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!

Love,
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!

Love,

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, August 7, 2017

Letter #69

We just returned from a “Why I Believe” fireside. This is where recent converts share their conversion story and testimony. We so enjoy these firesides. We have heard the testimony of one sister three times but her personal growth and spiritual development always impresses us. She even talked about how she has seen the growth in herself and knows that the change is because of the Holy Ghost in her life. Each story is sweet and they share such personal things with everyone. I will miss hearing these firesides.

The rest of our week was good. We were asked to go to two lessons. Each were with an older lady. They ask us because they think the lady will “relate” to us better. When we go and the lady is in her 70-80s, we smile. I guess to an eighteen year old we are all the same age. They are both amazing women who willingly accept what the missionaries teach. I wonder at the humble acceptance. I ask myself if I would so willingly believe the message of the missionaries. The one lesson was about the Word of Wisdom. The lady has a friend who is a member but she had never heard that we believe in no tea, coffee, drinking or tobacco. She wondered why her friend has never mentioned it. She is a smoker but when the Elders asked if she’d give up smoking she said “Okay”! We asked how she was doing and they said that she was doing great and keeping that commitment. The next challenge is getting work off so she can come to church.

We had a pretty good door slam this week. The guy opened the door, said they had already given at the blood bank and slammed the door. I want to say, “We don’t want your blood, just your soul!” They never let me have any fun.

The Sienna Vista ward had a fun BBQ on Saturday. It was held at a home in the ward. Their yard is like a beautiful park. The children all ran around and had a wonderful time. Brother Forsythe (the owner) barbecued steaks for everyone. We had the usual afternoon thunderstorm but it just dropped a few drops and cooled everything off nicely. We went early to shuck corn and help set up. Today at church there were so many members that were really touched by the BBQ. It’s hard to imagine not growing up with the social aspect of the church and it is such a new thing to a recent convert that they really are drawn in by the feeling of a ward family.

We took Rocio to a baptism on Friday night. She is trying to be ready for her baptism on August 26th. Rocio is in her early 20s. The Elders have done a great job of inviting a young couple to her lessons. This young wife is now thinking of ways to invite Rocio to things. THEN…. No Rocio at church today. We were sad and disappointed. The Elders called the house and found out that she is in the hospital. She has epilepsy and has seizures. She keeps losing jobs because she misses work because of the seizures. Will you remember her in your prayers?

This week has been the calm before the storm. This next week has me stressed out. You would think that I would get used to Transfer Day. As it gets closer I get more uptight. We will get this big transfer over with and then feed missionaries again on Friday for MLC. I am looking forward to the weekend! We had a big powwow with President and Sister Chesnut to plan for Tuesday. We have 19 coming in at 11:30 am from Salt Lake and then 4 more in the afternoon from the Mexico MTC. I will leave sack lunches in the fridge for those missionaries but I will be at the Mission home preparing for dinner by then. We were told this week that they are looking at two different couples to replace us, one for JustServe and one to do the meals.

We had Temple Day as a zone this week. We realized it was our last one with the missionaries. Most senior couples go to the Temple with the missionaries on their last Transfer Day but we will be cooking so this was our last chance. We took the YSA Sisters with us to a Mobile Harvest assignment this week so a different zone could go to the Temple. It was a fun, hot day!

It was a good week. The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 31, 2017

Letter #68

We celebrated Pioneer Day in style! We had a picnic with the senior couples and President and Sister Chesnut at Rancho San Rafael Park. We brought chicken and a dish to share. Each couple told a family pioneer story and then we took a walk around the park. The evening was perfect, is was overcast and cooler. It didn’t rain until our drive home. We put the activity together. I guess we are the party couple.

We had three days in a row that we were invited to a lesson with the missionaries. That was amazing! We had a lesson again with Rocio and Tracy Edwards and then a lesson with our ZLs with a 12 year old girl and her mom. They were all great and we love to be invited.

It’s the end of the transfer and so I received an armful of mending to do this week. I still have pants to cut off and hem.

We have been trying to invite a couple in our complex to dinner for a LONG time. We met the man last year walking his dog in the mornings. He has asked us several things about our mission and the church. We told him we’d love to have him and his wife come to dinner sometime. It finally happened! They came to eat on Thursday. They stayed for 3 hours! What we learned is that there are so many lonely people. I’m not sure how it went or what might come from it, we will see.

We celebrated National Hamburger Day by going to Red Robin- see we really are party people!

