Monday, April 28, 2014

First of all, thank you so much for sending the conference talks! I am so grateful! We haven't had access to any of them yet, and I have loved studying them this week. I had a special experience the other day when I needed guidance and comfort. As I was saying the opening prayer for my personal study, the thought came to my mind. "Go to page 73." After my prayer I picked up the conference book and went to page 73. I read the talk that covers that page by  Elder David A Bednar. It answered my questions and my concerns for that morning. I love this Gospel. :)  Thank you for the full letter that you included, Mom! I loved it! I'm sending you a letter today. And Brent, thank you for sharing your missionary experience. That was a miracle! I love watching miracles like that happen. You're a great example to me and I love hearing about your experiences. Dad thank you so much for your email today! I loved how you pointed out that "milestone". I didn't think about it that way. You're right! That is the happier way. It makes me so happy and excited to continue on through my mission. I love other missionaries so much. It's been fun to live in an apartment with 2 of the Hermanas, one of which is another new missionary. I enjoy our talks over bowls of cheerios and strawberries about adjusting to missionary life. And I enjoyed reading that message from President Uchtdorf this week as well! Sam, I'm so proud of you! I'll be thinking about you. Happy Birthday, Becca! Did you get my card? And congrats to Henry as well! Bonnie, I'm proud of you too! Keep up the good work and let me know how it's going. I love you all so much!
   Wow...this was a crazy week. I got really sick this week. I had a really bad cold/flu that has been really hard to get past, but I'm feeling a little better today, and I know I'm on the mend. It knocked us out for a couple of days this week, but I'm now well enough to get back to full days of work. Yay! Even though we weren't able to work a ton this week, there was a lot of miracles that happened. It strengthened my testimony that the Lord can do His own work. We wanted to be out helping people, but we couldn't. He took care of our investigators and we've seen miracles as we've done all we could do. 
   On Saturday the community and the church had a huge Mormon Helping Hands project, we were really excited to be a part of it. Shoveling and spreading tons and tons of mulch all over the park was a lot of fun, and getting to work with the members and other people in the community was wonderful. Before we went, we had prayed that we would be able to find ourselves near the people that we were supposed to talk to. Half way through the project we met L. He was a really kind man who had never been to the church before, but that had been talking to the Bishop and was excited to come to church and get to know the ward. After talking with him for a while we found out that he is actually the husband of one of our investigators, M.! We haven't been able to meet with her very much because of different reasons, and her husband was out of town for a while, but now that he's back, he is definitely guiding the family in the right direction. He told us he was excited to have his kids around better people and that he was really excited to bring his family to church. L. and M. came to church on Sunday and the Sacrament meeting was amazing. The woman who spoke shared a lot about her family's struggles with money in the past and how relying on the Savior and on the gospel helped them and brought miracles. It was an amazing meeting and L. and M. seemed really touched, and after the meeting he told us that he was excited to bring their kids next week. We have a lesson with their family on Tuesday that we are so excited for. There is something so wonderful about teaching the gospel to a family. It feels so right. :)
   On Saturday I received a Priesthood blessing, both of healing since I've been so sick, but also of comfort and counsel. The sickness has been holding me back a lot, it's been really hard this last week. But the most important thing that needed to be addressed this week were some emotional and spiritual struggles that I've been having. Sister Moure and I have done a lot of talking and trying to find the root of some of the things that I struggle with, and she amazingly has helped me to understand why some things have been such a struggle with me. To simply explain it, I've been having a really hard time not beating myself up inside and getting so down and feeling worthless when I make mistakes or mess-up or have weaknesses. It's gotten to the point where whenever I make a small mistake I feel like I'm not good as a missionary or at anything, and it causes me to feel like Heavenly Father is really disappointed in me. All those insecurities were making it so that when I mess up at all, it throws me down so much that I can't progress very well. It has made it hard to change and progress and continue going strong. I know that a lot of those feelings are not right, but it's been making me feel like Heavenly Father isn't always proud of me. And with all of that, I know that when you're emotionally or spiritually sick, it doesn't help you to get better physically at all. But I'm so grateful for what happened this week because I hadn't realized before this week how much of a problem this has been. We found the problem and I've been able to work to address and fix it, and things have been getting so much better, even just in the last few days. The Priesthood blessing was amazing. I am so grateful for worthy Priesthood holders and for the opportunity that I had to receive a blessing. I know that the words that Elder Fagan spoke were what God wanted him to say. So many of the things that he said were direct answers to my prayers and my questions. I know that Heavenly Father is proud of me. I am so far from perfect, I make so many mistakes and have so many weaknesses, but he knows that. And he is proud of me because he knows I'm trying my best. He knows I want to do his will and be who he wants me to be. I need to stop throwing myself down whenever I mess up a little bit. Yes, we need to acknowledge when we've done something wrong, but once we've repented, we need to truly forsake that sin and move on, allowing our faith in the power of the Atonement to heal us and to change us. I am so grateful for my Savior and for His Atonement. I am so grateful for how I am being changed and taught on my mission. Heavenly Father loves me and wants me to be happy and confident and clean. I know that he is shaping me into something so much better. I am also so grateful for my companion. I love Sister Moure and she is helping me in so many ways.
   Mom and Dad, thank you for all you've said this week. I am so proud to be your daughter, and I love you very much. I loved hearing that I make you proud. That makes me smile. :) Thank you for encouraging and supporting me in coming on a mission. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world. I am changing. I am growing. I'm learning to rely on my Heavenly Father more and more. And I'm feeling His love and guidance more and more. I love my mission.

