Monday, June 1, 2015

My Dear Family,
   Are you so excited?! I am! :) I won't lie, I'm super excited to see you
in a couple of days. Super nervous too...that's okay, it'll be great. I
loved the pictures you sent. Thank you so much for getting everything ready
for me. My home is my home. I now have a few homes don't I? The Great
California Ventura Mission is definitely one of them now. I love this place
with all my heart. I'm excited to share this beautiful place and my
experiences here with you. And yes, I love my mountain home back in
Pleasant Grove. I'm excited to be there again. :) Jim is adorable by the
   Here's a summary of my final week here. Most of the exciting things
happened in the last half, so I'll start with Thursday. In District Meeting
I was asked to give a talk this week to share my testimony and insights
from my mission. I appreciated the opportunity to share with them some of
the lessons that have become very important to me on my mission. Wow I've
learned a lot. :) I'm so grateful. I think I've mentioned this before, but
maybe not, for the last 6 weeks I've been our district's and zone's
pianist. I was the only one that could play, even though I didn't feel like
I could play very many hymns very well...well, the Lord blesses us. It's
been so fun. For some reason this transfer I was given the ability to play
most of the hymns pretty well! Crazy right? I guess the Lord strengthens
our abilities to bless the lives of others. We needed a pianist. :)
Unfortunately, the Elders asked me to play "God Be With You Till We Meet
Again" for the closing hymn, of this my last District Meeting. That's a
dangerous song to sing in the last week of your mission, haha. But we
survived. ;) Sister Wilson keeps giving me the evil eye when I sing it to
her. :P I think we'll miss each other a lot. We've become really good
friends. I've been very blessed this transfer. It's been a wonderful one.
   Anyway, Thursday afternoon we drove over to Oxnard to the mission office
for my final departing interview with President Felix. I was nervous about
it, but I'll be completely honest, I loved it! President Felix is very
inspired and he said some things that really brought me a lot of peace and
excitement about adjusting to the next part of my life. He gave me some
really cool advice about some things that I can do to continue to be my
missionary me that I've become back home and in the rest of my life. It'll
be great, I know it. I will miss being here with everyone, but there are
great exciting things to come, and of course I have my loving family
waiting for me. I think it's about time you get Hardman
back. :P It'll take a bit of adjusting to be called my name out loud again.
   Fast forward to Saturday, we had a super powerful lesson with our recent
convert E. that meant a lot to me. It was so cool. The lesson was for
him, but I know that I was meant to have that lesson in my last week too.
We were teaching him about Missionary Work and why every member of the
church should share the gospel. We read Elder Bednar's talk "Come and See"
with him, and then had a great discussion with him about the joy that comes
from the gospel and the joy that comes as we share the gospel. He shared
with us the memory of the joy and the spirit that he felt when he first
started learning about the gospel, and he told us of how much he wanted to
share that with others because of his happiness. I was given the
opportunity to share my personal testimony of how much joy has come to me
throughout my mission as I've shared these truths that I know and love with
others. As I shared my experience with E. it just all clicked in my
mind. Sharing the gospel makes me so happy! :) It's like when I go to Zupas
and have a delicious meal, it makes me super happy, so what do I do? I
encourage all of my poor companions that have not tasted it to go and try
it someday. That makes me happy too. Haha. Random example, but hey I miss
Zupas. Point is, when we experience something that brings us joy, we want
to share it with others that we love. Being a missionary is such a natural
thing. I hope I can always be a good missionary.
   Sorry, I guess I'm actually writing a lot today, but I have a lot to
share! :) We had another cool lesson on Saturday with the T"s. Their
son came home from his mission on Saturday and they invited us to come
over. We were able to have a discussion about several powerful scriptures
and about the lessons we've learned on our missions, especially how our
testimonies have been strengthened. He hadn't been released yet, he was
still a set-apart missionary, and it was really cool to work with him to
talk about spiritual things with his family, some of whom are not active in
the church and some are not members. It was special to be able to help him
with that. I love missionaries.
   Alright, Mom, you asked about my last Sunday. It was wonderful. We saw a
lot of people that we've been working with. It made me feel so good to see
them. They're sad to see me go, but they expressed a lot of gratitude and
told me certain things that I had said that helped them. Brother Gomez said
a very sweet prayer for me that boosted my spirits a lot. I feel very loved
by these people. The bishopbric asked me to come up during Sacrament
Meeting to share my testimony. And then during gospel principles Sister
Wood had me come up and teach the Plan of Salvation with her to the class.
So I felt very involved and helpful yesterday. The Spirit was strong,
especially as I took the Sacrament and as I prayed. I feel very close to my
Heavenly Father and to my Savior Jesus Christ.'s time for my mission here in California to end. Yes, it's
still a range of emotions. There are a lot of bitter sweet things, but I
feel a lot of peace too. I know that I have done my best. I know that the
Lord know that. I'm so grateful for all that I have learned and gained on
my mission. I'm grateful for the opportunity that I was given to touch the
lives of many people here in California, for various reasons. I am grateful
for the friendships and relationships that I'm gained. And I am SO grateful
for who I have become. I feel more like me than I've ever felt before.
Isn't that cool? As I've worked to be a more Christlike person and to
follow His teachings more exactly I have made little changes every day, and
each time I feel like I'm getting a little bit closer to home, and a little
bit closer to the potential that I have as a daughter of God. On my mission
my belief or testimony that this church is true has grown so much. I can
honestly say that I am spiritually "independent," in the way that I know
these things are true for myself. I know because I have studied, I have
read, I have pondered about all of these things. And most importantly, I
have prayed. When I have prayed and sincerely asked Heavenly Father to show
me the truth, it's been given to me through the power of the Holy Ghost or
the Spirit. The thoughts that come to my mind, the peace that enters my
heart is what tells me that these things are true. Peace is a pretty sure
answer for me. :) I know that Joseph Smith was called as a prophet and that
the Book of Mormon is a true book that will bring us closer to our loving
Father in Heaven. I know that we have a prophet on the Earth today, and
that this church is Jesus Christ's church. I know that He came to Earth to
show us the way and to pay the price for our mistakes and weaknesses so
that we can change and be forgiven. I know that we are so loved by our
Heavenly Father and that he is aware of us at every moment, we just have to
reach out to him. He's reaching out for us. I love this gospel and I'm so
grateful for the joy that it brings to me and for the opportunity that I've
had over the last 18 months to share that joy with others. As Alma 26:3 and
37 says, "And this is the blessing which the Lord has bestowed upon us,
that we have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this
great work...Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will
give thanks unto my God forever." I know I will, and it's my joy to share
my testimony with all of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
   As the song "Called to Serve" says, "God our strength will be; press
forward ever, called to serve our king." Thank you for every bit of support
and love family. I love you all so much and I'll see you in a few days.
Love your missionary,
   Sister Melanie Hardman

~Me and the G. familia. :)

~Me with E. He's awesome!