Monday, May 23, 2016

Letter #6

I think we are floating after having two wonderful, spiritual days of instruction. You feel like you are lifted up to a different height. We had District Meeting on Tuesday and they gave us the instructions they had received on Friday at the MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) We all met together (usually the two districts split) and had training from the District Leaders, the Sister Training Leaders and the Zone Leaders. Have we said before how impressive these missionaries are? They amaze us all the time. It is such a contrast from the silly, fun missionaries we met with on Monday for a BBQ and car waxing activity. They have to have their cars clean and waxed for Zone Conference on Wednesday so they got together to wax each other’s cars. They offered to wax our car but we declined. They are enthusiastic but not particular! They had made assignments for the BBQ but plates and utensils were forgotten. : ) We watched them be rowdy and watched one Elder get smacked in the face with a soccer ball. They act their age on P-day and the very next day they are spiritual giants! It was a great training but I am going to bring a can opener and hide it in the kitchen. We eat lunch together after the meeting and someone always brings something that needs to be opened with a can opener, no can opener in the kitchen! So an Elder gets the horrible, large knife out of the drawer and cuts the lid off the can, aaaaah! I don’t think I can witness this another week!

We met with President and Sister Chesnut and President Perry (Annie’s friend) to discuss “Just Serve” and the missionaries. We received much clearer instructions about how much time the missionaries have to give service. We feel like we are ready to move forward on helping the missionaries with opportunities to serve the community. We will work directly with President Perry on this. We left this meeting to go to Costco and purchase food for the lunch we are in charge of tomorrow for Zone Conference. We have an assignment from the Bishop to visit two sisters and we tried to do that but no luck. We came home and made Rice Krispie Squares for tomorrow. We now know why Sister Beutler makes Rice Krispie squares for everything. They are easy and cheap and feed a lot of people.

Wednesday was another new experience for us. We showed up at the church and the parking lot was full of cars with their hoods up. It was a funny sight! I guess they have to check their fluids and do a bunch of other stuff on a list before they can go in to the meeting. We sat in for the training from the A.P.s but left to prepare food during the training from the nurse and the car senior missionaries. We chopped and sliced for quite a while and then Elder Hardman left to pick up the pizzas. We ordered 7 pizzas but should have had more. We had a big green salad, watermelon, grapes, pizza and Rice Krispie squares for dessert. We fed 50 people, two zones. We are now hoping this isn’t a regular assignment. The afternoon was a great training on the Book of Mormon. Brother Dickerson came and gave instruction on using it in their teaching. President Chesnut also gave training and then he asked the missionaries that will be going home next to bare their testimonies to start off the testimony meeting. It is a sweet experience to hear their testimonies. We also were able to go with some sisters to teach a family that afternoon. It is great to teach a family and see them learning together. We loved that experience.

Thursday was our “Just Serve” day. We met with President Perry, Sister Wilson and Sister Bartholomew for a big powwow. Elder Hardman has done an amazing job contacting all the Zone Leaders and putting together a chart to see who is doing what and who needs to do more. After this meeting we met with the Volunteer Chairman for the Washoe County Parks system. She is a nice lady who helped us understand what the missionaries can do to give service in their parks (cleanup, trails, etc…) We are learning that there is no shortage of needs.

Thursday night there was a Relief Society homemaking activity where we made a tote bag. It is weird to go somewhere alone but it was a great activity and I was able to talk to a lot of the sisters there. I was feeling good about it all until I walked into the apartment and the table was covered with bloody paper towels and I couldn’t see Elder Hardman! He had an experience with a sharp knife and as he said, “Did a dumb” and tried to cut his finger off. Now he is going to have to go with me to activities, they did have a nursery at the church. He probably should have had a stitch or two but we got it to stop bleeding and patched him up.

Friday was winter here! It was rainy, snowy and cold. We tried to knock doors, we tried to get a hold of our assignments, we tried calling people and nothing was working so we went to the Temple. In the Temple they were thanking Heavenly Father for the moisture and were praying for more so we have decided to not gripe about the weather.