Then came Saturday….. the day to end all days! We had offered to help the Hardings move stuff to a storage unit. We knew they had asked their ward for help and the missionaries were coming to help and then they asked the A.P.s to meet us at the end to unload into the storage. We started at 9 am. They had everything in boxes. They rented the large U-haul truck. Oh man! I believe that when someone tells you they sell stuff on Ebay it’s just another way to say, “I’m a hoarder!” We filled that truck! Only one couple from the ward showed up. Thank goodness for the missionaries. We didn’t move furniture, just boxes and boxes and boxes. The morning wasn’t too bad because it wasn’t hot yet. Unloading was a different story. The man, Doug (investigator) has a bad heart. The woman, Lundy (member) has had leukemia twice and has a bad back. They tried but couldn’t help much. Elder Hardman spent the whole time in the back of the truck, either stacking or unstacking. He and I carried way too many boxes that day. The A.P.s had a lesson and had to leave but when they returned they brought the Spanish speaking Elders and three Sisters and water. Hallelujah! The truck was bigger than the storage unit and we had to keep moving stuff around to make it all fit. It was so hot! Elder Hardman got light-headed and I had to drive us home. We loaded and unloaded for 5 ½ hours. We are too old for missionary work!

Today we found out that another lady in the ward picked up Kathy and brought her to church. That is nice. We have wondered who would bring her after we are gone.

Our numbers for the August transfer went down to 23 but the number for the September transfer is 30! That will be a new record!

The Gospel’s true and we love you, but don’t ask us to help you move!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 24, 2017

Letter #67

I guess the news is out but we have a release date! It is September 28 th . It is a little bit early. They decided that they didn’t want to pay October’s rent when we would only be here a few days. They also want to have Friday to move furniture from the apartment so we will be leaving on Thursday. It took a while to process this information. It didn’t seem real for a few days and leaves you feeling weird. We haven’t actually heard it from the Mission President, the Office Elder over apartments called us with the news. I guess that felt a little strange too but whatever…. We will be home to watch General Conference in our own home. We hadn’t planned on that!

I always ask Elder Hardman, “What did we do this week?” I was surprised with his answer. We didn’t have a lot of planned activities at the first of the week but we ended up doing many things.

Monday- We went and played at the Institute with the missionaries. I learned last year that if I get the UNO cards out we will have a group migrate towards that activity that don’t want to do the other games. It was true again but we have a new Elder, Elder Clark who made playing UNO the coveted activity. He was hilarious! He would congratulate everyone on whatever they did. I said, “You must have been on a lot of teams at home!” He said, “Yep, a lot of losing teams!” I guess high fives and cheers are very important if you’ve been on a lot of losing teams. Elder Hardman and I quickly gave up our seats for the missionaries that wanted to join the game. It was fun seeing them having a great time.

Tuesday- Best day of the week!! District meetings are always up-lifting. They focused on role playing and we always get to be the “Investigators” or the “Member Present”. Elder Hardman can be mean with his questions but he had the little Sister from Guatemala confused when he said that they couldn’t have had steel in the Americas so the Book of Mormon can’t be true. She started to talk about how after the fall, bad things were brought to the Earth and people would make the wrong choices….. I realized she thought he meant STEAL. Her sweet companion (who is a brand new missionary) had it figured out and sweetly summarized how the truths in the Book of Mormon can be clear when you pray and ask Heavenly Father for the answers. I was so impressed. Sister Escobar bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. Whether the word is “steel” or “steal”, a heart felt testimony always wins!

We have an advantage right now that one of the A.P.s was in our zone so they will invite us to come to lessons. We tell every missionary, no matter the zone that we can come and teach with them. It is a woman that is seeking answers and she is humble and teachable but has very little religious experience in her background. I think of the Primary song, “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus”. Imagine your life without knowing the sweet stories of Jesus. You know you have an experienced missionary when they know how to break down the lessons to a very simple form. We also were able to go that night with our Keystone Elders to a lesson. Rocio has been taking the lessons for over a year. First she needed to get married and now she needs to come to church so she can be baptized. She works on Sundays but she was at church today. It seems she probably has lost her job so she is planning on being baptized on August 26 th . We have mixed feelings about this!

Wednesday- We made bread and had a “check-in” day. Kathy wanted us to have some keys made for her so we picked up her key, made copies and took her a loaf of bread. We visited Tondalaya. Her tooth is still bad and she is depressed because she can’t find someone to take care of it. We took her a loaf and she had a blessing. We have an older couple in the Ward, the Sister has Parkinson’s. We haven’t seen them for a while. We took them a loaf. The last loaf went to a brother of our neighbors in Draper. They have asked us to go see his family. We had a nice visit but his wife wasn’t home. We hope to be invited back to meet her.

