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 Café 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