Monday, June 27, 2016

Letter #11

Another week has gone by! I now have to get my journal and read back to remember things that happened this week. The new assignment we were trained for this week is that we are going to be teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) We went to Carson City on Tuesday to receive training with the young missionaries. They have had the program with the missionaries before but it was over a year ago. Our first assignment has been to track down the books and materials for the program. We have found 9 sets of books, out of 21. Hmmm. It seems to be our calling to go looking for lost things! Anyway, the director is an 85 year old woman that says everyone has the right to be literate. She has amazing energy. She loves the Sister Missionaries and tries to coax them to come and pray with her and visit with her at her office. She explained that we are not to talk about religion or read to the students from our Bible (Book of Mormon) but being the students’ friend is okay. She is working on getting permission at a school for Elder Hardman and I to teach a larger group of people, scary. We haven’t heard back yet on the details. The program is free for anyone with any language but I guess they will mostly speak Spanish. This should be interesting. I guess we may learn a little Spanish along the way. Our experience this week in Spanish is that we know the difference between Coyote (the animal we saw on our morning walk) and Chayote (the Mexican squash we tried). Just kidding, we already know the difference between an animal and a vegetable!

It has been hot this week and so we are knocking doors in the morning and in the evening and doing our paperwork during the middle of the day. Saturday we did knock doors during the really hot part of the day but the thermostat in the car kept saying it was 71 degrees. It sure didn’t feel like 71 degrees so we checked our phone, upper 80’s to 91! Yep that is what it felt like. We drink a lot of water. We also found these “Mighty Mugs” at Walmart that are stainless steel. They keep our water cold all day. It is a great find! Now I need to find a way to keep my skirts down. Someone should tell Sister Missionaries that the wind blows like crazy in Nevada and that an A-line skirt might be a problem. I have to pay constant attention and hold my skirt down.

We have done a lot of door knocking this week but being summertime we rarely find anyone home the first time around. We see the same doors over and over. It is starting to feel like we have knocked every door in Reno. If you wonder why I look for bumper stickers, it is because I spend most of the day in the passenger side seat. I need something to do while looking for addresses. Sadly, I think I am running out of fun bumper stickers.

We went to a wonderful fireside tonight. They have a fireside called, “Why I believe”. They ask recent converts to bare their testimonies and tell their story. We came away uplifted by the things that were shared. These recent converts are amazingly brave. They have all been told that they will be asked to speak in Church now so “they have to get used to it”. I have been a member a long time and I am not used to it! They also had one of our missionaries tell his story. Funny, you don’t think of these missionaries as converts. This Elder joined the church just a few years before his mission. It was a great meeting. They invite investigators to come with their missionaries. It was fun to see the lady that we went to teach with the Elders. She is getting ready to be baptized this week. The Spirit was so strong in the room. One man told how he got on to look for answers and formed a relationship with the Senior Couple that answered his questions. It is interesting to see how the internet has had such an influence in missionary work. Even Missionaries need a reminder of why this work is important and we felt that tonight.

We also get to do funny things. We were asked to go and sit with the Sister Missionaries in their apartment while the plumber came. They aren’t allowed to be in the apartment alone with him. So here we are sitting in an apartment that has very little furniture with two girls (all of us in Sunday clothes) but when the plumber started to tell Elder Hardman what the problem was, one of the girls pops up to sign the papers and talk about the plumbing. I’ll bet he went home with a good story that night!

One of the people we were trying to get a hold of was finally in his front yard cleaning out his motor home. We asked where they had been and they told us Pyramid Lake and that we should go see it. So we did. We took a drive Saturday evening to see Pyramid Lake. It is much bigger than I imagined and the water is a beautiful turquoise color. There are no trees around but it looks like nice sandy beaches. We didn’t see where camping is though so I guess we will have to check out the other side of the lake another time. It is nice to go on little trips and see the area. The missionaries all wistfully talk about wanting to see Lake Tahoe, they aren’t allowed to, so we have to be careful and not tell them that we have gone. (several times) That is our little secret.

