Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

Dear Family & Friends,
            Monday, Dec. 19, was a chaotic, flitting kind of day.  We had lots of emails, letters to Departing Missionaries to print up and send out, photos to go through, printed up the updated 4-year address list, went through mail that came in, sent out an email to get the information sent back, and had our semi-monthly staff meeting with the Wakolos, etc.  I picked up a quick meal from Captain D;s for Jim & I to share while we talked to Brent, then we stayed until 7:15 working on photos.  Then we came home, watched TV, ate a 2nd dinner, mended Jim’s pants, ordered Christmas gifts for each other, and had a super cold day-high of 30 and low of 16!! That is very cold for Little Rock.
            Tuesday I gave cinnamon roll wreaths to the Greens and the missionaries at the District meeting.  Worked on 5 Departing Mission Memories Binders.  I deleted all the emails with childhood photos (probably 180 of them!!), did emails and phone calls.  Had 4 new missionary recommendations come in and started processing them.  Started printing up the Letters to the President for the 5 binders.  Jim had lots and lots of bills to pay and new apartments to work on.  We closed the Office at 4:00, dropped off cars at the apartments, and the Sorensens and Sister Hugentobler rode with us to have an Office Christmas dinner at the Asian Buffet—delicious!!  And we ate too much!!.  Then we drove to Sherwood where we drove very slowly through the “Trail of Lights.”  Really beautiful!!  Everyone really enjoyed it.  Went home, Jim ironed shirts while we watched TV, and went to bed.
            Wednesday I worked on sending out Thank You letters to the stake relief society presidents for gathering all the items that were in the gift bags—we had things like toothbrushes, glue sticks, nail clippers, soap, hand sanitizer, pens, colored pencils, gloves, ties, hard candy, and lots of other things.  Also Thank You’s to the two wards that prepared and served the luncheons, and to the stake presidents for their support.  Processed the new missionary recommendations, stopped work at 11:00 to drive to Little Rock and pick up the three grandchildren and take them to lunch at “All Aboard”, then to Toys R Us to let them pick out the toys they wanted for Christmas, and to Barnes and Noble to let Gary pick out some books that he wanted for Christmas.   Then we took them home and went back to the Office, where we worked until 6:00 p.m., went grocery shopping, did the laundry, wrapped gifts, and went to bed.
            Thursday I finished processing the miss recommendations, sent 1st letters to the missionaries who are coming in February and to their parents, sent out photos of each Zone to all the stake presidents and stake r.s. presidents holding their bags, took care of medical bills that came in.  Learned about BYU winning the Poinsettia Bowl over Wyoming.  Wish we would have watched it but we forgot!!
            Friday sent out 2nd letters to the February missionaries, worked on the 2017 Calendar, making changes that the president requested.  It is a hard program to work with and I struggle with it.  Elder and Sister Sorensen are being trained every day.  We did our cleaning at the Office in the morning, and had a real treat in the afternoon when Tommy and Elaine Tannehill stopped by on their way from Henderson to Savannah, Georgia.  We had a great time visiting for about ½ an hour, then they continued on.  They have been in rain ever since they left Henderson, so they brought it to us.  We did some shopping on the way home, then watched TV and relaxed.
            Saturday (Christmas Eve) I made the last batch of cinnamon rolls and regular dinner rolls for Christmas dinner at Larry and Holly’s.  We exercised, went through papers that had been building up in piles on the table, went to see “Rogue One” and really enjoyed it, though it had a sad ending.  We came home and opened our presents—I got a new coat, some candy, family slides on DVD’s, a sketch book from Shawn, Jim got a new sweater and a new tie.  More gifts will come next week that we ordered late.
            Sunday, CHRISTMAS!!, we went to two Sacrament meetings and enjoyed lots of musical numbers and some scriptures and talks.  What a great day to celebrate the birth of the Savior. We enjoyed a few wonderful talks and some really great music to sing praises to the King of kings.  How blessed it is to remember the end of His life also, the atonement in the garden and then the resurrection from the garden tomb.  Without Easter no one would remember the baby born to Mary.  We are so thankful to Him and the peace He offers in a troubled world.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only true peace.  Bishop Warner also reminded us that we need to learn to hear the music of the gospel in our hearts.  When we get things into our hearts then we can make the changes we need to do to become someone better.   Then we went to Larry and Holly’s and got to see the things the kids received and they opened our gifts, helped them pick up a lot of the wrappings and tape, ate the salads (a tossed salad, Cookie Salad, and Holly’s Rainbow layered salad.  Then Larry cooked the prime rib in his ceramic cooker and we watched “A Christmas Story.”  Then ate dinner, the meat with more salad, Cheesy potatoes, rolls, etc.  Then Jim and I cleaned up the kitchen while Larry and Holly started getting all the stuff ready for them to leave early Monday morning to drive to Colorado for a fun ski trip.  We drove home after 5:00 and were able to visit with Brent and several of his kids, then Joseph, next Christi and her family, and last Shelley and her kids.  We watched a Christmas movie and went to bed—a great Christmas Day!!
            Well, Happy New Year Everyone!!
            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Zone Conference

