Monday, May 26, 2014

Dear Family,
   I hope you're all having an amazing day! I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your support. Thank you, you wonderful peaches. :)
   Guess what?! This last Tuesday was my 6 Month Mission Birthday! Yay! (Yeah, I'm strange, but I love celebrating special days, so it makes me excited when I have a "mission birthday".) Anyway, 6 months have gone by since I last saw all of you, isn't that insane? Time has passed quickly when you look back on it like that, but these 6 months have been packed with stuff! I love all the things I am learning. I'm excited to see who I'll be and where I'll be at in another 6 months, or even in a year! Yeah, I imagine that triumphant moment of coming down the escalator at the airport to crowds of loving people, with a victorious song playing in the background. It will probably happen in slow motion too. Haha okay just kidding, not crowds of people. Just my wonderful family. :) I'll see you all then! But...till then I am loving my mission! This work is so amazing to be a part of. I'm excited for what it is teaching me about what I want to do and how I want to be and how I want to serve when I get home. Dad, I love hearing about your geneology work. You're such a great example.
   So our investigators are doing really well. L. is amazing and loves coming to church so much. The ward loves him. He's quite popular. This week we went and taught him and M. the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom. The lesson went really well. I love teaching about the Plan of Salvation and Eternal Families. That's my favorite! :) S. is so sweet and she is doing really well. She's having her baby in a couple weeks and has finals just a few days before! She's awesome!
   I am loving this ward. Each time we have dinner with a family and get to know them and share a message with them, it feels so good. Families in the church are amazing. I love that anywhere you go in the world, you can find instant friends in the church that share your beliefs and knowledge of what's important and how blessed we are to have the Gospel. In our gospel principles class yesterday the teacher asked us the question what do you choose faith over? He wrote on the board: "I choose FAITH over..." When he asked for one of our responses I answered, "I choose FAITH over Fear." I have really been coming to learn that on my mission lately. That when we choose faith over giving into feelings of fear we are given courage. The Lord loves us and is not going to abandon us. When we have faith in Him and we are doing His will we have NO reason to fear. I'm striving to develop that. :)
   Our apartment has become really unified this week. We all love each other so much and we have so much fun together. We support and encourage each other. Me, Sister Moure, Hermana Winn, and Hermana Newman. (I even made white chocolate popcorn for all of us this week and they loved it. Thanks for teaching me, Beth.) We love talking over lunch and in the evenings after planning. Last night we were all lounging on the floor making planner covers together. I was actually reading from the Book of Mormon from Alma 5. Alma is teaching the people of the church, and he was asking all these amazing thought-provoking and self-evaluating questions. Suddenly I exclaimed, "Oh my goodness! Prophets ask the BEST questions!" That made all of them laugh. :) It was a pretty funny moment. And yes...I love it when something I say or do can make others laugh. But seriously...prophets ask the best questions. ;)
   Well I loved your emails today! Mom, I am SO excited for that this week. Thank you for all you do! Thank you again for all of your support and love. Have a wonderful week!
   Melanie (Sister Hardman)

My 6 month mission birthday!!! J

The wonderful district that I came to love so much this last transfer at our district BBQ this last Monday.

Monday, May 19, 2014

   I loved hearing about the events of this week! Thanks for the great email Mom. It was fun to read. :) Well...this has been an amazing week. A week and a half ago in a zone meeting we were all committed to teaching 40 lessons each week! Crazy! So this was our first week with this new goal and.........we saw SO many miracles! (Despite the 106 degree weather.) I was truly humbled as we just showed our willingness and worked hard and we found ourselves in the exact places that we needed to be and at the exact right times. We were able to teach a total of 44 lessons. :) It's definitely not us. I am so grateful for the Lord and for how he is guiding us in this, His work. There is no better feeling than to be an instrument in the Lord's hands.
   Our investigators in this area are doing so well. S. is so sweet. We love her and she has been coming to church every week and reading from the Book of Mormon. She asks amazing, sweet questions. The Relief Society threw a baby-shower for her this week since she's so far from the rest of her family. I think she loved it. We've been meeting with a man named Michael who has such a light about him. This week as we were reading from the Book of Mormon on his front steps, Sister Moure and I felt prompted that we needed to bring up baptism with him again in a specific way. He is now committed and excited to be baptized in late June. L. and M. and their family are doing so well. They brought one of their daughters to church yesterday and we loved having the three of them there. He is so excited about this church and the Priesthood and is eagerly guiding his family in this direction. We have many others we are working with, but I thought I'd give you a few. :) I love this work. I love these people.
   Transfer news: Sister Moure and I are staying here together for another transfer! We are so excited. I love her so much and we love working together. We get so much done and have so much fun. (It's only a 5 week transfer in preparation for the upcoming mission President change.) Most of our district is changing. This has been an amazing district to be a part of. I'm excited to see who comes. One of the new Hermanas coming to live with us in our apartment is actually Hermana Newman who I knew really, really well back in Newbury Park for 3 transfers! I'm excited to see her again.
   Everyone have an amazing week! I loved the pictures. Thank you! Dad, good luck on your trip! Mom, great job on the dress. Lydia is far more beautiful than I was in it. :) I'm glad she was able to use it. Emma...LOVE the wig. ;) Alright, well, I love you all so much and think about you often. You're all amazing. Have a good one!
(Sister Hardman)
P.S.-Sister Moure, the Hermanas and I had a Testaments dress up this week! So fun. I'll send pictures. I was Mara. You're all the best!

