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: hartzellline.blogspot.com and enjoy the pictures we have added.

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

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