. But within 2 weeks we found out why.

My mother-in-law suddenly took ill and for the next two years we were there to help care for her. I have always been thankful that we could go and help when we were needed.

If we are willing to follow the promptings of the Lord through the Holy Ghost, we will always be blessed and we can be an instrument to bless the lives of others.

I testify that if we will read, ponder, and pray, then we will receive answers to our questions.

I also testify that if we are living worthy and willing to do what God asks us to do, then the Lord can bless the lives of others through us.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Rice Cake Making Ceremony

The wood mallets of different sizes and the big wood bowl await the rice.

Elder Hartzell making his mark on the rice, showing everyone else how it's done.

He waits while Brother Josen adds water and kneads the rice ball.

The three men walk around the rice giving it little hits before they start really pounding it.
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Rice Cake Making Ceremony

Brother Josen adding water to the rice and folding or kneading the rice ball.

The rice ball being pulled into small cakes to add other stuff and eat

What it looks like on the plate after having either seaweed or garlic paste or bean powder, etc., added to it.

Sister Hartzell and Sister Casper taking turns hitting the rice ball. Brother Hamilton is putting his life in his hands as he is the one who has to add the water to the rice while we take turns hitting the rice.
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Coming of Age Celebration

This girl is dressed in an elegant kimono with the long sleeves to signify that sometime during this past year she turned 20, which means she becomes an adult. When she gets married, the long sleeves are cut to only about 10 inches long.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 18, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

We have enjoyed this last week. Last Sunday Jim gave the lesson in Sunday School. On Monday we enjoyed Skyping with several of our children, then had a good Staff Meeting.

This day was a holiday called “Coming of Age Day” which celebrates all young people who turned 20 during the past year and officially became adults!! They usually dress up in very fancy kimonos with loooong sleeves, which shows that they are not married. Once they get married, they have to cut the sleeves to a regular length.

One of the highlights of Monday was the Mochi Tsuki Taichai or Rice Cake Making Party that we were able to participate in at the church. They brought in a huge old block of wood, about 3x3x3 which had been hollowed out to make a deep bowl. They would cook the sticky rice and put a large ball of it into the wooden bowl. Then they would take wooden mallets of different sizes and hit the rice a bunch of times. Someone else would sit on the floor by the bowl and keep adding water with their hands onto the rice in between hits, and even turn the ball to different sides, much like kneading bread. Jim & I both took turns hitting the ball of rice. After it has been well-pounded, then they divided the big ball into little rice cakes and would dip or cover them in an assortment of things such as: seaweed, bean paste called Nato, red bean paste, ginger paste, soy powder, etc. We liked some things better than others.

Then Monday evening we went out to dinner with Pres. & Sister Hill and the office elders and the Nakano sisters to celebrate the sister’s birthdays: Sister Sakamoto had her birthday last Friday and Sister Yazzie on Saturday. We went to the restaurant that had the Yakiniku but some of us went upstairs and ate the Okonomiyaki, which we loved!!! I think I mentioned that I learned to make it back in September. It sure is good!!

Wednesday I did some cookie baking at the mission home—our cook from the Phillipines has gone home for a month so I am the back-up cook. Hopefully she will return next week!! I will say that Pres. Hill had gotten tired of her rolls and bread and has enjoyed what I have made so I feel successful.

Friday we had our Zone Training about using the Book of Mormon in our teaching. The wonderful scriptures it contains really help us to focus on the Savior and how much He did for us. They also have many examples of people who learn to follow the prophets and those who do not—what a contrast!!

