Monday, October 27, 2014

Hey Family!
   We had a great week here in the Pismo Beach ward. 
   Thank you Mom and Sam for the letters this week. I love you! And Thank you Lisa and Alan, I loved the package. Thank you so much! You brightened up our apartment and brought me a lot of joy.  (We colored in the coloring book you sent us a few days ago. Sister Karatassos wasn't feeling well, so we did splits that day so that we could still cover the appointments in both areas. I got to stay at home with her. We had a fun, good day...we ate too much candy probably. Ha.) Thank you for your wonderful email too, Dad. It meant a lot to me this morning. :) Thank you all so much for loving and encouraging your missionary. She really appreciates it and it makes all the difference.
   So President Felix told us this morning that we're getting transfer calls on this Saturday instead of on Monday morning. Crazy! We're excited though, it will be really nice to know what's happening for transfers a few days before. So we'll find out on Saturday and then we'll have transfer meeting still on Tuesday. I think I'll probably be staying here. I just got to Pismo Beach. Sister Hiapo has been here for a few transfers so we'll see what happens. I'll let you know in a week.
   Our area is doing well. This week we had pretty consistent appointments, a lot of service opportunities, and a lot of cool and powerful experiences. We're doing our best. I love those moments in lessons or in the work when you have a flash of seeing how amazing and important this work is and you recognize all of the help that you have. I love being a missionary and having the opportunity to be the Lord's hands in helping all of our brothers and sisters come unto Him. I love moments when you realize, "Hey, that lesson went really, really well. They're seeing the truth of the gospel. They want this! That definitely isn't because of my teaching skills." ;) I know that this work is greater than us. This is the Lord's work. He's in control. We are so lucky to be a part of it. I love our area and all of the people and opportunities that we are given wherever we are in our mission. By the way, Jim is doing really, really well. He's working towards being baptized at the end of November. He's being very fellowshipped by the ward, he's receiving guidance and recognizing it as he reads the scriptures and comes to church, and he's getting excited. It makes me smile. :)
   Coming up this week: Today we are carving pumpkins as a District! Yay! :D And then tonight we are going to Bishop Silva's for family night. We're watching the Testaments! And Bishop Silva told us last night that they're making exciting kinds of popcorn. I'm so excited. I love all of the FHE lessons that we've been able to give and have with the Silva family. They're wonderful, and the kids in that family have amazing testimonies that strengthen mine every time. Last week we played Book of Mormon charades with our favorite stories in the Book of Mormon. Yes! I will be thinking of all of you at FHE as I'm in FHE. :)  Also coming up this week, we have the ward Halloween party on Tuesday night. A few of our investigators are coming. :) Then on Halloween we will be in by 7...missionaries don't get to go trick-or-treating. ;)
   You're having the missionaries over?! Yes! Tell me all about it! What is their mission like? What do they share? Who are they and where are they from? Tell them that the missionaries in the Great California Mission support them and are cheering them all. This is a great work, and we really are so lucky to be a part of it. Tell them thank you for me for being with my family this week.
   I'm so excited for the birthday stuff that is to come. :) Thanks! I will dutifully wait to open the obviously wrapped ones till my birthday. You're all so fantastic! Have a wonderful week and a happy Halloween!
Love, Mel (Sister Hardman)

~Sister Karatassos at our fun zone activity last Monday.

~And a picture of what the activity looked like. We had to make it across the gym a paper at a time, as a District, without stepping on the "Alligators." It was a fun, symbolic activity.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hello Dear Family!
   I hope you're all having a wonderful morning. (Those that are traveling home, I hope you're having fun and driving safe.) It was so fun to hear all about your adventures here in beautiful California this week. Thanks for the fun report. You're all so great.
   Okay, a few "updates and reminders" (that's what our zone leaders call it when they give us information from the president). So transfers are coming up in 2 weeks. We actually get transfer calls on the morning of my birthday, November 3rd, and transfer meeting will be on the 4th, so concerning packages...if by anyone is planning on sending me anything for my birthday ;) ... if you send it to the mission office address it will be held there until transfers so I'd get it on the 4th. You can send things directly to my address here in Grover Beach and as long as it gets to me before the end of next week we should be good. :) Just in case. Oh! Speaking of birthdays, it's my 11 month mission birthday today!
   So we had a really fun opportunity given us this week. President Felix gave us the special permission to go on exchanges or splits with the other Pismo Beach sisters we live with. So on Saturday I got to work with Sister Reneer all day. It was so fun and we had an amazing day full of miracles in both sides of the ward. We always have an "Exchange goal" that we are working on throughout the day when on exchanges. My personal goal was actually to focus completely on how I could help, lift, or strengthen my companion (or the missionary that I was with). I've been studying a lot about Christlike Charity and Love for others. I want to love others and Jesus Christ does. I'm working to have a sincere concern for the welfare and happiness of others. In my studies I found a simple list of how to truly help others by honoring the covenant that we make at baptism to bear the burdens of others. It's simple, but they were principles that have helped me in my efforts to lift others. 1.Share the burden. 2.Show empathy and comfort. 3.Testify of God's Love. This last one is definitely the one that stood out to me the most. As it states in 1 Nephi 11:17 we don't need to know everything, but I know that if we focus on the knowledge that Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ love us we will have the strength, the peace, and the understanding to continue to move forward. Everything will be alright. We just have to do our best, be obedient, and keep the commandments. I know that our Father in Heaven loves each of us so much. He will help us, and it is often through the actions of another. I want to be that instrument in his hands. I want to be that person that he can count on and send to lift and help those around me.
   Concerning the work in this area, things are still going really well. We're working hard, teaching more and more lessons each week, finding more people, talking to a lot of unique tourists with accents, doing yard work and service, working with other missionaries and the ward, and a lot of other wonderful stuff. I love this work.
   I hope you all have an amazing week. You are so loved by your missionary. Promise. :)
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)
P.S.-Mom, on Saturday we met a woman in her garage that had a huge quilting station set up. When I mentioned that I had a Mom who quilts she invited us in and talked with us for a while. Thanks for an in. Also, sorry everyone that I'm a bit behind in my hand written letters to you all. I'm still catching up and getting settled and organized after being transferred. I'm working on it. Love you!

