Monday, July 25, 2016

Letter #15

The Parable of the Farmer and the Mule:

There once was a farmer who had an old mule. One day the mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer decided neither the mule or the well was worth saving so he called his neighbors to come and help throw dirt into the well to bury the mule below. As the mule was being buried by clogs of dirt that rained down upon him he decided that with each shovel-full he would shake it off and step up. It was a painful as the dirt and the clods fell upon him and he thought of giving up and giving in, but each time he shook it off and stepped up. Shake it off and step up, shake it off and step up. Eventually the mule stepped over the wall of the well. The dirt that was meant to bury him, blessed him.

This parable was given in a talk today in sacrament meeting. It was meant as an introduction to the subject of pioneers and how they dealt with adversity but it felt appropriate for missionary work (and everyday life). Sometimes it feels like someone is up there shoveling dirt on us. How we deal with adversity determines whether or not it will bury us or bless us.

We were hit in the head with a few dirt clods this week but we also felt the light from above falling into the well. It’s funny but a little bit of hope takes away the memory of the hard things.

We were asked to pick up a missionary at the Mission Office. He was playing basketball on P-day a week ago and turned and ran into the pole really hard. He received a concussion and has been put on bedrest but his symptoms were not getting any better. They decided he needed to go home. This is another Elder in our zone. He only had a few months left on his mission. He had been left in the Mission Office all day but they close at 5pm. We were asked to take him home, feed him and keep him until his companions could pick him up. They took him to their apartment where he packed and left the next morning for home. While we were picking him up, President Chesnut told us another Elder in our zone would be going home on Monday. He has been having headaches every day and after going to many doctors, Missionary Medical decided he needed to go home too. Our poor zone has had 4 missionaries go home early since the last transfer. This week is Transfers. Our zone needs to have some positive things happen. We have felt the loss of our wonderful zone leader, no more “Miracle of the Day” reports. This makes us sad. The week before transfers is always a little melancholy but this past week
was especially so. We are hoping this next transfer will put new life into the zone.

Speaking of Transfer Day, this one is the BIGGY! We are having 27 missionaries leave (including the three recent ones from our zone) and 18 are coming on Tuesday. We had a Pow Wow with the President and the senior couples to talk about how we were going to handle this. We do the lunch for the incoming missionaries and then we will have to pack the outgoing missionaries and take them to the Temple for a session, then they go to the Mission Home for a nice dinner and testimony meeting. They are not even allowed to unpack their luggage after they bring it to the Mission Office. They have to bring an overnight bag to the Mission home. It promises to be a crazy day! In between all of this it is a regular transfer day with pretty much everyone coming to the Mission Office to drop off and transfer to new companionships or to pick up and train a new missionary. I can’t wait to see what it all will look like.

Our bright spot of hope this week came on Saturday as we were knocking doors. We met a fun lady, who is originally from Delta, in her front yard. She happily welcomed us and we had a nice visit. She told us she quit smoking a couple of years ago and has been thinking that it is time to go back to church. This is a lady who lives in a nice home with a well-kept yard, a job, a husband (Catholic) and everything! It’s too good to be true! She didn’t come to church today but we aren’t giving up. She told us she would like us to come for that “once a month thing”. See, it doesn’t take much anymore to get us excited!

Elder Hardman, Elder Hammond and President Chesnut even went and played 9 holes of golf on Saturday morning. I think President Chesnut was happy for an outlet. Elder Hardman said that he did okay. He was enjoying playing so much before we left that I hope he is able to go some more. It has to be worth bringing his clubs with us!

We took another fun drive on Saturday to Mormon Station. It was the first city, historically, in Nevada. Brigham Young sent some pioneers to have an outpost at Mormon Station. The first white baby in the State was born there. The history goes on to tell how the Nevadans hated the Mormons and kind of forced them out. Hum, seems familiar. Anyway, it is a cute little town (Genoa) and a pretty state park. It isn’t too far from Carson City.

We are so proud of Hunter for graduating this past week. It was hard not to be there. It is an end of an era for us. We paid our first college tuition to Ricks College and our last to BYU-Idaho, same place, new name. We feel so grateful that we have been able to provide this opportunity for our children. It makes us feel so blessed.

We now have the last of the names in our notebooks! We will still need to visit each of those names and we always have the new move-in lists but we are seeing the top of the well! We had a return missionary speak last week and he told how speaking to strangers and in church never got easier for him. I understand, I don’t think I will ever “enjoy” knocking on doors but I know what we are doing is needed and it isn’t something they have been able to do for themselves. I get worried about what assignment will come next. I will try to “Shake it off and step up”!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

p.s. Favorite quote of the week,
“I never lose. I either win, or I learn.”