Well, the gospel’s true and we love you! Keep those pictures posting, we love to see everyone!

Love you lots and lots!
Elder and Sister Hardman

The sign for the week was on a different church but still applies;
Come as you are, Change inside

Monday, June 20, 2016

Letter #10

I forgot to tell the story of Elder Hardman and his dirty white shirt last week. It was a milestone moment and I didn’t document it! We had been asked to visit a less active (what we are supposed to call people that never come to church) sister by her sister (who is also less active but has a good home teacher). The sister thought her sister would like to know when the meetings are. So off we go with our little “Welcome to the Ward” sack with the meeting times information (and cinnamon rolls, we get excited when we think people will actually want to see us!). The sister (Heidi) invited us in and was very friendly and right then her sister (the one that thought her sister would like some info, Melody) also came to the house. She had been called by Heidi to help her pick up her swamp cooler. We had both sisters in the same house! Well we are supposed to ask if there is anything we can do, right?! So Elder Hardman was out with the swamp cooler, wiggling and lifting the monstrosity into place with a tarp underneath. Needless to say, the mark of a real missionary is a dirty white shirt! He earned it. The sisters told us how their Dad has been a Stake President, a Mission President, etc.… Heidi has two cute teenage children in her home. Elder Hardman asked if there was anything else they needed and she said she needed a dead tree cut down. He would like to have the 14 year old boy help him cut the tree down. We just need to find a chain saw, and go in work clothes.

This week we have stayed clean but it was Transfer Day again and so we spent Tuesday helping with the meals. We had 10 new missionaries come and 7 leave. It is a busy day on Transfer Day! We help prepare and clean up for lunch, go home for about an hour and then do it again for dinner. Sister Beutler goes all out for dinner. I guess it’s their “Last Supper” and she wants to make it special for them. The best part is hearing these seasoned missionaries bare their testimonies. It is a small glimpse of what it might feel like as we give an accounting of our lives. There is a feeling there that I have never experienced before, even at homecomings. There is something about sharing their feelings with other missionaries that have been out the same amount of time, have served together, that love each other. It is a special opportunity to hear them speak. Part of the lessons they give to investigators includes testifying that what the companion has just said is true. One Elder stood up after his companion bore his testimony and said he didn’t want to miss the opportunity (one last time) to say, “I bare testimony that what my companion has said is true!” We also have Temple Square Sisters that are here for “part” of their mission. We have worked with both of the Sisters leaving to return to Temple Square. They are remarkable Sister missionaries. We love them. One of the Elders that went home was the Elder that invited us to breakfast the day after we arrived. It’s amazing how quickly we have become attached to these young missionaries.

We had a fun experience this week watching a cattle drive for the Reno Rodeo. We had heard that they drive the cattle all the way from California and down through the main streets of town! We couldn’t imagine how this was done. People line the streets and you aren’t sure when they are coming because you just can’t expect cows to tell time. Soon we could see them up on the hillside moving toward us. The roads are closed just before they come down. The way they control the cattle is that they are hemmed in by many cowboys (and cowgirls) on horses. I guess they sign up a year early to ride in with the cows and to be on the trail with them. It was a different experience but as we tried going to knock doors later we realized that the rodeo closes streets and detoured us all over. It’s a nuisance when the rodeo comes to town.

Saturday was a wonderful day. The Senior Missionaries have been planning for a while to take a cruise around Lake Tahoe. It had been a much cooler week last week and Saturday was no exception. We dressed well though and so even though it was cold and windy we had a great time. It is a 2 hour cruise around the lake and they do a tour about Lake Tahoe’s history. It is a triple-decked boat and surprisingly the upper open deck was the warmest place to be. It was a great view from the top deck. We enjoyed being with the other senior couples. We really don’t see each other very often. We went to lunch afterward at a Chinese buffet. They had several shrimp dishes so even Elder Hardman was happy.