My companions here in Pismo Beach. :)

 And yes, it is my 11 month mark! Crazy crazy.

Here's another one. I took this from our parked car when we were about to go to a lesson. These are the types of streets I'm working in. Pacific Coast Highway! Right next to the ocean if you look at the end of the street. This is fun.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dear Family,
   How are all of you doing? I hope you've had a wonderful week. Things are going well here in the land of beautiful California. Alright, confession: I have LOVED the weather this week. Naturally, being on the coast, it's much, much cooler than Moorpark is. So I've really been enjoying the cooler temperatures. And guess what? It was hot last weekend but then it cooled down a ton. We've been in the 60s a lot this week. :) It's beautiful. I got to pull out my coats again. I love this. So it's cooling down in Utah? Thanks for the pictures Dad, it's beautiful. Are you all anticipating a snowy winter?
   Our area is doing really well. We're working hard and we're seeing more and more people that are willing to learn and meet with us. K. really enjoyed meeting this week and is excited to search this out to find if it is true. Our investigator J. came to church this week and we had a lesson with him that evening with his fellowship that went really well. He has committed to work towards the baptismal date. It's going to be a stretch, we know it, and it may be too soon, but it felt right when we prayed about it and when we committed him to it. We'll keep moving forward a day at a time working to help him prepare. We'll see what happens. We're excited for him. Our Restoration lesson was powerful, he was moved and is very willing to believe that this could be true. He is sincerely studying it out and praying about it. I want to add that one of the most powerful moments while being a missionary is when you invite someone to follow the example of the Savior and to be baptized. I flashback to the beginning of my mission and it was terrifying to do that. Haha. It can still make me a little nervous occasionally, but since that time when I invited S. to be baptized back in Newbury Park, the invitation changed for me. I remember that lesson so clearly in my mind and the moment when I was able to invite him is one of my favorite memories that I've had on my mission. I return back to that moment and to that feeling each time I invite someone to be baptized.  As Preach My Gospel states, "My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." I love my purpose. I love being a missionary. :)  This week we also had a touching lesson with a young man who has been less active in our ward, S. He's young and none of his family is active. He's been struggling to be willing to pray, especially out loud. Our lesson was led by the Spirit and in the end he said the closing prayer. It was so special and I am so grateful for the chance to work with and try to help all of these people here. You really do love the people you serve. Being on a mission definitely gives you a lot of people to love. It's fantastic! Oh and on a really exciting note, I got a letter from Sister Evans this week and S.S has decided to get baptized! I am so happy and excited and a billion other things. She said that things changed after she had the baby. She feels that this church is true and that the Book of Mormon is true. :) I can't stop smiling when I think about her.
   Things are going well with me and Sister Hiapo. Sister Hiapo is a great teacher. She's so bold and brave. I appreciate her ability to just "go for it." I love teaching with her and I feel like we are a balanced companionship when it comes to teaching. I love teaching. We're having fun and getting to know each other and we're working hard. We have a lot of fun with the other Pismo Beach sisters. Our apartment is fun and exciting. We all gravitate towards each other each night while we're winding down and writing in our journals and stuff. We all always end up in the same room or corner of the house. :)
   One of the goals I made this transfer was to read from all four of the standard works every day, even if it's just 5 verses each, but I usually try to read much more. I want to be able to finish all of the standard works by the end of my mission. Lots to go, but I can do it. I love studying from all of them now. It really is strengthening my gratitude for the restoration, for modern revelation, and for Heavenly Father's guidance for all of His children. I love the scriptures, ancient and modern. I'm very excited to continue to study the conference talks. Can't wait for that to come in the mail! Thank you!
   We've had several opportunities to do service this week. I love service so much. I'm so grateful for the emphasis on it now. It softens hearts every time and is a wonderful way to lift and love others. It feels right. And it's fun too. This week one of the service opportunities that we had was to go help a woman in our ward whose family is moving soon. Her husband is already in the new place for work and she has a ton of work to do. We helped her pack and move at least 10 boxes of books and several book cases upstairs. It was fun.
   On Thursday we had interviews with President Felix, which was wonderful. I love President and Sister Felix. Their so sweet. There's this famous cinnamon roll shop in downtown Pismo and they bought us some and dropped them off at our apartment on Saturday morning. It was so sweet! Also, we got to watch Meet the Mormons. I absolutely loved it!!! Did you all have favorite parts? I liked Candy Bomber and Missionary Mom...naturally. ;)
   Well I hope you all have a wonderful Columbus day! Remember that if you are a missionary, there may be no mail :( and the public libraries will be closed, so you may have to drive to Santa Maria to use the computers at the Stake Center to email your loved ones. ;) Well okay. :) Have a fantastic day loved ones! You are loved. 
Love, Melanie 
(Sister Hardman)

A few random pictures for this week.
~This is a young man in our ward named S. after our lesson. If you look behind us imagine the ocean right out of the shot at the bottom of the grassy hill. The homes here are in a beautiful places.

~This is Sister Karatassos. We're becoming good friends. :) This is us winding down for the night at 10:00.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Hey everyone!
   I had a wonderful week, how was yours? :) Thank you for the wonderful letters from Mom, Owen, and Becca this week and the wonderful emails and pictures today. I loved hearing about your week! Sounds so fun. Our family is basically my favorite. I haven't been able to read most of my emails yet, but I will and then I'll respond soon. Mom, Dad, and Beth, you've got letters coming your way this week. Your turn. :)
   Our area is doing really well. We are still working really hard to find people to teach, and the Lord has been blessing us with so many opportunities. We are working with several people and they are all doing pretty well. J. is a new investigator whose wife was a member of the church. She passed away a few years ago and he is open and receptive to learning. He said he wants to know if this is true. We're excited to teach him and to help him on this quest of coming to know for himself. Haha, he told us last night that he knew the man who started Knotts. (Random fact for the day.) I went on exchanges this week with Sister Cox. We were here in Pismo Beach and while we were tracting (Right next to the ocean - that picture I sent was taken on the street where we had been tracting earlier in the day. We just had to go back during dinner to take a picture.) Anyways, we found a man named K. who seems very willing to believe that this is true as well. We have a return appointment this week. A ton of people we've been working with came to the ward's Tri-tip sandwich party! It was such a cool hour. One of those moments when there are so many people that you should talk to that you don't know where to go first or when you need to go talk to someone else. You just want to visit and strengthen everyone. Not a bad problem. ;)  Overall the area is doing really well, still developing since we just split the area, but still doing really well.
   Conference is amazing! I love conference so much and my testimony about the power and the answers that come from conference was strengthened so much 2 years ago and continues to grow every time. I just love general conference and I am so grateful for having it. Elder Jorg Klebingat and President Uchtdorf's talks stood out to me a lot personally. So much stood out to me about just strengthening my personal testimony and seeking and acting on personal revelation. I also loved the tips on how to grow in "Spiritual Self-confidence". I need that, and all of those tips are things that I know I can do. I've got this! We have a wonderful prophet that I love so much. I will follow the words of the prophets. :) I've been singing Praise to the Man and We Thank Thee Oh God For a Prophet all day. I'm excited to apply what I have learned and to read them all again soon. Speaking of which, can I pretty please have another little conference transcript book? That was an amazing tool for me in the last 6 months. I carried it with me everywhere and used it often. :) I love the words of our prophets and apostles. What were your favorites?
   We had great service miracles this week.Last week we knocked on the door of a woman named C. She wasn't interested at the time, but accepted a card with our number on it for service. On Monday we were surprised by a call from her. She wanted us to come and help her clean her windows and house. We were able to go and do service for her. She wanted to feed us and talk with us. She is so sweet. We invited her to the ward's Tri-tip party this week and she wanted to come. She came to the activity to tell us thank you again and it turns out that two of her best friends are in our ward! She was so excited to see them. We were also able to do service for several more people this week. We helped clean a house after a skunk attack, we scrubbed walls and cupboards, we continued painting that fence, and we even picked some oranges and avocados. Fun stuff. We did 9 hours of service this week! It was awesome! Lot's of time wearing pants. ;)  I love the new emphasis on service. Service truly does lift both the one serving and the one being served.
   Exciting things coming up this week too. We have interviews with the President in Santa Maria on Thursday morning and guess what?! We get to watch the movie Meet the Mormons as a zone of missionaries on Thursday! Exciting! It's going to be great. We're excited to see it, and grateful for the opportunity.
   I hope that you're all doing amazingly. Have a wonderful week. I love you!
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)
P.S.-I'm so excited to hear "I like beards" soon as I get home. ;)

This is me above part of Pismo Beach. :)

Between sessions of General Conference at the church. (Watching Conference with our District was fun.) I love these sisters. These are my roommates. We're the four sisters in the Pismo Beach ward.