Sunday, May 28, 2017

Week of May 22-28

Dear family and friends, [hallelujah Pat is back doing the majority of typing the Blog!!!!!!!!]
            Monday, May 22, 2017: It was cloudy all day but no rain.  Pat worked on the letters to the stake presidents of the Departing missionaries—all 17 of them (16 elders and one sister).  It included doing all of the Release Certificates.  Also email copies were sent to their parents and their bishops.    This took all day.  Jim: I had plenty of bills to pay today, replacement of MSF cards, broken cell phones, and an apartment renewal.  We left the Office at 4:30, picked up a quick hamburger, and drove to downtown Little Rock to the Robinson Concert Center for the dance recital of our granddaughter, Harper.  We got there at 5:30 and saved seats on the eighth row which made for good viewing except for the head of the guy in front of me!  Oh well!  The performance started at 6:30, had no talking—just followed the printed program—and ended at 8:30.  They had many good dancers, and we especially enjoyed the two dances Harper was in.  We found out later is was only half the studio and the rest of the dances would be on Tuesday evening.  I am so glad we didn’t have to sit through a four-hour program!!!  It was also Gary’s 13th birthday, so we went to their house to sing, give cards and gifts, and eat cake and ice cream. 
Harper's dance costume
Gary's birthday

Tuesday, May 23, Pat worked on printing up copies of the mission history, did the first letters to the Departing missionaries which included sending email copies to their parents, sent faxes of medical bills to SLC, took care of paperwork that the future missionaries had mailed in.  Sister Wakolo was in the office for a while emailing copies of stuff to SLC.  She talked about how President Wakolo not only is doing all his mission President activities, but also had to watch 2-3 videos from SLC each week to train him on how to be a General Authority.  Jim: I worked on my financial and housing secretary handbook, updating and hoping that I have someone to train before we leave. We have also been addressing our computer needs and how to address the needs verses the available, allowable number of computers.  It is going to be extra challenging when one of the computers, which technically is excess, goes away the end of May.    After work we exercised, ate, and relaxed. 
            Wednesday, May 24, Pat finished the letters to the Departing missionaries, and also processed two new missionary recommendations for September Arriving missionaries.  Sister Hess helped with that.  Jim: I worked on an emergency contact plan for notification of the missionaries should we have a severe weather alert. We did 3 loads of laundry at home, and Jim cutup a delicious pineapple and did the dishes.
            Thursday, May 25, was MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) in our building, and we had the zone leaders and sister-training-leaders in and out of our office before and after.  It started at 9:30, breaking for lunch, and ended at 3:45.  Two missionaries were going home on Friday, so I had to get letters ready for them.  One had only been here for two weeks and refused to stay, the other left just 4 weeks short of completing his mission because of his mother’s serious condition, so I got his Mission Memories binder ready to go.  Jim and I went to pick up the box lunches from Jimmy Johns for the lunch.  Took a few minutes to talk to my sister, Lois.  We came home, exercised, watched TV, and had a quiet evening.
            Friday, May 26, was quiet and I was able to finish up the first Departure letters and get the second one out.  Those I did not need to email copies to parents so they went faster.  Jim took me shopping for more nice stationery for the missionaries to use to write their farewell testimony on.  We took them to the mailbox to get them out because of the Monday holiday.  Jim: I had another bit slower day and was able to update the missionary bicycle tracking spreadsheet. We did our weekly grocery shopping, and had fun watching movies at home.
            Saturday, May 27, we did some work in the apartment, then left to try to find a cemetery in Maumelle, which we could not find for the Million Graves project.  We will try to do some phoning next week.  So we decided to drive west on Highway 10 to the Ouachita Mountains (hills) and Forests (lots of green trees and grass).  We were out all day, with surprisingly very light traffic.  We also stopped at Petit Jean State Park to see their pretty waterfall, and to see a glorious vista overlooking the Arkansas River and a view looking east, north, and west.  We stopped in Morrilton to visit the Wieses, one of our Senior Couples, then drove home to rest and recuperate from a tiring day in the car.
Maumelle Lake

A large Razerback

Crystal Falls
Overlook from Ouachita Park to Arkansas River bottom

Pat at Crystal Falls overlook
            Sunday, May 28, this morning as we listened to Music and the Spoken Word, Lloyd Newall talked about Memorial Day, and though it celebrates our family and friends who served our country in the military, it is much more.  We celebrate our family members who have passed on before us, and we look to the future as well, not just to the past.  We are the ones that our children and grandchildren will look back to and so what kind of legacy are we leaving for them to follow.  It was a sobering thought.  I have fond memories of my parents, grandparents, and others, and some of the many things I learned from them.  I hope that I can leave something of value for my progenitors.  Probably most importantly would be our testimonies of Jesus Christ.  How have we emulated His teaching in the way we live our lives?  How have we shown the love that we have felt from God in the way we have treated others?  In our Sacrament meeting today one of the speakers used several examples from his family that tied to how he is an active member of the Church today.  Their examples and sacrifices, from the early days of the restoration, have blessed his life now.  It was a touching talk and made looking forward a more vivid experience for me and how we in our daily lives can effect generations to come. We have modern day pioneers that leave their families to serve and leave a legacy for others.  Our former bishop in the Little Rock Ward leaves on deployment with the Army tomorrow and will be gone for a year.  They and we will be blessed by his example.
            We hope you are all doing well.   Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,

            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Week after Mother's Day

Dear family and friends,
            The photo of the week was the one we should have posted last week. Pat with her Mother's Day flowers. 

            Monday, May 15, 2017: This was bill pay day and dealing with one especially bothersome apartment rent bill.  The payment check was returned to Salt Lake twice as undeliverable.  I eventually paid it by local check and that was delivered okay, all using the same address.  So today I gave up on the mail service to them and created an online bill paying method.  There are extra fees when we have to do that, but in this case it seems necessary.  We had our staff meeting this afternoon with President Wakolo.  We had a good meeting and addressed some office equipment issues that we needed to finalize to be completely compliant with the guidelines from the missionary department.  The mission is doing well. The doubling of the number of zones has been positive and given some additional leadership learning experiences to more missionaries. Pat had emails to work on, missionaries that needed leadership letters, and correspondence to their parents.  
Tuesday:  Among my usual daily tasks, this week I am spending some time reviewing the files on my computer and deleting the old un-necessary ones, moving some to the OneDrive for additional security from a hard drive failure, and generally doing some house cleaning of files. There was a bunch of old files that should have been deleted several years go.  The printer in my office is now also used by the vehicle coordinator, so I moved it closer to the door so he could more easily retrieve his printouts.  Pat had a Staples order to do, IPad, and more emails to reply to and more leadership letters.  Her wrist is getting better but it slows up her ability to type and she is sore by the end of the day.   
            Wednesday: More MSF card loss issues today to deal with.  One sister has lost hers AGAIN. I also had some financial reimbursements from a couple of missionaries who “forgot” to ask permission before making purchases.  They bought things we already had on hand in the storage shed and could have taken to them.  So sometimes there are financial consequences to pay when we are not completely obedient. During the day Pat and I went to Sam’s Club to buy some food for tomorrow’s Leadership Training meeting here.  This was also the day I entered all the extra MSF payments for the areas or individuals who either live where there is not a lot of dinner appointments, or have extra travel expenses like the assistants and office elders. The Sorensens were gone today to Memphis for leadership training on vehicles.  Sister Sorensen was out sick yesterday but is doing better today. Pat had four more new missionary applications to process today.  That is always exciting.
            Thursday: Today was the Leadership Training meeting for the District, Zone, and Sister Training leaders so we had some 52 missionaries here and enjoyed their presence as they come by to say hi. Otherwise it was a pretty normal day, not too busy. One of the elders had his MSF card compromised nearly three weeks ago and the replacement still has not come.  So he wanted me to declare it lost and get another one ordered.  Which I did.  Then guess what came in the mail a couple hours later.  You guessed it--his card.  So now it will be yet another 2-3 weeks.  One more day of patience was needed. Pat is working on letters to parents for missionaries that will be arriving in September now, to get their current information.
            Friday: This was office cleaning day, the follow up on apartment renewals, a few bills, and work on the emergency contacts for warning of bad weather for the missionaries. Some of the areas are quite spread out and we need to find members to oversee the weather issues there. We did have some more weather alerts for the northeastern part of the state today, and possibly southwest also later. In our prayers we remember a growing large number of individuals with health challenges.  For example in our mission we have 5 couples that provide apartment inspections quarterly for our missionaries.  Four of the 5 couples are having health challenges, three of which will need to be released.  Maybe this is just a function of getting older and knowing more people who have health issues, and maybe it is also signs of the times and pollutions that are also effecting us.   Pat worked on more emails, phone calls, and printed four mission histories for the departure binders.
            Saturday: This was a quiet pleasant day.  We didn’t have anywhere we needed to go, it was raining all morning, so we just had a quiet day at the apartment, sleeping in a bit, cleaning, working on the computer, reading, taking a nap, and exercising.  We also got in some TV time and managed to have three good meals. Pat’s wrist was hurting her, so she only did her exercises for it once today.  She needs a break.
            Sunday: A nice sunny day, and a little cooler.  We enjoy our time in the morning to read and study.  The deaf family we have been picking up fairly regularly are supposed to start attending a different ward today. We hope that works out well for them. We enjoyed our meetings today.  The talks in Sacrament meeting were on the restoration of the priesthood and good reminders of the great blessing it is to have the priesthood once again upon the earth.  We got back home about 3:45 and took a nap before fixing dinner.  Pat is able to help more with the meals, and that really helps. 
            From the missionary news letter from President this past week, he shared this from one of the missionaries:  “On our exchange we briefly talked to a man who is taking his trash cans to the curb. He initially said “are you Mormons? If so shame on you!” Earlier in my mission I would have been very flustered and not sure what to say, but the Spirit put the words in my mouth and I confidently reassured him that we are Christians and we read from the Bible. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only means by which we can get to heaven, and that faith in him is the most important principle of the gospel. It was so amazing to see how his attitude changed and he ended up saying goodbye to us and wishing us luck and spreading Jesus Christ to all those who need him. I am so blessed to have learned how to handle these situations on my mission.”
We hope you are all doing well.   Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,
            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Transfer week and Mother's Day