The rest of the week was knocking lots of doors, no sooner than we clear a notebook out of names Elder Hardman fills them up again. He has a system and we are working our way through piece by piece. Good thing he is so diligent about this. We are working our way through the J’s now. I think M sounds half-way but Elder Hardman says there were a lot of H’s so he thinks we are getting close to half-way. We shall see. I didn’t get an exact count today but during the week we were at 684!

Happy Father’s Day to all of the perfect Fathers in our family. We are so grateful for our Fathers and all that they have taught us. I am grateful for Elder Hardman. I know he could do a mission without me (all ready did!) but I couldn’t do this without him. He doesn’t get discouraged or mad or any of the various emotions I go through on a daily basis. He is organized and devoted to doing his best. I am grateful that he is. We are also so grateful for the Fathers of our grandchildren. We know what it takes to be a Father in today’s world. We so appreciate our sons and son-in- laws that are in the middle of raising young families, having careers, and balancing church responsibilities. We know so much is expected of you and we love you! We hope you all had a great day! Well, the gospel’s true and we love you!!

Elder and Sister Hardman

The Bumper Sticker for the week: Keep Tahoe Blue

I looked, and except for Emerald Bay (which has a green tint), Tahoe looks very blue!! Supposedly their sticker can be found worldwide. If you spot one you can take a picture and post it on their site. Keep your eyes peeled and let me know if you see one in your neighborhood!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Letter #9

This week felt like a Temple Week. The missionaries have the opportunity to go to the Temple once a quarter if they are in the Reno or Sparks area at the time. This means that they are able to go to the Temple once or twice during their mission. They get SO excited when they are able to go to the Temple! They had a date scheduled and found out it was during the Temple cleaning time. Oh my, they were so disappointed and thought they had missed their chance. They rescheduled it for a week later. They have talked about nothing else for the past month. Wednesday was our zone’s Temple day. The Senior and Office couples split up so that there is someone with the missionaries at their session. The Sisters don’t bring Temple clothes with them so they use clothes that have been left at the Temple. The Temple workers are amazing at clipping clothes together so that they “fit” the Sisters. They were all filled with joy to be at the Temple. Elder Hardman and I were asked to be the witness couple. It was a special day. I hope I remember to be as excited as these young missionaries to have the opportunity to go to the Temple. They gathered for pictures in front of the Temple afterward. As we were leaving one Elder spotted one of his converts coming to the Temple to do baptisms. I thought he was going to die with happiness. He had not seen her in a long time. When he saw her at the Temple he was overcome. I was asked to give her a hug from him. It was my first proxy hug! It was a joyous day all around. We then took some of the Sisters to lunch. They can only have a few missionaries together in a public place so we couldn’t go somewhere all together. There are so many rules that they’ve never told Elder Hardman and I about. We are learning.

We then went back to the Temple two more times this week, to do cleaning. Thursday night we went at 9:30pm. We mostly did the vacuuming. We also went to help again on Saturday night. It was earlier though (thank goodness) so we started at 7:00pm. We were told by a member of the Temple Presidency that if we had come to clean the Temple we had come for the wrong reason. He told us we would have time to ponder quietly as we “cleaned” and I tried to remember the enthusiasm that the young missionaries had to be in the Temple. It was a blessing to have this chance to meditate on what the blessings of the Temple mean to me. I am grateful that we are here where a Temple is close by. It is a great blessing to be in the Temple whether you are participating in an ordinance or whether you are serving by cleaning the doors. It was a special week.

We had a great zone training on Tuesday and they are once again preparing for Transfer Day this Tuesday. We also know that the Sparks Stake was split tonight. It has been talked about since the day we arrived. We haven’t felt very affected by their changes but that will have a ripple effect on the mission. It will probably mess up all the zones that we are just barely figuring out for the service opportunities. Oh well. We are still trying to figure out which missionaries received new phones. The only way we can communicate with the missionaries to let them know about their service assignments is to text the zone leaders. Since we have a “smart phone” we are not able to group text them either so Elder Hardman has to text them one by one. THEN some of the missionaries just received new phones and phone numbers! They don’t want us to get bored!