Sister Melanie Hardman

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dear Family,
   Well aren't you all just wonderful. :) I love you. Thanks for your support and love. Thank you so much for the Easter packages, cards, and letters. I loved it all! I was so happy to get them. Easter was wonderful. The reminder of how much our Savior has done for us was so strong all of this week. Have you all seen the "Because of Him" video? I hope so! Isn't it wonderful? We worked like crazy to show that to or invite every single person we saw this week to watch it. It's powerful. It's true. I'm really grateful for the wider audience that we were able to share it with.
   It's been a wonderful week. We are working to get to know the ward and the members a lot more so that we can work with them and their neighbors and friends. This ward is a lot bigger than any other California ward I've seen. It has a lot of young families and it makes me smile. The members are wonderful and we're excited to get to meet more of them.
  We had a lesson with one of our investigators, this week that changed me completely. Leading up to the lesson I was worried because he has not been keeping commitments and he has no desire to change, but he has had such a hard life and he needs the hope. But we were so worried that we were going to have to stop teaching him, but while we were teaching him, we watched the video and the Spirit came so strongly. I had the strong impression that we should not give up on him yet. I was filled with an overwhelming feeling of God's love for all of His children. I never want to give up on anyone.
   I loved Zone Meeting this week and the Spirit that was there. One experience that stood out to me was when we had the EDPEP. I paired up with a Sister who came into the mission this transfer. I love her so much. Since the beginning of my mission when I felt like it was so hard, I have just come to love new missionaries so much. I just want them to keep going and to know that they're going to do so well if they just keep going. I loved doing the EDPEP with her and all of the sudden I felt really confident and good at teaching. Not in a prideful way, just in a happy way of being able to see that I've come far in the last 5 months.
   Speaking of 5 months...I've been on my mission for 5 months! Crazy! Well...actually, that sounds about right. It's been a long time, but it's also been short. Have I changed a lot in 5 months?
   Mission conference with Elder Nelson was amazing. He truly is an apostle of the Lord. It was fun to be the designated driver. I drove me, Sister Moure, Sister Mapa, and Sister Olsen from Moorpark to Ventura. And the conference was absolutely amazing. I received so many answers that I have been searching for and I am so excited to work this week. He took the time to greet and shake the hands of every missionary! I got to shake his hand as he looked me in the eyes and said, "It's a pleasure to meet you, SisterHardman." :) It made my day. He was so kind and so inspired. I was sitting on the second row of the chapel, and as he spoke it felt like he was speaking straight to me sometimes. He left a blessing on all of us and on our families before he left. I hope you all feel it. You're in my prayers. His wife also spoke, along with two other members of the 70. Elder Bowen gave a great talk for our mission that I loved. And also Elder Garnes. The meeting lasted for several hours, and it was amazing. The Spirit was so strong, and we know what we can do as a mission and as individuals to hasten the work here.
   By the way, Mom, I'm sorry about how much money I spent on food last week. We hadn't gotten our dinner calendar with the ward yet, but now we have dinners. I won't buy fast food as often. (And's nice to have more options since Newbury Park only had a few.) Also I had to buy a few shirts this morning because it's been too hot to where some of my thicker shirts. I'm doing my best. Sorry. :)
   You all sound so great and I love hearing about what you're doing and how you are. Mom, Dad, and Emma...That plan is THE best plan I've ever heard. Besides the Plan of Salvation that is. ;) But I am totally up for that in a year or so. Thanks! :) Thank you for what you said about my last email, Mom. I'm really trying to do my best. And I love hearing that encouragment from you. Thank you for sending me your story, Brent. I haven't been able to read it yet, but I'm excited to read it today at lunch. Everyone have a fantastic week! Love you!

