Sunday, February 22, 2009

Feb 22, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,


How is everyone doing? Surviving the winter blahs?! We hope so—

We are doing great because this has been a great week. We had Elder David F. Evans, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, and President of the Northeast Asia Area, speak at our Mission Conference this past week. Because of how big our mission is, we did it over two days. Sis. Hill asked Jim and I to help with the luncheon on the first day. So Tuesday, Feb. 17th, we went to the church in Kichijoji and put together nice salads for everyone. The Zone Leaders in the area had ordered bentos (box lunches), and with the salads and a great dessert, Oatmeal Cake, that Sis. Hill had made, everyone ate well. We stayed and cleaned up after and then headed back to the honbu to do our regular work. Then on Wednesday, Feb. 18th, we got to attend the Conference. Pres. Evans spoke for 2 ½ hours in the morning session, and again for 1 ½ hours in the afternoon. Plus we had Elder and Sister Aoyagi speak (he is an Area Authority Seventy), and President and Sister Hill. We were well taught and felt such a wonderful spirit there.

Elder Evans taught about the doctrine of desire, quoting from scriptures in the Doctrine and Covenants and Book of Mormon primarily. These are some of the notes that Jim took: “If we have desire we are called to the work. Those who put their whole heart, might, mind and strength into the work are sanctified for their efforts and are greatly blessed. This sanctification process cleanses us, even though we know we are not perfect. Work all the day long and then when you lie down at night you will know you have done your best. Some of us have lingered too long, we need to linger less and get back to work. After much labor then they begin to have success. We need to pray for success, get to work, and have a greater sense of urgency for the work. He quoted President Kimball who stated a number of years ago that we have paused on some plateaus long enough and need to rise up. We need to begin to increase our desire by having prayer, we are not stuck, we can move forward. We need to awaken and focus on the goal. He quoted Elder Oaks who said we need to start with our feelings and pray about our feelings and our desire. You have to change, the promises we have is after we have made the change into someone new and better than we are now. Ultimately it is the love of the Savior that will cause us to change or desire. It is up to us. No one can do it for us. God will facilitate but not force. The Lord works when we step forward in faith.” We were so uplifted and strengthened by all he said, and also enjoyed what the others had to say, too.

Our luncheon was Okinawan Tacos which were DELICIOUS!! It’s like taco salad with all the taco fixings but served on rice instead of tortilla chips. Plus we had the Oatmeal Cake, so we were fed well physically, too!!

Jim has had several experiences this past week in dealing with the new iMOS financial program, and is able to give the people in SLC feedback to help them improve the program and reports that it has to generate. I am so proud of all his hard work. I have been frustrated with my iMOS stuff and keep going back to the old MOS program to do things. But each week I will try again—improvements have been made and I have also given the people in SLC input on how to improve things. We will see how long it will take them to make the changes and how long it will take for me to learn to do things a new way!!! (you know—old dogs, new tricks!!!)

Our word for the week is an old one—otsukare sama des (oat-scar-eh sama des) which means “you look like you work hard”! We use it for a lot of the delivery people who come here and have to carry heavy boxes and stuff in and out, and also for our regular mail and package people. We appreciate so much all they do for us and this is how we compliment them.

Our thought for the week is: “For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 84:44. As we live by God’s words and commandments, we are truly blessed!!

