Dear family and friends,
Monday, August 21, we worked all day at the Office. I did letters to the Departing Miss. leaving early on Sept. 1, and letters to the Dep Miss leaving on the regular Transfer Day, Sept. 12. I also did the 4th Letters that go in all their Mission Memories Binders. There were a lot of emails to take care of, plus forwarding the weekly letter from Pres. Hansen. It was the day of the Solar Eclipse, so we looked through the cereal box that Elder Sorensen had made. But I got more out of the Weather Channel station that showed it all across America. It was pretty special! I especially liked a lot of the photos that were on Facebook. Pretty spectacular!! At 2:00 our replacement couple, Elder and Sister Baird, arrived. We were so glad to welcome them. We showed them around and got started showing them their responsibilities. I worked on updating the calendar and assorted other things.
We closed the
Office at 4:30 and all went to dinner at Olive Garden with Pres. & Sis.
Hansen. It was delicious as usual. Then the Bairds followed us to the Mission
Home where they spent the night, too.
They had their first interview with Pres. Hansen. We played Runs and Sets with Sis. Hansen, and
she won most of the rounds. She was
thrilled as she said she doesn’t usually win very often. Had a good night’s sleep.
|The Hesses, the Sorensens, the Hartzells, and the Bairds|
Tuesday, August 22, we took the Bairds over to our old apartment, their new one, to help them unload. But we were shocked to see that the apartment and the rugs had NOT been cleaned. So I quickly told Denise and she got both cleanings done for that day. In the meantime, the Bairds came back to the Office and worked all day. Then they decided to go back to the apartment, even though the carpet would still be wet. We headed to the Mission Home, thinking that they would check things out and come back to spend another night, but they never came back. We found out that they went out to dinner, then felt the carpet was dry enough and unloaded their car. I think it wore Sister Baird out as her cold that she caught in the MTC was worse and she slept all day. Elder Baird came in until lunch time, then went home to check on her. He came back and finished the day. Jim: Elder Baird has good experience at doing the finance so it was fairly easy to show him what was going on. He had not been doing anything with housing, so that will be the big challenge. I have a spreadsheet with all the apartments listed and the details for utility payments, so this is a required resource to pay those bills. Without it life would be much harder. He is slowly getting the hang of it. Pat: I spent several hours with Sis. Sorensen going over the letter process for all the letters that have to be done. I also worked more on the Departure Binders and a variety of other things. In the eve. Jim went for a walk and I exercised in the FR while talking with Brent for almost an hour. Then we fixed and ate dinner and made our lunch. Got a few other things done and went to bed. The Hansens were gone to Memphis.
Wednesday, August 23, Sis. Baird was feeling better and came in and was trained by Sis. Sorensen. It was Leadership Training in our building and we had lots of good missionaries in and out of our Office. We had 4 new Miss. Recs. come in and I processed those. I also ran some errands. After work we went to Kroger and did some shopping. Then we went to Hesses for a nice farewell dinner and were joined by the Sorensens and Bairds. So nice to all be together. We will surely miss them!! Went home, washed a batch of clothes, and went to bed.
Thursday, August 24, I worked on emails, sent letters to the 25 missionaries in the MTC who will be coming on Sept. 12. I also helped Sister Hess and Sister Baird work on the Arrival Binders—there are 25 to get ready!! Jim: I worked with Elder Baird all day and introduced my Word document TODO list I use to keep track of repetitive activities or one-time assignments. It has helped me immensely to not forget to do something. I hope he will use it. We also worked on a couple of the open apartment issues. Elder Thompson happened in also so Elder Baird heard a lot about dealing with bedbugs. We left work at 4:30 so we could go home for dinner. Then Jim went to a Missionary Choir practice at the church and I stayed home and repacked my suitcases and relaxed. It was really nice! Sister Hansen is always giving us hugs and telling us how much she loves having us stay there with them. We feel so welcome by both of them. What a nice way to finish our mission. Of course, President keeps telling us to plan on coming back in 18 months!!
Friday, August 25, as we left the Mission Home, we saw some men standing by their cars and they waved to us. We did not know (nor did the Hansens) that they were coming in to paint the rooms on the main floor. When we got home, the house was in chaos—all the furniture downstairs in each room was pushed to the center and covered with plastic. So no more access to the TV and no more access to the kitchen!! That was really hard. We were able to get to the fridge but not much else. At the Office we had the Bairds help us clean the bathrooms, went through emails, then had a 3-hour Staff Meeting that started at 10 a.m. We sure talked about a lot of things, and Pres. treats us like a council and asks for our input a lot. It is quite empowering! Then we went to David’s Burgers and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Came back to the Office to take care of the new assignments we got. Jim: We worked on the six new apartments there are to open. Most of all we are waiting for input from the apartment managers so we can proceed. We finally left at 5:30 and came home to the chaos described above. Because we were still full from lunch, we finally cut up a cantaloupe at 8:00 and ate some and some popcorn. Had a quiet eve.
Saturday, August 26, the painters were back, so we ate a light breakfast. We exercised, repacked some boxes to ship, cleaned up, drove downtown to the Arkansas Historic District and bought some farewell gifts for the Hansens and the other Office Couples. Then we went to Cracker Barrel for lunch, then back to the Mission Home for reading and naps. At 5:30 we drove to Kroger for a couple of things, then met up with everyone at the Asia Buffet at 6:00 for a delicious buffet. Oh, it was sooooooo good!! We went home after to rest.
Sunday, August 27, was a wonderful Sabbath Day!! We had a nice quiet morning, then went to our Little Rock Ward for church the last time. We had some wonderful testimonies from Lily and from Bro. Bellarose on their conversion stories. Jim sang an outstanding musical number with the Missionary Choir, and both Sis. And Pres. Hansen spoke. They gave good talks, and Pres. Hansen spoke about missionary work, telling the ward members they needed to get Jesus Christ in their bones, and then they would know when to open their mouths and what to say. SS, RS and Priesthood were also good, and then we had the monthly potluck. This time the food was a Latin theme and was so delicious!!!! Pres. & Sis. Hansen stayed for it and enjoyed visiting with people. We took photos and shed tears with lots of dear friends, especially Michelle and Lily. We are going to miss them so much!! We went home and took naps, had a short visit with Christi on our way to Larry and Holly’s, where we gave the kids their little gifts and visited with them, talking about their school week, had delicious spice cookies that Holly made, and gave everybody hugs goodbye. Talked to Christ on our way home, then went into President’s Office for our Exit Interview. It was really special and made us cry. Went to bed and slept well.
Monday, August 28, the painters came in as we left for the Office. Sent out Letter #3 to the Departure Missionaries, updated and printed up the 4-year Address List to put in the 17 Departure Mission Memories Binders. Worked on trying to get some of the iPads paid for. Jim: Things were going fine until about 11AM when we got a call from the manager at one of the apartments we are setting up and she couldn’t get the contract to transmit to us electronically, so I had to drive the 30 minutes to their office to sign the papers. That was frustrating. First time that has happened. I am a little worried about the housing set ups that Elder Baird is going to have to finish. I tried my best to get it done before he arrived, but some things you just cannot hurry. Said goodbye to the missionaries who came into the Office, worked on an assortment of things, and said goodbye to the Sorensens, the Hesses, and the Bairds. Went home, did the final laundry batches, packed everything up, said goodbye to Pres. & Sis. Hansen—we all were a bit weepy. We will surely miss everyone.
Tuesday, August 29, we left. We drove through Memphis for the last time, then on to Nashville, north to Louisville, KY, and finished in Columbus, OH, to stay with Jim’s brother and sister-in-law. We called President Hansen during the trip to sing Happy Birthday to him. We got a call at 10:30 p.m. from President Pullen, our Stake President in Payson, to officially Release us as missionaries. It felt sad to take off our badges and put them away.
Thank you all for taking the time to read our epistles each week and share our mission with us. You mean a lot to us! We hope you are all doing well, and may the Lord bless you.
Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell
PS—Our Homecoming talk won’t be until the end of October because of Ward speaking assignments already defined and of all the travel we have planned in September and October. We will send out an email when we know the date for sure, for those who would like to come.