Saturday was still stormy but we have better luck on Saturdays for finding people home. We did a LOT of door knocking, all day! We did have our fun for the week. Our Bishop received a call from the church about a man in prison in California that is reading and learning about the gospel and he asked that someone go to visit his wife with some church materials. Of course she lives in a downtown motel. We had tried to find someone home all week. We had met a girl (daughter?) at the door once that told us the lady would be there Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We knocked on the door and she opened it, took one look at us and SLAMMED the door shut! It rattled the building! I guess she doesn’t feel the same way as her husband. We feel good about ourselves for having our first legitimate door slam! Assignment #1: fail! Assignment #2: fail! We have never been able to find the other Sister at home. Maybe the Bishop won’t give us more assignments.

It has been a full week! We have enjoyed being asked to go to lessons with the Sisters. We hope they
continue to ask. We keep coaxing the Tahoe Sisters to invite us to a lesson! Our progress report: We
started with 918 members of record and have whittled it down to 846. Still have a lot to do!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Sign for the week: If you just can’t stand it, kneel.
Our Zone
Mother's Day Gifts
Zone Conference

Monday, May 16, 2016

Letter #5

We are going to have a quiz today to see if you speak “Missionary”. See if you know what these commonly used abbreviations mean:

1) i
2) rc
3) larc
4) la
5) MoD
6) Odos
7) CPR
8) DM
9) PMG

Did you figure them out? We are still working on the CPR one, I am pretty sure it has nothing to do with chest compressions.

It was a week of door knocking and no one home. We have found a few people that actually live at the address and are coming to church so I guess we need some time with the list and someone that knows these people. It was also graduation this past week at the University so we couldn’t find parking anywhere near the campus. Hopefully this week will be easier. One of the abbreviations we receive nightly from the missionaries is MoD. They text their Miracle of the Day to everyone in the zone. These are fun to read at the end of the day. We had our own MoD this week. We went to an address that we know the front desk can’t tell us if the people live there and won’t let us go to their apartment without a number, but we ask anyway. As we stepped up to the desk a man met us, happy and friendly and said, “Come on up!” He had seen us walking up to the building and knew we were there to see them. He told us how they had moved from the number we were looking for and took us to the member on our sheet. In the elevator he told us how he knew we were the missionaries from the ward and that the Sister missionaries were gone and there are Elders in the ward now. He said how he had been meeting with the missionaries and that we could talk to his girlfriend (the member). He told us about several other members that live in that complex. We met the girl that is on our records, gave her our sack and said we were excited to see them at church. Later that week we talked with the Elders and they haven’t been meeting with this man, it was several years ago that he had the lessons. We never would have found the member we were looking for because they were not in the apartment we had on record. We would have assumed that she had moved and that we no longer had her information. It felt like quite a miracle. Clay says we must be doing well on our companion study to be blessed with this miracle. We hope the Elders can now meet with them again and continue the lessons.

The Elders asked us to go with them to meet a sister that hasn’t been to church in years. She is an older woman who is blind. She has been blind for 12 years. She is a sweet lady and we told her we would pick her (and her wheelchair) up for church on Sunday. She was so excited to go to church, to get out of her house and to listen to our GPS in the car! She has talking clocks at home but the GPS fascinated her! People in the ward don’t really know her and it is another situation where she needs to be taken care of by a ward that is overwhelmed with situations like this. We are constantly wondering how we can help when what we can do is like sticking our finger in the leaking dike. We saw a bus from the Baptist church going around picking up their members. We need a Mormon bus!

The Bishop was telling us how homeless people come into the church all the time asking for money. He was laughing because he found a man sitting in the chapel on Saturday when he came for the baptism. He asked him if there was something he could do for him. The man asked for money and a cup of coffee. The Bishop laughed and told him he was in the wrong church!

We went to tour the bike shop for the Kiwanis club last week. They repair and give away thousands of bikes every year to needy children in the area. What an amazing shop! There are service opportunities there for the missionaries. We will meet with the coordinator of the parks in the area this week for service opportunities in their city parks.

It’s always an adventure!