Thursday- We had our morning Food Bank assignment. We are starting to realize that we will really miss our friends from the Mobile Harvests. There is a “core” group and we feel a part of that. We have a good time with these wonderful volunteers. We have a new lady that just retired and this is what she has decided to do in her spare time. She did ask me if I knew what time “Happy Hour” starts, she is planning her retirement party. I wanted to point to my name tag but instead I told her I didn’t know. We are a fun bunch of retirees! We then drove to Carson City to train some new Zone Leaders in JustServe.Sister Wilson keeps sending us emails, reminding us how many weeks we have left. There still isn’t a replacement and she doesn’t want all of the hard work to get “lost”. We don’t need to keep track, Sister Wilson is counting down for us! We love trainings where the Zone Leaders take notes and have ideas. This was one of those trainings. We let them pick the place to have lunch. Missionaries always know where they want to go eat!

Friday- We have learned that if we have a “free” day we can always go to the Food Bank Warehouse so we went for a shift. It was the first time they didn’t give us flowers! Bummer! On the way home on the freeway our car flashed “service transmission” and lost power, scary! The frustrating thing about this is that we had just taken it in 10 days ago for the same thing and they did a computer patch that was supposed to fix it. We drove to the Mission Office where they let us borrow a car, again, and dropped off the Jeep at the dealership. I guess we will be getting a new transmission this time but it could take up to 2 weeks. All very annoying but we are grateful that we made it safely to the dealership.

Saturday- We cleaned the church, I mean that literally. There was us and the bishopric member over the church cleaning. We had help from a Brother from another ward and another member showed up late but he did the bathrooms so that was all right. We knocked doors. We had an address that didn’t exist but we tried a different one from the Search Engine and met a really nice man. This family moved from Utah three years ago, they have been “lost”. He has a cool classic truck that he has fixed up and painted beautifully. His son served a mission and has had a great influence on his Dad. We invited him to come to church. He was considering it. We’re praying that the Spirit will continue to work on him. These experiences are a miracle, everything just comes together at the right time. It feels pretty good! We went to dinner with the Hardings that night. Doug (the non-member) has had some heart issues. They hadn’t been having the lessons and things weren’t progressing for a while but they have started again and said they would go to church today. They have bought a home in Sparks and are moving in September. We are going to be helping them move boxes this week. So that was our week! And I thought we hadn’t done anything!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 17, 2017

Letter #66

It felt like a week of sitting. We had District meeting on Tuesday. Zone Conference on Wednesday and were asked on Wednesday if we could help in the Office on Thursday. Three days of sitting! It’s all good sitting but that is a lot of sitting! The trainings were all wonderful. Sister Douglas didn’t have warning that we would be helping in the office so she didn’t have anything prepared for us to do. I took the cookbook to copy and things to prepare for assignments on Sunday but we had a lot of time to walk around the office in circles. We did have quite a few phone calls this time and some Elders dropped by while their car horn was being fixed. It wasn’t too bad. Most of the calls we get we have to pass on to the Office missionaries so I’m not sure if we are much help but we are bodies to sign for deliveries and we do take messages pretty well.

I made a copy of the cookbook that Sister Beutler prepared before she left and the pages of what I have made. So far, there is no one coming to replace us. Sister Chesnut will probably be the one that this responsibility will fall on. I don’t know how she will have time to do the shopping and preparing. The only way I can think to help is to add to Sister Beutler’s book with what we have done. I didn’t realize that it probably felt good to Sister Beutler to “train” us.

Today was a fun Sunday. We are enjoying our Temple Preparation class. There is a great spirit in the class. We also were asked to do Sharing Time in Primary. We talked about Reverence. I had made little “Reverence Mice”. (If a mouse would ride to church in your pocket on this day…..) There were only 8 children in Primary today. It was fun to be in Primary and listen to the songs!

Tondalaya is still struggling with an abscessed tooth. She was going to come but didn’t feel good this morning. She is frustrated because she had dental coverage in California. She told me that California has better medical coverage but Nevada has better “living” prices, that she can’t win for losing. We struggle to understand the thought that someone should take care of all of your needs (and wants). We don’t know how to respond. She says she will be okay but that really just means that she will figure out a way to work the system. We keep reading things about giving a hand up not a hand-out but we still don’t have the answers to so many needs here.

We went with the Bellamys to Graeagle (pronounced Gray Eagle) yesterday for a craft fair and to show them around Quincy. We feel like we’ve wanted to see as much of our mission as we can but our mission office missionaries haven’t seen much. I don’t think we are knowledgeable tour guides but we have enjoyed seeing the different parts of the mission. We have had fun seeing where the different chapels are and knowing where the missionaries are serving. It is kind of a strange concept for these couples but we may have a convert with the Bellamys. They were pretty excited to think they could explore the area.