Sheepy-sheep! ;)

Hot week! 106 and going strong. :) It has made me really appreciate the 80 degree weather that I thought was hot.

The Testaments Photo Shoot 
I was Mara, Sister Moure makes the perfect Lanaia, and Hermana Winn was Jacob. J

Monday, May 12, 2014

Dear Family,
   It was so good to hear you yesterday! I loved every second of the phone call. Thank you so much for all being so wonderful. For those of you who I didn't get to talk to specifically, I've been thinking about you. I love you so much too! Thank you all for your loving support and for just being you. I love our family. :) Mom, I hope you had an amazing Mother's Day! You are the best mom ever. Seriously. :) I loved our Mother/Daughter talk yesterday and in our letters. I will be responding soon. Everyone, keep being you! You are wonderful. I love you.
   Oh and by the way, Transfers are in a week, so like usual, send things in the mail through the mission office address to be on the safe side if it won't get to me till next week. Transfers are on Tuesday. I don't think I'm leaving Moorpark already, but you never know.
   So a few fun things happened this week, a few exciting things, and a few terrifying things. Story time!
~Fun Stories:
   We went on a District Hike on Monday and we saw a waterfall! It was beautiful. I think it might have been called Paradise Falls in Thousand Oaks. Anyway, I got to talk to a lot of the members of my District and get to know them better. I have an amazing District. I'm so grateful for them.
   We also got to travel over near the edge of Newbury Park so that Sister Moure could have an eye exam from a member of our ward. Road trips are always fun and I really like doctor's offices for some reason.
~Exciting Story:
   I had exchanges this week! And the fun part was that it was with Sister Stoker who was my very first exchange back in December. She helped me so much then and she helped me so much this week too. I love her. She's a great missionary. She actually goes home from her mission next week! (I guess like with my exchange with Hermana Bartschi last transfer, this is the second time I've gone with someone who was about to leave.) I was wondering what Sister Stoker would observe as far as how much I've changed or progressed since we were last together in my first transfer. Haha...that morning we knocked at a door and ended up having a really cool lesson with the woman that lived there. We got her number and gave her the Book of Mormon, set up a return appointment, and said a prayer. As we were walking back to the car, Sister Stoker smiled and said, "You have changed!" It made me smile to hear that. Yes, I still am pretty nervous about talking to anyone and teaching, but I've gotten so much better since 5 months ago. I can do it now. :) Crazy what can happen in a few months.
~Scary Stories:
   On Wednesday we were doing our studies, and I was about to share something I had learned with Sister Moure, when a big, fuzzy, brown spider comes running across my scriptures. Ah! There's a reason why I've been doing my studies on a plastic chair in the middle of the room since then. Too many spiders! I've killed at least 4 this week. Oh well...I'll just continue sleeping with my bed pulled a foot away from the wall.
   Other story, (which I shared over the phone), we were knocking and we found this man that was really amazing. We were able to teach him the whole Restoration and he had good questions and seemed really interested. We're nearing the end of the lesson, Sister Moure was about to share Moroni 10:3-5, when the man says, "Woah. Move!" He gestured down to my feet, and when I looked down there was a big snake only a few inches from my feet! And this really was a BIG snake!  We screamed and jumped across his porch. He led us around the snake and down to his driveway where we were able to finish the lesson, but...ah! I about had a heart attack! This tannish-yellowish snake was between 4 and 5 feet long according to the man, and it was thick! I had never seen such a big wild snake just in a neighborhood. Woooooh.....took all day to get my heart rate back down. But we were alright. :) Good story though.
   Anyway, thanks again for the wonderful call and all of your love and support. I love you family! You make me happy. :)
Love you lots!
~Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-Thank you for all of the pictures! I've saved them and am going to print them out today. I love seeing you all and seeing you in places I love doing things I love. You're the best!

Happy Mother’s Day! Thank you for the wonderful call. I love you all so much!

My second exchange with Sister Stoker. It was a great day! (You can change a lot in 5 months!)