~Sister Melanie Hardman

P.S.-Sister Moure is teaching me bits of Spanish! I really want to learn more, and so far I can sing two hymns in Spanish and say a few specific words along with the missionary introduction and brief declaration. Oh and Mike, she told me that her missionary who taught her emailed her and told her about your posting on Facebook. Small world huh? :)

For you Mom. Love ya!

The Sisters in our District. This is Sister Olsen and Sister Mapa.

My 5 month mission birthday! J ah!

Thank you for the Easter love. I love you all so much!

Monday, April 14, 2014

My Dear Family,
   Thank you for your email, Dad! I loved it. I'm so glad that you've all had a wonderful week. I'm grateful for your work and employment too, Dad. Thank you for supporting me so much and for making it possible for me to serve. I love you and am so grateful. I love the pictures from Maui! I hope you all travel safely with all of your crazy trips. :) Have fun! (And please go make sure that Jim is alright. I love him.) I'll explain more about my week in a second, but I just wanted to mention something kind of awesome. My new companion, Sister Moure, (I love her!) is a convert to the church and is from Texas, and guess what?! Mike, she was baptized in your mission a few years ago! She took the lessons in Mission, Texas and was baptized there in Summer 2011! Michael, is that while you were there? How crazy would that be? Did you know Elder Andersen and Elder Selemme? They were her missionaries. We were excited to make that connection. She is an amazing person! I love being her companion.
   Last Monday went well. Lots of craziness and packing for transfers and then saying good-bye to some people in Newbury Park. The Krahns, Sister Hansen, and Sister Horne are the best. I was sad to say good-bye but also really excited to go to a new area. Driving from Ventura to Moorpark was fun. :) I've missed driving. 
   Oh my goodness, I don't even know how to describe how great this week has been. I'm so grateful for the changes in me that I have seen lately. In order to fully explain, I guess I will just share part of my email to President Castro this week with you:
   "This week has been amazing! President Castro, I am so blown away by how much I have been blessed this week. I know that you were truly inspired to put me with Sister Moure in this place and at this time. Something amazing happened this week. I don't know exactly how to explain it, but I've never felt this way as a missionary before. I love the work so much. I have a stronger desire to preach the gospel, I'm not as afraid as I have been in the past, I'm declaring with more confidence, I'm being more assertive, I'm not as homesick (I still have an occasional really hard day, but it's better), I love my companion, I love the people we've talked with, and I am just so excited for this transfer and for the rest of my mission. I know that a huge part of all of this is Sister Moure. We both have been amazed at how unified we are. But it's not just getting along together, the most important part is that we are unified in our goals and our desires to work hard and to be the best missionaries we can be. I feel that we support each other and our goals so much. We recognize our weaknesses and we are working together to help each other overcome them. I love Sister Moure, and I love the kind of missionary that I am with her. We find so much joy in forgetting ourselves and just working as hard as we can all day. We have seen many miracles this week, found several new investigators, and we really feel that we are being led by the Spirit. It's the coolest feeling that I've ever felt on my mission. I'm coming to realize that the Spirit isn't just those random obvious bits of direction. When we are worthy and willing and we have the Spirit with us, every single word, action, feeling, or decision can come from it. I truly feel that our companionship is being led by the Spirit to where we need to go, who we need to talk to, and what we need to say. I feel so blessed. I love the Lord, and I know that he is so mindful of me. I have been working hard in the past several months to become a harder and more disciplined worker, but I've still struggled to get to that point. But he is answering my prayers! I know that this transfer is a huge blessing, and I am so grateful for the chance now to see what kind of missionary I can be when I rely wholly on Him and on the Holy Ghost. Missionary work is amazing. I am so grateful to be here and to be learning these lessons.