The gospel’s true and we love you!
Elder and Sister Hardman

License plate holder:
I am a Princess
My Dad is King of Kings

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Letter #4

Transfer Day! What an experience! We went early Tuesday morning to help with the luncheon and to get the church ready for the new missionaries arriving. It looks like Christmas morning. There is a big black bag full of the new missionaries bedding, and most of them have a new bike ready and waiting for their arrival. The gym has tables all set up for a nice lunch and everyone is just waiting for them to come to the church. The mission President and his wife and the A.P.s go to the airport to pick them up. We also had a sister that came straight from home without going to the MTC. She is from California and did the MTC online. I didn’t know that happened. Her family drove her right to the mission field, interesting. Sister Beutler (the other MLS senior missionaries) puts on an amazing lunch. We had four new missionaries, three MLS couples, and the two office couples, along with President Chesnut and his wife and the A.P.s. I made funeral potatoes but that was just a small part of the lunch! After lunch the missionaries get training on all sorts of things and that lasts until about 4pm. Then their new trainer shows up and meets them, they take a picture and off they go! In the meantime the other sisters and elders that are being transferred arrive and the trading takes place. They received their new assignments on Sunday night so they know where they are all heading. It seems to be a chance to see and enjoy visiting with other missionaries while they load up suitcases, bikes and even teddy bears. They end up with their new companion and then drive off. It is quite a day! I looked around but decided to stick with the same companion so we drove off to help with the next meal of the day.

We hadn’t been to the mission home yet. It is on a hill up by the Temple. In fact it has a beautiful view of the Temple from the backyard. The Beutler’s were already there cooking. This is the dinner for the missionaries that are going home. They spend the night at the mission home and fly out on Wednesday for home. Brother Beutler had dropped the missionaries off at the Tempe for a session before they leave. We had to put their suitcases in the garage because it started to rain. Usually I guess it all stays in the back of the truck until they leave. Once again Sister Beutler made an amazing meal. I hope this won’t ever be my assignment. She must cook for two days before these events! We set the big table for all of us. We ate and then the missionaries bare their testimonies. It was a sweet opportunity to hear them. We knew one of the missionaries that was leaving. He is a remarkable missionary. Every time he speaks I have learned something. We only knew him a short while but we will miss him! It was a long exhausting day but now we know what transfer day is like.

We had a meeting this week and met the Sister that we will work with helping the missionaries with service opportunities. There is a program called, “Just Serve” that is sponsored by the church but it is done rather quietly. They work in communities with many other churches and organizations and have a website in different areas that show ways people can help others. This sister will “vet” opportunities for ones that can be done by the missionaries. We will work with the zone leaders to have the missionaries know of more service that they can participate in. This Sister lives in Reno and she is amazingly organized. We look forward to working with her. After this one meeting she called and invited us to come to dinner on Sunday with the Sister Missionaries in their area. This was a sweet invitation since it was Mother’s Day. BTW, her husband is also a Bishop. People in Reno are so kind. This was our second dinner invitation this week. It was Elder Hardman’s week to cook. He didn’t have to make anything on Tuesday, Sister Beutler sent us home with leftovers so he didn’t have to cook on Wednesday either. Then we were asked out Saturday and Sunday. I think he cheated on his week! This week he invited the zone leaders to dinner so not only will I cook all week but we will have guests. Remember how I just said how nice people are in Reno…I haven’t been here long enough to turn nice yet.

Our funny (sad) story for the week was while we were looking for an address. We pulled into a complex and I could see that an old man was sitting in a wheelchair in the doorway of an apartment but he was leaning forward with his hands down by his feet and his head was hanging nearly as low as his hands. I got out to see if he was okay and Elder Hardman came up behind me. I asked several times, loudly if he was okay. Elder Hardman said sadly, “Oh dear, I think he’s gone. We will have to call someone” and I looked and saw his finger move so I asked if he was okay again. He sat up and asked who was there. This was a rough looking fellow, he seemed nearly blind and had a big ugly sore by his eye, his fingers were tobacco stained and his clothes were very dirty. I told him that we saw him and were worried about him and asked if he was okay, if we needed to call anyone for him. He told us, “No” he had just been “deep thinking”.

I was very spoiled for Mother’s Day. I received Jeffrey Holland’s “Mother’s” book, the Mormon Tabernacle choir’s new CD, chocolate covered strawberries and roses, and a picture painted by Sage. Wow! Thank you to all my sweet children. It didn’t take the place of spending the day with you but I love the gifts and you! You are all so special to us and we miss you everyday!

