Sunday, September 24, 2017

Letter #76

Here we are! The LAST letter from the mission field! Can you believe it? I feel like I need to have t shirts made that read: I survived the Transfer of 2017! Tuesday was a busy day! I have a hard time believing it was in this same week. At the end of the day we fed 75 missionaries! That will make your feet tired! We found out that a local sister will be doing the lunches for MLC and Transfer Day. Sister Chesnut will do the Transfer Day dinner at the Mission Home. We were told she would come on Transfer Day to see how it was done and to receive training. We had her in tears! Really it was because the sight of 29 brand new missionaries just touches your heart. Two missionaries coming from the Mexico MTC missed their connecting flight in California because of the earthquake and a late flight. They were supposed to be here at 11 am but didn’t arrive until 9pm. The two Temple Square sisters didn’t arrive until Wednesday morning and one poor Elder had lost his passport at the Provo MTC so he couldn’t fly, they put him on Amtrak by himself and he traveled all night. It was a crazy transfer day! Our replacement, Sister Giles was a witness to all of the craziness but I think she is still going to do the lunches. She helped in the kitchen on Transfer Day and we met with her on Wednesday (after we straightened the storage room and had everything ready) to give her a cookbook and the keys. She will do MLC on October 6 th . I know she will do great! I had 8 months of training from Sister Beutler, she had one insane day! It feels strange to hand over the keys but it was also good. I don’t know if I will believe that part is over until October 6th!

Friday we turned the rest of the “JustServe” materials over to the Penny’s. We had a little meeting at the mission office and then took them to meet Ellen at Kiwanis Bike. We had 4 missionaries serving right then and they liked seeing that. We also took them by the Nevada Literacy Center where we also have missionaries serving. Elder Hardman sent out the text that said the Zone Leaders will now report to the Pennys. We have done ourselves out of our jobs! There is no one to come and help with the wards though so that felt a little undone today as members asked if someone was coming to replace us. We finished off some names for the records on Saturday and turned everything into the ward clerks today.

We were able to go to 2 lessons this week. We have gone around and said a lot of good-byes. That is hard. We were asked to take a Lady that just moved here to church today. She was baptized two weeks ago. We only just met her but felt like we were telling her good-bye too! We will visit several more this week. I don’t like this part. When we went to tell Kathy good-bye she told us that she has lung cancer, and she’s never even smoked. Her son does. Poor Kathy.

We have given several “last” testimonies. We took around our final “Welcome to the Zone” treat. I mended my last clothing items. We’ve tried to do our best but I think you always think about the things you wish you had done better. We tried to tell Billie good-bye but she wouldn’t answer the phone and her son met us at the door and said she was sleeping. It makes us feel sad. We will go to dinner tomorrow night with the senior couples and President and Sister Chesnut. We will attend our final District meeting on Tuesday. I think I am going to have to show up at District meeting in Utah. I don’t know if I can live without it! How I will miss this sweet association with the missionaries. We had a special testimony given at the “Why I believe” fireside last week. Elder Werner was serving in the Truckee ward when he saw a young man carrying a guitar, being a guitar player he asked him what kind of instrument he had, that led to teaching this 26 year old the lessons and Elder Werner baptized him several months ago. Fast forward to Elder Werner serving in Sienna Vista where he received a referral for a man in the Single’s ward that was too old (31) for the Single’s Sisters to teach. When they contacted Daneil he had been befriended by a recent convert, Lex. You guessed it, Daneil was soon baptized by Lex, who was baptized by Elder Werner and they both had been taught by the same Elder. Elder Werner was able to hear these two testimonies two days before he left to go home. We have witnessed so many tender, sweet mercies on our mission. We are so grateful to have been a part of this. We love these missionaries! We have learned a lot.

Now we look forward to coming home. I hope it feels real by Thursday. I can’t stand too many more “lasts”!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

p.s. It is apropos that Elder Hardman noticed one last bumper sticker this week. “Think, it’s not illegal yet”

Monday, September 18, 2017

Letter #75

We had a special first and last this week. We didn’t bring any family names to do at the Temple because we didn’t know how much time we would have to do them but last Sunday Elder Hardman received a notice from Family Search that there was a name he could print and take to the Temple. We knew we were going with the Keystone Ward on Friday for Ward Temple Night so he was able to take this name for our last trip to the Reno Temple. We now have a family name with a Reno Temple stamp. That was a fun surprise.