Saturday was a once-a-year Sister Conference with all the sister missionaries in the mission. What a great time we had—there was wonderful training by Sister Hill about the role of women in God’s Plan as shown in the stories in the Old Testament. We especially talked about Esther and her willingness to give up her life for her people. She had such faith. We especially like what her cousin, Mordecai, said to her in Esther 4:14—“Are you come for such a time as this?” and Sister Hill asked us to ask ourselves this question. I feel that we are come here to Tokyo for “such a time as this” so I really felt the Spirit touching me. Then Pres. Hill did a Q&A with the sisters, we had an awesome lunch of lasagna and salad and ice cream for dessert with the cookies I had made. In the afternoon we talked about recognizing the promptings of the Spirit, how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in our teaching, and how to tell scripture stories (which Sister Hill is really good at).

Then we practiced singing a hymn in preparation for a big conference we will be having in February.

So I was at the Conference all Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. While I was there, Jim cleaned our apartment, did laundry, and even went to the store for the Italian bread for the luncheon. I am so grateful to be married to such a good man!!

Today was a wonderful day at church and we had the Caspers over for dinner. They are a young couple who have helped us a lot in the Ward. He is from Georgia (don’t know if it’s anywhere close to where our friends the Tannehills are from) and she is from Japan. He had been on a mission here and had come back to work and met her, they fell in love and got married and have lived in the Nakano Ward area for about 8 years. They both speak English so have helped with our translating, especially Sister Casper. What is cute is, because they have lived in Georgia in the past for a couple of years, she speaks English with a southern accent, and says “ya’ll” all the time. It is sooooo cute!! They are more of the wonderful friends we have made here in Tokyo.

Time to sign off! Go to our blog: and enjoy the pictures we have added.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Halversens Visit Tokyo

After picking them up at the airport, we took the Halversens to visit
Tokyo Bay. Steve, Jim, Pat, Gayle, and Zach. Photo taken by
Sister Hill.

Pat with the city of Tokyo in the distance.

Another view of the skyscapers.

Sunset at Tokyo Bay with airplane and birds in the distance.
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The Halversens Visit Tokyo

Steve, Gayle, Pat, Sis. Hill, and Zach walking
toward the giant ferris wheel.

View of the ocean from the top of the ferris wheel.

View of Tokyo looking west into the sunset.

It was a beautiful ride!!!
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The Halversens Visit the Tokyo Temple

Standing at the front gate of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints Tokyo Temple

Zach, Gayle, and Steve Halversen enjoying
the Tokyo Temple.

Is the statue of the Angel Moroni blowing his
trumpet at the blimp? (Interesting photo by Jim)
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The Halversens Visit a Tokyo Park

The walkways were very pretty and rustic
in the park across the street from our church's
Tokyo Temple.

Some beautiful fall color was still to be seen, even
though it was the last two days of December.

Gayle enjoying a rustic wood bridge and
pretty stream.

The old codgers are always fishing!!
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View from Tokyo Tower

One of the city views from Tokyo Tower

Looking down at a cemetary

Jim & Pat with Tokyo in the background

A view looking toward the bay. Notice the bridge in the background which is called the Rainbow Bridge because of the way it is lit up at night with many different colors of lights.
There is very little smog compared to a lot of big cities because of the strict emission standards on the cars, and there are almost no cars over 10 years old.
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The Halversens Visit the Tokyo Tower

The Tokyo Tower reportedly is taller than
the Eiffel Tower, which it was modeled after.

The Tokyo Tower with a blimp in the distance.

In side is a small model with the date it was built on the side--1958.

It's really tall!!!
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The Halversens Visit Tokyo

The famous Shibuya crossing--reportedly the busiest pedestrian crossing in the world. Everybody is going every which way, and commercials and advertising are everywhere you look.

Standing in the middle of one of the many side
streets that come off of Shibuya Crossing.

Looking down the street at the many Christmas

Yes, we have Krispie Kremes in Tokyo!!! and
it only took us 20 minutes to get in and get a seat.
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The Halversens Visit Tokyo

The Halversens standing under the big lantern at the
entrance to the Asakusa Temple area.

The gals in one of the many little shops.

The guys waiting for the gals by the shops.

We enjoyed looking at the buddha statues.
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