Monday, August 25, 2014

Hey Family!
   Guess what? The other night, a family in the ward brought us to this fancy restaurant and I had a Chicken Tortilla soup that tasted just like the one at Zupas! Basically...I was excited :) Will someone please go to Zupas for me this week. Enjoy! Alright, that was my random comment for the day to start off this letter. I'm doing really well. This week was great and I'm feeling really good. Thank you for all of your emails, letters, packages, love, prayers, and support. You are all such great missionaries! Thanks. :)
   We had a wonderful miracle moment this week. We were driving to contact a potential investigator when I suddenly got the strong impression that we needed to stop and knock the street we were on. It was a clear prompting from the Spirit. Obediently, we pulled to the side of the road and started knocking. We declared to several people and then knocked on the door of someone named Saul who was very interested and willing to invite us in to share our message with him and his Mom. He's a senior in high school. We taught him the full Restoration and scheduled a time to come back next week. He committed to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We're excited to continue teaching him. As soon as we left his house I could feel that he was the one we were supposed to find on that street. The feeling felt like a "pat on the back" from Heavenly Father. It is an amazing feeling to be able to receive promptings from the Spirit and to be able to be an instrument in this great work. I love doing my part as a missionary, and I am doing my best to be worthy of receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost at all times.
   A. is doing really well, but sadly she has had to move to Thousand Oaks. :( We had a last lesson with her at the beginning of the week and said good bye. But she will be meeting with the Elders over in the ward over there, and we'll stay in contact. She's amazing. We had a few lessons with J. this week, sitting on his front porch on beautiful California afternoons with the ocean breeze that comes up through Camarillo. I love swaying palm trees, and I love reading with Jose from the Book of Mormon. His dog Ruby loves us quite a bit too...a little too much. :)
   We had the wonderful experience of visiting with two less-active members of the church this week who then came to church yesterday. I love helping those who have forgotten to come back and to remember the covenants that they made when they were baptized, and to remember how much their families, friends, and ward family love them and miss them. We also did service for an inactive sister and were really able to bond with her and work to strengthen her. The Spirit was strong as we shared a message after packing boxes and we know that us coming by each week to serve her has been helping her and softening her heart. She told us that we are evidence to her of God's love for her. In our Zone Meeting this week we talked a lot about service. Mosiah 2:17 states, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." Matthew 25:40 says a very similar thing. I know that Heavenly Father can use us to lift our brothers and sisters around us. I know that serving others in large or in simple ways brings us closer to each other and lifts hearts. I love opportunities to serve. :)
   We have a real, full Zone Conference again this week! We haven't had one since March. We are really excited and we've heard that there are a lot of changes coming soon. ;) We're all making educated guesses, and we hope we're right. That will be all day Thursday in Thousand Oaks. We'll be combined with the Simi Valley Zone. It will be a wonderful day.I'm excited for this week. Also, today we're basically having a district party over at the car shop while all of us get our cars checked and oil changed. Fun stuff. Well, you are all the best.
   I hope you all have a wonderful day and a fantastic week! I love you!
   Melanie (Sister Hardman)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dear Family,
   The last few days of this week were wonderful! I know I got down a bit earlier on, stress, headaches, down days, you know, but things always get better when we continue to look forward and do our best. Trusting the Lord that everything will work out can be hard, especially in those moments, but I know that he always will pull us through. Things will always get better. Good always wins. :) We had an amazing lesson with A. on Sunday where I was able to share a long, full testimony of the gospel. And on Saturday we had a wonderful lesson with our investigator J. I love teaching those who are sincere and will listen. I love this work.
   So guess what? This week I will reach my 9 month mark!!! Can you believe it?! Every month slides by faster and faster. And every month I feel myself grow to love this work even more. I have learned this month how much I really do love teaching the Gospel and how much I love opportunities to share my testimony. In honor of reaching my half-way mark, I decided to share with all of you a few of the things that I have learned in the last 9 months:
   1. The Power of the Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is the convincing power that this Gospel is true, that Joseph Smith is a prophet, that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and that this church is true. All of us can come to know that it is true when we read from it and sincerely pray and ask. I promise that when we do these things, Heavenly Father will answer our prayers and help us to know of it's truthfulness. I have seen this many times in the last 9 months and I know it is true. Also, I have gained the strongest knowledge and testimony that I can imagine of the power of the Book of Mormon to make me feel better when I need it. I know that l feel better from anything that is pulling me down when I just sit down and read from the Book of Mormon. It is the word of God and it will guide us and comfort us throughout our lives. I love the Book of Mormon so much and I am so grateful for it. I can't believe how much I've taken it for granted in my life. I want to help everyone I can to come to the sure knowledge that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that the testimony that Heavenly Father has given me of it in the past several months is a gift. I am so grateful for it. I will always cherish the the Book of Mormon.
   2. Serving and Sharing Bring Joy
Our leaders have not been lying to us. When we focus on serving, loving, and sharing our testimonies with others, it brings us tremendous amounts of joy. I love focusing on those that we meet every day. We all have the power to lift and serve everyone we come across. Serving a mission has brought me so much happiness.
   3. God Answers Prayers
Referring back to the story I shared a couple weeks ago of little C. hugging me. I know that God answers prayers and that he is mindful of all of us and our needs. I know that he loves us so much and is always there for us. He answers prayers in his own way and in his own time, but he always answers. :)
   4. I Can Do Hard Things!
Being on a mission is the hardest thing I've ever done. But it's been the best thing I've ever done. I love being on a mission, and it is boosting my self-esteem and my confidence that with the Lord, I can do all things! (Alma 26:12) He has helped me to do so much. I know that when we are asked to do something, he will prepare the way and give us the strength to do it. How in the world have I made it 9 months? He has given me strength. With him I can do hard things! We all can! :)
   5. I Love My Family!
My mission has done a wonderful job of teaching me what is most important to me. I love my family! I love you all! So much! I want to do all I can to strengthen our family now and in the future. I know that families are meant to be together forever and through Heavenly Father's plan, we can be! I know that we can succeed. I love you all so much and I miss you every day, but I am here right now to help others to know that they can be with their families forever too. We have to work to get there. But I know that we can. I love you all so much and I am so excited for the glorious moment when I'll be with you all again in about 9 months. I love you!
   I hope you enjoy these. As I've said before, I love the changes in me that have come, the lessons I've been learning, and the testimony that is growing in me. I am so grateful for the choice that I made to serve a mission back in October of 2012. I am SO grateful. I am happy. I am loving the work. I love being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I feel very blessed to be a missionary here in this mission and I feel very blessed to have been born into this family and into the role that I have in my life. Thank you for all that you do for me, my wonderful family! I love you all. Have an amazing week!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-The mission office would like to have as much of the mail as possible go directly to our addresses, so for anything that will get here before September 20th, please send them directly to my Moorpark address. Call Mom for that if you need it. :) Love you!

This is me with A. after church last week. I love her.

And this is our apartment last night after playing missionary 20 questions during dinner. :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hello dear family!
  So first off, transfer news: I will be staying in Moorpark for a 4th transfer! Crazy huh? So you can continue to send things to this address for the next 6 weeks. This has just officially become the longest I've been in an area. I will continue to be with Sister Evans for the 2nd half of her 12 week training program. It's going to be a great transfer. It surprised me, but I know that it is right. Something Hermana Winn said to me this morning really stuck out to me. After I told her that I would be staying in Moorpark for another transfer she said, "You know what this means, don't you? There is someone super prepared that needs you here." I've been thinking about that a lot. I've been in Moorpark for a long time, and I'll be honest, it surprised me to receive the call that I would be staying here for another 6 weeks. But the song came to my mind this morning, "There's surely somewhere a lowly place in Earth's harvest fields so wide, where I may labor through life's short day for Jesus the Crucified. So trusting my all to they tender care and knowing thou lovest me. I'll do thy will with a heart sincere...I'll go where you want me to go." I know that if I am here, that there is a work that the Lord has for me to do in this place and at this time. I am so excited to see what happens this transfer. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue working with Sister Evans and with this wonderful ward.
  I thoroughly enjoyed your email this morning, Mom. Sounds like you and Dad had a fantastic trip! Thank you for your letter earlier this week. I always love hearing from you when you're so close. It's fun to imagine what you're doing. I enjoyed looking at a map and being within 1.5 inches of each other. ;)  Also, Bethany, thank you so much for the fantastic Happy Birthday package that you sent me! You gave Hermana Winn and Hermana Newman a fright. They came home for dinner and found the package there on the doorstep. They panicked, thinking that it was my birthday and that they had no idea. They then wen through my calendar to try to find my birthday. Then we came home. :) It was really funny. And the package was so fun! I loved it! Thank you. I hope your birthday was wonderful!
  Becca, Nathan, Jana, and Brent, you all gave talks? That sounds wonderful! Thanks for your great example of loving family history. Emma, I am looking forward to that letter of yours with great anticipation. 
  The work is going really well. Church was wonderful yesterday. I enjoyed being there with A. again, and also with A., a woman who the Hermanas have been teaching. Their family is trying out the English ward as apposed to the Spanish branch. They are such a sweet family. We also had a lesson with A. and Sister B. after church about the truth and guidance that we gain from following the prophet, studying the scriptures, and sincere prayer. I love Anita.
  Well, time is at hand! Thank you so much for all of the support and love. You have no idea how often the words you say or the things you send are exactly what I need at the time. You are all wonderful. I love being a member of this family. I love being a missionary and having the opportunity to share my testimony and the things that have become so dear to me. I know that this work is the Lord's work and that His hand is in it all. If we look for them, we can see miracles every day, all over the place. I am so grateful for the Lord's hand in my life. I know that He will help us in everything that we stand in need of. We are loved.

Have an amazing week! I love you! (Never hesitate to drop me a line. ;) Let me know how you're all doing.)

Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

P.S.-Sorry for a selfish or needy moment, but there's a CD that Sister Cusick had that I've been wanting. Is there anyway that I can have the EFY Believe Hope Endure CD? (*Sheepish smile*)

~Bethany! Your Happy Birthday package was amazing! Thank you! :)

~Balloon party! :) We've had so much fun.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Hello Family!
   I hope you are all having a wonderful day. :) You are loved. I hope the birthday celebrations went and will go well. I love you, Bethany! Happy Birthday! I'm sending you a card full of love today. :)  You are amazing. And Dad, your lesson sounds like it was a lot of fun! Haha, did you take pictures? Have a wonderful time in Huntington Beach this week. Becca, I love the special purple crayon that you sent me!
   This week has gone well. It was full of unique and good things. Guess what? It's the end of another transfer!Next Monday we'll get transfer calls again. I wonder if I'll be staying here again. I was in Newbury Park for 3 transfers and I've now been here for 3 transfers. Who knows? The work is going well in our area. We had a wonderful lesson with S.S., who is going out of country for a month, but she shared with us why she likes reading the Book of Mormon, and she committed to read and pray about it while she is gone. We also had the opportunity to go to Westlake to return the rental car and get our black chevy cruz back! It's been a while. It was a lot of fun to take a little road trip over there to change cars.
   We had our individual interviews with President Felix this week. It meant a lot to me. President and Sister Felix are wonderful, and they care about all of us missionaries so much. President Felix asked me at one point in my interview what one thing was that I had gained or experienced so far on my mission that I know will stay with me for the rest of my life. I smiled and told him about how much my knowledge and testimony of the Book of Mormon has grown. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it is the word of God, and I know that when I read from it I gain guidance, strength, and endless amounts of comfort. I love reading the Book of Mormon. This made him smile and we went on to talk about it for a while. We discussed what has become my favorite scripture lately on my mission. Mom, it's the one that you sent to me with your experience around Christmas. 1 Nephi 17:13. :) Out of all of the scriptures in the Book of Mormon, this is the one that I have shared the most often with others (investigators, other missionaries, members, or people we meet on the street). This scripture has brought me so much peace and comfort. Thank you for sending that to me a few months ago, Mom. I don't know if I ever told you how much it meant to me. The rest of our interview went well, he listened to what I needed, gave advice and encouragement, and at the end of the interview President Felix gave me a blessing. I am so grateful for all that he and his wife are doing for us to help us fulfill our purpose as missionaries. Then, while Sister Evans was in her interview with the President, I got to sit out in the lobby and talk with Sister Felix for a while. She also gave a lot of advice, love, and support. I love them both.
   Alright, to share my experience from yesterday that is the reason for the title of this email: Yesterday, during church, I received a little answer to a prayer that meant a lot to me. It made my week, so I wanted to share it. I know that our Heavenly Father loves us all and is aware of how we are feeling and what we need. He answers prayers, in the best way possible. He knows what will help us. So yesterday during church I became a little overwhelmed. It had been a slightly stressful morning with different situations, and during 2nd hour I had started to feel a little down (and I'll admit it, a little homesick again). After gospel essentials, I asked if we could go into the restroom. I went into a stall and just said a silent little prayer, telling Heavenly Father that I was struggling and that I just needed a little sign of love and strength. Taking a deep breath again, I walked out and went to the counter. Just then, a little girl in our ward, about 5 years old, came running up to my side and threw her arms around me hugging me. I was suddenly filled with a strong feeling of love and strength. Little C. didn't have any idea about the silent prayer that I had offered. But she, in a very Christlike way had reached out to express love to me in the very moment that I needed it. I know it was something so simple, but the little tender mercy was a clear answer to me of God's love. I needed and asked for a bit of love and strength, and Heavenly Father gave me a simple hug of love and strength.
   I love my Heavenly Father and I love what he has given me and been teaching me on my mission. These principles and lessons are things that I am going to take with me for the rest of my life. I know that He loves all of us so much and he knows what we all need. He is always reaching out to us. He answers our prayers. :) I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you much!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

Pictures for you:
~J., S.S., and Baby C.

~Beautiful California sunset :)