We have started to say good-bye to those people that we won’t see again at church. We went to say good-bye to Brother Jameson, he is the man that came to tell the Sisters as they were weeding in his neighbor’s yard that he was a member. His records weren’t in the ward. Brother Jameson has never looked back at his old lifestyle. He made a change that day and continues to move forward in the Gospel. He is 79. We love Brother Jameson. We went to Judith and Mary’s. They are the fun ladies with the amazing Christmas house. Judith was upstairs working on Family History. We love these good ladies. I will miss seeing their home at Christmas time this year. I have never seen anything to compare. The Hardings had us over to their new home for a BBQ. They feel like they are settling in. Doug told us that he knows he will be baptized and will let us know when. We love the Hardings. It does start to feel weird when you know you are saying good-bye.

We spoke at Empty Nesters. It was fine, just a few friends were there. It was very informal and a nice evening. I think our speaking engagements are done.

We went to a different Mobile Harvest site last week. Our usual choice was full. This was way up north in Cold Springs. We went and it was full of Food Bank employees, that is usual! We soon figured out that a reporter was coming to interview and do a story on the Food Bank. It all made sense then. If you look on the Food Bank of Northern Nevada’s facebook page you can see us in the background. We have one more Mobile Panty this week and then we are done, that will make us sad. We have enjoyed helping at the Mobile Pantries.

We spent Thursday afternoon with Tondalaya. She finally had the infected tooth pulled. We went to pick her up and she had her dog with her. We tended the dog while she had the tooth pulled. We then waited 40 minutes to pick up a prescription. Not the most fun we’ve ever had but she wouldn’t have been able to get there without a ride.

We were able to go to 3 different lessons, always a great thing to do! I sewed five blankets for the Super Saturday Service Activity and fixed a Sister’s skirt that she ripped at District meeting. I think I can put my machine away now. We went to dinner, one last time, with the Hemmerts. They like to take us to new places to eat. This one was right beside the baseball stadium. It was a fun night. We told them we would find a fun place to go if they come and see us in Draper, they said it would have to wait a year. They are Self-Reliance Missionaries.

We have already started to cook for Tuesday. We made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies today. The real work starts tomorrow.

Our last full week starts tomorrow! The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Letter #74

The talks are over! Hip, hip, hooray! I decided that it is hard to give the same talk twice and feel the same about it. If I ever have to do that again I will probably change it up. Elder Hardman is much better at adapting a talk but I write it all down and give that talk. Unlike missionaries that learn so much about how to give talks and prepare and talk about any subject at any time with little or no notice, I have not had that type of a mission and my “giving a talk” skills are no better than what I started with. I usually just feel relieved that it’s over. We still have to decide what we are saying tomorrow night for the Empty Nesters Family Home Evening.

We survived our last MLC. It was kind of a sad day. Sister Chesnut’s stepfather passed away suddenly that morning. She was in a fog. We thought we would be able to discuss some things before we do Transfer Day but it wasn’t the right time for it. I’m sure she will be gone this week for the funeral. They thought they had figured out who would take over the meals but it sounds like that isn’t going to work out so we will feel guilty leaving this on Sister Chesnut. It is a lot of work. It can be done in a different way and it will be just fine. Sister Beutler made beautiful homemade meals and I just followed her tradition but store-bought lasagna would be fine too. It will work out, just makes us feel like we are letting them down.

We had a Tuesday full of lessons again. Tuesday is becoming our favorite day because we are being invited to help teach on those days. We went with the Sisters after District meeting and then we took the Elders to two lessons at night. They like for us to pick them up and take them to these lessons because they are far away and if they ride with us they don’t use up their miles. We don’t feel used though, we are grateful for any excuse to go. We also went to a lesson later in the week with the other Elders. One of our Zone leaders went home before Transfer Day to start school so we only have 1 Zone Leader who is putting himself with different companionships for the next 2 weeks. He looks a little overwhelmed on his own. We certainly are feeling the impact of the next transfer, it will be a BIG one!

The numbers for Transfer Day were down. We were going to have 30 but one came back early and one isn’t coming at all but it is now up to 31, they are getting some Temple Square Sisters. We haven’t had Temple Square Sisters since we first arrived! There will be so many changes and they have had to close and open new apartments. A lot is going on right now but we realize that we will never really get to know these new missionaries. That is a weird feeling! Even President Chesnut had to tell everyone that it was our last MLC…. And they wonder why missionaries get trunky. Today was the only day we could have talked in September, next week is High Council Sunday and the next is Fast and Testimony again. We are going to feel like when you are pregnant and people keep ask why you haven’t had the baby yet. I’m sure they will think today was our last Sunday.

We went to the Penny’s setting apart with President Chesnut. We watched the balloons for three days but didn’t go to the park this year. One even landed in the Church parking lot. I don’t know if that was planned or not but it takes a crew to put away a big balloon. Keystone had a fun Super Saturday. We are signed up for 2 more Mobile Harvests. There are still things to do!

The Gospel’s true and we love you,

Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Letter #73

Last Zone Activity- They had a hike to the “N”. They have a mandatory zone activity once a transfer. Everyone is to attend, no excuses! They voted on going on a hike but had no idea of where to go. We have been around long enough to know where they can go that is something they can do in a few hours, includes everyone and they think it fun. The problem was the heat! The Arizona Sister said that in Arizona they were smart enough not to hike in the afternoon (in the heat). It was hot but there was a breeze and it was overcast, which made it bearable. We hiked part of the way but mostly we provided iced water bottles and sunscreen and took their picture.

Last Zone Leader “JustServe” training- We took our last Elders to lunch and did a “JustServe” training. It was the Fallon zone leaders. Elder Lyman was an A.P. but they often will go back out before they leave and serve somewhere else in the field. Elder Lyman is my favorite. He is friendly, upbeat and a great missionary but that isn’t why he is my favorite. When he was A.P. he would get up from every meal and be the first one to start cleaning up, he was always at the sink washing dishes and he made sure I was done or else he wasn’t done. No one else would notice, but I did. Elder Lyman is special. He will go home this transfer. Elder Torres is his companion and he is great too. I would imagine that serving with Elder Lyman teaches you many things. It was fun to treat them to lunch (and do a little training)

Last birthday in the mission field- That may be a good thing! Elder Hardman’s birthday was the busiest day of the week and made us feel old! It fell on Tuesday, District meeting so we bought an ice cream cake to celebrate at lunch time. We were asked to help with FOUR lessons that day. We had one with the Sisters that fell through but we went from one appointment to the next and didn’t get home until 9pm that night. We had a dinner of cereal and went to bed.

Last Doctor’s appointment- Elder Hardman had his last follow-up appointment for his kidney stones. He can now take all of his information home to his doctor there. He was told to drink a lot of water! We also have been filling out paper work to get insurance when we get home. There are a lot of things young missionaries don’t have to think about but we do.

Last meeting with Sister Wilson- And we met the Pennys. They are the local couple that are taking both ours and Sister Wilson’s assignment. I think we overwhelmed them but they will be great. They already serve once a week at the Bishop’s Storehouse. Brother Penny does all of the apartment inspections for the Reno zone (2 Stakes) I think they have callings in their ward and this is just an extra assignment. So much for being retired! We are going to their setting apart tomorrow and we will take them to several of the people we work with to introduce them but then they will take over all of the calling, training, texting, scheduling, follow-up and reporting. I don’t know why they were overwhelmed!

We hope it wasn’t our last contact with Tondalaya but we went on Saturday to give her a lesson. We had a good lesson but she asked us if it was a sin if she went to the nearby church because she can take her dog. She is a good lady. I know she felt the spirit when she was coming with us to church but with all of her troubles she has fallen into the “it’s not my fault, I’m the victim” mentality that we see a lot here. We also know it wasn’t the last time to knock doors, but I am looking forward to that day! One lady finally came to the door (we could hear her screaming at her dogs so we knew she was home and wouldn’t leave) and told us she didn’t want to talk to “you people”. I think she meant old people, no one likes to talk to old people.

We had our last Temple Preparation class. It was a good ending. We now hope that Brother Roe can have things work out so that he can go to the Temple.

We will do our last MLC meal this week. Elder Hardman asked Elder Lyman if he had a request and he said he didn’t care as long as I served my tomatillo dressing! Thanks Michelle, it’s your recipe but I take the credit for it! I don’t know if it goes with pasta but you can bet I will make it for Elder Lyman.

We are giving two Sacrament talks on Sunday and then today they asked us if we will do the Empty nesters Family Home Evening and tell about all of our great experiences. We smiled and said “Yes”, ugh! We went to dinner with the Halls on Friday, they are our neighbors and the wife isn’t a member but we really enjoy them. Brother Hall is in the bishopric and the Bishop is out of town so he called Brother Hall to ask him to go downtown and pay for a motel for a family that is passing through but can’t afford a room. Andi (the wife) said because he is retired and they know he is home that he is called all the time. How I admire her for her understanding and support of her husband, what a great example!

