Monday, December 22, 2014

Hey Everyone!
   This has been a wonderful week! There is a lot going on in this area and things are going really well. We're feeling the Christmas spirit and enjoying the opportunity to share it with others in various ways. Thank you for the letters, emails, and packages that I received this week. Mom, both packages are here, accounted for, and nicely spread under our tree. :) Thank you! I'm very excited to open them. I'm glad to hear there is a bit of snow on the ground! Oh I miss the snow! Please enjoy it for me. I'll see it in a year. Daddy I hope you had a very wonderful birthday! I was thinking about you and we sang Happy Birthday for you that night. Someday I'll show you the video. :)
   Lots of great work went on this week. We had a very productive week. We have been able to talk with so many people this week and everyone seems in a cheery accepting mood! L. is doing great. We taught the Plan of Salvation on Saturday and then on Sunday we were able to help her get to church. She loved the service and is excited to come back. Her son is in town and we haven't met him yet, but apparently he has been very touched with how we have helped his mother. He wants to do something nice for us too. I think L. wants to take us to lunch or something. It's amazing how love softens hearts. I love loving people. :) We also had a few really cool miracles happen this week. One night after leaving a dinner I felt impressed that we should drive all the way across Solvang and Buellton to go see a less-active member of our ward that we had been trying to see for 6 weeks. We got over there and the lights were on, she was home! We went and visited her. She had had a really hard day and she was in need of a warm visit. She told us that she could see that it was no coincidence that we showed up that night, that Heavenly Father was showing her that he's aware of and loves her. She gave us several frozen salmons. :) Haha. Sister Cox is excited. She loves salmon. I may venture to try some. Missionaries are supposed to be brave, right? 2nd miracle, we went and talked to a former investigator who is not interested in learning more about the church, but had some sincere questions about how we know when God answers our prayers. It was wonderful to be an instrument in helping her to see how her prayers are being answered. She was teary-eyed and seemed happy about our meeting. 3rd miracle, we had dinner with a woman and her two sons the other day. She has been less-active for a long time but is working to come back. Her two sons were never baptized. They're both in upper elementary school. It was fun to get to know them and answer their questions. Those two boys are so sweet and so polite. At the end of dinner their mother told us that she'd like them to learn the lessons from the missionaries now so that they can make a choice. They agreed and are really excited to learn. We have our lesson with them on Tuesday night. It was fun to say hi to them at church yesterday.
   Fun, random things from this week: We wrapped presents for a few hours with a family in our ward while listening to sweet Christmas music and eating way too many Danishes and pastries. :) Too fun! Oh, Bethany, do you remember that time a few years ago when we read the Little Match Girl and I started sobbing? Yeah, someone read the whole story in their talk yesterday. Don't worry, I didn't cry this time. Also, we went caroling around Solvang and to some of our investigators last night with the Hermanas and our zone leaders from Lompoc. Oh! Another funny thing, we had dinner with our bishop's family this week. Guess what? Do you remember when we met Harrison Haws and his family at the Candy Cane? Yeah, my bishop is his uncle, haha. Small world.
   Coming up this week we have a Christmas Devotional with several zones and our mission president tomorrow morning in Goleta. Christmas Eve we have dinner with the Klitgaards, where we will embrace a Danish Christmas. They have asked us to come prepared to sing a number for them. Sister Cox and I will be singing Away In A Manger. (I have come to love that song so much on mission.) As to what I will be doing on Christmas, it will be a crazy packed day. We have district meeting in Santa Barbara, then a few other things, then phone calls! Yay! :) I will call you at 5 my time - 6 your time, then dinner with a family that has a daughter out on a mission as well. We have to be in early, so we'll celebrate together too, just back at home by our cute tree.
   Christmas is such a wonderful time of year. I have loved studying, teaching, learning, and sharing about the messages of hope and love that we are reminded of at Christmas. Three wonderful examples from the scriptures that I love: Luke 2:10-12 "Lift up your head and be of good cheer...good tidings of great joy..." 3 Nephi 1:13,15 "Lift up your head and be of good cheer..." And of course the greatest message of hope, joy, and love: John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." What an amazing message of hope for all of us. I've read this scripture so many times, but yesterday during my studies it hit me even more. I am so grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ. I love him and I know that He lives. :) I have grown closer to him this Christmas. I pray that all of you have felt the same and will have an amazing Christmas. I love you all so much. Merry Christmas!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~Happy 13 Month!

~Christmas time :) and thank you for all your gifts! Love you!

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