Monday, September 29, 2014

Hey family!
   It was so good to get your email today, Dad. Thanks for the update on everyone and the events back home. It's so fun to hear about all of you. I love you all more than the moon...and that's a lot. ;)  So, I am here in a new area and a completely new world. I've been so excited to tell you all about it. Here we go:
  I really do love Pismo Beach. We've already seen so many small miracles and I'm so grateful for each opportunity that I've had to talk with and teach and serve the people here. I'm so happy, excited, and grateful to be here. So as I mentioned last week, Pismo was only recently opened up for sister missionaries. Sister Hiapo told me that I was technically the 4th sister missionary that this area has had in about 35 years. Something exciting though, this transfer President Felix was inspired to split the area, meaning that Sister Hiapo and I would be joined by two other sisters also coming to serve in this ward. So the four of us had to prayerfully decide how to split the ward area this week. It was hard. We all had different impressions and thoughts at first and it was hard to decipher between what was right, what we personally wanted, and what was more logical. But we did our best to follow the Spirit and it has worked out. The Pismo Beach ward covers parts of 4 small cities: Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Shell Beach, and Arroyo Grande. Sister Hiapo and I will be covering Pismo Beach and part of Arroyo Grande. The other two sisters will be covering Grover Beach and Shell Beach. We all feel good about how it has been split and the miracles that we have each seen in our areas have been amazing. I feel a connection to Pismo Beach and I am excited to do my best to labor here in this part of the Lord's vineyard. I am so grateful that I was sent here. :) It makes me smile.
   I love Sister Hiapo. She is such a hard worker, and she is so much fun. She keeps a sense of humor while we are working hard and helps everyone around her to know that she is a focused and obedient missionary. This is her 3rd transfer here. We've had a great week and I know that I will learn so much from her. She is from Arizona and loves volleyball. Most of her family is from Hawaii. She's awesome.
   I loved the General Women's Broadcast. All of the talks were amazing, the Spirit was so strong, and most important, the promptings and the lessons that I learned for myself were many. One sister spoke of how she came to really understand her need of a Redeemer with her weakness. I don't want to have weakness, none of us do, and when mine happen I sometimes get frustrated and down on myself. But with the Savior we can be complete. He will make up the difference as we do our best, are obedient, and repent for our mistakes. That is the great message of hope that we carry to the world. It's so important for us to learn it and know it for ourselves too.
   We've had several opportunities to serve this last week. It's amazing how while you are serving people will show their interest and desire to know through simple questions and observations. Service is an amazing tool that Heavenly Father uses to bless and lift His children and to help them have the courage to seek and to find the truth. Oh! Guess what I got to do this week? I got to paint a white picket fence on a beach house! It was so cool! :)
   The area here is exciting. We went street contacting in downtown Pismo Beach, walking right near the ocean in the shops and passing surfers and fun people. When we tract in most of Pismo Beach it is full of beautiful beach houses, beautiful views up on the hill overlooking the ocean, and very nice people. Arroyo Grande is like the country! It's spread out between hills and small areas of houses. When we walk there I feel like a missionary in a different country. It's definitely an adventure here. I love it.
   The district here is fun. 2 sets of Elders, 2 sets of Hermanas, and 2 sets of Sisters. A few people I know from past districts! Elder Fagan from Thousand Oaks is the district leader.
   I'm out of time, but I hope this gives you a good glimpse. To answer your questions Dad, we all drive to Ventura for a meeting with everyone who is being transferred or getting a new companion. We then ride to our new areas. Members usually drive us. The drive up the coast here was fun, with all the other sisters and hermanas. We are teaching and finding many good people here. I love the people here in Pismo Beach and I'm excited to be here. I'm so excited for General Conference. I'll watch it with all of you. Have an amazing week!
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)

~This is my new companion Sister Hiapo. We were riding to the General Women's Broadcast with the other sisters.

~And this is what it looks like when we're in upper Pismo Beach. I wasn't able to get any other pictures this week, but today she's taking me to see a few beautiful spots, so I'll send more next week. :) Isn't Pismo Beach beautiful?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Good morning, wonderful family! 
   Well, I have a ton to tell you all about today! Let's get started. :)
   First: Transfer News- I am being transferred to Pismo Beach!!! I am so excited and I am so grateful for this opportunity. I've heard a lot of great and exciting things about that area. It was only recently opened for sisters. I will still be senior companion, and I'll be serving with Sister Hiapo. I've never met her, but I'm excited to. I believe Pismo Beach is up near the Santa Maria area? I'll have to wait and see. I'll spend most of today packing, writing in Shout-Out Journals, and saying good bye to a bunch of loved ones. Then tomorrow we'll have the Transfer Meeting in Ventura. Exciting stuff. I'm excited to see new things and to do my best to assist in the work up in Pismo Beach.
   Next: HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! I love you so much and I'm so grateful for all that you have done and all that you do for me. You're the best Mom, ever. I mean it. :) I hope you have a fantastic day and that you feel of my love and prayers for you. I'm so glad you got my card and that you liked it. I meant every word. Love you!
   Guess who passed their 10 month mark this week? It was amazing day, full of surprises. :) So it was the day of our special Zone Conference with Elder Malm. Oh wow, that conference was amazing! Elder and Sister Malm and President and Sister Felix all taught us so much. Elder Malm is amazing. He addressed so many things and the Spirit was so strong all day. The Spirit is an amazing teacher...he teaches things to us very personally, exactly what WE need. The conference lasted for most of the day, full of talks, videos, a delicious lunch, testimonies from different missionaries, a lot of amazing counsel from Elder Malm (in his fantastic Swedish accent), and our Thousand Oaks zone had the opportunity this week to prepare and perform a special choir number about being a Zion-like people. It went really well. At the close of the conference they asked that the assistants, the sister training leaders, the district and zone leaders, and the trainers all stay for a special meeting with Elder and Sister Malm and President and Sister Felix. I was grateful for the opportunity to be a part of that group. Our small meeting was special and we talked a lot about how we can take the lead in leading out the changes and refining of the California Ventura mission, how we can be those examples and leaders. After the meeting, Elder Malm shook everyone's hand. After he had already passed us President Felix came up to me and told me that Elder Malm had asked to meet with me! I was surprised, excited, and nervous all at the same time. Elder Malm had chosen a couple of Elders and a couple of Sisters to interview privately, and I was one of them! I waited my turn while talking with sweet Sister Malm. (I really did love their accent. The way it turns up on the end of sentences.) Then it was my turn. He invited me in and we sat down. He smiled and read my name tag and said, "Sister Hardman...with the soft heart." (Perhaps he had seen my tears during an earlier part of the conference while we were listening to a talk by Elder Holland.) He then when on to ask me (in his accent), "Is that true?" The interview with him was an amazing experience. He asked me a lot about myself, my home, my family. He was in PG last week to re-organize the PG West Stake presidency I believe. He is so nice. He was so sincere and genuine as we talked. We talked a lot about how things in the conference had affected me and what my thoughts and feelings were. He expounded on a lot of things and asked me if I had any questions for him. I paused for a moment and then asked him something that had been on my mind all day. His answer and counsel was so powerful. The things he said and showed me (he said he wanted to draw me this little diagram, maybe I'll show it to you all someday) were amazing and helped me so much. I feel great! I feel loved. I feel answered. I feel trusted. :) I felt very lucky to be one of the ones that got to talk to him one on one. It meant a lot to me, and I know that it was a loving and supportive gift from Heavenly Father. It was a good 10 month birthday present. :)
   So yeah, I feel great! I'm feeling completely healthy and happy. :) I'm excited for the adventures that are about to come. I do love Moorpark so much and I will miss a lot of people here, but I'm excited for the friendships that I have gained here and those that I will continue to hear from and see again in the future. I felt an abundance of love from this ward this week. (Everyone pretty much was guessing I might be transferred. I've been here for a while.) I love them all very much, and I'm so grateful for the time that I've had here. Yesterday was the Primary Program. So sweet! So big! 
   Oh, another piece of news for this week: Our lesson with J. on Wednesday went so well. We came prepared to share one thing...and then the Spirit took over and we taught something completely different. We just felt prompted to read 2 Nephi 31 with him and then really talk with and listen to him concerning baptism. It was powerful and the Spirit led the way. We addressed a lot of concerns, and he has committed to work towards being baptized in November! We were able to set him with a date! :) He's amazing. The Spirit is amazing. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this great work.
   Hey guess what? It's Fall this week! Yay! There are beautiful fall-ish leaves around Moorpark that are starting to show up. Also, I really enjoy that it's starting to get cooler and darker faster in the evenings, and that it stays darker a little bit longer in the mornings. I enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate this morning at 6:15 because it was still dark and cool. :) Love it. Any guesses for how the weather will be in Pismo Beach?
   Thank you for the wonderful update and email Mom and Dad. You're both fantastic and I love you lots! I'll come on your awesome trips with you someday. I liked the lesson you explained to me from the hike. I definitely can apply that one more. Haha...Elder Malm gave some cool insights to me about that one as well. Thanks for everything. Mom, I'll watch the General Women's Broadcast with you this week. ;) I am SO excited for General Conference. Does everyone have their "3 Questions" ready? Emma, you looked beautiful by the way! You're too pretty. :) Let me know how Homecoming was. James was talking about me at the cabin, Dad? Do tell. :) Enjoy the wonderful birthday dinner tonight.
   I love you!
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)

A special 10 month mission birthday full of surprises. :)

This is Kiki, a member in the ward that I love! We went over and cleaned their family's house this week.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Dear Family,
  Well this week was a great learning and growing experience. I wasn't doing well for the first few days, with a major headache. (I guess it makes sense with the triple-digit temperatures, but I was kind of sick for a few days). But thanks to a lot of help and counsel from my leaders and guidance from the Lord, it all ended up okay. The headache is gone, I'm doing much better, and I am grateful for the hard things of this week because it gave me the opportunity to learn a few lessons I needed. When we focus on what the Lord is trying to teach us, it brings us a great amount of patience, understanding, peace, and strength when we are going through hard things.
   The timing of exchanges was perfect. Sister Arndt's experiences and encouragement were exactly what I needed on that day. Even though I was still in pain, we were able to work hard that day and the Lord provided the places and the people and the circumstances. The morning of exchanges Sister Arndt and I had just gotten off the phone with the mission medical coordinator and I had to make a choice. Go out and work. Or stay in and rest. After much prayer, I felt prompted that there was a lesson I was supposed to learn that day. I felt that I needed to learn to trust that Heavenly Father will take care of our needs if we do His work. Diligently, we got up and went out to work. That was a hard choice to make, and it brings me a great sense of strength and happiness to know that I made the right choice. How often is the easy choice the right one? But I made the right choice and I am so glad that I did. I was blown away at all of the things that were put right into place that day. Random inside service opportunities that got us in out of the sun, people that were prepared and willing to have us share more with them, experiences that Sister Arndt has had that were exactly what I needed to hear, and my head even stopped bothering me so much. I'm grateful for all that I have learned this week and how I am growing closer to Heavenly Father. A huge focus that I have had recently is doing my best to strengthen my testimony of God's love for me. I know that it can be a hard lesson for us to learn sometimes, but it can be even harder to maintain that knowledge and remember it even when things are hard. But he does love all of us. So much! All we have to do is look around and we can see evidences of his love for us. All we have to do is listen...He will tell us. :) I know this is true. It makes me smile so big! I know that our Father in Heaven loves us.
   The rest of the week went really well. We worked hard and are doing our best to help those around us in any way we can. We met a woman this week named J. who has been inactive for over a year. We were able to go and serve her and help her out a bit. Then on Saturday night she called us to tell us that she wanted to come to church the next day! She was able to make it to church and in relief society so many of the members reached out to her and she's excited to be back. It was a service miracle. She has some health issues and we simply helped her clean up her apartment to get ready for the apartment check. Never underestimate the power of cleaning out a fridge. (Side note, it's strange how much I have come to love cleaning. :/ Odd.)
   Sister Evans and I had our last day of the 12 week training program together yesterday. (Since we had a 7 week transfer last transfer, we finished her first 12 weeks last night.) She is an amazing missionary and is a powerful teacher. We had a very powerful experience as we roll-played inviting one of our investigators to be baptized and addressed his concerns. Sister Evans loves the people she serves and is a very hard and disciplined worker. I have learned so much from her and am grateful for the opportunity that I was given to train her. I needed it.
   We're looking forward to a surprise Zone Conference this week! They announced this week that a member of the 70 is coming this week. Elder Malm will be attending a meeting that we will have on this Saturday! It will be our Thousand Oaks Zone, the Newbury Park Zone, and the Simi Valley Zone. We're excited. :)
   This week is the last week of the transfer! So transfer calls will be coming next Monday morning. Ah! What do you all think? Maybe I'll stay in Moorpark for a 5th transfer? Maybe I'll go somewhere new? Any guesses? Happy Birthday next week, Momma!!! I'm sending you a card today. And I'll be able to wish you a happy birthday next Monday, but I wanted to do it today too. I love you! Your package came on the day when I was the most sick and it meant so much to me. It made me so happy! Thank you!
   Thank you for your amazing email today, Dad. You are an amazing father and I am so grateful to be a member of this family.
   Everyone have an amazing week! I love you!
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)

My Temple Birthday and Exchanges with Sister Arnt

Monday, September 8, 2014

Good morning!
  It has been a good morning. I went to bed early last night, woke up at 6 this morning, had fun doing laundry with the Hermanas, and even went for a jog. This morning there have been a lot of beautiful big clouds across the sky. :) I like clouds. I hope they turn into rain clouds eventually. :) I loved your email this morning, Mom. Thanks for the update on the family and the events of last week. You had a bit of rain and thunder this morning? Sounds very pleasant. I've actually noticed a few trees that have leaves that have turned a bit orange and brown. Does California get a Fall? Or has it just been so hot that the leaves are feeling it? It has been very pretty to see them. Haha, we did hear about the BYU game. All of the missionaries in our stake had a meeting with the stake presidency yesterday morning and they couldn't resist bringing it up. The ward party sounded so fun. Congrats on your jacket Emma. Cool! Send me pictures. Personally, I would take choir tour over Costa Rica any day. ;) Do choir tour! It's the BEST! I wish I had had a chance to go to it more than just my senior year. Emma, you got asked to Homecoming! Ah!!! Tell me about it! That's so fun! When is it? You'll look so pretty, and have so much fun. Congrats Nathan! I'm been thinking about you. I'm so proud of you and excited for you. - Not about eating the worm though. :P  Please tell Katie and Jacob and Christian and Natalie that I say congratulations. Exciting stuff. I love babies. Here in the Moorpark 1st ward we have a baby blessing almost every other week! to missionary work. This week was so great. Sister Evans and I worked so hard. We pushed through the heat and the sweat and focused on having a "Spirit of Diligence" at every moment. And we saw miracles! We were able to have many amazing lessons this week with different investigators and members of the ward, we found a few more people that are interested in learning more, we received a ton of referrals from the Hermanas and contacted 10 of them, we studied and grew, and we had a lot of fun doing it. You know that feeling you get when you've been walking around Disneyland all day and you slide into the Candy Cane Inn covers to go to bed and your feet ache, but it feels so good because you put in a good day? Yeah, I got that feeling a few times this week. I loved it. When we work hard to do the Lord's work you really do find peace, joy, and strength. Hooray for learning to have a "Spirit of Diligence."
  We had a lesson with J. on Saturday with a member from our ward and it went really well. We taught him about keeping the Sabbath Day Holy and testified and shared a lot of the blessings that we have seen in our lives from going to church each week and setting apart the Sabbath Day. Jo. came to church on Sunday! The ward members were all really friendly and welcomed him. He is sincerely investigating the church and wants to know if it's true. He said he would come back next week, and we will be having lessons with him this Wednesday and Saturday.
  Random facts and fun or funny moments of the week:
~During companion study on Tuesday we heard a THUNK and saw a small little bird fall down to our balcony after hitting the sliding glass door. It looked so helpless and we felt bad for it as it laid there looking stunned. But it didn't look like it had broken anything. It was stuck in the crack, so we put on some work gloves, carefully picked it up and put it in an Easter basket someone left in the closet. We watched it for a few minutes so that it could "re-coop." Then, it looked around at us, lifted it's wings and flew away. It was a really funny way to start off the day.
~We were walking through some apartments and we stopped to talk to a man who was standing by his garage. I saw a Prince of Persia poster on the wall, so we used that to start the conversation. Turns out he was Italian and had a very strong accent. He told us, in a very strong Italian accent, "How do two beautiful girls like you end up being missionaries?! You should be on TV and modeling." Awkward moments...Those seem to happen a lot in Moorpark. The accent made it so funny though!
~I made cheese enchiladas this week! Yay! I loved it. I enjoyed making them while listening to my CD, and then eating them while reading Mom's letter.
  So guess what? This week on Wednesday marks a year from the day I first went through the Temple. :) It's special to me. We're going to watch Mountain of the Lord during lunch to celebrate. That is also the day that I started writing in my journal. I'm excited to be able to look back at a year ago. General Conference is coming up! I'm already getting so excited. I love General Conference.
  Well, I hope you're all having a fantastic September and that work, school, family, friends, hobbies, goals, etc, are all going really well. Have a wonderful week.
I love you!
Love, Mel (Sister Hardman)

I made cheese enchiladas this week! :) I thoroughly enjoyed eating them while reading your letter, Mom. :) (And my "Cars Cup" - Thanks Lisa, I carry it around with me all over the apartment and fill it with water every five seconds.)