Monday, March 16, 2015

Good morning,
   It's been a wonderful week full of lots of great, hard, happy, sad, fun, scary, and unique events. Sounds all over the place right? Yep that about sums it up. But guess what, I am absolutely loving every day. I think being in the last 2 transfers of your mission is pretty fun. You're excited to go home, and determined to do your best with the time you have left. You're close enough that you know you can make it. ;) And you're having fun and working hard. It's great. Still a roller coaster. But it's great.
   So first big event was Transfer Meeting. Wow. It was wonderful. The Spirit was strong and I loved sitting there with all of these missionaries that I've come to know and love. Sister Moure bore her farewell testimony, it was sweet. She's now back home in Texas. Guess what was really cool about this transfer meeting? All of my companions that are still in the mission were there and I was able to see, embrace, and talk with all of them. :) Sister Moure, Sister Evans, Sister Hiapo, Sister Cox, Sister Rasmussen, and now Sister Wilson. After the meeting when everyone is going around the parking lot finding rides, taking pictures, moving all their luggage, and just visiting with each other and having fun I was filled with so much happiness! I have so many friends! It made me feel so good to see SO many missionaries, leaders, and members from places I've served throughout the mission. I even saw my ward mission leader's wife from Los Robles. I haven't seen her since a year ago. She was so happy to see me and it made me feel super good. Yeah, it was pretty fun.
   Sister Wilson, my new companion is great. She's from Shelley, Idaho, loves to make things fun, has a ton of out-of-the-box ideas for missionary work, and she has a great hearty laugh. She laughs after almost every sentence which is really fun and sad right now because she has this bad cough, so everytime she laughs she goes into a huge fit of coughing. Haha. She's really funny and I've already been touched by her love, service, and diligence. She's a very kind person and has already helped me out a ton this week. This will be a good transfer.
   Other things we did this week: Picking oranges in the sprinkling rain, hanging out with a few Alpacas (spelling?), going to mutual and helping the young women with memorizing the Living Christ, lots of service with at memory care, finding a few new people that we're teaching, and having an awesome district meeting and district lunch. This is the smallest district I've ever been in. Just 3 companionships. And I know them all super well! It's so fun. Elder Fagan, Elder Stout, Sister Kemp, Sister Nicholas, and me and Sister Wilson. Fun stuff. I had a hard night last night. One of those rough patches. We have an investigator that we've been teaching that got upset and impatient with a couple of things that our leaders have instructed us to do. She was upset and took it out on the messengers, directing it mainly at me. She yelled at me and said a lot of harsh things that really hurt. I wasn't going to fight back, that wouldn't be right. So I sat there and took it silently. It put me in tears and I couldn't say anything. My wonderful companion did awesome. She wanted to fight back (just her personality) but we both knew the importance of helping our investigator calm down and to keep working towards baptism. Sister Wilson told me later that it was hard to keep her cool while I was getting bashed, but she did an awesome job of saying the right things to calm our investigator down. She calmed and we were able to talk things out. She'll be alright. She was just upset. Sorry to give you a kind of damper story. I guess my reason for telling you is because I needed to ask for some extra prayers. I'm doing okay. But some of the things she said about me as a missionary and about me as a person hurt a ton, and I've had a hard time not feeling like a punctured and deflated balloon since then. We were being obedient to our leaders and following the Spirit as well. Our investigator needed to know these things. So I don't regret it. But it just really hurt and took a blow to my confidence in myself as a missionary right now. Silly stuff I know. But why do some people have to be so mean sometimes? And why can't we always just let go of things faster? The adversary's just trying to discourage me. I'm stronger than him though, and I know that I'm doing well as a missionary. I'm exercising my patience and long-suffering. A few extra prayers of comfort and peace would be very appreciated right now though. I love you and trust you all. Your prayers mean so much to me. Don't worry, I'm okay, my friends in my district are all taking good care of me. Sister Wilson is going out of her way all over the place to serve me and help me feel better. I'm sure I'll be fine in a couple days. It was just hard.
   Okay, other exciting event of this week: Surprise trip to Lompoc! It was awesome! So lately President Felix has been giving us permission to go to the baptisms of those that we were teaching. Sister Wilson came from Lompoc last week and her investigator K. was getting baptized on Saturday. We were given permission to go up there. It was SO fun! You know how I love road trips. That was the longest distance that I've been able to drive on my mission as the driver and I loved it. It's my favorite stretch from Ventura all the way up to Lompoc. The ocean views were beautiful as always and Sister Wilson and I had a lot of fun getting to know each other more. The baptism was powerful and special. I love the feeling I get every time I go to a baptism. My testimony of my own baptismal covenant and of having the Gift of the Holy Ghost is strengthened every time. I also saw Sister Evans and a few other missionaries I know up there. I talked to the Elders now serving in Solvang and they gave me an update on everyone. A.'s still struggling to quit smoking. I pulled out my pack of gum and wrote an encouraging note to him on it and sent it with the Elders. That helped him last time. He's got this. So yeah, the baptism ended around 6:30 and then after visiting we made our way down the 2 hour drive to Ventura. It was dark and the oil rigs were glowing out in the ocean. It was peaceful.
   I'm giving a talk in Sacrament Meeting this upcoming Sunday. The topic I have been given and love is Being A Light, and using Sister Marriott's talk that she gave last General Conference. I loved that talk. Speaking in church always makes me nervous, but hey, I'm sure it'll go well. And I'm grateful to have a topic that I love so much. I'll let you know how it goes.
   I love you all SO SO SO much!!! Thanks for the update on everyone today, Dad. Keep doing your best everyone. Oh! And is everyone so excited for General Conference? I am! Get ready! :) Someone please pat Jim for me today. Tell him I miss him too. I miss you all and am excited to see you soon!
   Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~Does this look kind of familiar? ;) Me with a very sweet Alpaca. (Spelling?)

~Surprise drive and trip all the way up to Lompoc for a baptism.

~Picking oranges in the sprinkling rain. Love California.

~Frozen yogurt in Lompoc!

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