   The work is going well this week here in the Moorpark 1st ward. We are white-washing, and so far everything has been alright. We're trying to get a little better at navigating around our area, but it's coming along. As I mentioned, we found several new investigators this week. S., C., M., and P. are all very sincere people who we were able to have lessons with and schedule a return appointment. We are so excited to see them again this week. In all of those cases, they were people who we felt strongly that we needed to knock on their doors, and they are seeking the truth. We had a lesson with a girl named C. in the ward whose Mom is a member. C. wants to get baptized but she doesn't know if she wants to do it here or in New York where they are moving soon. We invited her to pray specifically about the date in early May. We had several lessons this week where we were able to introduce ourselves to the investigators here and share a message. We're excited to be working in this area.
   Our District Meeting this week was amazing! The Spirit was so strong and I know that our district has the power to do so much good this transfer. Elder Fagan does an amazing job as district leader in helping us all to remain unified, focused, obedient, and excited about the work. I'm really excited to be a part of this district.
   I was so grateful for the transfer meeting this week. Everything that was said meant so much to me and I felt that it was just for me. One of my favorite talks from conference was the talk about "Our 4 Minutes" and I really loved that it was talked about so much at transfer meeting. President Castro, I feel a lot of guilt for the first couple of months of my mission. I'm a little over 1/4 through my mission and I feel like I wasted my "first minute." I was trying hard, and I was struggling so much, but I still feel so guilty that I didn't work harder and that I was so selfish in so many ways. I've been studying the Atonement and repentance a lot this week and I am trying to understand more fully how I can be forgiven for little weaknesses that I gave into so much. I'm coming to realize that we have to trust the Lord and have faith in His Atonement for us. When we change and repent and are moving past our sins and mistakes and weaknesses, we need to believe in His cleansing power. I know that because He suffered for me I can be forgiven for my weaknesses and mistakes as long as I am doing my best to change. I am doing my best now. I want to be the missionary that He wants me to be. And I know that if I trust Him and rely on Him I can become that. We are always growing and changing. He is refining us. I am so grateful for that.
   Thank you for being inspired to assign me to this place, at this time, with this companion. I know that this is right and I have a really good feeling about this transfer. Thank you for all you do, President Castro!
   Sister Melanie Hardman"
   So basically that sums it up. :) I am changing. I am growing. And I am loving being a missionary. Thank you all for your love and support. I wish I could more fully express how much you mean to me. Trust's a lot. :) We have Elder Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles coming this Saturday, the 19th to speak to all of the missionaries! It's so exciting! I'll let you know how that goes. And I hope you all have a wonderful Easter! I miss you and love you! Have a wonderful week in all that you do! I'm so proud to be a member of this family. Love you all!

~Sister Melanie Hardman

P.S.-Is there anyway that I could get a copy of the little book of conference talks that we sometimes get in our ward?