We love you all—

Jim & Pat

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feb 15, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,
It was a good week for the most part. Poor Jim had some frustrations with iMOS, the internet Mission Operating System, that we are piloting. Thank heavens, it turned out what he had done that he thought was not processed, it was processed so he felt better about that. I tried to do a mail-merge and it didn’t work so I went back to the old way. It’s always hard (frustrating!!) trying something new and helping them work the bugs out. We are getting tired of being the beta test site for all of the Japan missions. It’s a dirty job and WE get to do it!!!
Thursday morning we came over and did some yard work to make everything look nice for Elder Evans to come visit us next week for a multi-Zone Conference. I cleaned up the office while Jim and the missionaries and Sister Hill worked on the yard.
Then, that afternoon, Sister Hill invited me on a quick trip to a place called China Pete’s where they have lots of different things made out of china. When I say quick, it took two hours to get there, we looked around for an hour, bought a some dishes, then went to Costco for a few things (compared to the major shopping we usually do), and two hours to drive home. We had fun visiting over and back so it was well-worth the time. Nothing is close here!!
Friday night we double-dated with the Hills to a good Valentine’s dinner at Kennedy Steak House, which was delicious!! Then we watched a DVD that I had picked up at Costco called, “Prince Caspian,” part of the Narnia series. We loved it and thought it was such a good story and so well done!!! (Jim & I liked it so much we watched it again last night).
Saturday we attended a wonderful wedding in the Temple. Our own Elder Iida, who left the mission just 10 days ago, was sealed to his sweetheart who waited for him. They looked so happy and we were happy for them. We were not able to stay for the photo session, so when we get any photos from the Hills, we will put them on our blog.
Our thought for the week is: “And if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 14:7.
Our new word for the week is: haru ichiban (har-oo itchee ban) which means #1 spring or first of spring. This has reference to the interesting change of weather we had. On Thursday it was quite cold. On Friday a wind blew all day, but it was a warm wind. When we went out on Saturday, it was positively balmy!! The temp was about 78 degrees!!! We couldn’t believe it!!! In Colorado we would call this wind a “Chinook.” So we had our first taste of spring and we are all excited!!!
Hope you are all doing well and having “haru ichiban”!!
Love, Jim & Pat

Shinjuku Park

A lovely flower garden--mostly ornamental cabbages.

Jim on a bridge overlooking a peaceful pond.

Pat in front of a building built for the Japanese by the Chinese to honor an upcoming wedding of Japanese royalty.

The back of the same building with a lovely pond for a beautiful reflection. Pat is standing on the balcony.
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Flowers at Shinjuku Park

First signs of spring at Shinjuku Park

Pat in front of one of the few flowering gardens in the park.

One of the colorful orchids in a special display. The huge greenhouse was closed for a major renovation and a few plants were shown in a small building nearby.

This was an interesting-looking orchid.
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Japanese Parchment Bush

This bush is what the Japanese use to make their special parchment, like rice paper, that they use for calligraphy.

Closeup of the blossoms on the bush.

Sign explaining the uniqueness of the bush.
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Our Returning Missionaries, 04 Feb 2009

The Dad (trainer for Financial Secretary) , Elder T. Iida, with his son (his apt pupil/padowan learner), Elder Hartzell.

14 missionaries returning home with President and Sister Hill (3 sisters (all from America), and for Elders: 4 from Brazil, 3 from Japan, 1 from Australia, and 3 Americans--a very genki group!!

The Dad (Trainer of the new Office Secretary), Elder Jacob Zan Adachi Lee, with his daughter (the new Office Secretary), Sister Hartzell.