The weeks are filling up with last things to do! The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, August 28, 2017

Letter #72

Ready to hear about all of our “lasts” this week? We signed up for our last Mobile Harvest assignments in September. We were going to give our last Temple Preparation class today. I even made cookies. We only have Brother Roe left. We went to our last time to clean the chapel on Saturday and he asked Elder Hardman to be his escort to go to the Temple. He didn’t come to church today and so we didn’t have class. We will need to check on him this week. He also told Elder Hardman he got a job in Elko and will move Labor Day weekend. We thought today would be a good class and now we are worried about Brother Roe. We also found out several weeks ago that Brother Wetherall (the one that said that thinking he could actually enter the Temple felt like a dream) has prostate cancer and will soon start radiation treatment. He still comes to Sacrament meeting but can’t sit through Sunday School time too. We went to check on him this past week and he was so happy to see us to explain. He wanted us to know that he wanted to come to class and didn’t want to think that he was letting us down. Good people with rough lives. We thought we might be having our last “JustServe” meeting with Sister Wilson but learned today that they have called a local couple to replace both of us and we will be meeting with them for training. We have had a lot of new zone leaders to train lately so it will be great to know that there won’t be a waiting period for a new person to come in to keep it all going. We keep being told that is the direction they will be going with the meals also, a local couple/sister will be called. We haven’t heard that it’s happened yet.

We hope we haven’t attended our last baptism but we went to a fun one on Saturday night. Daneil (not Daniel) was baptized. We had him come to our apartment for a lesson. He is a great young man who wants to serve others. Elder Hardman stood in the circle today for his confirmation. Daneil approached the missionaries one day to see if there was anything they needed, that is how he was introduced to the gospel.

We met a new move-in in the Sienna Vista ward this week. She is a lady with M.S. She has been active but needs help getting to church and activities. We were going to pick her up today but the heat made her sick. We enjoyed getting to know her and think the ward will take good care of her but we hope we will be able to make the introduction. They are a great ward to help but Sister Baytek will need help becoming acquainted with people. We went to check on Tondalaya this week. She is in a bad situation. Her son was asleep on her bed, drunk. She lives in a studio apartment and only has one bed. The neighbor filed a complaint about her dog barking and she is facing eviction. She hasn’t been to church in months. She texted me later to thank me for coming and asked if we could come for Bible study this next week. Poor Tondalaya! I don’t know how to help someone change the only way they know how to live. I guess that isn’t true. I do know how to change a life but they have to be willing to change, and not look back. We also went to a lesson of a woman who was ready to be baptized quite a while ago but then relapsed and started drinking again. In all of her moving around she lost her Bible and Book of Mormon. Here’s the miracle. When she was taking the discussions she had a young missionary in the Lemmon Valley ward, she is now living at the Shelter and is in the Sienna Vista ward. The Elder serving there is the same Elder that was in the Lemmon Valley ward, 18 months ago. Elder Werner will go home in September. She feels that she trusts this Elder and wants to be baptized. She has some heavy addictions to overcome. What a trap Satan lays that take away agency and binds people to a life that they would give anything to get away from but can’t keep commitments that would give them their freedom.

We will have a few more “lasts” this week. Elder Hardman will have his last check-up for the kidney stones. We will celebrate the last birthday in the mission field and we will go out to dinner for the last time with our apartment neighbors. We had already been asked to speak in the Keystone ward on September 10 th and were asked to today to speak in the Sienna Vista ward on the same day. They said we could speak on the same subject. That is a last I could have done without!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, August 21, 2017

Letter #71

Since we are already experiencing “the last time” things I thought I would give an accounting of the meals we have prepared on our mission. I won’t talk about the meals we helped Sister Beutler with, just the ones we were in charge of ourselves. Here goes……

MLC (Mission Leadership council) This is once a month and we feed about 40 people.
Breakfast Casserole
Chicken Burrito Bowls
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Soup- White chicken Chili and Taco soup
Ham and funeral potatoes
Breakfast Casserole (yes, we did this twice, it is the favorite meal)
Sloppy Joes
Breakfast Burritos
Sweet Pork Salads
The second breakfast casserole meal was when they also invited the District Leaders for the meeting and we fed 60 people that day.

Transfer Day Lunch this comes every six weeks and is for the incoming missionaries. The number we feed are variable! We usually have a group that arrives around lunch time from the Provo MTC and a group comes from the Mexico MTC but we never know when they will arrive until right beforehand.

Soup- Broccoli Cheese and Chicken Noodle- 20 people
Hawaiian Haystacks -27 people
Baked Potato Bar- 22 people
Croissant Sandwiches- 15 people
Taco Salad- 17 people
Croissant Sandwiches- 40 people

Transfer Day Dinner This is the last supper for the outgoing missionaries. They go to the Temple and then come to the Mission Home for a nice dinner, program and testimony meeting. It is almost worth feeding everyone to be a part of the opportunity to hear their “final” testimony. I’m pretty sure Heaven will feel like this, where you share spirit to spirit. It is a sweet thing to be a part of.

Parmesan Chicken and funeral potatoes- 20 people
Ham and funeral potatoes- 21 people
Marinara Ziti and Chicken Alfredo Ziti- 14 people (gosh! They ate a lot of pasta for 14 people!)
Roast beef dinner and baked potatoes- 16 people
Marinated chicken BBQ -24 people
BBQ ribs and potato salad…- 27 people

When I put it on paper it doesn’t look like that much but it has felt like a lot! We have fed General Authorities. We have fed new converts. They all like to be fed! Every meal includes a big fruit bowl, salad, rolls, vegetables…. All the trimmings! And dessert. I used to think that they didn’t eat much dessert, I don’t know if it’s because a certain healthy eating Elder went home or what but they finish off the desserts now too! For the Mission Christmas party we ordered Costco pizzas but still prepared a big fruit salad. What all of this is leading up to is this……What do we fix for our last MLC and Transfer Day meals (that’s 3 more meals)? Your vote can come from this list or you can vote for something else, not on the list! We would love to have your input!

We attended our last zone conference this week. It is bittersweet to start putting “our last” before things now. We also helped in the office on Friday for the last time. We loved spending a lot of the week with Clay’s family at Lake Tahoe. It is a little easier to say good-bye when we know we will see them in a few weeks (6- that’s a transfer!)

We aren’t done yet though. There are new zone leaders to train in JUSTSERVE, there is a never-ending supply of “new move-in” names to knock doors, there are people to check on, there are golden opportunities to attend a lesson with the young missionaries, there are 6 more district meetings to enjoy, AND one more MLC and Transfer Day!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Letter #70

What did we do this week? We planned, we shopped, we prepared, we cooked, we served, we cleaned up and then we did it again and again! It is not my favorite thing to have Transfer day and MLC all in the same week. We fed 40 people for lunch, 30 for dinner on Transfer Day. When we have these big groups of incoming missionaries it always looks like Christmas morning with bikes and packages all over the Cultural Hall. All of a sudden these new missionaries look so young! The Vaia’vakas and Thurgoods came to help us with the lunch. The Thurgoods went with the outgoing missionaries to the Temple. The Vaia’vakas came to help with dinner. We barbecued 6 racks of ribs. I have never done that many ribs before! Elder Hardman and Elder Vaia’vaka were grill masters! The ribs were beautiful and delicious. We had a sweet testimony meeting with the outgoing missionaries.  We realize that the missionaries we know best are the ones going home and the new ones coming in we will not have the chance to get to know. That is a strange feeling.

Wednesday was a special day. Do you remember when we were going to a young boy named Liam and we would visit with the grandma while the missionaries taught Liam?  Then Liam decided to not take the lessons anymore? I was SO sad! We have stopped by a few times to see the grandma (Terry) and her mom, to check on them and just keep in contact. Well, Liam decided he wanted to take the lessons again. I told the Elders that we needed to find a way to have Terry listen to the lessons. Wednesday night was an answer to many prayers. The “new” Elders asked if we could all sit together for the lesson, Terry said “Yes”! It was such a good lesson. Our new Elders did an amazing job including both Liam and Terry. The spirit was so strong. I think it was the best lesson we have been a part of. I just love the missionaries. They answered questions, they bore testimony,they promised them blessings if they would read the Book of Mormon together. Terry told how Liam had wondered why he gets teary-eyed when he thinks about God. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Elder White and Elder Werner to tell them how the Holy Ghost was communicating with him. It was such a wonderful evening. I am grateful that we had this opportunity.

Late Wednesday night we had another meal surprise! President Chesnut called to tell us that we wouldn’t be doing MLC at our usual church, there was a conflict. We found out that we would be at the Institute. This meant that we had to take all of our supplies, cooking stuff, food, paper products to the Institute. Ugh, it always works out but I would rather not have some of these experiences!  We are now down to ones! One more MLC and one more Transfer Day. It won’t be in the same week either!

Right now we are at in cute cabin in Tahoe with Clay, Katie, Lila, Lewis and our sweet Victoria. We are having so much fun with these three. Lila and Lewis have changed so much and Victoria is as cute as they come! Tomorrow we will celebrate the twins 3rd birthday.  It was such a busy week last week, we will certainly enjoy these few days with the kids.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!


Elder and Sister Hardman