Sunday, May 29, 2016

Dear Family & Friends,
            This was a pretty quiet week.  On Tuesday, we got 5 new missionary recommendations, which I processed.  We had our Office Staff meeting (these happen usually every other week), and I got some new assignments. 
            Had pouring rain driving to the Office on Wed. morning, but it cleared up soon after, and has only rained a couple of times since, and they were light.  Worked on a variety of different things.  At lunch we (the Office Staff) were taken out to lunch by a ward member.  He took us to “the best fish place in town,” called Cajun Wharf.  And the food was indeed delicious!!  It is right on the Arkansas River and we watched some barges pass by.  Also, Sister Wakolo stopped by and visited for a few minutes.  She told me that she and President often go to missionaries’ apartments to study with them (the missionaries study every morning until 10 a.m., and they are not supposed to call or receive calls until after 10).  She tries to help the sisters try to get more out of their study time.  This also helps her and the President get to know the missionaries even better. 
She also talked with Jim and told him about a baptism she had attended in Larry’s ward Tuesday night.  A young man was baptized and another one, who was baptized less than a year ago, stood and bore his testimony about how he wanted to be a “dad like that man over there” (pointing at Larry).  How he admired so much the way Larry took care of his family and was so kind to others.  Of course, this is music to a mother’s ears and heart.  I had loved visiting the wards of our children and have people tell me what good people our children are, and how much they love them and their families.  I don’t know if I tell our children this enough, but I am so proud of them, their spouses, and their children!  They have strong marriages of love and trust, and strong families built on the principles of the Gospel.  I am so happy for all the good things they have going on in their lives!!!  After work, we went shopping and then went home to eat and do laundry. 
Thursday was a Mission Leader Conference in our building.  It consists of Pres. & Sis. Wakolo, the Assistants, and the Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders—about 30 people total.  At lunch time Jim & I helped serve them some fried chicken from Church’s Chicken, a tossed salad, southern macaroni and cheese, and a cookie salad that Sis. Wakolo made.  It is wonderful to be around these missionaries who work so hard trying to help the other missionaries do better, work harder, and be more obedient. 
Friday, started working on letters that I needed to finish from the day before, and soon realized that I was redoing some I had already done!  So I created a new checklist and that is working much better.  We have 22 new missionaries coming in July, and I was sending them and their parents letters, and it is easy to lose track of where I am without the checklist.  This will help me be much more efficient! 
At 5:30 we closed down the Office and went with the Cahoons and Sister Hugentobler to meet the Elder and Sister Cheney for dinner at a local restaurant in Sherwood, a 15 minute drive from the office, called Ropers.  Deciding to eat their specialties, I had country fried steak and Jim had fried hamburger steak.  It was all delicious!!  But I haven’t eaten fried foods in a long time so this is real different for us.
Saturday we actually slept in, cleaned, exercised, went shopping, and relaxed.  Jim did go into the Office for about 1 ½ hours as he had some stuff he needed to get finished up.  We didn’t go anywhere fun but it was good to have an R&R day.
Today church was good and we enjoyed being with such good people.  We love running into people who used to be in Larry and Holly’s ward before it was divided and tell us what good people they are.  Again, we are so proud and grateful for all our children and spouses.
A sister missionary heard that one of the elders had a contact in her area.  She marched up to him at a meeting and said, “Give me that referral right now!  He wants to know about the Gospel and we want to go see him now!!”  She leaves the mission in three weeks and is not trunky at all!!!
This is Jim.  Pat writes most of the blog posts and you can probably tell, but I wanted to add something from my observations that has to do with preparing young men and women for missionary service.  I am not addressing their spiritual preparation, rather their living preparation.  We have missionaries here that don’t know how to clean an apartment. The couple who check some of the apartments find vacuums so plugged up for lack of cleaning the filter or empting the bag that they won’t suck any air.  We have others who know absolutely nothing about car maintenance.  They don’t know how to check air in the tires, or change a flat, or how to open the hood of the car, where to add oil or coolant or how to check if you need it, and they ruin tires by running on them when they are flat. The vehicle coordinator tells me some really sad but funny stories.  Two elders recently hit a curb that had some kind of a pipe sticking out of it and ruined the tire.  When the vehicle coordinator  asked if the tire was flat they seriously said, “no it was still round on the top and only flat on the bottom.”  He asked if they were kidding him, and they said no.   If you are a parent of a teen, or have grandchildren who are teens, or have a calling with the youth, please help them get some education about some of these basic things. 
Thought I heard recently – “Men are that they might have joy and not guilt trips!”

Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Monday, May 23, 2016

Dear Family and Friends,
            This was a good week at the Office for Jim and me.  We were each able to do some organizing, take care of various tasks that needed to be done, and actually enjoy quite a bit of peace and quiet.  The Cahoons were gone on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and the missionaries were hardly in the Office at all.  Several times I was able to get done with my work and go into Jim’s office to help him with some projects. 
            On Tuesday, I had three new missionary recommendations come in—two for August and one for October.  After work, we went to Sam’s Club and became members (there are no Costcos in Arkansas), ate pizza there, then went to the apartment and exercised at the Clubhouse.
            Wednesday, I worked on the Departure Books for the Departing Missionaries.  There are a lot of pages that go in them, and the ones I put in now are all premade.  Next week I will add all their personal letters and letters to the mission president.  We left the Office at 4:00 to go to Larry’s house where Jim helped Bram finish putting the wheels on his Pinewood Derby car.  There was no electricity in the house, and the Cornias said that it was because a car had run into the poles and knocked them over.  So I helped Laurel round up candles and matches.  They told us later that the power came back on about 11:00 p.m. and suddenly all the lights in the house came on, even though Laurel had tried to turn them all off before they went to bed!
            The online Church internet system we use all the time for finance, housing, and all the secretarial tracking of missionaries has been down since last Thurs for all the financial work while they did an upgrade.  It was supposed to last until at least Friday, and I had planned on not having it until next Monday.  But there it was back again Wednesday morning.  I really didn’t get behind at all.  Yea !!!!!!!!!!!!
            The missionaries are all bringing in their old DVD players as they don’t need them any more because they all use iPads now.  So on Thursday, I went through all of them (about 60) and determined whether or not they were broken and could be thrown away, or still working and we would give them away.
            Friday we had the brake rotors on our Highlander turned so that the brakes are a lot smoother to use now.  I went through an old book to see what it said about the things I need to be doing, but it is way out of date and so I am trying to make it more current.  Met a couple who have accepted an assignment to help check missionaries’ apartments in their stake.  This is much needed!!  The husband is Samoan and she is from Arkansas, and they have both lived here a long time.  In February they just returned from a mission to the Bay Area to serve in the Samoan community to help reactivate members and teach investigators and help people learn how to serve in the church.  When they first got there, her husband was talking to groups of people in Samoan and she could understand nothing.  She was getting so frustrated.  Finally, she said a prayer, saying in essence, “Father, I want to be on this mission and I want to help the Samoan people, but unless You help me understand what they are saying, I won’t be able to do what I need to.”  All of a sudden, she was understanding everything everyone was saying!!  She received the gift of tongues.  She still couldn’t speak it, but since they all understand English, she could participate fully in the conversations.  What a blessing!!  And they helped the Branch grow from 150 to almost 300 when it was made a Ward not long ago!
            Friday night we ate out and went to see “Captain America-Civil War.”  We love those kinds of movies, but it was hard to watch the heroes fighting each other.
            Saturday we went to the Pinewood Derby.  Bram’s car came in 4th out of 12 and looked good.  Then we went home for lunch, took naps, vacuumed and dusted the apartment, exercised, ate dinner, and then Larry invited us to go see the movie again with he and Gary and Bram and Gary Cornia, and that Larry would pay for us all!!  So of course, we said yes and went and enjoyed it again.

            Sunday has been a lovely cool to warm day.  We enjoyed Sacrament meeting and SS at the Little Rock Ward, then drove to Larry’s Pinnacle Mountain Ward for a second SS and RS/Priesthood, so we would be there when Larry gave Gary the Priesthood and ordained him a Deacon after church was over.  It was so special!!  And we had a marvelous dinner to celebrate Gary's 12th birthday--ribs, melon salad, tossed salad, smashed potatoes, rolls, and a sugar cookie cake with caramel icing.  Wow—we ate well!!  Said goodbye to the Cornias, who flew home today.

            In sacrament meeting the concluding speaker was a member of the Little Rock Ward, Marc Gray.  We were so impressed with his talk.  He spoke about how to avoid letting doubt affect our testimonies and how we serve in the Church.  He had three points: 1) reflect upon past spiritual experiences, 2) expose ourselves to more light than darkness (doubt) – invest real time in this effort and 3) know that you have a place in God’s kingdom.  Even though we may have doubts at times, don’t let them stop us. 

           We love you all,  
Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A "Dai Bo'oken" or grand adventure to Memphis

Dear Family and Friends,
            Another good week—working on letters to or about missionaries.  Monday I wrote the letters to all the Stake Presidents about their missionaries who will be returning home on the next Transfer.  Along with the letters I included official Certificates of Release.  It makes me so happy to fill these out.  We have had a number of missionaries who have had to leave early, some for health reasons, and they don’t all get the Release Certificates.  In the evening we did some of our apartment cleaning so we don’t have to do it all on Saturday. Also had a tornado warning about 10:40, so we didn’t sleep good for while!!
            On Tuesday we had 8 new missionary recommends come in, one of which was for a new Senior Couple who are retired military and will be doing Military Relations.  We had our Office Staff meeting at 1:00 and were given assignments about different things coming up.  One of my assignments was about writing to the missionaries and giving them a list of things to read in preparation of a Mission Tour in June.  That is when we will have a visiting General Authority, in this case Elder Arnold who gave a talk in General Conference about the Rescue, who will visit with the missionaries in two meetings in June.  He wants them to be ready to discuss certain topics—this time mostly Chapters 6 and 10 in Preach My Gospel—and read the New Testament, plus some other things.  We are really excited to have him come!!
            It was quiet in the office on Wed. and Thurs. as the Cahoons were with Pres. and Sis. Wakolo at Specialized Conferences in Memphis.  We didn’t have a lot of missionaries in the office with us so were able to get a lot of things done.  Wed. night was doing all the laundry for the week.  This time, however, we also had to pack for a short trip. 
            Because our Internet Missionary Operating System, called IMOS for short, was going take the Financial part down on Thursday and be down for at least a week, we thought we would ask the Mission President for permission to take a short “tourist” trip to Memphis, which he gave.  Jim was kept busy all week keeping up with all the bills and housing issues related to finance until the last minutes the system was up and running.  He is thinking of adding side boards to the in basket for the next week. It seems there is never a week that goes by without some kind of payment issue for an apartment or utility.  This was the week of apartment issues.   This will give him some time to work on some other lesser critical things, so that will be good also.  We left about 4:00 for Memphis. 
            It’s a 2 ½ hour drive over, and we share the road with a ton of trucks!!  We ate dinner in West Memphis at a little roadside BBQ place called “Roadside BBQ”!!  It is really quaint and good food!!!  Some would call it a “hole-in-the-wall.”  Stayed at a Quality Inn in East Memphis.

