Sunday, November 20, 2016

Preparing for Transfer Week

Dear Family & Friends,
            We were able to have good visits with Christi, Shelley, Joseph, Brent and Larry all either Sunday or Monday.  It’s great to hear how everyone is doing.
Monday I sent out “Letter # 3-The Big Letter”—this one has about 7 other pieces of paper plus a return envelope—to the missionaries who will be coming in January.  Then on Tuesday, I got 4 more missionary recommendations for January, so now I will have to send Letters #1, 2, and 3 to them.  Also on Monday we had Staff Meeting, worked on the 2017 Calendar, got three or four boxes of stuff that a stake had ordered to give as gifts to the missionaries for Christmas.  The stakes were supposed to collect the items from the ward members, but felt their members were overburdened already so just paid for the things themselves.  I was surprised by this.
Tuesday Jim & I went to the Little Rock Stake Center for the Zone Conference there.  We really enjoyed it and were well-taught by President and Sister Wakolo, the Zone Leaders and Sister-Training Leaders.  We were really impressed by how well some of the missionaries knew the Recitations that all of us are asked to memorize.  And President Wakolo talked about being at the Mission Presidents’ Seminar in October and being asked how many scriptures the missionaries in the various missions had memorized.  The average was about 5 scriptures per missionary.  But in our mission it’s like 75!!!  So proud of our young people!!!  Jim & I had the Articles of Faith memorized before we came (it’s a family tradition), and already had 1 Nephi 3:7, but learned 3 Nephi 5:13 (which we had started to memorize on our mission in Japan), and the Standard of Truth (from the Wentworth Letter in the History of the Church, 4:540), Our Purpose as a Missionary, and D&C 4, plus the full-time missionaries learn a whole bunch of others.  We recite these at every conference and meeting.  Sure sounds awesome!!  We had a delicious lunch there and our group photo taken, then left at 3:30 to head back to the Office to try to get a few things done.
Wednesday Jim & I were the only ones in the Office as Sister H and Elder & Sister Green went to the North Little Rock Zone Conference.  It was a quiet day and I processed the 4 new missionary recommendations.  I also worked on printing up the Letters to the President for the 6 missionaries who are going home next Tuesday.  Picked up a quick dinner at Arbys (love their Cinnamon Apple Crisp!!), then did our weekly grocery shopping, did three loads of laundry, and watched TV.
This week has beautiful, unseasonably warm and sunny weather, and Thursday was no different.  I worked on my desk calendar (stuff that I need to be sure to take care of each day), handled some iPad issues, worked with Sister Green on some of them, worked on the Senior Social that we will have in two weeks, exercised at home, and feel asleep watching TV.  Jim: In our office staff meeting today I gave the spiritual thought from a talk given last Sunday by the high councilor about the plan of happiness.  He referred to the 2060 stripling warriors and how they were all still all accounted for despite the many wounds from their battle to defend the people of Ammon to worship as they chose (Alma 58:39,40).  I tried to liken this to me and us.  We too receive many wounds that Satan inflicts upon us and by mistakes we make on our own, and sorrows as we experience life and see friends and family suffer for one reason or another.  But we too can receive the same promised blesses as did these young men if we will be steadfast, remember the Lord, observe to keep his statutes, judgements, commandments continually, and faith in the living prophecies from our church leaders.  Our wounds, as were theirs, will be healed by the Master healer.
Friday it finally cooled off and we had about 4 hours of rain—badly needed!!  It was our cleaning day and instead of dusting everything, I polished the wood furniture (it was all looking dull).  Also, several of the desk areas are not wood but are formica so I wiped them down with a damp clothing.  Nice to have things look shiny again.  The Assistants were in the Office all day typing up the Transfer lists that they will send out on Sunday and the missionaries will move on Monday and Tuesday.  The Office Elders worked to organize the Media Closet some more for Sister H., and she went and bought hamburgers for everyone!!  Also, President and Sister Wakolo came in for a couple of hours to work on things with different people in the office including me.  I had made up address labels from a list they had given me to send Christmas cards to the General Authorities.  I worked on assorted other things, and we stayed at the Office until 6:00 as the North Little Rock Ward was having a hoedown with a baked potato bar, a square dance demonstration (very fun), and some line dance that I enjoyed participating in (can’t resist dancing!!)  Picked up some Christmas decorations for our apartment on the way home.
Jim:  This has been a busy week for me, catching up from being gone last Friday and then on Tuesday.  I got all the bills caught up, credit card charges entered, and executed two apartment renewals and a couple others started.  I have a little more surface area around my desk, which is how I determine if I am somewhat keeping up or falling behind.  I meet with the office elders, Boggess and Lindstrom, most days they are in to check on the status of their activities for the apartments. They are great hard-working missionaries.  They don’t get a lot of opportunity to share the gospel or teach, but do have a couple of progressing investigators now.  When President Wakolo was in on Friday I reviewed a few issues with him, and identified two more apartments to close.  He also had time to review the financial expense sheets from the past two weeks or so and formally sign off on them.  The process is that I input into IMOS an expense, he then has to go into IMOS and approve it before it is actually expensed and paid by Salt Lake.  Then a check is cut and mailed, or paid electronically.  The paper copy of this expense is put in a folder for President to sign off, which is what he did today.  In a two week period there is pile of about 21/2 inches thick for his signature (good thing he has a signature stamp).
Saturday we drove to the Memphis Temple to finish the endowment and sealing for two of Jim’s family members, one of his aunts and uncles. Jim: this was very special for me.  I have been waiting a long time to do this work for them. Hopefully there was rejoicing in the Spirit world as well.   Our “hump” day was November 15th so we took our photo in front of the temple to celebrate that day!!  Can’t believe we have been here 9 months now!!  

Celebrated being half-way through our mission at the Memphis Temple
Ate Chinese food and drove home and exercised and cleaned up for the Sabbath.
Today was a beautiful cool day (the highs are now in the 50’s), and we enjoyed our meetings.  Michelle and her family are sick with colds so we dropped off our birthday/house-warming gift to her and she was very appreciative.  They just moved out of their apartment and into a rental home that is much closer to her work and to the church. 
A story to share from one of our missionaries:  While tracting, a lady walked out of her house and obviously wanted to talk to us.  Her best friend growing up was a Mormon.  After introducing ourselves and telling a little of the Restoration, she rebuked us for not sharing more in depth.  My companion asked her to read the First Vision, and she read slower and slower, until she stopped before the end, in tears.  We just stood in silence until she finished.  We then testified and I invited her to be baptized—all in 5 minutes.  She accepted!  One of our miracles!!
We hope you all have an awesome Thanksgiving!!  We have much to be thankful for, most especially for our Savior Jesus Christ and his atonement.  How lost we would be without it. 

Elder & Sister Hartzell

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