Dear Family & Friends,

            First—we hope you all have a very Merry Christmas next Sunday!!

            Last Sunday we spent the evening putting missionaries’ names on Christmas cards from the First Presidency and sealing them up to be handed out at the Zone Conferences.  Also had good phone visits with Lois and Christi.

            Monday I was busy all day doing 16 Departing miss letters.  I also had to forward more child photos and work on my Christmas story for the program here in Arkansas.  Our new Office Couple, Orval and Callene Sorensen from Layton, Utah, arrived about 4:15 and met with President Wakolo.  Then he had to leave and asked us to use the Mission credit card to take them out to dinner before showing them their new apartment, which we were happy to do.  They are great people and will take over for Elder Green—Vehicle Coordinator, and Sister Hugentobler—Referral Secretary/Recorder/and Mail Handler.  After we helped them unload their van, we headed to the movies to see “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”  It was quite whimsical and even scary, but well done and we enjoyed it!!  Came home to visit with Shelley while we got more envelopes ready.

            Tuesday the missionaries helped set up tables to be decorated in the Cultural Hall, the Sorensens came in for their first day of training, I printed up Mission Histories to go in the “Mission Memories” binders, updated the 4-year Miss. Address List, and printed up the letter that goes into their binders.  Went home at 4:30 to exercise, eat dinner, then went back to the chapel for the rehearsal of the program for the Zone Conference.  It was a bit rough but we do have some good singers.

            Wednesday was the highlight of our mission!!!  What an incredible 3-Zone Christmas Conference it was!!!  We had Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Searcy Zones for the Arkansas side.  It started with missionaries arriving starting at 7:30 a.m., trying to take care of stuff in the Office before going into the meeting.  We were in there by 9:15 and it started at 9:30.  Elder Beheshti was presiding.  The Assistants conducted the meeting, starting off with hymn, prayer, and then recitations (the missionaries were impressive with how much they had memorized!!), then President Wakolo spoke and gave a great Christmas message.  Then Sister Wakolo had put together a lovely Christmas program with narrators reading scriptures, songs presented by solos, duets, and trios.  Wow, what an improvement from the rehearsal the night before!!  I have a 6-minute Christmas story talk at the end of it and felt such a good Spirit.  Then Sister Beheshti gave a short talk about changing O to E—Got to Get, as in “I got (have) to do missionary work” changed to “I get to do missionary work.”  The change of attitude can make such a big difference.  Then Elder Beheshti spoke and gave a really inspirational message and told some great stories.  Jim: for me I am most touched by the Spirit thru stories and so the two stories that Pat shared and the story at the end of Elder Beheshti’s talk were the highlights for me.  Good speakers like these are able to paint a great picture of the events they are speaking about by the way they share the stories.  That helps me to internalize the story and feel the principles involved.

            Then we went into lunch put on by the North Little Rock Ward—it was beautifully decorated and had fancy serving tables with sisters serving us with love.  The food was delicious!!  And the desserts plentiful (enough to put in lots of baggies for the missionaries to take home).  Then the missionaries got into Zones and were given their Christmas bags that had been collected from all the wards and branches in the Mission by their own Stake President or a Counselor, and their First Presidency Christmas cards.  Next a couple of games were played, the missionaries did a talent show (very fun!!), then they played lots more games of the Minute to Win It variety.  Some were hysterical!!  Last but not least, they all sat on the floor in front of the stage while childhood pictures were put up on the screen and the missionaries tried to guess who each person was.  They LOVED IT!!!!!  So cute!!

While they were watching that, we brought out the gift boxes that had been coming into the Office from their families, and had 25 that were made by a group of Mission Moms to give to the missionaries who did not get any gifts from home.  These were mostly foreign missionaries.  They were so surprised and pleased—you should have seen their eyes light up after walking to the tables thinking they would get nothing.  What a great feeling it was to see their delight!!  Then everyone had to clean up and go home, which took about an hour before everyone was gone.  As they left, there were so many hugs and Thank You’s, tears and more hugs!!  There was stuff left, and thank heavens for the Office Elders who went around to all the rooms and the chapel to collect all the stuff and the garbage.  It is so wonderful to have young men who are so committed in their service!!  Then we went grocery shopping, home to do laundry and eat a light dinner, and just sit in amazement at the wonderful day we had had!!  (Sorry if you are tired of the exclamation marks—but that is how it was!!)

Thursday was the Zone Christmas Conference of the two Zones in Tennessee—Memphis and Memphis North.  Jim and I and the Sorensens were the only ones in the Office and the phone hardly rang all day.  But we were filled with the glow of the warm Spirit we had felt the day before.  I sent letters to the missionaries in the MTC who would be coming on January 3rd.  Had to get stuff ready for another missionary who had to be sent home to have a surgical wound that wasn’t healing get some treatment at home.  Went home to exercise and work on Christmas gifts and cards.

Friday was a flitting day—a little of this, a little of that, going from activity to activity.  Everyone was back and we were all busy.  Sister Wakolo came in for about an hour and told me about some stories of some of our most faithful missionaries and the struggles they had had early in the mission field, wanting to give up and go home.  One even wanted to commit suicide and they watched him around the clock for two days, but finally he turned himself around and was one of the happiest missionaries I have seen.  Jim took me to dinner at a Greek restaurant called Tazikis—such good food!  Then we wandered the mall and enjoyed the Christmas decorations, did a little Christmas shopping, stopped at Bed, Bath, and Beyond on the way home, then put our feet up and watched TV.

Saturday I made more cinnamon roll wreaths, we cleaned the bathrooms, exercised, ordered Christmas presents online, sent out more Christmas cards, etc.  The temperature on Thursday was 40degrees, on Saturday it was 70 degrees, and today was 30 degrees!  Incredible!!

Today we had talks in Sacrament meeting about Christmas memories, enjoyed SS, Priesthood meeting, and RS.  Michelle and another sister in the ward were rear-ended on Thursday and are both hurting with back, neck, and headaches.  Please pray for them.  Went to the Office to work on photos in the afternoon, then home for naps and watching Music and the Spoken Word.  Had a good birthday visit with Joseph, and a good dinner, and visits later with Christ and Shelley. 

In our latest President’s letter, he shared a quote from a missionary:  “We were having a rough night with little success last Monday, and we were heading to the church to sync with 15 minutes left and all of a sudden the Spirit told me, “stop.”  And so we got out of the car and knocked on a door.  No one answered.  But then we went to the next house and we got talking to this couple.  The next day, we got a text from a member saying that this lady we had talked to had told her of the night before.  She and her husband had been at ‘rock bottom’ talking and crying over their son who had passed away, when she said, there was a knock on the door.  She said ‘God sent these two missionaries.’  That made me so happy to know that we really ARE on the Lord’s errand.”  There are some great stories that President shares each week. That helps us stay connected with why we are here, to support the missionaries so they can have these teaching experiences.

Today at the North Little Rock building when we stopped to do some photos in the Office, a sister stopped me.  Her name is Sister Edgar.  She has lived here a long time and remembered years ago when Larry and Holly moved here and became a part of their ward.  She was Relief Society President and Holly was RS Secretary.  She said, “Holly is one of the sweetest people—she is a great mother and has a wonderful husband and family.”  It makes me feel so good to get complements about our children and the wonderful people they have married.  This kind of thing happens whenever we visit their wards.  We are so grateful for the positive impact they have on those around them!!

We really love the feelings of love that abound this time of the year, and are treasuring every memory and event that we get to be a part of.  We wish you all a most wonderful Christmas season, and may the feelings of love and service be a big part of your 2017.


Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, December 11, 2016

It's Cold Outside

Dear Family and Friends,
            Last Sunday the chapel was sooooo cold!!  I think someone forgot to turn the heater on earlier and we were shivering!!  In the evening we watched a movie on BYUTV called “Winter Thaw.”  It was very well done and showed a cobbler whose heart changes over the course of a couple of days.  He changed from being selfish to selfless through several experiences similar to Mathew 25.  Quite touching.
            Monday was busy and loooong.  I worked on emails with lots more of missionary photos coming in of those missionaries between the ages of 5 & 10.  I usually had about 15 each day except Tuesday and I had only one!  I worked on and sent out Departing Miss letters, we had an Office Staff meeting from 1:00 to 3:30, and some new assignments from that.  Also travel itineraries to go over.  I left at 4:45 to go get a couple of pizzas for dinner.  When I got back the Assistants were there for our unscheduled “emergency drill.”  The idea was that a text was sent out at 6:00.  The last time we did it, they could leave their cell phones on a go to their emergency family’s home.  This time they had to turn off their cell phones, stop what they were doing and drive directly to the family’s home.  Then someone in the family would call us and tell us which missionaries were at their home.  We would see who would respond the fastest.  We got really worried when one set of three sisters did NOT call, so at 8:00 we called the elders from their district to check on them.  Turns out they had they had left their cell phones in their car and didn’t know about the drill!!  We did eat our pizzas while we were waiting for the phones to ring.  We finally left the Office at 8:30 and headed home for what was left of the evening. 
            Tuesday I did more letters, answered emails, worked on the December calender, helped Sister Wakolo who had come into the Office to get several things done.  At 12:30 we stopped and took the Office Elders and the Assistants out to lunch for two birthdays—Elder Claridge and Elder Hunt.  We went to Larry’s Pizza as it is a favorite!!  Did more work in the afternoon, headed home to exercise, eat dinner, watch TV and head for bed.
            Wednesday I did 17 Stake President’s letters and Honorable Release Certificates, printed them up, sent copies to parents and bishops in emails.  That took all day.  Then we went grocery shopping and did laundry at home. 
            Thursday Jim & I did our cleaning as I had a big project on Friday.  Produced and sent out a couple of letters to missionaries coming in February but going to the Mexico MTC to learn Spanish the beginning on January so they have to get their stuff done early.  I made address labels for all the missionaries to go on the Christmas cards sent to us by the First Presidency.  They will be handed out at our two zone conferences this coming week.  It was an exercise day, and Jim also had a good phone visit with his brother Dean for Dean’s birthday.
            Friday I was in charge of putting the Christmas bags together—one for each missionary, 190 in total.  The Relief Societies in the 5 stakes have been gathering stuff, and we had 5 sisters from each of the 3 Arkansas stakes come and we put all the stuff out, counted it so we knew how much to put in each bag, then went around to gather all the stuff, seal the bags, and put them in a big Christmas bag and several boxes.  The missionaries will get the following:  chapstick, colored pencils, tooth brushes and tooth paste, hand sanitizer, pocket tissue, glue sticks, pens, candy, candy canes, sticky note pads, blank cards, thank you cards, gloves, nail clippers, and ???  (I can’t remember everything but there were a couple of more things).  These will be handed to the missionaries by each Stake President after the luncheon of the Zone Conference.  It took us about 2 ½ hours and we were done!!  Sister Wakolo also came and helped.  Then I had to work on Release letters for 3 missionaries who are having to leave for various health reasons.  We will surely be sad to see them leave.  Had a nice evening at home and I made some Cookie Salad.
            Saturday we got up and drove to the Little Rock ward building where we worked with other ward members doing a deep cleaning of the building and assorted other service projects.  Jim & I worked in the Primary room—Jim dusted the pictures on the walls and anything up high.  A family in the ward came in and they dusted/wiped off all the wood trim (chair railings and baseboards).  I cleaned all the windows and window sills.  Then I went around the building and cleaned all the little windows in the classroom doors, and the windows and sills in those rooms.  It took almost an hour.  Then we had a delicious brunch with lots of muffins, breakfast casseroles of various kinds, several kinds of fruit salad, etc.  We ate well!!  Came home and did our own apartment vacuuming and dusting, put up Christmas lights on our railing, made cinnamon roll wreaths, exercised, wrote the Christmas letter.  Jim had to do the dishes twice with all the baking stuff!!
            Today the chapel was much warmer than last week!!  We were surprised with the calling of a new bishop and counselors!!  Bishop Houston was great!!  But he will be deployed in a couple of months and needed to get things ready for leaving.  Our new bishop is Bishop Warner, who was the First Counselor.  He called Brother Stuckey (who was a great Ward Mission Leader!) as his First Counselor, and Brother Webster who we don’t know to be his Second Counselor.  There were sweet testimonies and feelings shared, and President Dixon gave a great talk, too.  We enjoyed SS class, then had a joint meeting about the new “Teaching in the Savior’s Way” program.  They will start holding classes in January.  Stopped by the Office on the way home for about ½ hour, then came home, ate and are enjoying a quiet Sabbath.
            All week has been cold!!  Glad we brought our long johns!!!
            We love you all and pray you are doing well.

