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

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