We love you all! The gospel’s true and we love you!
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 2, 2016

Letter #3

We are just about to experience our first transfer day. It seems to build up for a week. Last Monday (on P-day) our Zone had a really fun Zone activity. We all got together in the afternoon at the church. The Zone Leaders planned several fun activities. The mission game is 9-square but someone built a large PVC court that the Elders set up. You stand in your square and they toss the ball over the top. You have to hit the ball if it comes in your square up over the top of the PVC and it can’t go out of the court. You can either hit it up and over to (at) another person in their square or you are “out” and everyone rotates, trying to get to the middle square. The ball is a little wonky so it is interesting to see where it goes. If you go in next to Elder Katsilas (who is very tall) you can stay in a long time because he will hit the ball long before it gets to your square. At least that is how I played the game. It moves quickly and even the senior missionaries can get involved. Then the Zone Leaders made teams and we played Jeopardy. They had a “minute to win it” type category, a primary song type category, a Pictionary type category and more. It was a lot of fun but our team came in dead last. No one is going to want to be on our team. Tuesday at District meeting they wanted to make sure we had a picture taken. I wasn’t really understanding the feeling until they explained that after this week they will be split up. We have a great Elder who is also going home. We have only known them a short time but it’s hard to imagine that some of them won’t be here after this week. I’ve also been asked to help with meals this week. There is Transfer Day lunch and a going home dinner. It will be fun to see how this all works.

In the meantime we are making progress on our list. There are 8 steps we have to complete before a record can be returned to the church. #1. We have to try to contact them at their last known address. #2. We send a letter and see if the post office can forward it. #3. We call any phone number we may have. #4. We send an email if we have that address. #5. We contact known family members. #6. We contact known friends. #7. We contact previous ward leaders. #8. We stalk (oops)… We check online social networks. If all of the above indicate they are not in the ward we can send their records back to the church. Out of the 80 names we have started with we have contacted about 70 of them. Each name is an experience. The student names have gone quickly. We knock on a door and a half-naked student (they study so hard here that their clothes fall off) answers and tells you no one by the name lives there and they have been there over a year. Our funniest student one this week was asking at the door for a Landon and the cute girl said, “This is an all girls’ Sorority”. That young man was dreaming when he gave his address!! The people in homes are harder to track down, it takes several visits to get someone home. Most of them let us know, “Thanks but no thanks” but at least we know they actually exist. Only one man has screamed at us. I wouldn’t let Elder Hardman go into the yard with the two mean pit bulls and “Beware of Dog” sign on the fence. He is determined to go back and talk to a neighbor though. The saddest ones are the downtown names from the motels. The motel managers try to help but there are so many that are just GONE. Some of these are young people in their 20’s. One manager told us our name may or may not have died. We did have one experience that was different. There was a high rise motel right downtown. The receptionist told us we could go up and knock on the door. It was on the 15th floor. We waited and waited for the elevator and were about to leave when a nice man told us that one side was broken but the other side just takes a long time. We finally get on the elevator and it sounds horrible, creaking and moaning all the way to the 15 th floor. We get out and can hear arguing-sure enough from the door we have to knock on. So we knock and it goes silent and we hear so sweetly, “Who is it?” We give our spill and they open the door and thank us for the sack, shut the door and start fighting again. I giggled all the way down in that ridiculous elevator! We have had 2 families we thought might come to church but they haven’t so far. It’s an eye-opening experience! Only 820 more names to go!

Saturday was Spring Cleaning at the church. We helped clean inside and outside. We were working outside with a cute young Mother who was a hard worker. English isn’t her first language but she laughed at things we said. Then the Elders pull up and we find out that she is their baptism for later that day. The baptism was sweet. They had a man that spoke French give the Baptism talk. This young woman is from the Congo. We didn’t need to go on a foreign mission, they speak French in Reno!

I think this sums up our week. We were so sad to miss Kelton’s baptism and Lindy’s 1 st birthday. I don’t think I will get used to the feeling of knowing everyone is together having a special event. We miss you all especially right then. We have loved seeing the pictures. Thank you!

The church is true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

-no bumper sticker this week but I found out that CTR stands for “Called to Reno”, all this time I thought it was something else! : )