Monday, December 29, 2014

Dear Family,
   What a wonderful Christmas week this has been. The holidays tend to make me miss you all a lot, but it's okay because I got to talk to you! Even though it was brief, it was so good to hear all of your voices and to feel your love. I hope you all know how much I love you. I love you so much! I love hearing from you and I love thinking about you. Don't worry, I'll be home before you know it and we can have a fantastic time together. Thank you for the great email today Mom. I loved hearing more about the events of this week and I loved hearing your plans for this day as well. I'll be imagining your happy doings throughout the day. As for us today, after emails we will vacuum the car, have lunch with the Hermanas and discuss how all of our families are doing as usual, then we will make a quick run to the store, and then go home so Sister Cox can rest. Unfortunately she came down with a really bad cold/flu this weekend and isn't feeling to good. Yesterday we had to come home after Sacrament Meeting so she could sleep. I spent all Sunday reading D+C, catching up on my journal, doing a 1/4 of a puzzle! and baking muffins for my companion. :) It was a pleasant way to spend the day. I've been listening to the new CD you sent me for Christmas. I love it! Thank you.
   So for the events of this week. Here we go:
   The Christmas Devotional on Tuesday was SO fun! It was in Goleta and it was with all of our mission leadership and half of the zones in our mission. We had a wonderful devotional on Christmas and on the spirit of Christ. We had a fun activity with identifying all of our baby pictures that the parents had sent. That was so funny. I love the sailor dress Mom. ;) Lunch was delicious and I got to talk with a lot of missionaries I know. Sister Hiapo, Sister Reneer, Sister Karatassos, and even Hermana Winn! It was so good to see them all. I also got to talk to the Elders who are still up in Pismo Beach. They told me how everyone was doing. Jim is doing great. He had a part in the Christmas Sacrament Meeting program reading the account in Luke to the congregation. It sounds like he is doing really well. Apparently he misses me and Sister Hiapo and told the Elders to tell us hi. We passes a message on for him too. Then after lunch was the talent show. Holy cow, it was so fun! The 3 assistants started it off with reading their own rewritten version of Twas the Night Before Christmas that was all about the wonderful things that the assistants have and do. Most of it wasn't true and was absolutely hilarious. "...the only ones with iPads in all of the land..." Ha, yeah right. :) We were all laughing so hard, and at the end they broke into an acappella version of Angles We Have Heard On High. It was very upbeat and fun to listen to. We all really enjoyed it. Then Hermana Hurley (one of the Hermanas in my ward here in Solvang) did a stand up comedy act. Have I ever mentioned that her parents are professional clowns? Yeah...they are. :) And she is SO funny. She had put together this really funny act for all of us missionaries, with lots of missionary jokes and fun things. She is so clever. She's an amazing balloon twister. So she made some crowns for the Felixs. You could tell how much they enjoyed it too. So yeah, that was our wonderful time with the mission.
   That night we had a wonderful lesson with L., J., and L. Those two boys are so smart and we love the three of them so much. We taught the full Restoration and it went really well. They really enjoyed our object cup lesson and the Spirit was really strong. I love teaching the Restored gospel. I really do. And it's an amazing feeling when you're teaching someone who is open and faithfully seeking truth. The Spirit takes over and everyone is just lifted. :) I love being a missionary. After the lesson Jake ran into the kitchen to grab a lemon cake that he had made for us himself. We felt loved. I was glad my cookies worked out and we were able to go carol and bring something back to them to show them our love. We love their family.
   On Christmas Eve we had dinner with the Klitgaard family. It was wonderful and we really enjoyed their special Christmas Eve program. It was very peaceful and magical. Just like Christmas Eve should be. They treated us very well and gave us each a big stocking full of Solvang-ish treats and stuff. We also got to see that video you told me about Mom. The Piano Guys one. Wow! I loved it. We really enjoyed opening presents together at home. I had my Celtic Christmas CD going that Sister Hiapo gave me for my birthday. Thank you for all of the wonderful gifts. I love them all. They were all perfects. I wear them, listen to them, eat them, and use them with joy. :) I feel very loved. Thank you. I love you too. Our district meeting in Santa Barbara was wonderful. We did something special for part of our meeting. We called it "Chapel time." We all went into the chapel and just sat there studying or pondering and listening the the hymns that Hermana Hurley was playing for a while. I loved it. It was very special to me and I received a lot of personal answers that meant a lot to me. I love the Spirit. I love hymns. I love the scriptures. And I love that we all have the opportunity to pray to our Heavenly Father. He will help us with everything we need. He will help us to become better. I know that He loves each of us and that He has a perfect plan for us. We will succeed with Him. I spent a lot of time studying the Atonement this week and studying about our Savior Jesus Christ. My understanding and testimony of these things have grown so much on my mission. Just that alone has changed my life and will always help me. After driving up the beautiful stretch from Santa Barbara along the sunny ocean eating See's candy and Pringles (bragging moment), we had lunch and then each got to make our phone calls to home. Again, it was so good to hear from all of you. I love you! After our calls we went and dropped our package and bags off at the Hoveys so that they could bring them up to Utah. It blows my mind that something I touched was in my home in less than 24 hours! :) Then we had a late dinner with a family in our ward. It was a very good Christmas.
   Well I think I've covered everything. I hope you all have a very Happy New Year! We will be in early (at 7) and we have Martinellis, Ritz, cheese, and summer sausage. We're excited! Have an amazing week family. I love you all so much and think about you every day. I love you more than Chick-fil-a! We all know how much that is! ;)
Love, Melanie
(Sister Hardman)

~Funny moments. :) Text from Sister Hovey right after they dropped off my package. Fun connecting moment. :)

~And look what I made for our investigators. I was pretty excited that they worked out.

~District meeting "selfie" on Christmas.

~Phone call! I love you all!

~Christmas Eve with the Klitgaards

~Thank you for all of the wonderful gifts! Lots of love and lots of joy!

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