Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Family,
   It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Ventura. The skies are blue, the temperature mild, and our view of the Channel Islands is clear today. I'm here at the Ventura Stake Center doing emails. This is the place that we always gather for transfer meetings and some zone conferences. It really is in a beautiful spot. I don't mind the sunny, clear weather here. It's supposed to be a ocean-side paradise. If you can't tell, I am already in love with Ventura. It is very unique and a lot different from any other area I've served in of course. It has it's rough spots and it awesome spots. I won't lie, some of the neighborhoods here are a bit sketchy, but that's pretty normal for anywhere I guess. There's a lot of palm trees, birds of paradise, and citrus trees all over the place. An investigator had us pick oranges for ourselves after our lesson this week. They have been delicious. Sorry that we haven't taken many pictures this week. It was a crazy packed week. Here, I'll tell you all about it:
   Monday~P-day, packing, eating, cleaning, saying good bye to Solvang.
   Tuesday~Transfer Meeting in Ventura that was amazing. 19 missionaries finished their missions and went home this week. I've known and worked with many of them. As they gave their departing testimony during the meeting the Spirit was strong. I am so touched by all that they said. There are so many things that we have all learned and gained on our missions. I feel so lucky to be here. I love serving a mission. Elder and Sister Ruse from Lindon are leaving in the next couple of weeks as well and their testimonies were wonderful too. I'm grateful for all that they've done to take care of us missionaries. Cars and mail are very important things for us. :) It was fun to see and talk with a lot of missionaries and members that I know after the meeting. I even saw my ward mission leader from Pismo Beach and Elder Summers who is still up there. Elder Summers is one of the Elders that replaced us a few months ago. They both told me that Jim really loves and appreciates me and Sister Hiapo and that he is doing so well. He's a "natural" as they put it. He's going with the ward to do baptisms down at the LA Temple next week. Doesn't that just make you smile? He's amazing. So after the meeting, it was really weird to not have to drive a far distance to our new area...the transfer meeting was IN our area. I took out my TIWI card, logged into the car and we went to our apartment to drop things off and then to go shopping. The rest of the day went really, really well and we were able to visit a bunch of people that night and find a few new investigators.
   Wednesday and Thursday~Amazing missionary days. We have been scheduled and super busy and it's been awesome! There are a lot of different people that we are teaching and visiting and there are a bunch of community service things that we do each week. We volunteer at this really big assisted living place and do a lot of things helping out there. I'm getting to know my streets here and only getting lost occasionally.
   Friday~We started out helping a sister in our ward arrange flower displays for a baby shower. Um...okay her house is connected to a dock and the ocean! I think she said that they're called fingers. there are these little canal things that are cut out leading to the ocean and she lives on one. Her back porch is pretty cool. She took us to Subway where I ate a turkey and provolone sandwich with lettuce and cucumbers. Yum. Then we went and cleaned up a house and set up for the baby shower. Yeah, sometimes we help out with random things. :) It was a lot of fun. We then rushed to our apartment and met up with Elder Miles from the mission office and our zone leaders Elder Lee and Elder Cavassos. They came to help us move. Our apartment that we've been in is in a kind of dangerous part of town, so they were moving us. We had done our best to pack up and clean everything the day before. All of us loaded the trailer and then drove across town to our new place. Holy cow! I feel a bit spoiled now. Our new apartment is the nicest one I've seen on my mission. The carpet smells new, everything is clean, and it's in a pretty cool place. My windows look our over a field (I'm not sure what's growing there yet) and our pathway is lined with really tall Eucalyptus trees. Elder and Sister Miles had us throw out all of the old kitchen supplies and things and bought us all brand new dishes, silverware, etc. Sister Miles chose the colors and our apartment is quite cute. Okay, sorry, I just had to brag for a moment. We feel very blessed and are really grateful for it. Our new address is... but if you want to double check that I have that correct, calling the mission office isn't a bad idea.
   Saturday and Sunday~We had the Ventura Stake Conference this weekend. Elder D. Zackary Smith was the visiting area 70 and the conference was really good. I learned a lot and I loved what was said and shared. The hymns that we sang were so powerful with our big group and I think that was my favorite part. We sang a few of my favorites to sing as a big group of saints. How Firm A Foundation, High On The Mountain Top, and Redeemer of Israel. Those ones always make me think of General Conference. Another fun note is that I've been able to see President and Sister Felix a couple of times this week. I'm serving in their ward. The mission home is in our area. They aren't here for church a lot because they're still going around trying to go to each ward in the mission, but they were here for stake conference and it's been so great to see and talk with them more. I love being so close. We share the ward with Sister Kemp and Sister Nicholas, my MTC companion! I love talking with her so much and it's been so great to be around her again.
   Alright, so I know I haven't told you about the people we're working with yet, but that'll have to wait till next week. Just know that things are going really, really well. I love the work and the people and everything that we're doing. And concerning my companion: Sister Rasmussen is from Elmo, Utah and she is absolutely awesome! I love being her companion. We are having so much fun together and we're both so similar in so many ways. We've been laughing a lot and having a lot of fun while we've been working hard and staying busy. I'm so excited for this transfer and for all that it's already brought and all that it will bring. I love you all SO much. Have a fantastic week. Stay awesome!
Love, Mel (Sister Hardman)

~Me and Sister Rasmussen. Sorry, not our best picture. This is the only one we have of us so far. :) We were already ready for bed and we were running around packing up and cleaning our apartment.

~And just to throw in another random picture, here's me and Sister Moure at District Sports last Monday. People from Texas and Mexico that I've met have this thing about Hot Cheetos.

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