This is Sister Moure and I at the end of our 1st AMAZING week! J

This is what happens sometimes when you’re out sharing the Gospel. J

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Dear Family,
   Our Heavenly Father loves us so much! General Conference is such an amazing gift that he gives us. Do you feel his love? I felt it in every single word and feeling that came with the conference. General Conference was so amazing. Everything was inspired. It has strengthened my testimony of true and living prophets and apostles. I love this restored gospel and all it brings. Our Heavenly Father truly loves us and is willing and anxious to help us overcome our weaknesses and pains. As some of you know, I always write 3 specific questions down before conference that I look for the answers for. All of my questions were answered in amazing ways, and so much additional guidance was given to me. The Sunday morning session specifically made a huge impact on me. I felt that the whole session was just for me. I understand so many things better now and know how I need to and can improve. I love general conference! I have, taped to the front inside cover of my study journal the picture of me and you Mom and Dad at conference 6 months ago. It makes me smile. A lot can happen in 6 months. Crazy huh? I felt close to all of you throughout all of conference. Did you feel close to me? I love you, family! A few of my favorite talks were President Eyring's on the hope of eternal families, Gary E. Stevensen's on the whole olympics and 4 minutes thing. These are "our 4 minutes" we have prepared prior to this life, and we have to make these "4 minutes" count. I loved it! Plus hearing anything about the olympics was cool. And Elder Bednar's was one of my favorites too, Mom! That was an amazing talk! I hope that I can learn to be more "yolked with the Savior". This gospel is amazing. I also loved President Monson's talk on Love and President Uchtdorf said some really touching things as well. I loved what he said about how there are no endings in our destiny. I loved that. :)  Also about us being grateful in every situation we're in. The Sunday Morning Session was my session. That is when all of you questions were answered and I felt the spirit so strongly. It touched me so much. Every word. What were some of your favorite parts?
   S. is doing amazing. He watched all of general conference and loved it. On Sunday he came to both sessions at the church with us (where the missionaries in our area gather and watch it together. It was fun.) and expressed to us a few of his favorite talks and things that had really touched him. We also had a lesson with him about Temples and Family History work. It was so special and I am so excited for him. I've realized how amazing both of those aspects of the gospel are. But he's doing great. It's amazing to watch the gospel take effect in people's lives. When the seed of testimony is planted and nourished, it can grow at an amazing rate. It's so humbling and encouraging. I love missionary work. I want everyone to have this truth, this peace, and this happiness.
   Our investigators in this area are doing so well. We have definitely seen miracles in the last few weeks. J. has been progressing so much! He surprised us with his desire to put more effort into finding out if the Book of Mormon is true. He's been reading it on his own now and praying to know that it's true. We go and read with him every week, and he is beginning to apply what we read to his life and really like it. We're so excited for him. His progress has been slow, but it has been sure. We were able to catch M. this week and share a quick message with her. She and her family have been so busy lately and it has been so hard for us to get ahold of them, but we were able to schedule a return appointment. They came so far, but they've fallen away this past month. But I know that they have sincere hearts and that they can come to know that this is the truth. We just have to be persistant in helping them find that. We had a lesson with B. and A. who both love the Book of Mormon and know it's true. B. wants to be baptized. We brought one of the young women from our ward to the lesson as the "member present" and it went really well. It was so exciting to talk to the young woman after the lesson. She is so excited to serve a mission someday and she told us that she had never felt so good before, than how she felt in that lesson, sharing the gospel. It reminded me of my strong desire to serve a mission and how much I love being able to share the gospel.
   Transfer News!!! I am being transferred to Moorpark! The Moorpark 1st ward in the Thousand Oaks Zone. I am so excited. I'm going to be companions with Sister Moure who was actually trained by Sister Dixon a while back. I'm the junior companion still, but I'm actually going to be the designated driver now! Fun! I haven't driven a car in almost 5 months! I'll be driving us back from Ventura tomorrow after transfer meeting. It will be really hard to say goodbye to some of the people I've come to love so much in this ward tonight. But I am also so excited for this next transfer! I have a really good feeling about this new transfer. I am going to do my absolute best. I'm going to be the best missionary I can be.
   Grandma, I love you so much! You are such an amazing example to me, and I read your letters and look at the picture of you and grandpa that you sent me often. I am so proud to be a member of your family, and I am eternally grateful for everything you do. You're amazing! Keep it up! Have a wonderful week and feel better please. I love you!
   Emma, keep up "steady as the Beating Drum!" Haha. :) I'm proud of you. Your Temple is beautiful. Did you get my last letter a couple weeks ago? Beth, I loved your letter. I'm writing you a letter next week! Expect that in the mail in a couple weeks. I hope you and James are having a wonderful time. Susan, you crazy! Have a fun time in your travels! Let me know how it goes! Mom, I loved the package. Yes I got it, and thanks! You're the best! Have an amazing time in Maui! I was wondering when you were going to do that again. I'll think of you when you're close! (And all the time.) Thanks for all of your love and support! You have a missionary that loves and supports you too!
Melanie (Sister Hardman)

Me, Sister Draney, and Hermana Smith on our hike. I love this district. J

After conference snack. J I thought of you, Mom.