Monday, July 28, 2014

Good morning!
   I just drove up the beautiful "Historic Norwegian Grade" to the church building that we have emails in while listened to an awesome song that Sister Evans has on one of her CDs. Have any of you heard Steven Sharp Nelson's Praise to the Man? Love it! I felt like I was at a Scottish Festival or listening to something you would play, Mom and Dad. If anyone would like a lift, check it out. :) And no...I don't know what the "Historic Norwegian Grade" is. That's just what the sign on the road says.
   Mom, the package was wonderful and sweet. The chocolates made it! They were a little soft so I put them in the fridge for a bit, but they were delicious, thanks. We enjoyed shooting fruit discs at each other, and Hermana Winn was so touched and grateful for your gift. She now thinks that you are the coolest ever. It was her 5 month mission birthday and it was a very sweet present. Thanks for being so thoughtful. And thank you for the wonderful emails today everyone! I haven't been able to read them yet, but I'm excited to.
   This week has gone really well. We had exchanges this week and they went amazingly. I learned so much, and we had an amazing day full of little miracles all over the place! I was in Simi Valley with Sister Snow. I really liked Simi, and we were able to have a lot of great lessons and find a lot of amazing people. One really cool experience: We had planned to go see a less-active member but they didn't answer. We had other plans of people we were going to see after that, but Sister Snow felt prompted that we needed to go see a potential investigator that lived a couple of streets over. We felt like we should walk there. We never did see that potential investigator, but on our walk there we ran into one of their current investigators, two different ladies that we were able to have a great lesson with, a Spanish-speaking woman that we declared to and set up a time for the Hermanas to go by, and a member from my ward here in Moorpark and his friend who was going to have her first missionary lesson that night.  It was so fun to run into them again. I talked to the two of them a lot at the youth conference a few weeks ago. Anyway, we spent more than 3 hours on that "walk to the potential investigator" and we didn't even see her, but my testimony that the Lord will put people in your path that you are meant to talk with has been strengthened. It was a great day, and I loved being with Sister Snow.
   Random fun thing for the week: The Bishop of this ward made me a band-saw box! :) I think that's what it's called. It reminded me of something you would make, Dad. Our bishop enjoys working with wood too, and he decided to make us each a gift for the work that we are doing here. By the way, I know I mention this all the time, but I love this ward so much. I feel like I've gotten to know the members so well, and I love every one of them. I'm so grateful for the time that I've had to serve here. Next time we're in California on a Sunday while on a trip, I know a great place for us to attend our church meetings. :) Yesterdays meetings were wonderful. I especially loved the relief society lesson on gratitude. I was sitting next to S. who brought her baby girl to church for the first time since she had her. She's adorable. And S. fit right in. Our ward has several mom's that just barely had babies. Our meetings are sometimes a bit loud, young family style. Haha.
   I am really happy, I love being the Lord's servant, I love teaching, I love serving, and I love how much my testimony is growing. I'm grateful for the experiences that I am having that are bringing me closer to the Lord. I trust Him and I trust my Heavenly Father. I know that they will guide me. I know that they will guide all of us. We just have to turn to them and trust them. They love us. This morning, I read President Monson's closing remarks from Conference. He said, while bearing his testimony, "I leave you with my witness and my testimony that God our Eternal father lives and loves us. He is indeed our Father, and He is personal and real. May we realize how close to us He is willing to come, how far He is willing to go to help us, and how much He loves us." I know that this is true, with all my heart. I love you all so much. Have a great week!
   Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~Hermana Winn and I loved the package, Mom!

~I finally found someone that I trusted enough to trim my hair. Sister Wilde in our ward was happy to give me what I would call a "Mommy haircut." At dinner one night I noticed their daughter's hair had been trimmed and I asked about it. I like you to cut my hair, Mom. So I appreciated Sister Wilde's mother-like way of trimming hair. Don't worry, I only got a few inches trimmed off. :) It feels good.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good morning, my dear family!
   Guess what? There were a lot of clouds on and off throughout this week! And the temperatures were a tiny bit cooler. :) We've been sitting in the 80s or low 90s this week, so that's been wonderful. Also, we had two days where it actually looked kind of stormy! On Saturday, it rained for like 30 seconds!!! And it was cool enough that I was able to wear a cardigan. :) Happy day. And here was a beautiful and fun moment from this week: On Monday, our district went to a nearby park after emails that had a sand volleyball pit. We had so much fun in the sand and playing volleyball and having fun together. And it was the first day where there were a lot of clouds in the sky, and they looked darker and stormier! The breezes felt like an oncoming storm and we felt 2 or 3 sprinkles. It was a very happy and fun moment. :)
  Concerning the work, this week has been much better. We're working hard and we've been able to teach more lessons and even find a couple of new investigators. And we have a lot more lessons and appointments set up for the next couple of days. :) I won't lie, I am struggling a bit to stay energetic and motivated all the time, especially on days when it feels like we aren't having much success. But I know that the Lord is teaching and helping me through this whole experience though, and I can see that there are many lessons that I'm meant to learn. I am focusing on having a good attitude in every circumstance and I am also focusing on working hard with diligence all the time, no matter what. I am learning and growing. I know that every trial we have is an opportunity to learn and grow and to become more like the Savior. However, I would still love any advice from past missionaries or others on things that helped them. Dad, your words and advice in your email helped a lot. Thank you so much, Daddy. I love you.
   Our investigators are doing well. K. is reading and praying and is so excited to be baptized and to continue to learn more about the church. And A. has been coming to church every week and loving it. She loves what the gospel principles class teaches. We are working to find more fellowship for both of them in the ward to continue to strengthen them. Speaking of church, yesterday was amazing! I loved every hour. Selfishly, I feel like all the talks and lessons were for me, showing me that Heavenly Father loves me and knows exactly what I need, and is more than willing to give it to me. :) But I know that it also helped many more members, missionaries, and investigators.
   Yesterday was my 8 month mark! Crazy stuff. I really enjoyed pulling my journal out the night of the 19th, and reading what I had written concerning my setting apart blessing exactly 8 months ago. I hadn't read that since I was in the MTC. I was blown away as I read some things that President Top said concerning my mission that gave me additional guidance and happiness as I saw things that he spoke of that have been happening. I am now more committed than ever to continue writing in my journal frequently, especially about spiritual experiences. I love looking back through my journal at things I've learned, seen, done, and felt throughout my mission. Are you all keeping your journals? ;) I promise it's worth it. (2 Nephi 29:11)
   It's always so good to hear about what's been going on with all of you this week. You all sound wonderful. Thanks for being such a great family. I'm so proud of all of you and I'm proud to be a member of this family. I know that I am well supported and loved by you all, and that helps me so much to be able to do my best on my mission. And I will be so happy and excited to return to all of you again in 10 months. Thank you so much for the package this week, Mom! I loved it so much! It made my day. How did you know that I've been craving Welsh Cakes? And Emma, I loved the letter, you funny goose. I'm replying to that today, but good luck with everything. Haha...I wish I could be there for your first date, but have fun and let me know how it all goes. Do as I would do. Have fun! You're cute. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY my dear! You're amazing. I'll be thinking about you and I hope you have an amazing day.
   Concerning the Family Council: I think that that is an amazing idea! Do I get to be a part of it?! (The Nauvoo Pageant) Funny thing, I've been thinking about the Nauvoo Pageant for the last several weeks. I've had two different dreams about it, and I actually caught myself singing the one song that I remembered from years ago while I was doing the dishes a few days ago. I'm all in, and I think that that would be an amazing experience. I'd love to do it with you again. :) You have my full support in the idea. I say yes.
  Well, the time has come for me to sign off. I'm looking forward to this week. I'm really excited. And hey, guess what? Tonight, I get to go to Simi Valley for Exchanges tomorrow! It's always so fun to get to go to a different area for exchanges. I'll be there tomorrow. Everyone, have a fantastic week! Love you all!
   Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~8 Month Mission Birthday! (And thanks for sending the skirt!)

~Hermana Winn and I having fun doing make-up together.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Hello Family! :)
   I loved the email. Thanks Mom! I love you all so much and love hearing from you and about what's going on and how you're doing. Good luck with everything this week. You're in my thoughts and prayers. You're an amazing family that is very loved by this missionary. :)
   This week has gone really well. We're having fun, learning lots, and working hard. We have been having a hard time finding people to teach lately, but we are working hard. We have been diligently knocking and we also organized all of the former investigators in our area this week so that we can go and contact more of them. Last night, our District Leader reminded us of something that President Felix had told all of us. "The miracles happen in the 2nd mile." When we run the 1st mile, we need to keep going. Just keep working and the miracles will happen. We know that if we continue working hard and being obedient and diligent, we will be led to those that are being prepared for the gospel. We had an experience with that actually earlier this week. We had a full day of knocking and it was quite hot, with no clouds to be seen. But we worked hard. We focused on faithful, diligent efforts, and just kept going. We were able to talk with a lot of people that day, but no one that was that interested or willing to listen. Near the end of the day, at around 8:30 we knocked on a door and found a really sweet young woman who was very interested to hear our message. She grabbed a blanket and we sat down on her porch and were able to teach her the full Restoration lesson. It felt so good to teach! :) We were so happy. She's YSA age, going to the college here, so we referred her to the Zone Leaders who cover the YSA ward, so we won't be able to teach her more, but she was excited to learn more! We were so excited. We had been led to the right house at the right time. Go the 2nd mile!
   Funny story of the week, one of my friends, also on a mission, told me in his letter about him and his companion trying to get people to stop to talk to them when they were riding by on bikes. He said that usually if you just hold out a pass-along card they'll take it. So we were street-contacting the other night and a biker was coming up. We decided to try it. I held out the card and he grabbed it and shouted, "Thank you!" It was so funny for some reason! :) In that same hour I was able to practice my Spanish declaring skills a few times too. I am now able to say, in Spanish, "Hi, I only speak a tiny bit of Spanish, we're the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We share a message about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Will you take a look at this website?" At which point I hand them a Spanish card. It's a work in progress, but it's fun. :)
   Training is going well, I think. I'm feeling bad at times when it doesn't feel like we're having much success because it feels like it's my fault and that I'm not being as good of a missionary as what I need to be. But I know that I'm working to do my best. My mission is teaching me so much about relying on the Lord in all we do. I know that I am so imperfect, but that he will help me do all that he has asked of me. I trust him. And when I'm able to remember these things, I find so much strength and happiness in the work. The key is just getting past those little moments when you give into the doubts or fears. There is no reason to fear in this work. When we are obedient, faithful, and we follow the spirit, everything falls into place beautifully. I think I learn a new life lesson on my mission every day. :) Thanks mission! I really do love how much I learn here and serving others has brought me so much happiness. Plus, I love teaching the Gospel. :) It's the best.
   We had a Zone Meeting this week, and Sister Evans and I were asked to give the EDPEP to the whole zone. It made us a little nervous at first, but we prepared well and practiced hard, and had a great time giving it. It was a lot of fun! The Zone Leaders asked us to give it on Lesson 5: The Laws and Ordinances and why it's important to study and know them and to be able to teach them on demand. It was a lot of fun to put together the EDPEP and practice it with all of our Zone. They then announced that there has been a change in world-wide mission work. As of now, we will be teaching the Laws and Ordinances, not just after converts are baptized, but before they are baptized as well. We're so excited! I love teaching them and answering questions about them. When they announced that, it just felt so right. I know that this will help those we teach to prepare not only for baptism, but for enduring to the end and for eternity.
   Well I love you all SOOO much and I miss you Honey Bunches of Oats with Strawberries. Thanks for being so amazing. Your missionary loves you!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

This is me and Karen with a horse. :)

And this week I made Marshmallow Fluff for Weekly Planning! Yes!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Dear Family,
   (Explanation for the short simple email: The computers aren't working very well today and all of us are having a hard time getting anything to load or send, so I only have 5 minutes left. :( Here we go. I know it's short, but trust me, I'm doing well, I'm really happy and I'm having a ton of fun. I love being a missionary more and more everyday. And I'm pretty sure that I would love being a trainer for the rest of my mission.)
   Happy 4th of July! I loved hearing about your week. I loved the pictures too! That's my family! The ones outside our house with Timp. in the background and all of you laughing and having a great time made me smile.
   Training is going really well. I love this assignment and I love all that I am learning. Trust me, I have a LOT to learn. And it's comin. Sister Evans is great and I love working with her. Our investigators are doing really well. And oh my goodness, I love this ward. :) I feel like a part of the ward family now.
   This Thursday we met President and Sister Felix. They are so great! They kind of remind me of you Mom and Dad. We got to meet with them as companionships to get to know them for a few minutes. I love them already and I'm really excited to be able to work with them.
   The 4th of July was great! Lunch was provided by Bethany (Subway giftcard. Thanks!) And I had a wonderful dinner of tri-tip steak at a members home, then we had to be in by 7. We got to Weekly Plan! With lots of yummy 4th of July treats. And then we partied as an apartment. Hermana Winn, Hermana Newman, and Sister Evans and I had a lot of fun. Thanks for the glowstick, Beth!
   I love you all so much. You're in my prayers and thoughts. I hope you have an amazing week. Much love!
~Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-We've done a LOT of knocking this week, and yes, it was VERY hot. But we've had a lot of fun with it too. Here's an example of a conversation between me and Sister Evans. I say, squinting up into the sky, "Hey look, a cloud!" Sister Evans, "Maybe it'll cover the sun." Me, wiping the sweat from my forehead, "Come on, little cloud, you can do it!" Yes...I felt like I was a character in Holes. Fun stuff! :) Love you!