Pictures: Mormon Station collage and the first page of our Transfer Day activities, it will be a busy day!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Letter #14

If you love the thrill of roller-coaster rides, serve a mission! I have never felt so many ups and downs in my life! We have had a better week this week but it still leaves you with more emotions than you know what to do with.

We have an FHE once a month at the mission home with the President and his wife and the other senior couples. This past Monday was that night. It is nice to meet together. We tried having the meal outside but in true Reno weather style our food was blowing around the table and landing in other people’s laps so we took the party indoors. President Chesnut shares the many miracles that are happening in the mission and your heart feels full with his report. He told how an Elder was recently transferred to a companion that has diabetes. This Elder started having weird symptoms and his companions recognized them as diabetes and took him to an emergency room. The doctors told them that one more day and he would have been in a coma. He shared many more miracles going on in the mission. Considering the fact that he had just had two missionaries that had to return immediately, it was sweet to hear of the tender mercies that are happening every day in the mission. (UP)

We have had a lot of illness going on in our zone. Our zone leaders have even asked us to pray for the missionaries in the zone. We watch these young missionaries struggle against so many “pitfalls”. We are coming to realize how much a “certain” letter from home will affect them. They all try so hard to be the best missionary they can be but it seems like sometimes the cards are stacked against them. Our amazing Zone Leader has been fighting a mystery illness for quite some time and they made the decision to send him home (it is a few months early) He was crushed. He personally called Elder Hardman to tell us good-bye. We love this Elder. We would laugh because everything he said was, “Awesome” “Super Cool” or “Amazing”. He is the reason we would receive our nightly Miracle of the Day (MoD) reports that we love. He has been so kind to us and we have enjoyed watching him be a spiritual giant but his illness had robbed him of the light in his eyes. It was hard to tell him good-bye but we know he served a valiant, honorable mission and we pray that they will quickly find out what is wrong with him now that he is home. (DOWN)

We participated in an episode of “Hoarders” or “Clean House” this week. (without the camera or cleaning crew, of course) We had a family in the ward that was moving and asked for help. The Sister has been so sweet to me so I knew we needed to go help. The ward was asked to come at 8am on Thursday to help them load the truck. We arrived at 9am, no ward members, no truck. We asked what we could do (we could see that nothing had been packed or taken down). They said in unison, “Clean the bathroom” and they left to go pick up the truck. I plowed my way toward the bathroom and almost couldn’t make myself go in. They had showered and the floor, and everything on the floor, was wet. The toilet hadn’t been flushed in some time. There was “stuff” everywhere. I put on my rubber gloves and dug in. I finally got a broom and dust pan and started shoveling the yuck into the trash, ugh! I packed some stuff into a box but couldn’t bring myself to put the wet towels in there too. I tried to wipe the floors but it had so much shampoo (or whatever) on it that it was a soapy mess. Elder Hardman was trying to tackle the alcove where their little boy slept. You would move things and the bugs would just scurry away! We worked for 2 ½ hours and they finally came back with the truck and we tried to help them put some things in the truck but we didn’t make much of a dent. Then they told us they had a storage unit, the basement and the garage that they needed to move too. (Remember, nothing had been packed!) We know that they moved though so they must have worked it all out. We now know why we had to get so many shots! (Loopdey Loops)

We were able to help with a Mobile Pantry this week. It was a last minute assignment and they needed two more people. This was held in Sun Valley. We think of Sun Valley as a wealthy place but here it is probably the poorest place in the Reno/Sparks area. We had Spanish-speaking Elders come. They are so cute to watch them interact with these good people. The Food Bank adores these young missionaries. The director was so sweet when we met with her. She was telling us about a certain Elder that she loves working with. She said, “I just want to hug him! But I know I can’t do that!” : ) We are enjoying working with our two ladies with ESL. These are such hard-working people. They get up at 4:30 am and work hard all day. Elder Hardman likes to talk with the husband each time. After a long day on Friday husband left to go and do yard work at 5pm. It is such a contrast to the entitlement we see in the downtown motel area. These two women are very different but are working so hard to learn English. They express their appreciation each time and they always work on their homework. The one lady insists the “old guy” at her job practices with her. She was funny telling us the story in her broken English, how she told him he had to help her. We are having fun doing this. (Curves and Twists)

Finally, we received the report today that we are at 609 names. Brother Johnson is determined to get below the 600 mark. Over 300 names have been moved out, not bad. Our notebook are still full though. There are still weird things that happen. We receive a “New Move-In” list also that we go to welcome to the ward. We had one this week where the man at the door told us he wasn’t interested and we told him that we just wanted to know if DeAnn Thomas lived there. He got more upset and told us that was his Mom and she had died three years ago, on that same day. You feel pretty dumb when something like that happens. (Death Drop)