We say a fond "farewell" to a special Australian missionary/friend, Elder Johnston.
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Darth Maul or Darth Mom--You be the judge!!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Feb 8, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,
We survived the chaos of another Transfer Week, and again it was bittersweet. As I mentioned last week, we sent home 14 missionaries. They included 3 sisters, 4 Brazilian elders, an awesome Australian, a former Assistant, a couple of elders that we had become friends with, and Jim’s & my Trainers: Elder Iida and Elder Lee. We enjoyed breakfasts with them on Tuesday and Wednesday, and had several good visits before they left. Elder Lee even promised to play the piano at our own homecoming, a promise I will hold him to. Also, Elder Iida, the one who trained Elder Hartzell, is getting married this coming Saturday—just 10 days after his release!! Of course, she has been waiting for him for the past 6 years: 4 years of university and 2 years of missionary work! We certainly wish him well!! And hope that all of them will have wonderful lives and much joy and happiness for all the service they have given.
We only have 5 new missionaries arrive—2 sisters, 1 elder from America, and 1 elder from Brazil and 1 from Japan—quite a mixture!! They all seem like hard workers and ready to do whatever is asked of them.
The weather has been cold, sometimes rainy, sometimes windy, so we haven’t felt like going on any dai-bokens (high adventures). However, we do have some planned for the future so we will have to see how things go.
Saturday night was a high point!! We had the baptism of a young man named Kato-san who had been taking the lessons for the past 5 months. He first learned about the church while on a train—he sat next to our Stake President who was reading the Priesthood/Relief Society manual about the Prophet Joseph Smith, so Kato-san asked about it. President Kusume taught him a little about the church and invited him over for dinner and a missionary lesson, and it became the first of many dinners and lessons. He felt the Spirit a number of times, but struggled with the changes he would have to make in his life. Finally, last Monday he went to the temple grounds (which are close to his work) and prayed. The temple is closed on Mondays so he had to pray on the public sidewalk out front which is fairly busy. He did this 4 different times during the day, becoming more and more humble each time. Finally he felt the most beautiful feeling wash over him and fill him up with such joy that he knew he was ready to be baptized and commit himself to living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What joy we all felt at his baptism and what a beautiful testimony he bore!!
Sunday (yesterday) was also an incredible day. First, Kato-san was confirmed a member of the Church. Then our North Asia Area President, President Evans, came and spent the day in our Nakano Ward. He and his wife spoke in Sacrament Meeting, then he taught a Sunday School class to the young single adults, then spoke to the combined Priesthood/Relief Society, then had a one hour break to eat, then they both spoke at a Fireside for an hour along with our own President Hill. We were filled with the Spirit as servants of the Lord taught us to love and serve and be obedient to God. We are so grateful we can be on our mission and spend time with such great men and women!!
Our thought for the week is: “For whoso findeth me findeth life.” Proverbs 8:35. “Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others. By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.” Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley.
Our word for the week is: kinkan which is a kumquat! We have heard of them but never seen one before. They are little, the size of a ping pong ball, and look like oranges. One difference is that the skin is sweet and the inside is bitter. You pop the whole thing in your mouth and enjoy the mixture of tastes!
We love you all—
Jim & Pat

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Feb 1, 2009

Dear Family & Friends,

This last week was cold and rainy, and though we have sunshine today, it’s also quite windy so still cold!!

This was a fairly quiet week. Had a great Eikaiwa on Wednesday and lots of fun going to Costco with Sis. Hill on Friday. We went to a different Costco than usual (there are about 7 or 8 just here in Tokyo area), and it was so much nicer and less crowded than the other one. The traffic getting there is worse, but the time it takes is about the same.

Saturday night we had such a fun time with our friends, the Josen’s. Sis. Josen taught me how to make Gyoza and Teriyaki Chicken. Both were sooooooo delicious!! She doesn’t speak English as well as her husband, but we were able to communicate without asking him to translate most of the time. She is looking more pregnant now. Her baby is due the 29th of May. The tradition here is to go to her parent’s home for the birth. They leave about a month before the due date and stay until a week after the baby comes. So the husband is not involved in the birth unless he can get time off, which they usually don’t. So different from America!

We have been busy all week getting ready for the transfers. We have 14 missionaries going home and only 5 coming out. Also, our office and District will be changing: one Assistant is leaving to be a trainer, our Recorder is leaving because he already trained his replacement, and one of the sisters is leaving. I will tell you more about the new missionaries next email.

Our thought for the day is: “It is not enough to want to make the effort and to say we’ll make the effort. We must actually make the effort. It’s in the doing, not just the thinking, that we accomplish our goals. If we constantly put our goals off, we will never see them fulfilled. Someone put it this way: ‘Live only for tomorrow, and you will have a lot of empty yesterdays today.’” Pres. Monson, General Conference Priesthood Session, October 2007.

We love you—

Jim & Pat