            Friday was a crazy busy day!  We drove to the Mississippi River to a place called the Mud Island Museum.  We bought tickets that included a monorail ride over and back (short trip), a tour of the museum which gave the history of Memphis starting at the Choctaw, Quapaw, and other Indians who lived in the area, through to the present day.  Lots of different people lived here at different times, and there were stories of horse, wagon, railroad, and riverboat travel.  Then we went through rooms dedicated to the music of the area—Plantation, Gospel, Blues, Jazz, and Rock and Roll, with lots of famous musicians living and performing here:  Louis Armstrong, Elvis, and many others.  Then we walked outside to a scale model of the Mississippi River built into the cement sidewalk with water flowing in it where the kids loved to wade and play.  It was so well-done, and we also took a free walking tour with a guide to explain about each different area of the River and the towns that were there and what they were like.  Quite the overview—most interesting!! We visited with the tour guide afterwards and learned that he was a Southern Baptist and the only non-member who had worked at the local family history center.

            Then we went to the Riverside CafĂ© and ate lunch, then rode a Riverboat sight-seeing trip with more history of the River and Memphis—a really nice boat trip.  There was a big BBQ competition going on along the River, but we didn’t try to go there—too crowded and crazy. We then walked down the most famous street in Tennessee called “Beale Street”, home of many BBQ places, stores, music studios, etc.  The smells and music were so much fun!!  We went in an old mercantile called Schwabs and looked at so much stuff from our childhood and before!!  Plus we had a malt at the “soda fountain” there!! 

            Next we went to a big silver pyramid building that was built to be a basketball arena but ended up a Bass Pro store.  Much like a Cabela’s with an aquarium, a pond for alligators, mounted trophy animals all over, etc.  Really fun to walk around. 
Finally, we headed back to the hotel, driving through some beautiful neighborhoods with gorgeous homes and yards, picking up some Chinese takeout (having had BBQ Thursday night and for lunch), and went back to eat, rest and sleep.
Saturday we got up early and went to the Memphis Temple for a session with only 3 other couples.  What a contrast from all the noise and worldly things yesterday to spend time and feel the wonderful spirit in the temple. We thought there would be many more than that!  Then checked out of our hotel, went to a deli for lunch, then to the Woodruff-Fountaine Mansion Museum for a tour of a huge mansion that had almost been torn down like the others around it, but was saved because a foundation bought it to fix it up again in the late 1960’s.  It sure looks beautiful now!!  As we drove around Memphis, we kept seeing decorated tigers.  We found out they are the mascot for the University of Tennessee.  Then we drove home, stopping at Walmart for a couple of things, then made it home to collapse!!  The weather had been sunny and 82 degrees on Friday—perfect!  It was cooler and cloudy on Saturday in the morning, but the clouds went away towards noon.  But it stayed cool—summer is not here yet!!

Today is a lovely cool, partly-cloudy day, highs in the low 70’s.  In our sacrament meeting today Brother Charles Wray, a member of the high council was the concluding speaker.  I cannot remember what his topic was but the message I received was that some things we have to learn in this life are learned only by the things we suffer.  He told of a brother who, when Brother Wray was the bishop of his ward, was the scoutmaster and how they together worked with 4 young men, none of which had a father at home and helped them through scouting and priesthood service to become great young men.  Three of whom served missions and were married in the temple.  The fourth they are still praying for and working with.  This brother was never married and had no sons of his own, but Brother Wray said that he was a better father to those 4 boys than Brother Wray was to his own sons.  This brother suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease and to his dying day was faithful and never gave up.  I was touched by his story and the things this brother had to suffer.  It caused me to think of the Savior and how much He suffered for each of us, and giving His all.  We closed the meeting by singing “ How Firm a Foundation”.  Jesus Christ is our firm foundation, we must never forsake, we must learn from our mistakes and become better and through the grace of Christ we can and will be saved.
We love you all and hope you have a great week ahead!!

Elder and Sister Hartzell

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mothers Day!!

Dear Family & Friends,


 We had a beautiful, sunny week!!  Except for Monday when we were awakened at 4:30 a.m. with two huge thunderclaps, accompanied by a little rain, it has been clear and gradually warming all week.  Highs between 73 and 83 degrees.  Gorgeous and not muggy yet!!

Enjoyed church on Sunday, got a new Senior Couple on Monday and enjoyed dinner with them Monday night.  They interviewed with President Wakolo on Tuesday, and he sent them to their new assignment 2 ½ hours away to be MLS (Member Leader Support), which means they help out in the Ward and serve where needed, usually with the inactives and investigators. We watched a fun movie at the Apartment Clubhouse with the other Senior missionaries who live there for FHE.  Had popcorn and candy, and came to our apartment for ice cream sundaes afterwards.

Tuesday got 5 more new missionary recommendations, which I processed, plus wrote and sent out lots of Leadership Congratulation letters to all our new Zone Leaders, Sister-Training Leaders, and District Leaders, plus one new Assistant, Elder Hooker. 

Wed. was Leadership Training Day here at our building, so lots of missionaries in to say HI and give hugs.  Were busy all day, then went to Sears to do some birthday and Mother’s Day Shopping.  Went home, ate dinner, and watched Star Wars for Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you!!) while doing laundry.

Thursday we went out to lunch to honor Sister Womack who is getting a new assignment.  She moved to Memphis on Friday to do Records Preservation with Sister Nichols who is already there.  Sure hope she enjoys it. 

Jim & I cleaned the bathrooms on Friday, got a lot of stuff done, including helping Jim with a project he wanted to get done.  Rested on Friday night because I didn’t feel good, and it turned out that both Jim and I had eaten something that was not good and gave us diarrhea.  Well, you just never know if food is going to be okay or not, and it was stuff we had made.  Darn!!  So we rested all day Saturday too, until 5:00 when we drove to a huge soccer park and watched Gary play his last game.  Sadly, they lost, but they did their best.  It has been fun to watch him and Bram this spring.

 A gorgeous Sabbath today and loved the tributes and talks and songs to Mothers.  I sure do treasure mine and Jim’s, plus other great women who are mothers and had an influence in our lives.  Thank heavens, we do not have to be perfect, just doing our best to love our children and our families!!!  Had a great steak dinner at Larry’s and Holly’s, lots of good food and fun!!

Hope you all had a great day, too!

 Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Transfer Week, Harper Turns 5, and Conway's Toad Suck Days

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for the many prayers and well-wishes that were offered to help me get over my cold.  They worked!!  Sunday morning I woke up feeling much better, was able to attend church, and had a good day. We are attending the Gospel Essentials Sunday School class and enjoying being there with the new members and the investigators.
Pat's Birthday party from last week
Monday morning we awoke early, met the missionaries at the chapel/office, and drove to Memphis, TN, where we attended a special session in the Memphis Temple.  This is done the Monday of every Transfer Week so that the Departing Missionaries can attend the temple one more time, in addition to all missionaries who celebrated birthdays in March or April, and half of the Senior Missionaries.  The Temple was small but beautiful, and we loved the Spirit we felt there!!  President Griffin, the Temple President is from Hot Springs, Arkansas and owns the home where we went to Easter dinner and had fun with Larry and family.  He is also an ENT, knows Larry and in fact Larry did a tonsillectomy on one of his grandchildren last week. There was less traffic on the road this trip, no rain, and a much more pleasant drive. We drove back to Little Rock to attend the Farewell Dinner at the Mission Home.  Delicious!!  We had ham, Sister Wakolo’s chicken curry, tossed salad, Sister Wakolo’s Cookie salad, fruit, chips and dip, rolls, and brownies for dessert!  So good!!!
Tuesday we got 5 new missionary recommendations in email, 3 sisters for June and two elders for July, and I processed them.  We both worked in our Office all day and got much accomplished, and I visited with my sister, Lois, at lunch.  Wednesday we did a Training with the one new missionary who came in—a sister.  Then back to the Office and putting all the Transfer information into IMOS so that all the information on where each of the missionaries was now and what their Areas were would be complete.  It took Jim and me almost 2 hours, with a break for lunch, to compete it, and we asked the Office Elders to check it and make sure it was correct.  Then they were sweet enough to go into the President’s Office and make the changes on the Transfer Board in there. 

Wednesday evening we drove to the Larry’s Pizza in Little Rock to attend Harper’s Fifth Birthday party!!  She is so adorable!!  We ate well and had lots of fun!!  Then went home to do laundry (Pat), wash dishes (Jim), and recover from the day (both).

Thursday and Friday I had letters and emails and photos to send out to the families of the Departing and Arriving Missionaries.  Also, we had a bad thunderstorm on Friday and tons of rain, but it lightened up by afternoon. Elder Hartzell:  I not only do finance, but also housing.  There have been lots of apartment issues this week, and since we arrived. Looks like that will be a common thing.
Saturday the soccer games were cancelled because of how soggy the fields were.  Jim and I exercised, cleaned the apartment, did budget stuff, cleaned up, and at 1:30 we drove north to Conway to the famous or infamous Toad Suck Festival.  It turned out to be good sunny weather, lots of booths, watching the Toad races, singers, dancers, and fun.  Then we went to Brother and Sister Green’s to eat a wonderful dinner of veggies and dip, chips and dip, barbecued chicken, pulled pork, potato salad, coleslaw (all from Whole Hog), rolls, watermelon, and a wonderful lemon ice cream dessert!! 

Jasmin Wakolo, sitting by her folks, Elder and Sister Cahoon, Sister Green, and Sister Hartzell

Yummmmmmmmy!!!  Then drove home and enjoyed a quiet evening.  Jim even had a good visit with his brother, Dean.
Sunday (today) has been nice and sunny, and we enjoyed church, though the internet and speaker system were down because of a lightning strike nearby.

Last Monday we heard a wonderful miracle story.  A sister missionary who is serving here is also from Payson.  She said that she had a brother who had been on a mission but returned home early and became inactive.  The family had been praying for the Spirit to touch his heart.  This past Easter Sunday, the parents had to be out of town and asked the brother to take his younger brother to church, which he did, but the older brother waited in the foyer.  In the meantime, the Apostles had been asked to pray for where they needed to attend church on Easter, and so Elder Oaks came to that building that day and met this young man, who felt the Spirit and is starting to come back to church again.  Truly, prayers and fasting produced a miracle, and the family is so grateful to the Lord.

There is another interesting experience we have observed somewhat from a distance, only hearing some of the details.  But one of the local colleges has asked their students to write a paper about a religious topic and two of these students have chosen the LDS church to write about.  There is a young lady who has met with the missionaries asking questions about the how we minister and administer the gospel.  She has come into the office several times and has been given a copy of the Book of Mormon and several other references.  It has been a very positive experience for her and the missionaries.  Then today in the Little Rock Ward that we attend, a young man is doing a similar research paper and has attended the last two Sundays.  He had some very positive comments after he heard the testimony meeting today.  The missionaries are meeting with him later this week.  Not sure at this point if it will lead to them becoming progressing investigators, but at the very least they are having a very positive experience as they learn more about the church.

Jim: As I was sitting in sacrament meeting during the administration of the Sacrament I began pondering the difference between sacrifice and atonement and shared some of feelings as I shared my testimony (this month I got right up and was the second person to share their testimony compared to last month when I hesitated and had no opportunity later).  One can sacrifice time or money or even their life for someone else for their protection, or physical needs, but none of us can sacrifice anything that pays for the sins of ourselves or for anyone else.  Only the Lord Jesus Christ could and did that for us.  I am so thankful for His atonement.  I have made plenty of mistakes and continue to do so and only through my repentance and the Grace of Christ through His atonement can I be forgiven for those things. I testify that I have experience this in my life, the peace that surpasses all understanding. 

 We hope you are all doing well and we have loved the great emails we have received from some of you.  Thanks for communicating with us.

 Love, Elder and Sister Hartzell