We took a fun drive yesterday evening. Quincy, California is part of the mission so we decided to see what is there. It was a beautiful drive. You quickly climb into pine trees and cooler weather with picturesque valleys and ranches. The Church’s girl’s camp site is by Quincy and we know why now, it is beautiful and worth the drive. There are so many diverse places in this mission. We don’t know how the Mission President keeps track of it all! The Quincy zone reports the highest amount of service hours every month. I guess they don’t get many opportunities to teach and so they do a lot of service. It isn’t a big city but they have a Stake center in Quincy. We figure we will never be transferred so it is up to us to see the different parts of the mission. We liked Quincy! (Coming out of a spin)

Anyway, we are still sitting in our seats with the belt securely fastened and the bar pulled down and are determined to enjoy the ride!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

p.s. Bumper Sticker:
The             were right!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Letter #13

There are a lot of firsts in missionary life. Some are fun, some change your life and others just make you sad. We had that this week. We were called on Wednesday by President Chesnut. He asked Elder Hardman if he was a Minute Man Missionary. We were told to come to the Mission Office in a half-hour to drive a missionary to Elko who would be picked up by their family there. This missionary had to leave the mission field immediately. We drove the missionary to their apartment, helped them pack and drove a long, quiet 4 ½ hour ride to Elko. We met with the parent, put the missionary in their car and turned around and drove back to Reno. This has been a hard week. Hopefully next week will be better.

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 4, 2016

Letter #12

July 4th! Our three month mark and we hear that they will be having fireworks displays all over the valley for us tonight! It is so thoughtful of Reno to plan these things for us.

It was a busy week. We went to a lesson with the Sisters, we had District Meeting, we were the responsible adults for P-day so they could go to the Institute, we did the luncheon for the Beutlers for MLC on Friday and we started teaching in ESL. (isn’t in order but I think I covered everything!)

P-day at the Institute was fun. They have pool, ping pong, bean bags toss, air-hockey and games at the Institute. No wonder kids like to hang-out there. The missionaries pretty much were alone there for the afternoon. We are learning who is good at what. You see a different side when they get together on P- day.

Tuesday they combined interviews with the Mission President with regular District Meeting. They had been asked to prepare a 2 minute talk on repentance to give the President during their interview. They were called out during their meeting so they were all distracted during this time. We keep thinking that we have things figured out but then they do something we haven’t experienced before and we catch a new glimpse of missionary life. We didn’t have an interview, which meant I didn’t have to prepare a talk! Yay!

We were asked to go to a fun lesson this week. The Sierra Highland Sisters were pulling weeds for someone and the neighbor next door came over and told them he was a member. He went in his house and brought out his priesthood ordination paper and a 1920 copy of the Book of Mormon. He hadn’t been to church in 60 years. They asked if he would like them to come and teach him and he said, “Yes”. It was fun to be part of that lesson. He joined the church as a boy living in Idaho and a neighbor lady would pick him up and take him to church. Doing service pays off in so many ways.

Speaking of service, we met with the new director of the Mobile Harvest program (food pantries). She is a cute lady. We met her on our first service opportunity with the food pantry. She was in charge of the site we were working and she had brought her grandmothers to help. She is now in charge of all volunteers. She has 2800 volunteers to coordinate every month! She so appreciates and loves working with the young missionaries. She is thoughtful of their time and their constraints. She asked if it made them uncomfortable to give out coffee. She will be great to work with. We also were given our ESL clients. We are working with two women, one is from Mexico and one is from Peru. They both have a desire to learn English and were fun to work with. I need to thank Sister Fuhriman for her Spanish class she taught in the ward a few years ago and Mr. Valajos (my high school Spanish teacher). I was able to understand pretty much everything they said. We had a good time together. I have to keep them on task though because they start to argue about how things are pronounced, in Spanish and English! We will meet with them twice a week for an hour.

We knocked many doors this week and did lots of paperwork so that we would be able to play with the kids this weekend. Lori and the children drove to Tahoe on Friday. We were able to spend the day with them on Saturday. We hiked down to Emerald Bay, toured the “castle” that is down there, watched the kids play in the water and hiked out. Lake Tahoe is very crowded over the 4 th of July! We went just 2 weeks ago and it was so cold that there was hardly anyone there. They came and toured the apartment and had dinner with us on Sunday. We also fed the Elders because their dinner appointment had fallen through. After dinner we took them to see the Reno Temple and then they drove back to Tahoe. We will spend most of the 4 th with them. It is wonderful to have them here but it also is hard. I may hide in their car on the way home. I had a lady ask me today at church what I missed most. She told me her daughter missed getting a drink out of the tap, she had to drink bottled water. It’s no contest, I miss family the most!

We hope you all have a great 4th of July and enjoy celebrating our three month mark! Those fireworks are for us!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman