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