            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December Begins

Dear Family & Friends,
            Monday was a busy day.  I worked on contacting all the Senior missionaries and Apartment Advisors about the Senior Social on Friday.  I did Leadership Letters, emails, took care of the information that Sister Wakolo brought into the office from the new missionaries, had photos to upload and email to parents of Departing Missionaries and New Missionaries.  The local missionaries had their P-day at a different building so it was pretty quiet, just me and Elder Hartzell and Sister Hugentobler.  Went to see the movie “Dr. Strange” in the evening and liked it.  It is quite different.
            Tuesday had a lot of the same kinds of stuff to do.  I have to be sure I had added all the new missionaries and their parents to our email address contact list.  Jim and I cleaned the car after lunch at a nearby car wash—it was looking pretty dirty inside, and we tell the missionaries that they need to have a clean car so we need to set the example.  We exercised after work, then took the regular church music off the iPhone 4s and put Christmas music in my iPad to listen to at the Office.  (We tried to put it in the iPhone but it kept trying to put ALL the music in instead of just Christmas music—very frustrating!!) 
            Wednesday was MLC—Mission Leadership Conference.  This is where the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders are trained about their responsibilities and given some inspiring messages.  Sister Wakolo fixed a wonderful Thanksgiving lunch with all the trimmings—sure was delicious!!  She even had a friend make pumpkin cheesecake—Yum!!  I also helped Sister Wakolo with a project for Christmas—she had me ask all the missionary parents (of 190 missionaries) to send photos of their child taken between kindergarten and fifth grade.  As I get them in, I record them and forward them to Sister Wakolo.  That has kept me real busy!!!  I also ordered the travel for the missionaries who are leaving during the February Transfer.  Mid-afternoon we had a mock emergency drill to test the missionary communications channels.  It went well. We went grocery shopping after work, and I did 3 loads of laundry.  I have been having some pain in my right elbow, upper arm, shoulder and neck.  I think I clenched it too many times on the hike a week ago, plus all the computer mouse stuff that I do. Also on Wednesday I had a “catch in my get-along” but it was gone on Thursday—go figure!?!
            Thursday was a “flitting” day where I flit from one thing to another.  I had all those photos to take care of, paperwork to prepare for a missionary who was leaving early for mental health issues (many missionaries suffer from depression and other things), letters to send to parents of missionaries leaving in just four weeks, and other odds and ends.  We headed home and exercised, ate leftovers for dinner, and tried not to think about all the things I wasn’t able to get to that day.
            Friday was a welcome break—it was our Senior Social day at the Mission Home.  Everyone brought either a snack/appetizer or a dessert.  We ate and talked and took turns having interviews with President Wakolo.  Sister Wakolo fixed Hawaiian Haystacks and Beef Curry for lunch and it was delicious!!  Then we ate the pecan pie/sweet potato pie/cherry cobbler/apple tart/cookies, etc. that everyone brought.  Wow—we really ate well!!!  The best part was the concluding meeting where the senior missionaries that will leave before next June shared their testimonies.  We stayed until the end to help clean up.  We even dropped off part of our dessert at Larry and Holly’s.  They were putting up Christmas decorations and it was very festive!  Had a quiet evening at home.S
            Saturday was a rainy day after a nice sunny day yesterday.  We cleaned, worked on the budget, exercised, Jim organized photos on his computer (an on-going project), got mine and Jim’s hair cut and mine colored, cleaned up, and went to the North Little Rock ward’s Christmas in Bethlehem party.  We thought there would be dinner but there was only snacks so we came home and ate pot pies, watched some TV and went to bed.  The weather has cooled off and this next week it gets down to 19 degrees on Thursday! What happened to the warm south?!  Of course, last summer we complained about the warm south!
            We enjoyed a lovely Sabbath today, with some great testimonies in our Sacrament meeting, a good lesson in Gospel Essentials about families, and a good lesson in RS about the tender mercies of the Lord.  Lots of rain yesterday and some this morning.
            The Church has started a challenge:  Light the World in 25 Ways Over 25 Days.  We are trying to follow it and share the light of our testimony with others through many different kinds of service.
            We want to welcome our friends, the Halversens, home from their successful and rewarding 23-month mission to Cape Town, South Africa.
            We hope you all have a great week.

            Elder & Sister Hartzell