Zones have one zone activity a transfer where they all get together and plan a “big” activity. Our zone is going to the Institute tomorrow. They have been allowed to use the Institute building for an activity but only if we are willing to be there the whole time. Tomorrow’s the day! The Institute has ping pong, air hockey, etc…. It’s fun for them and it will be cool inside. We did this last year too but there isn’t a single missionary here now that was here then! We don’t change but there is sure a lot of change around us!

Our new Stake President asked to visit with us today. We wondered what it could be about. We were surprised when it was to talk about the members in the Keystone Ward. He told us that he doesn’t know people in the ward and he wanted our input. He had some specific names he asked about. We felt grateful that we have made the effort to “know” the members. It wouldn’t have felt good to say we didn’t know people. We’re still surprised that he came to us but I also realized that we have been accepted and loved into this ward, we do feel attached to them. That’s good to know for some reason.

We wake up every morning to a new fire somewhere around us. The air is so smoky. We haven’t heard that there are any in California that are contributing to the smoke. It started earlier this year and I think it will go longer too.

We hope you are having a great summer!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 10, 2017

Letter #65

When we came to Reno we said that we would probably attend a funeral while we were here for someone that was the “heart and strength” of the church. We have now attended three. Brother Moon passed away and we attended and helped with his funeral on Saturday. We have had the privilege of knowing some amazing people here. Brother Moon is one of those people. He and his wife joined the church in the 80’s. They came from a strong Baptist background. He was a deacon in the Baptist church. Brother Moon served in the Air Force. He was a Civil Rights Officer for the State of Reno. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP. He started a Boy Scout unit for Black and Underprivileged youth. He received many Community Service awards but what stands out the most to me was his amazing testimony of the Savior. Brother Moon had a hard time walking and he was stooped over but he would make his way to the stand and tell you about his friend, Jesus Christ. He always had a warm handshake and smile for everyone. Our blind friend Kathy had Brother Moon as her home teacher for many years. His family from Georgia came for the funeral. You could see that it would have been so easy for the Moons to stay in their comfort zone with their family and their religion but the light that makes them special led them to the Gospel. A representative for the NAACP spoke at the funeral, to show respect because he knew that Brother Moon had held a “rank” in the church he called him “Elder Moon”. We have new Elders in the ward and they were wonderful to come to the luncheon and talk to the family. They answered questions and were such thoughtful representatives. The talks that the Bishop and Stake President gave were done perfectly. Today in one of the Sacrament talks a man told how when he was asked as a councilman to vote for a “Martin Luther King” day he struggled with the thought so he went to talk to Brother Moon. After he spent some time with him and Brother Moon explained what it would mean to have a day to honor a black man in our country he voted for the proposition. We hope we don’t get to attend more funerals while we are here but we have felt the influence of righteous examples in this community. They have had to “stand for truth and righteousness” and they have stood out!

We enjoyed four extra-ordinary sacrament talks today. Each of our wards had a special “patriotic” meeting today. We have a woman from Mongolia who told about what it was like to be raised in country with no agency, where your choices are decided for you. It was a powerful testimony about the Plan of Salvation. Another man came from Denmark and he told of his family’s decision to immigrate during the war. I have felt especially grateful all day for living in this country and the blessings we enjoy because of that.

Last year we thought we would be able to see fireworks from our apartment, we couldn’t. This year we drove down the hill and could see across the valley. We enjoyed the fireworks from the Nugget casino. They have two tall buildings and they light fireworks from the top of the buildings. That was fun.

We had MLC on Friday. We made 72 breakfast burritos on Thursday. They ate all 72! They seem to love to eat breakfast at MLC. We also had yogurt parfaits. They always eat a lot on MLC. We are down to 2s. We have 2 MLCs and 2 Transfers Days left to prepare for. They will be two BIG Transfer Days! I wish I could say that we have this assignment all figured out but each time is a new experience and we do things “right” and we do things “wrong” every time!

Tondalaya has an abscessed tooth. She doesn’t have dental care. She has missed church for the last 2 weeks. We need to see what we can do this week. Cy is a man that joined the church a little while before we came. There were 12 baptisms around the time he was baptized in our area. Cy is the only one that has stayed active. He was so excited today because he received the priesthood. He was showing everyone his Priesthood Certificate. Cy is in his 70’s. When I get discouraged I think of Cy. The Atonement of Jesus Christ changes lives. “Let me tell you about my good friend, Jesus….”

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman