Monday, April 25, 2016

Letter #2

In the shadows of the glitz and glamour of the big Casinos are dirty, run-down motels where the down-trodden can rent by the week. That is where Elder Hardman and I are spending our time. We met with the Membership Clerk on Tuesday to get our first list of people to try to find. We found out that they have 908 membership records in this ward! We are starting with 70 names that have been sent to the ward in the last sixty days. It seems to be #1- University Students that don’t want to be found and change addresses often and #2- People the world has kind of thrown away. They generally are in their 60’s with sad stories and not much hope for their future. They are transient and generally not at the address provided and no record of where they have gone. I have told Elder Hardman that we will not be knocking doors downtown after dark! I felt bad when we woke up poor Cal, who definitely needed to sleep off something at 4pm. He was kind to us and disappointed that he couldn’t help us but he wasn’t the name we were looking for. We have certainly seen a different side of life here already.

Tuesday has become my favorite day of the week. District training is on Tuesdays. It is fun to be part of the enthusiasm of the young missionaries. Elder Hardman finally made some fudge that turned out, the melt ingredients together kind. We took that and it was devoured. Our new Sister from the Philippines loves treats! She is fitting right in with the American’s love for sugar. They are all so cute!

We also found out on Tuesday that the speakers for Sunday had cancelled so we were asked to speak, ugh! It turned out pretty funny though. The podium was broken. They couldn’t get it to go down and the microphone was being held up by a box of Kleenex. I stood off to one side but the podium was covering me so I couldn’t see anyone and they couldn’t see me! Ha ha, I promise I didn’t break it, it was just a tender mercy. Elder Hardman wasn’t as lucky- sometimes being short is a blessing!

We also helped at the Food Bank this week passing out fresh fruits and vegetables. We enjoyed doing that. It is held outside under tents. There is a long line of people, mostly Hispanic. I need to work on my Spanish! They were grateful as they went through. I also learned about a squash I had never heard of called Chayote. I am going to have to try cooking it. We saw the Mission President this week and he told us he’d like us to work with a Sister in the area that is over volunteer services in Reno to help set up more opportunities like the Food Bank for the missionaries to give service. We will like doing that.

We had a convert baptism on Saturday.  Sister Sorelles lives in a downtown motel. We were asked to pick her up for her baptism interview and later we were asked to bring her to her baptism. We also provided the refreshments for the baptism. I should start to make a list of the treats we’ve been asked to provide. I will save that for another time. Thank goodness I brought Annie’s brownie recipe. It is a hit! Thanks Annie!

We were asked by the other MLS missionaries to go to the Temple Friday night. A sister that joined the church last March was taking out her Endowments and they wanted her to feel supported. You don’t have to know people well here before you are invited to some life changing experiences with them. I guess it comes with our missionary name tags. We feel blessed to be a part of it.

We went to dinner with the Sister’s tonight at the ward mission leader’s home. They invite the missionaries the last Sunday of every month. The kindness of the members is a great example to us. Their little three year old told me he likes my brownies with frosting on them (leftovers from the baptism) Thanks again Annie! If anyone has any other great recipes please send them this way!

You are all in our prayers! How blessed we feel to come from our families and feel your support. Rulon asked when he heard that we had to get all of the Hepatitis shots what we would be doing in Reno! Now we know- the downtown motels! Pray for us! : )

The Church is true! And we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

The bumpersticker for the week:
Got Jesus? It’s Hell without Him!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Letter #1

Don’t be afraid! Remember that you can quit reading at any time! This is a long post because we went two weeks without the internet! Finally we are up and running.I want to start by summarizing our time at the MTC. I can do it in one word OVERWHELMING! Every day was filled from morning until night. We had two nights of Devotionals. One was a video of Elder Bednar speaking about the Character of Christ, how he was always turning outward. Our speaker on Tuesday night was Elder Ian Ardern from the Seventy. Kim and Peggy joined us for dinner that night and the Devotional. That was fun.Elder Ardern was fun to listen to with his cute accent. I liked when he said that the chosen of God are those who choose God.

We also experienced the dreaded TRC’s. That’s where they lock (not really but it feels like it) you in a room with someone pretending (they are excellent pretenders) to be an investigator. Your job is to try and not destroy any chance the Spirit has in teaching these people. Elder Hardman is very good at it. My part was like Howdy Dowdy, smile and make a few comments and cry when I offered the prayer. Good thing they don’t fire you in the church. We also had the “opportunity” to teach other senior couples.The couple we “taught” is on their second mission, has served in 2 Stake Presidencies and has just been released as a Stake President. I don’t think we taught them anything but they were kind to us and said that we did.

We were part of two historical events while at the MTC. It was the first time that the senior missionaries outnumbered the incoming young missionaries. We had 132 new senior missionaries, usually their average is 86. We also participated in signing the beam for the new MTC building and were able to watch the Topping Off ceremony where they place the beam at the top of the building. Now every time we pass that building we will be able to tell everyone that our names are inside that building (until they tear the building down). All of a sudden it was Friday and time to leave the MTC. I don’t think you realize how much you have enjoyed the MTC and the people you meet there until it is time to leave. We realized how quickly we became friends with couples that will be serving all over the world. We also learned that missions are like potato chips, no one can serve just one! You really feel like you are part of God’s Army. You pass young missionaries learning their languages, constantly practicing. They are inspiring. It is a great work!

We went home Friday night for a family BBQ and cry festival.  Leaving them again was rough, especially when we knew they were all meeting together the next day to help Clay’s family move. We felt we should be helping. Hunter was at home to help us do finishing touches and see us off (another cry festival). We only drove to Elko as we had been encouraged to do by the Office Sister but were regretting that decision. There isn’t a lot to do in Elko when you have so much on your mind. Sunday was wonderful though as we heard great testimonies and met the Elko Elders. We then drove on to Reno. Most of our driving was in a rainstorm so we don’t really know what things looked like. When we arrived the Office couples (Elder and Sister Hammond and Elder and Sister Baclayon) and the missionaries that live in our complex met us and unloaded the car before we knew what happened, all in the rain. Our apartment is very nice. We have a nice view of the lights downtown. The big furniture was already moved in and the apartment was clean! We even have a King-size bed. We have never had a King-size bed before. I can barely hear Elder Hardman snore! :) Before the night was over we had visits from the mission president, President Chesnut and Sister Chesnut and our zone leaders, Elder Baker and Elder Short. We have since figured out that they drove quite a distance to come and greet us. We also received welcome texts from each of the sisters in our zone! We felt very welcome. We put things away, it didn’t take long when you only come with what can fit in the car and fell into bed. Our bedding consisted of queen-size sheets laid flat on the mattress, one pillow and the car blanket and my fleece throw. It worked.

We had been invited to breakfast with the Elders that live close to us and they really spoiled us! They made omelets, pancakes and had fresh fruit and juice. That started our Tuesday morning out well. Next we met with the mission president to find out our assignment. We are assigned to the Keystone (cool name huh?) ward and will be helping to locate and reactivate. They just had a Stake division which affected wards and things are in transition. He then said that he has a few other things in mind when we have that under our belts. Guess we will wait to see what that means. We then ran to buy King-size bedding and ran back to meet Elders at their p-day activity but it was the Elders we had already met so we ran to another store for groceries and supplies. Then we ran to go to dinner at the Hammonds where they invited the Baclayons, the Chesnuts, and the other MLS senior couple that serve in Sparks, the Beutlers. They spoiled us with a delicious dinner and we already feel like we are old friends. Once again we fell into bed, but the bedding fit this time. Tuesday was very busy with our District meeting which really is our Zone split into two districts.

The Elders in our apartments are in the other District and Elder Wise is a District Leader. District meeting was amazing! It is fun to watch these missionaries. They are so good at teaching! They cheer each other on and seem wise beyond their years. The training part was so well organized and they are serious about their responsibility. Then they all eat lunch together and you see their fun side come out. There is lots of teasing and comparing. It was fun to see both sides. There is a baptism in the zone for the next 3 Saturdays. They teach a lot and all seem to be doing well. I learned that within seconds you are supposed to know what their name is, where they are from, where they are servicing, who is their companion, and remember all of that, ugh! I need a younger brain. I learned that I can hug the sisters and Elder Hardman can hug the Elders (that comes with strong pats on the back. Those hugs are expected! And you never leave without asking, Is there anything else I can do for you. We had a meeting that night with the Zone leaders and the Stake President and after realizing how far away the Zone Leaders actually live we invited them to dinner at Dairy Queen. Not fancy I know but it was the only place we knew where it was to meet them. We found out that the Stake president is who requested a senior couple to assist with his area. We had a nice visit with him. He is trying to do as directed and right-size his wards. They have 700-800 people on record in the ward and about 130 coming to church. I thought the scriptures say that we will leave the ninety and nine and go searching for the one. Here I think we are searching for the ninety and nine.

We spent the rest of the week driving around trying to get a feel for Reno. We need to know more places to eat than Dairy Queen. We took the Bishop and his wife to brunch at IHOp. He is a fun and busy Bishop. Friday we went to the Reno Temple. It is a small temple but has everything necessary. We are learning how to streamline a Temple. Saturday we went to a convert baptism. They had such good talks at this baptism. The wife had joined the church three years ago and now her husband was baptized. There was a sweet feeling having this family together. Good things are going on in Reno. We are excited to be a part of it! Yesterday was wonderful to go to our new ward and meet our new friends. There are many new adventures ahead of us! Elder Hardman decided that he needed something he would be known for so he tried making old-fashioned fudge, after throwing away two batches he decided he is still looking.

The Church is True! And We love you!
Elder and Sister Hardman

Ps. I saw this great bumpersticker this week.
Honk if you love Jesus.
Text, if you want to meet Him.