We took our blind sister to church again today. She is fun, she loudly says whatever is on her mind at the time. People are kind to her though. It’s all an adventure! We have been adopted by the recent convert that lives in the downtown motel. She is a nice lady but has lots of needs. We took her to the doctor this week. We never get over how many needs are in this ward. Then we go to the Temple and a Brother in the ward that is on oxygen is there to clean. He is always there to take an assignment, he always says, “I can’t do much but I can do something”. We see both sides of the coin here. There are great people in the Keystone ward!

We missed the mark this week. We were hoping to break the 700 mark but the Membership Clerk said that we are at 702! He does get tickled to report to us. We have certainly appreciated him the past two weeks. His Mom fell and broke her hip and she is struggling with infections and swelling but our good Brother Johnson was still working and pushing through on these records! Let me repeat, there are great people in the Keystone ward!

We decided to take a Sunday walk on the University of Nevada campus tonight. It is a beautiful campus! It has been a little cooler today so it was a pleasant evening for a walk and the campus only had a few people around. I am glad we went to see it.

Well, The Gospel’s true and we love you!


Elder and Sister Hardman

P.S. Elder Hardman decided to help me find a bumper sticker this week, his contribution:
“I love my Country
It’s the Government I’m afraid of”

I like the one I found better.
“Don’t believe everything you think”

Monday, June 6, 2016

Letter #8

We had a fun drive to Virginia City last week but we found out that nothing opens up early in Virginia City, even on a holiday. We were there at 9:30 am and found a really great parking place. We got out and started to walk around and noticed that most things wouldn’t open until 11 or 12. We hadn’t planned on staying that long. We walked up and down the street and met another LDS family that had come early too. Finally we decided that we would come another time and we drove back. It is mostly just tourist shops but I think the museums would be fun to see… another day. The rest of the day was for preparation and shopping for groceries. We did have a nice picnic with the Beutlers in the evening. It is funny how you only get to know what is in your area. We have been to the Rancho San Rafael Park by us several times. It is a nice park with an arboretum and flower gardens and walking trails so we took the Beutlers there. They have been here for 17 months but serve in Sparks and they had never seen the park before. We are going to have to make sure we find out things to see in Sparks and Carson City while we are here!

The remainder of the week was busy just doing what we do. We plan our days and then wait to see what actually happens. Tuesday was another great day with the missionaries. No matter what has gone on, Tuesday makes it all better. We are starting to feel the heat when we are out knocking doors now. Elder Hardman and I say that the house we are looking for will be the scariest one on the street and the apartment will be on the third floor! Someone had thrown-up all over the stairs at one place and that was how I felt after climbing the stairs in the heat. (I won’t tell you about the house where a rat ran out) It’s amazing how Elder Hardman can still remember specific people as we go around. I feel like they are all melting together.

We took a lady to go shopping at the grocery store this week. She lives in a motel downtown and she usually takes the bus but she has been sick for 3 weeks and felt too weak to ride the bus to the store. We helped her find a scooter and walked beside her as she did her shopping. I think her greatest concern was that she was out of cat food. Her cat is very dear to her. We have also been invited by different Sisters to help with lessons. We are learning how often they plan a lesson, get everything ready (ask members to join them) and then the people cancel. It’s amazing that they keep trudging on. We are also finding out how it feels when someone is so close to baptism and Satan comes along with doubt and fear and Word of Wisdom struggles. Young missionaries are incredible as you watch them deal with all of this. I often think of the words of Isaiah as I watch them. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7) These missionaries (and their feet) are beautiful and they shine forth in a dark and lonely world. We are so blessed to be associated with them.

Thursday was poor planning. We arranged to meet with a zone to do service at one of the parks on the hottest day (so far) of the year. Their parks are county parks that are overseen by a Ranger. They are all beautifully maintained and we wondered what we would be doing. The answer, “Picking up trash”. The trash didn’t live out in the open, it was under sage brush, floating in the river, cut up in tiny pieces, lying next to the barbed wire fence. Still it was nice to be outside in nature. Once again the Elders come through and act like the activity is the greatest idea ever. They have already formed a relationship with the Ranger and I don’t think they will only be picking up trash. He was so impressed with their willingness to work. I also heard them talking to the young adults in the skate park. They have indomitable spirits!

