I am so happy to be here today reading your emails and telling you what I've been up to. Before I tell you about my week, I just want to make sure you all know how much I love you. I miss you all so much it hurts. (Not an exaggeration) I did not think it would be this hard. I thought the MTC was bad for homesickness, well being shipped off to a new, unfamiliar place with absolutely no one you know is quite a different feeling. I love you all so much and this experience has made me appreciate you all the more. At the moment I'm planning on living at home for the rest of my life when I get back from my mission. :) Please know that I think about you all a lot. (Don't worry, it's not a distraction, it's motivation.) The mission is hard. So hard. And I won't lie, sometimes it's easy to wonder why I came and to sometimes want to come home. But I would never do that. I came out here for a reason and although it's hard to focus on that and remember that when I'm struggling, I know that it will get better and that I will be able to help bless the lives of so many people out here. I'm going to help teach people that they can be with their families forever. That knowledge that our family is eternal is what keeps me going every minute of every day.
Okay I don't have much time (I'm growing accustomed to that) so I'll quickly tell you about some things this week. It sounds like you all know this already, (Mom I love what you said about Sister Truman, it made me smile, and to imagine you talking with her was happy), I'm in Thousand Oaks, specifically Newbury Park, in the Los Robles ward. I believe what you said about it being a rich place. It is SO nice her. And although I can't see it, I hear the ocean is just over this "mountain" (yeah, nothing on Timpanogos. Can someone send me a picture of Timp? I miss it.) The ward here is wonderful, and members feed us almost every night. One family, the Greens have a daughter who works at Zupas in AF! They have every missionary who eats at their house sign the bottom of their table. There are a lot. My apartment is good. It's SO cold sometimes! What?! In California? I bundle up a lot to go out and exercise in the morning and we cannot figure out how to have our shower warm...it is quite cold sometimes. And I'm a little cold at night, but I'm excited for another blanket. Sister Cusick is wonderful. She is training so well, and although I'm afraid of teaching and don't say much yet, I'm getting there. The Christmas Devotional was wonderful last night. It encouraged me so much.
Okay, I'm really out of time, but I love you all so much and I will tell you more next week when I have a bit more time. Please spread the word to everyone to send me letters! I need the support...like really. It helps me so much. Really, every single letter or word or evidence of support is much appreciated. Mom I'm so excited for the package!!! And I was happy to hear about your week. I'll send some real letters today.
I love you all so much!
Love, Sister Melanie Hardman
P.s.- For all of you who have served missions, can you please send me some words of advice or support for someone who is really struggling with homesickness? I really need the help. :) I love you all.
And I'll send pictures to you next week too. Sorry I forgot my chord today.