Monday, May 5, 2014

   I love you all. :) I hope you're having a wonderful week. It was a great week here in sunny California. (And I mean sunny, because it was in the 90s and 100s all week here in Moorpark! I'm surviving...enjoying the great farmers tan that's coming.) I loved hearing from you all this week. Thank you so much for all of your support. It makes me smile so big. :) So you're going to Disneyland this week? Awesome! I'll think about you all week. You will be so close! It blows my mind sometimes when we're at dinner with a member family and they talk about how they went to Disneyland that day. Weird. I'm in my own little world up here in my mission, but I'm so close to other things I'm familiar with. And Bonnie, it's so fun for me to think of how close you are. Anyway, enjoy my 2nd home. I hope you have an amazing time and really enjoy it. Please shout, "We love Melanie!" On the top of Splash Mountain. :) And eat a strawberry ice cream in a sprinkled waffle cone. Send me lots of pictures! And I'm way excited for the letters this week, thanks for telling me Momma. I thought of you all on Saturday with the Baptism and on Sunday with the Blessing and Party. There was a baby blessing in our ward too... I imagined I was with you all. This children coming into the world are such special spirits. I can't wait to meet Henry. How is the sod looking? Dad you gave the Baptism talk? Tonight we're teaching Charlotte about Baptism and Confirmation. I'm excited. I love her.
   So.....MOTHER'S DAY!!!!!!! I am SO excited! I love you all so much and hearing your voices is going to be amazing! We are allowed only 40 minutes, and if it's alright, I will be calling you at 5:30 my time (6:30 your time) on Sunday night. I will call Dad's cell phone like we did for Christmas. I hope that's all alright. I am so excited and so happy that so many of you will be there! You will all make me cry. :) Love you! Happy Mother's Day Mommy! Enjoy the wonderful feast! I can't wait to talk to you then!
   Guess what was fun yesterday. We had a lesson with a woman who has been trying to learn the guitar. She was having a really hard time tuning it. I was able to tune the guitar for her, and it made me feel so good. I can't even play the guitar, but I was still able to help her out. It was fun to hold an instrument again and play a scale or two to help tune it right. I think she was really grateful. (Dad, when I get home can you teach me how to play the guitar?) Speaking of grateful, I read President Uchtdorf's talk on Gratitude this morning. I loved that talk so much. I'm striving to have a spirit of gratitude in every circumstance. It really is the cure. It can lift us so much. He said that Gratitude is the catalyst for all of the other Christlike attributes. As I've mentioned in the past, I love studying the Christlike attributes from Preach My Gospel and working to develop them. They really help in every single circumstance and situation that comes up in life. We should all have a spirit of gratitude no matter what our situation may be at times. Thank you so much for the conference book! I love it so much, I study from it every day, and I've been using it for dinner messages and in lessons with others or talks in District Meetings. Thank you for the CD you sent me for Easter Mom. That is my favorite thing to listen to on Sundays and when I'm trying to calm down or relax in the evenings or at lunch time.
   So concerning the work, things are going really well. We had some amazing lessons this week. What made it amazing you might ask? Well, being able to see when the Spirit directs the lesson and helps you to know exactly what to say is amazing. Our lesson with C. on Thursday was so cool. I don't even know what happened at first, but I just started feeling all the right questions to ask and stories to share and we watched her change and open up a lot more. I know it wasn't me. I am so grateful for the direction of the Spirit and for the Lord's hand in all of His work. It feels so good to be an instrument in His hands. I want to strive to be more receptive to that guidance and those feelings. We also had great lessons with L. and M., I., and a few others this week. Our District Meeting this week was powerful. Elder Fagan and Elder Spencer gave the EDPEP and it was about using our personal experiences and testimony more in inviting others to make commitments and helping them to understand why those commitments are such a blessing. When they demonstrated Elder Fagan shared a very powerful and personal story about why he knows it's so important to pay tithing. Then when we all broke out into practicing, I was with Elder Fagan. He pretended to be one of our investigators and I was teaching. It was a cool experience as we got going into the EDPEP. I realized that when I focus on my personal testimony and experience with commitments, I'm a more powerful and confident teacher. It wasn't scary at all as I shared a personal experience from earlier in my life of how important it is to me to read the Book of Mormon every day. The practice felt really good and I felt like a powerful confident teacher. I know all of these things are true already. I love my testimony, I don't need to be afraid. I really appreciated the EDPEP this week that taught me that. That night I used that key in telling my personal testimony and experience in our lesson with Charlotte. It helped so much. I'm so grateful for how I'm learning and growing on my mission. time is about up, but I am SO excited to talk to you all on Sunday. Thanks for being such an amazing, wonderful, supportive, loving, encouraging, family. I love being a member of this family. :) Have an amazing week!
   Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.- Bethany, I thought of you yesterday..."May the Fourth Be With You." Remember our buns? You're great!

This is me less than 30 minutes ago…just so you know that I’m still alive. ;)

A woman gave us a bunch of lo-quats? I think that’s what they were. J (And yeah, I had just had some red candy.