Monday, November 10, 2014

Good Morning From Solvang!
   Hello everyone! I enjoyed your emails today. :) I loved hearing about all of you. I hope you have a fantastic week and that you feel my love and support.
   So to explain the rest of my birthday, we did a ton of fun stuff. The Sisters made is so special for me with presents and birthday parties, Thai food, butterflies, ice cream in downtown Arroyo Grande, etc, etc, etc. It was a fantastic day and I had so much fun! It was so happy. And packed. By the end of the day, we picked up ice cream from this cute shop in downtown AG and as we walked back to our car along the mainstreet and it got darker it felt like the end of a good, full Disneyland day. I enjoyed it. We then went to say goodbye to J. He's amazing. He's around 89 to answer your question, Dad. He's so sweet and he's excited to get baptized and to "put the Elders to work." Jim said that he got his confirmation and that he's going to get baptized. :) It was quite the birthday present. I'm excited to hear about it. He's so sweet.
   Transfers all went smoothly and well. I love long drives along the coast. Beautiful. And then for District Meeting on Thursday we got to drive down to Santa Barbara. It was so fun to go there. It's beautiful and we passed the Mission. Thought of you and the pictures, Bonnie, Lisa, and Alan. ;)
   Wow, what a week. It was a strange one because Sister Cox was sick for several days. The truth is that being here I've only had a few opportunities to go out and work in my new area so far. But she's doing better for the most part, so this week we should be able to go out and see the people and share the gospel! Our area is doing well for what we were able to do this week. I've only met a couple of people we're working with, but we've had a few good lessons and one of our investigators came to church yesterday, surprising us after not coming for several weeks. We were also both asked to give talks in Sacrament meeting yesterday which went really well. We spoke about Preach My Gospel and we were speaking with a returned missionary who just got home from Brazil. It was fun to talk with him and hear his stories. I'm excited to be in the ward and to serve in this area. My first night in Solvang we had dinner with a family that is very Danish and proud of it. :) It was such a fun welcome to Solvang. Also, a funny coincidence. I received a letter from my friend Elder Trent Reimschussell who is in Denmark my second day here.  Can I just say that this town is the cutest thing I've ever seen! It's adorable. And so randomly placed in the middle of nowhere. I'll have to find out more history about Solvang. But the cute little downtown area is so fun. We drive down it every day. We live a few streets over. I'm excited to get to explore it a bit on some future preparation days. It's magical and I'm starting to feel the holidays coming up. And it's been a little bit cooler also. Hooray for being able to get away with wearing tights, boots, and scarves. :) I love it!
   Concerning my new companionship, I'm excited to be able to work with Sister Cox. She's from Mapleton and has been out for one transfer longer than I have. We've had a lot of fun getting to know each other and doing things in the apartment. It was hard this week because she's been sick. She needed to rest and sleep a lot, and I did all that I could to help her. But as I said, we have had a lot of fun already and we're doing well.
   I did really appreciate the extra time to get settled and to study more this week though. I studied and read a lot. I finished the Pearl of Great Price last week, and I'm nearing the end of the Book of Mormon. I'm enjoyed the Old and New Testaments.  Also, I had a nice little tender mercy that came in the mail in my time of need this week. I had been in for several days and I think I was starting to go a little crazy. I even suddenly got up half-way through making a planner cover to do a "Cabin-fever" dance. ;) Anyway, a friend, Elder Tyler Lindsay up in Washington sent me a really cool talk in the mail as a birthday present. If any of you have heard President Uchtdorf's "Fear Not, I Am With Thee." Talk that he shared at a new Mission President's seminar I think. He shared a story of an Elder Strong and an Elder Green. The talk or paper I guess that Tyler sent me is the extended, full story of the "Elder Strong and Elder Green" story that President Uchtdorf shared. It's called the Ricciardi Letter and I really enjoyed reading it and applying Elder Ricciardi's attitudes towards missionary work. I always want to do better. And it was powerful, encouraging, enlightening, exciting, and fun to read. In addition to that, I spent this week doing a lot of personal time while she slept. :) I cleaned, unpacked, organized, baked and cooked (that was fun!), read, colored, took random pictures, organized all of my pictures into my little books, wrote in my journal, read some more, ate, ate, ate, organized some more, sang songs, pretended to practice the piano, read a cookbook, etc. It was a fun week. :)
   Alright, well I best be signing off. I love you all tremendously! You're all amazing!
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)

Birthday party at the Pismo State Beach Monarch Butterfly Grove.

Thai food with my favorite sisters. :)

Welcome to Solvang!

Organizing pictures while my companion was sick. :) I have a lot more printed out than I thought!

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