Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear family,
   First of all, I LOVED talking to you all on Christmas. I had been kind of scared that it would make me sad and more homesickness, since I'm kind of unstable about that right now, but it had the opposite effect. Hearing your voices, sharing more with you, just talking with all of you and knowing that you're still there and you're still well was such a great relief to me. I know that those special relationships with all of you are still there and will still be there when I get home. That was really something that meant a lot to me. Because I do really miss you all a ton. I can hardly wait to be back with you all in the airport the day I get home...but...that is in the future. :) Right now I'm here. I'm a missionary. I'm learning to work hard because I want to work hard. I want to do the Lord's work. And I know that all we have to do is have a desire and to be willing to change, then he will use us and shape us into what we need to be. I know that he will make me capable of my calling. Don't you love the gospel? I love it more and more every day. I love study time. I LOVE the Book of Mormon. Everyone should read it more, okay? So yeah, anyway, thank you so much for your words of encouragement, support, and for just being you on the phone. I love you all so much and really, I pray for you all specifically by name every day. I hope everything is going well and that you all have comfort and support in all you have to do. You have a missionary who thinks about you and prays for you always. You can do anything. :)
   I feel very good about this week. We did a lot of caroling and visiting on Christmas Eve and Christmas and because of that we met a lot of people that we were able to have lessons with or declare to. We were able to make a couple of return appointments and we are excited for those this week. The members of this ward are wonderful. So many of them want to help with missionary work. They are so willing to help us out, they want to introduce us to their friends and share the gospel with them. We went caroling a lot this week! With just the two of us, with ward members, and with some of the other missionaries. It was so fun. And very effective. The caroling definitely softens hearts towards us as missionaries. 
   Sister Cusick is wonderful. She supports me so much, and she is helping me so much. I really, really struggle to say much to people when we talk with them. I'm afraid of saying something wrong. But she is helping me by pushing me to talk more. I know she has to be very patient. She carries so much of the weight of every conversation, but I'm working really hard to be able to talk more, and I know I'm improving bit by bit.
   I thought of you all on Christmas Eve especially. Because I know our routine, I could guess where you all were and what you were doing. But I had a special thing happen. That night the family that we had dinner with lived up on the hill. And their gorgeous house has huge windows that looked out over the whole valley. It was beautiful and it felt like Grandma's house. I could see all the lights and imagine that I was back home in Utah. It was a special moment. I wanted to tell you all that.  That night when we got back to our apartment (because we had to come in an hour early) we opened presents since we had so much time. I was SO happy to receive all of my packages. And I just want to say to you all THANK YOU SO MUCH. I wish that I could go through and list all of the gifts specifically and how much I love them, but time doesn't really allow for that. But just know that every single gift meant so much to me. I've loved using them, eating them, looking at them, holding them, and just having them all of this week. Wonderful stuff. :) Thank you.
   I'm so happy for those of you who went to Disneyland this week. I enjoyed those days because as I walked around the streets of my area doing the work, I would imagine walking through the streets and lands of Disneyland. I know that place so well and I have such a large amount of memories and associations with it that it was  a very encouraging and fun thing to think about. I was imagining different rides and music all day. (Don't worry, it wasn't a distraction from the work, it was motivation.) I actually had enough time today to read the email, Mom. :) And I loved hearing about it. I can only imagine how wonderful a Christmas/winter World of Color was. I really can't wait to see Frozen. It sounds exactly like my kind of movie. And I love our family Disneyland pride that you all showed. Way to represent us. And yes, I'm always alright with you telling me all about what you do. Really, it makes me very happy and motivated.
   Aw...I love the name for the puppy. I'm excited for pictures, and I'm so glad to hear that Christmas was so great for all of you. And congrats on the violin Susan. I miss playing so much. When I get back we will all play lots of music, okay?
   Thank you all again, for your love, support, prayers, and everything else. You are all wonderful and I am so proud to be a member of this family. I wear our name with pride, seriously. ;) And I look forward to hearing more from you all. I'm getting faster with emails and letters, so I'll be trying to send more things to all of you. I love you and will be with you all of this week.
   Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-Dad, thank you so much for what you said in the letter last week. You quoting me was so special to me, reminding me of these things that I do know. You are completely right, I do want to share this with others. And the quote from the Hobbit had a big influence too. Yeah, maybe I do like who I am right now, but Heavenly Father knows how to shape me into the best Melanie I can be. I trust him and his will completely. (Remember my Celtic knot that represents that for me? Yeah, it's a good reminder.) Thank you for the support and advice that helps me to have perspective and to know I can do this.
   -Mom, I love the diffuser. My apartment smells very nice. :) And by the way, I love using the oils. The familiar scents have been such a comfort to me all this time. I'm almost out of Lemon. And I'm wearing the new cardigan. Thank you so much for that. I love you!

 Thank you for the call! I loved it so much (Notice all the pictures of you all by my desk)

 All of my wonderful presents. Thank you all so much!

Here is my wonderful District.  We are all becoming very good friends.

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