Our 2 month mark was on Saturday and I don’t know how the city found out but they set off fireworks for us! I think it was nice of them to provide such a grand celebration. It’s probably because we helped clean up trash.

That was our week. How was yours? We love hearing from you! Pictures, emails and letters are always welcome.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love and kisses,
Elder and Sister Hardman

p.s. I didn’t see a good sign or bumper sticker this week. I will pay more attention this coming week.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Letter #7

This week we went to jail, oops I guess I need to add “the”. This week we went to the jail. We were asked by the Office Sister if we could go and see a lady that is in jail. The Sister Missionaries have taught her four lessons and they feel close to her. I guess the lady got drunk and wrecked her car by driving into something. The Sisters couldn’t go visit her so we were asked. The Office Sister told us it was an intimidating thing to go visit someone in the jail and gave us all sorts of warnings but it wasn’t a big deal at all. They now have it setup like Skype. You take your I.D. in and after they clear you, you sit in front of a screen and the person in jail talks to you from somewhere in the jail on a phone but you see each other on the screen. This lady was just embarrassed that we saw her in jail. I hope we let her know that we were there because we care about her and the Sisters care about her. It was a new experience. They have a nice building and a really cool OLD police car in the front lobby. Steve and Jason would love it! They may have to visit the jail when they come. We feel very comfortable in jail now!

We also went with some of our zone to the Kiwanis bike shop this week to do service. Elder Hardman and 4 other Elders worked on bikes. I and 4 other Sisters sewed and stuffed dolls. I think the Elders enjoyed it more than the Sisters did. The Elders all said that they wanted to go every week for a few hours. They teach them how to fix the bikes and they have all of the equipment and the missionaries can go when they want without scheduling it or letting anyone down. We have been in the middle of some of the zones not getting the message that they had a food pantry assignment and everyone is upset that they let them down and were short-handed. This service doesn’t have that draw back and it is inside which will be great in the wintertime. We feel really good about this service opportunity and the Kiwanis people are very grateful for the help. I took some material home to sew dolls at home in the evenings. I think they have willing hands to turn and stuff and whip-stitch them shut but no one wants to sew the body. I have a lot of little doll bodies in our apartment now. They asked the Sisters if they wanted to drop a supply off at the hospital and they were excited about doing that so we need to work out the logistics. This week we will take another zone to work with a park ranger in a local park. We think we have it figured out which zones need more opportunities to serve each week. Elder Hardman has sat with a map figuring out where each zone serves and what opportunities are in their particular zone. Some zones have regular assignments which fill their hours each and every week, other areas are struggling. Hopefully we are helping to facilitate all of this. We laughed at an email we received from a Sister we are working with to a non-member volunteer coordinator trying to explain who we are and why they are communicating with us. This is how she explained us, “Full-time missionaries, like the young people, but married and grown-up!”

We will also be helping with lunch on Friday for MLC. Sister Beutler scared me by telling me that she thinks I will have to take her “job” when they leave. I don’t want her job! She makes amazing meals and is so organized and it is a HUGE job! I hope we get another senior couple here before I have to do the meals!

We think we will go and see Virginia City tomorrow for p-day. We are going to have a picnic with the Beutlers in the evening. The Zone Leaders wanted us to come to their p-day tomorrow because they wanted to go play at the Institute but because it is a holiday they need a responsible adult (don’t know if we qualify) there. We were trying to make it work but they decided to do something else so we can go ahead with our plans. We have decided that Holidays are hard! We have a hard time knowing that you are doing things without us! I guess summer is officially here!

I like going to church now and having the membership clerk update the count-down. They are now down to 784! That’s a lot of door knocking but it’s better than making the meals!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

My sign for the week is a picture I took of the gas station down the street. I love honesty!