Dear family and friends,
            Happy Mother’s Day to all you amazing women or as Sister Linda K Burton at the Women’s conference would say “certain women”.  Certain in your testimonies of the Savior and in your role to bless the lives of others.
            Monday May 8, 2017: This is Transfer Day and so the office was extra busy with lots of missionaries ready for their transfer to a new area, waiting on their companion to return from the temple.  Each transfer the missionaries with birthdays or if they are completing their mission have the blessing of going to the temple.  Since it is Pday they use the internet connection to do emails, they play volleyball and basketball and visit a lot.  Sisters Hess and Sorensen made several dozen cookies, and somehow they about all disappear during the day.  You would see an elder come in and get a half dozen and say “they are to share”, yeah right.  We had lots of changes in assignments. One area of Memphis there were some stake boundary changes which affected where the missionaries are serving.  We will need to move two companionships because of that change and find one new apartment.  Finding new apartments is always challenging.  Pat and I input all the changes into the Church tracking system, which took several hours.  Pat also had some missionary tablet issues to deal with. 
Tuesday: I spent this morning working on some apartment rent payment issues, it was much quieter today.  I was planning on inputting the needed payments but all afternoon the internet was down due to a local provider issue. We only had two new missionaries come this transfer and four went home. Pat updated the arrival/departure list.  Her wrist is doing better, but it is a slow process. She exercises it 3 times per day, and is usually very sore by the end of the day.
            Wednesday: We did our training for the new missionaries this morning at the chapel and then drove to the mission office. The rest of the day was quite busy and, because of the internet back up, I had both yesterday’s and today’s work to do.  The new apartment that we needed to find in Memphis has been finalized and we will be in it next Wednesday.  Pat processed 5 new missionary applications, answered emails, and assisted with tablet problems.
            Thursday: This was a calmer day and I got caught up with the work and had time to work on some “c” priority things.  One activity was to send out rent replacement checks to two different apartments which both had their rent payment returned to Salt Lake as undeliverable.  The addresses were correct, so hopefully sending them with tracking they will actually get delivered.  This has happened a few times now, three times this month, and is quite bothersome and causes a lot of extra work. Pat did more letters for the new missionaries, and sent photos to parents of the new missionaries that arrived, and photos to the missionaries who departed.
            Friday: Back to raining again all day today.  We cleaned the office this morning and had a slower day, which is nice.  Some bills to pay and follow up on apartment renewals.  One I have been working on since February that there seems to be some problem with their email delivery.  She receives my emails but it turns out none of hers get sent in return.  She has had problems with email delivery too so it is not just with us. Pat’s arm is getting a little bit better all the time, and can do more little things herself.  We did help her get some baptismal photos up on the bulletin board this afternoon, and she had some iPad and tablet issues to address.  We got her a compression sleeve for the hand and wrist on Wednesday and that seems to be helping also.  This evening we attended a piano recital that our two grandsons performed in last evening.  They played well so that was fun. 
            Saturday: Pat did some food shopping this morning at a local farm stand that the historic Catholic Orphanage runs which we have gone to last year.  All their produce is certified organic so we are getting some good produce as well as supporting a good cause.  We cleaned our apartment and then I had a service project to help our son Larry with a sprinkler system repair.  Pat just took it easy all afternoon.
            Sunday: We had a wonderful sacrament meeting at Larry’s ward that we attended.  The focus of course was on Mothers.  In our Priesthood and Relief Society meetings we talked about the need to read the Book of Mormon.  It was pointed out by one sister that President Monson only spoke for 3 ½ minutes and it was all about the importance of reading the Book of Mormon, so it must be important.   Their ward has several annual goals they are working on and one is for everyone to read the Book of Mormon each day and finish it by April next year.  It is a good goal and good promises when we do what the prophet asks. We have been reading that great book ourselves daily for years and just start over again when we finish.  Pat remembered a story that happened at the office about three or four weeks ago. A fellow came in who was not a member of the church. His partner in business had passed away who was a member of the church. He said that though they were different religions, they respected each other a lot. He knew his business partner would want his last tithing paid so this man brought his business partner’s tithing in to be paid. Pat took him over to the bishops office, gave him a tithing envelope, let him fill it out and put the money in and seal it, and they pushed the envelope under the door of the bishop’s office.  What respect that man had for his business partner. We had a fun evening having dinner at our son’s house and visiting with them.  What a blessing to be serving here.
We hope you are all doing well.   Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,
            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Week of May the 4th be with you

Dear family and friends,
            Monday: Wow, May already, where does the time go.  I was busy all day getting the contract in place for the new missionary couple in Memphis.  It is challenging getting all the agreement issues and funding in place, especially when dealing with very busy people.  I also received a big stack of bills to pay, but was not able to get to any of them.  We had our staff meeting today with President Wakolo.  As often happens, there are changes to be made.  He shared the following a couple of weeks ago: “Our call: We have yet to announce our area of service and assignment. It will be by the end of the month (April). Owing to my age at 49, I have been told by the First Presidency that my service is for 21 years or my release date is in 2037 when I turn 70. On all our meetings that we attended in Salt Lake on Sunday (General Conference session),Tuesday (all General Authorities and wives meeting) and Wednesday (6 new General Authorities and wives meeting with the Twelve Apostles and Presidency of the Seventy) last week, it was exciting to sing hymn number 85 versus 1,2,3, and 7 as closing hymn.”
There is another apartment to close.  I also got the go-ahead to call 10 couples to help with phone contacting missionaries when we have bad weather alerts.  Pat worked on the departure and arrival programs, answered emails, and updated the calendar. This evening after work we had the Sorensens, Hesses, and the sister missionaries, Burke and Stringam, over for dinner.  We shared food and had a really nice visit.  The sisters gave a nice message at the end and left.  We then watched a movie that the Hesses brought that was a bit different and told of a supposed meeting of Porter Rockwell, J Golden Kimball, and Samuel Clemens and their swapping tales.  It was sort of centered on getting Samuel Clemens straight on his knowledge of the Mormons.
Tuesday: This was another super busy day, with all those bills I didn’t get to pay yesterday.  We also had three different apartments that had their rent payment checks returned to Salt Lake as undeliverable.  I checked the addresses for all three and they were correct, so will be re-sent. This will now result in some late fees. I also set up the utilities for the new apartment in Memphis, which had its own challenges. Pat had four missionary memory binders to do and print up the associated letters they have written to the mission president while on their mission. The letters President has sent each week to all the missionaries are now being copied to a jump drive and greatly reduced the size of the binders.
            Wednesday: This morning we drove to Little Rock and had a follow up visit with Trish’s ortho doctor to check her wrist.  It is doing fine and she can now begin some therapy of mild exercises to get her range of motion back.  No heavy lifting or pushing yet.  That is going to take a while.  At the office she processed five more missionary applications with help from Sister Hess. At the office we also had a church employee from the Facilities Management Group in the office, checking the building and we visited about the mission home, which they may sell and buy a newer one.  This one has been owned since the 70s.  We also visited with him about our printer situation in the office and got some help to make things more efficient and functional. It rained all afternoon, and we had flood warnings.
            Thursday: “May the Fourth be with you” was our greeting this morning for Star Wars Day.  I had another supposed non-payment of rent for an apartment, but this time it was an account entry error by the apartment complex.  Today was less busy compared to the beginning of the week.  Less bills to pay.  The new apartment in Memphis was set up today and the couple got moved in okay.    I need to buy a chair for them, but okay on everything else. I got the new apartment all set up in IMOS and the files in order.  I am thankful we have office elders that take care of all the moving in and out. Pat worked on the programs, the envelopes, emails, and other things.  It rained again nearly all day long, stopped about 5 pm so I could go for my exercise walk before dinner. 
            Friday: We did our cleaning at the office today and then had a fairly easy day.  It is nice to not be super busy every day.  Pat did an envelope to collect the missionary medical cards, car cards, and MSF cards from the missionaries who are leaving. The assistants were in and picked up the departure and arrival binders and some other materials for next week’s transfer.  We also had President Wakolo in the office for a little while doing an interview with the religion editor for the Little Rock newspaper.  Sister Hartzell and the public affairs specialist who accompanied her took the lady on a tour of the building and answered questions she had.  This turned out to be a lovely day, sunny all day and felt great when we were out.  Bad weather helps you appreciate the good all the more.  There must needs be opposition in all things, even the weather.  I have been studying Ether in the Book of Mormon and some of that opposition that lead to good things when they repented, and lead to sorrow when they didn’t.  The Lord gives us, or allows us, to have challenges to face, some of which he tells us how to solve, but many He expects us to figure it out and then seek his confirmation that we have chosen correctly.  All of us will have our oceans to cross and the need for light for our journey, Jesus is that light.  As we follow Him we will never be lead astray by the shifting values of our day so long as we pray, study, and listen to the Spirit and to our leaders. After work we met a couple, Roger and Sally Burrup, from our Little Rock Ward who invited us to dinner at Outback Steak House, and we had a lovely time visiting and having dinner with them.
            Saturday: Today was beautiful sunny day to do some cleaning at the apartment and then enjoy a soccer game for one of our grandsons, and then drove to Conway, Arkansas, for their annual “Toad Suck Daze”.  (We wrote about this last year so check there for more information and pictures.)  We enjoyed the toad races by the little kids, watching some dance performances, walking around and just enjoying being out.  We then had a nice potluck dinner with all the senior missionaries in the area at the home of Brother and Sister Green that served in the mission office.  We had good food and visiting. 
In Conway AR there is a nice monument to 9.11

            Sunday: Today was another lovely, sunny day.  We enjoyed fast and testimony meeting and the meetings that followed.  We didn’t pick up the Bowies on the way to church, but took them home afterwards.  A pretty quiet day to read, rest, and enjoy the spirit. We feel the heat and humidity are going to be upon us soon. It was in the low 80s yesterday. 
            Some quotes from missionaries: 
            “My calling gives me authority; keeping my covenants gives me power.”
            “Tell a story—so Tuesday we had some unfortunate happenings.  Our car was in the shop and it was raining.  To make it even better, we didn’t have our rain jackets ‘cause they were in the car.  We said ok we will just ride our bikes fast and hope we don’t get that wet.  Well my bike popped a tire—ha ha!  So we ended up walking 7 miles in the rain.  I thought it would really suck but it wasn’t that bad!!!  Me and my companion made the best of it.  We remembered council given this conference, we looked up to heaven, opened our mouths, and drank the rain ha ha.  We just shared stories while we walked, and we just had a good time.  So actually that was my favorite day this week.”
We hope you are all doing well.   Our thoughts and prayers are with you all,

            Love, Elder & Sister Hartzell