Monday, May 18, 2015

Dear Loved Ones,
   To start off here's some amazing news: M., who Sister Wilson and I taught in Ventura is getting baptized! His parents have given him permission and support and he's going to be baptized on May 30th! :D When Sister Nicholas and Sister Hiapo called to tell us, the said that M. told them that he's really excited. We're so excited too! Sister Wilson and I were basically jumping up and a dignified way. ;) It's amazing. We're so happy for him. It's amazing to watch lives change. I remember that very first night when we first invited him to learn. I remember when we taught him to pray and he said the first prayer of his life. I remember how sad he looked when we were leaving. That all happened pretty fast actually. Anyways, we're so excited for him. I'm so happy I got to be a part of his journey. :)
   Okay...I just love being a missionary so much and this week was amazing. So, I want to share a few experiences of this week with you. I hope you enjoy and can feel the missionary spirit.The Camarillo 5th ward is doing so well. Oh my goodness, I am so filled with happiness at the progress that people are making here. I love each individual and family we are teaching, and so many of them are being touched and changing. I'm grateful for the amazing opportunity I had this week to witness the Spirit working with my brothers and sisters here. The miracles were very prevalent this week. :) Our investigator H. has said that she's never been happier than she is now. She's glowing and loves learning more about the gospel. She's already doing so much missionary work herself, sharing with friends. She and her children are excited to continue learning and working towards baptism. We had a very powerful lesson with M. (a different M.) this week. He's been looking into the church, learning, and coming to church for a while, but he still doesn't feel like he's received an answer. He talked about how he knows he needs to put in a sincere effort to read the Book of Mormon, he's just had a hard time doing that so far. The Spirit was definitely there as Sister Olsen, Sister Wilson, and I talked about why the Book of Mormon is so important. I shared some of my personal experiences with knowing that it's true and the effect it's had on my life every day. He seemed touched, and there was a light in his eyes as if he were deciding that he would give it a shot again. He thanked us for what we said. Then yesterday at church the speakers were very inspired and the Spirit was so strong. There were specific things said that I knew were for him. I watched M. nod and even shed a tear or two as the words spoke to him and he applied it to himself. We have so much hope for M. We'll see him again tomorrow and we'll be reading from the Book of Mormon with him.  We'll help him get there. One more miracle lesson this week was the G. family. This part member family has been trying for so long to soften their mother's heart. She's been taught the lessons so many times, and recently the messages we've been sharing have built a lot of love and trust between us. She's thanked us thoroughly for each one. We felt that she was ready to address the Restoration again, which is what she's struggled with, being Catholic. We taught it in a unique way that she received well, but things really changed when we shared a Mormon Message called "Origin". The Spirit was powerful and afterwards as different family members shared their insights, their mother was close to tears, trying to hide it, but she seemed humble and teachable. She asked us a sincere question about modern prophets and accepted the answer. You could feel that she was giving it another chance. That's all it takes. :) We just have to open up our hearts and be willing to accept the guidance that the Lord will give us. That's enough for faith to take root and to begin to grow. People can change. Our hearts can change. I love all of these people so much and I will continue to do all that I can to help them gain and strengthen their testimonies, until the very last moment. I feel so blessed to be a part of this, the Lord's work.
   Our companionship (tripanionship?) is still doing well. We've been able to learn so much together and from each other. I love both of these dear sisters very much. It's amazing how natural it is to love when we are trying to be like our Savior. Sister Olsen is trying so hard to do her best, and she is a wonderful teacher. I love working with her.  I'm grateful to be here with these sisters. I've made so many good lasting friends on my mission. And I can honestly say that Sister Wilson has become one of my best friends out here. I'm SO grateful for President Felix for keeping us together for another transfer. It was wonderful to be with her in Ventura and now here in Camarillo. She's helping me so much with doing my very best till the end and with being happy every single day. We joke that she's "training" me to go home. She's supportive and helping me have courage and peace. She's an amazing missionary and companion. You got it Mom, she's from Shelley. :) I'm going to convince her to move to Utah though. :P Don't tell her.
   Random things from this week: I ate a bit of Lamb. Ew... and I saw a live Mariachi Band. Um...sorry I have no idea how to spell that.  Exciting things for this week. Friday we have a big activity with President and Sister Felix. We're going on a hike I think! That will be way fun. Also, tomorrow we have exchanges. My last one. Sister Wilson and I are staying in Camarillo together with either Sister Nicholas or Sister Hiapo. We've all been companions, so it should be super fun and unique. :)  Well...Wow time is flying by so fast. I have to admit it's really hard to be getting close to the end of my mission. I love being a missionary. I love the people here so much, including my companions. I love the spirit that I feel as I teach and testify. So it's sad and hard to face the fact that I'm leaving so soon. But I'm excited too. It will be good. I'm SO excited to see all of you again. I'll need plenty of help adjusting though. I'm a bit nervous. So, be prepared. :) Anyways, thanks for being amazing. I love you all and I'm super excited to see you soon. Have a fantastic week!
Love, Melanie (Sister Hardman)

~Since I neglected to take pictures this week, here's one of us right now at the Camarillo library and one of beautiful Camarillo after a rain storm this week. :) Love this place and love my companions.

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