Monday, June 30, 2014

Hey Family!
   Well...This was my first week training, and I am loving it! I am having so much fun and enjoying the work so much. My companion is Sister Evans from Payson. She is a great missionary. Sister Evans is doing so well and she has been teaching me so much through her desire and willingness to serve. From the very first day she showed how diligent she is and willing to do all that it takes to be the missionary that the Lord needs her to be. She is helping me to strengthen that desire in myself as well, just by her amazing example. Part of the reason why I love training is that it has helped me to truly "forget myself, and go to work." I love focusing on what she needs and on what our investigators need. Being assigned to train made it so fun and so desirable to forget myself and to just focus on someone else. Yes, I should be better at doing that all the time and in any situation, but I am so grateful for this, and I love this assignment so much. I am so grateful for the trust that the Lord has placed in me. I am doing my best, and I will continue to work hard. I am seeking specific guidance from the Lord in all I do, and even though I've never trained before, I don't feel overwhelmed, I feel as if the Lord is with me in every single aspect of this. I just have to rely on Him.
   Sister Moure and I had an amazing last week together and I miss her very much. She's now in Camarillo and I'm sure she's doing wonderfully. Haha...she gave me a few weird habits. She used to eat broccoli and cheese for breakfast every day. I've NEVER liked broccoli...till now. I've been craving it. ;) Not for breakfast though, I still like my oatmeal then.
   So on Tuesday, I was able to talk with and say goodbye to the Castros one last time at the Training Meeting, then we all went into Transfer Meeting. The opening song, as always, was our mission anthem Let Zion In Her Beauty Rise. (I don't know if I ever mentioned that. But I have grown to love that song so much. It IS our mission song. It will never be the same.) Singing it as a mission, all together and in full voice is always so powerful, and especially this week, as we sang for the last time with the Castros. Part way through the song President Castro stopped singing as he just listened to us and took it all in. Sister Castro was crying. We had a wonderful meeting. They spoke to us for the last time, along with the Trumans who also went home this week. They announced the trainers with their new companions which is always fun to watch. They announce it and you both stand and go to meet each other, hug, then sit down together. And then the most powerful part of the meeting was the end, we all stood and sang Called To Serve. It was so powerful! The Castros had tears and many of us did as well. We will all miss them so much. They have done so much for us and for this mission. And we are excited to meet President and Sister Felix this week! :)
   The work in this area is going really well. Two of our progressing investigators right now are K. and A. A. is the woman who walked into church on her own several weeks ago and has been coming every week and taking the lessons. She is reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and we were pleasantly surprised to learn yesterday that she has read the first 14 chapters of 1 Nephi. Before the lesson, Sister Evans and I roll-played and practiced the baptismal invitation. (This week, in the 12 week training program, it is the new missionary's responsibility to take the lead in inviting investigators to be baptized.) Sister Evans did a wonderful job of inviting A. to be baptized, and A. smiled and said she definitely would if she came to know that these things are true. She is reading, praying, and coming to church. She is so sincere, and we know that she will be able to receive her answer if she continues on this course. We are so excited for her. And K. is doing really well. We were able to recommit her to a baptismal date on August 9th, and she is so excited to be baptized. She told us about how happy she's been since we began teaching her, and she said that her prayers are all being answered and she feels so blessed. Also, we've been knocking a lot this week, and I've realized that it doesn't really scare me anymore! When did that happen?! This is exciting. :)
   This week I have been so grateful for how my studies have been going. In the past couple of days I feel like I'm able to get so much more in the hour of personal study. I love the scriptures and the words of living prophets and apostles. My testimony has been growing so much on my mission and I am so grateful for the decision that I made to serve a mission. There is nothing better than being able to help others grow closer to Jesus Christ and to feel yourself growing closer to him as well. I'm excited for this week and all that it will bring.
   Thank you all for your emails and letters! You are all the best and I really appreciate all of the support. Letters from President Castro, Katy, Jake, Bethany, Bishop Baiamonte, Becca, and Sam this week were all much appreciated. Thank you all! You're too good to me. And thank you also for the advice and counsel. I'm excited to read my emails today. :) I hope you have an amazing 4th of July. You'll be in my thoughts. :) And next week I'll let you know what a missionary's 4th of July is like.
   I love you SO much!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-Tell everyone at the gatherings this week that I love them and miss them. Can someone please track down Cassie's email address for me? And everyone, have so much fun together this week! I'll be there in spirit. :)

Sister Moure did this to me: I now love broccoli and cheese! What?!

 And Hermana Winn and I are good friends, as always.

 This is Sister Evans, my new companion. :)

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