Monday, August 29, 2016

Letter #20

This was a fun week with our second zone conference. We were able to attend all of the training. On our first zone conference we were in charge of the lunch so we missed most of the training. It was fun to be a part of everything. We really enjoyed zone conference.

I have talked a lot about MoD’s so I thought it would be a good time to share why we enjoy receiving our nightly MoD’s. Our new sister missionary in the zone told how she was wondering what seeing “Miracles” even meant. It was talked about at the MTC and then when she arrived in Reno she really started to wonder if what everyone was talking about was really a miracle. She bore a sweet testimony of how she has come to realize what a miracle is and how missionaries recognize them. She said she now knows that they see miracles every day. I thought I would share a few MoD’s.

MoD! We got to be missionaries today and we get to do it again tomorrow!

MoD!! The atheist lady that we met a couple weeks ago called us today and asked us to come back!! Also Sisters Muhlestein and Monsivais saw a raccoon for the first time in their lives today!

MoD! We had 7 hours of church today!

MoD! The dad of a LA, part-member family sat in on the lesson and bore his testimony and it was awesome!

MoD! We biked today and didn’t die or get sunburns! Also we had 2 people let us into their houses while we were tracting!

MoD! We saw Elder Gamble at the temple with our investigator who is getting baptized next weekend!

MoD! We were able to help some young women come out of their shells with the shower dance and taught them about missionary work at Mutual.

MoD! We were able to find 3 solid potentials today!

MoD! We had a referral who we were trying to contact and they actually contacted us and set up an appointment with us!

MoD! We had a LA who went through the steps of repentance by visiting the Bishop and then stayed for all three hours of church!

MoD! We were able to receive a prompting to stop by this random lady and she said she had been having impressions that she needs to go back to church and recognized that we were another impression!

MoD! I got to finish out my mission for the Savior with the best missionaries in the best zone ever!

MoD! We had a lesson at the Institute and had planned for 2 male members to come with us. One member didn’t show up so we couldn’t go inside. But then! Another member of the ward just so happened to be walking by, playing some game on his phone. He was down to be present for the lesson. It was an awesome lesson!

MoD! We got to have yummy waffles and eggs for dinner!

MoD! The Elder that taught Sister Balbuena’s family before they were baptized visited our ward today and he got to hear her speak about her conversion story in Sacrament Meeting!! (Sister Balbuena is from the Philippines. She has been a member for 5 years)

MoD!! A former investigator talked to her granddaughter about how she hasn’t seen her sisters (us) in a long time and then we showed up a couple of hours later! God knows us!

We love reading these every night from the different companionships but the miracle we see every day are these Missionaries. Let me tell you about one of them. Sister Gali (pronounced Nali) is from Samoa. She joined the church three years ago and by her own admission, promptly went inactive. Her Uncle has sons that have served missions. Sister Gali is the youngest of five girls, so when her Uncle told her she needed to serve a mission she wasn’t even sure what he was talking about but knew that he was right. She was surprised to receive a call to America because she only knew three English words, “Hi”, “Bye” and “No”. She tells how she still only knew about that much when she left the MTC. The Chesnuts told us that she had come just before they came last year and the President leaving said, “Good luck with that one. She doesn’t know any English. It will be a miracle if she stays!” Well, she stayed. She tells how she couldn’t help with discussions and didn’t know what people were saying so she would randomly blurt out her testimony, whether it was appropriate or not. She giggles about that now. At the end of last year she found out that the uncle who was instrumental in getting her on a mission, died. Sister Gali was heart-broken but she stayed. In June (she can tell you the exact date) she found out that her father had died. She felt like she needed to go home. She asked if she could call her mom. Her mom asked her, “Do you love me?” “Do you want to be happy the rest of your life?”, “Then you need to stay on your mission”. Sister Gali stayed. We love Sister Gali. Elder Hardman lovingly calls her (not to her face) his pitbull. Sister Gali is only about 4’ 10” but she is solid. She is loved by everyone. She is a walking miracle and we are honored to serve with her. She will be going home this transfer. These missionaries are our miracles every day.

I hope you will think about and recognize the miracles you see every day. Our lives are so blessed.

We had a fun couple of days with Shalene and Garrett this week. We went to the car museum, walked on the Riverwalk and went to Virginia City. I still wanted to get in their car when they were leaving but not as badly as I wanted to when Lori came, so I guess I’m making progress!

We love our family. We appreciate all of your love and support. The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Sign on business door….
“We’re always here, unless we’re gone”

Monday, August 22, 2016

Letter #19

Elder Pearson presented this graph at MLC. A study was done of missionaries that showed that the effort/diligence of the missionary and the missionary’s attitude/attributes move them toward greater faith. There is a place for each missionary where their frontier of faith begins but before their personal frontier they face barriers that stop them from reaching their frontier of faith, breaking through and finding miracles. We wondered how the Leaders would present this in Zone meeting this week. This assignment was given to the STLs (Sister Training Leaders). They did an amazing job! They had everyone go outside where they had drawn the graph on the patio and they used the missionaries as participants on the graph. They put three missionaries inside the graph and then had a “Holy Ghost” and a “Satan” join them as they faced their barriers. Some of the barriers were, “Its hot outside”, “All of your appointments cancelled”, and “Your companion is upset about some news from home”. As the three missionaries faced their barriers our sweet Elder Galbreath (the missionary/gentleman from Georgia) told them calmly that “Frostys are only 99 cents at Wendy’s and they needed a little break.” “Everyone had cancelled on them anyway, they could go home and “chill” for a bit”, “In fact, today had been a bad day all together, if they went home, tomorrow would be better”. He was such a gentle Satan that it was hard to see any harm in what he suggested. Our poor Holy Ghost was having a terrible time sounding as reasonable as Elder Galbreath! It took our missionaries on the graph to voice out loud their own determination to get past the barrier and break through to the miracles to make it happen. It was a great way to present these ideas to the other missionaries. I was so impressed. I learned more from them than I did from the presentation at MLC. They went on to teach about the principle of alignment. All spiritual power is a function of alignment with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Being in alignment qualifies us to receive their power. Faith is a principle of power and alignment. I had been looking forward to seeing how they would “pass on” the training they received. It was the first time we had been invited to listen in at MLC. I don’t think we will ever get over being amazed with these young missionaries. As you watch them in the mission field you realize how under-utilized they are when they come home. They are so used to being in charge, to studying, to testifying but when they go home they “retire”. Elder Pearson told them in strong terms that there needs to be a generation of Leaders in the Church that would be ready to stand against the world before the Savior comes again. They need a “Vision of Who They Are”. I learned that Satan doesn’t need to be loud or unreasonable to lead you astray. Those gentle whisperings that turn me aside from the right are not the Holy Ghost. We have listened to many talks lately that repeat that we need to learn what the promptings of the Holy Ghost feel like to us, individually, so that we can recognize them and follow. It was a fun and powerful training.

We are at the end of our list. We have a few people that refuse to be found and we haven’t had success with any of our other tools either.  BUT, we are at the end of our list! It has taken 4 ½ months but we are at the end of the list! We receive about 10 names a week that are new move-ins that we will continue to visit and we still have some clean-up and re-visits to do but we are at the end of our list! Our new move-in list rarely is someone that has recently moved in. We found one lady that has probably lived in her house for 30 years but the Church somehow found a P.O. box address and we tracked her down on Facebook to Reno and followed up by finding her real address with U.S. Search. Our detective skills are amazing. : ) She was surprised when we showed up but was kind. We have moved out an average of 100 records a month. I guess the official number right now is 533. I want to make a list now of the nice and the naughty ones that are left and have a visit with Santa Claus before Christmas this year. There are definitely some of them that should get a lump of coal in their stockings. We heard at MLC that one Senior Missionary calculated that it takes 32 visits before people’s hearts are softened. I asked Elder Hardman if that included the countless times we knock on the door before we find them home. Only 31 visits/person left to go!

We went to visit a less active Sister that recently moved in. We had a nice visit and I told her I needed to go because I had a R.S. dinner to go to and would she like to come? She grabbed her purse and off we went. She talked with everyone and was fun to have along. She did tell me that if church were like R.S. activities she would always come. : )

So where are you on the graph? Are you stuck behind a barrier or pushing forward toward a miracle? If you are hearing a soft, Southern voice in your head telling you to give up or give in, DON’T LISTEN!

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

p.s. To let you know that Elder Galbreath really is an amazing missionary and not like Satan at all we have included a picture of something Elder Galbreath pointed out to us. This is at a downtown motel. It is our laugh for the week. In case you can’t tell, it is a filled-in swimming pool, now read the sign that is posted.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Letter #18

Whew! It was a busy week! We had some fun experiences this past week. I don’t know if it’s because school has started or what but we also felt like we had success in finding people home again.

Monday- It was a regular P-day except that Garrett talked me into bringing my sewing machine so that I could offer to fix things for the missionaries. He told me how much he would have appreciated that on his mission. I have hemmed pants for an Elder and this week was asked to fix two dresses for a Sister. Her Mom had sent her two new dresses that have hung in the closet because they are too long. Thank you Garrett for the idea. You were right, it is appreciated by the missionaries.

Tuesday- We signed up to help at the Mobile Pantry for the Veterans. This is held once a month and we helped once before but decided we would like to do some of these assignments ourselves. The missionaries hog the Mobile Pantry assignments for themselves and never invite us to help. We have picked a few in the mornings that we want to help with. The Veterans one is special to us. They are so grateful for the food they receive. We are meeting some wonderful people that help each week with the Pantries. One retired couple help twice a week, every week! They always tell us how much they love the young missionaries that come to help. We always want to say, “What are we? Chopped liver?” The young missionaries always make an impression. After the pantry we went to District meeting. It is always the highlight of the week! I think the missionaries saw us at the meeting and remembered that they could use us. We were asked by the Stead Sisters if we could drive them out to a person they were going to read the Book of Mormon with, way out in the country. (remember, their miles have been cut) This guy lives way out in the boonies and he was “out there” in more ways than one. He served in Viet Nam and is rather paranoid and maybe a little bit crazy. His house was a disaster area. We had to “find” a place to sit under piles of stuff. Reading with him was difficult because he easily gets distracted and wants to tell his own stories. He wears a gun on his hip and asked the Sister if she was scared then proceeded to tell us it was for the rattlesnakes on his property. : ) Oh, the life of a missionary! It’s never dull! We hurried home because we were feeding the Zone Leaders that night and the Sisters in our complex had also asked if they could come to dinner. Elder Hardman had to drive to pick up the Zone Leaders and had to drive them back. It all turned out nice though. We had a fun dinner and sharing, “Our favorite part of the Mission” stories. During the dinner our trio of Elders called to see if we could help with a lesson that night. We dropped off the Zone Leaders and went to a lesson. It was with the new convert that we help a lot. The lesson was about Temple Ordinances and we told her we would drive her by the Temple on Wednesday when we picked her up to go grocery shopping. Tuesday was a full day!

Wednesday- We took Leslie to see the Temple and to go grocery shopping. She was having a difficult day. Shopping took a long time. She also saw the Taco Bell and asked if we could stop and get her lunch there because there was something on T.V. that she wanted to try. After all of her errands we took her home and saw the Access (handicap) bus waiting for her to take her to a doctor’s appointment. She hadn’t planned her day well. The rest of our day was spent knocking doors. Little by little…… We also taught our ESL class in the evening.

Thursday- Temple Day! I hope I remember to be as excited to go to the Temple as these young missionaries are. It was extra fun for them because President and Sister Chesnut, and President Parry surprised them by being there with them. It was a beautiful cool morning. They love to have their pictures taken together. It was a fun morning. We then knocked doors until it was time to get ready to go to the Temple again! We had two Elders leaving to get home in time to start college. We were asked to accompany them for a session. We went to dinner at Sizzler’s with the Chesnuts and the Elders. It was fun to be with just two Elders going home. Usually it is a crowd of them departing and they sort of keep each other calm. These two were giddy with excitement. We had a nice Temple session and drop them off at the Mission home. We were the last session for the night so it was late. One Elder quickly told the other that they were breaking rules being out so late!

Friday- MLC. We went to help with lunch and were invited to stay and listen to the General Authorities that were coming to speak. Elder Pearson and Larkin from the Seventies spoke. It was very uplifting and also made us wonder what more we should be doing. This is missionary work, an up and down roller- coaster ride. They get everyone all pumped up and now it will be fun to see how the Zone Leaders pass their enthusiasm on at District Meeting. We left from MLC to teach our ESL students. See how well I’m doing with abbreviations now!

Saturday- We usually go to help clean the chapel but when we got there they were having a funeral and the chapel had already been cleaned. They don’t really use email or text in this ward to let you know things beforehand. I guess it gave us a jump on our day. We knocked a lot of doors and actually were able to finally close out several of the “hard to get” houses. We thought we would take a trip to Susanville in the afternoon. We learned several things on the ride to Susanville. 1. Doyle, California is over 40 miles away and we now feel really bad for those cows they drive from there to the rodeo. We will appreciate them more next year when they arrive from Doyle. 2. Susanville has two State Prisons and one Federal Prison close by. The Prisons employ the majority of the adults in Susanville. 3. There is a Susan River. 4. There is a random tree in the middle of nowhere that people have thrown shoes on. There is no sign to explain this behavior but the tree is full of shoes of every kind. 5. The shoe tree was the most exciting thing about the drive to Susanville.

Sunday- The day of rest, mostly because the ideas we had to visit people all fell through. Anyway, this was the first week we have had that I thought, “Wow, that went by fast!” It’s good to be busy.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Temple Day and the Shoe Tree

Monday, August 8, 2016

Letter #17

The flora and fauna of Northern Nevada.

As mentioned previously, I spend a lot of time looking out of the car window. I have been taking note of the animals and the vegetation around us. I thought I would share some of my observations. We live in the city but we are surrounded by untamed properties so we also have lots of critters around. It is interesting to see things we think live in a desert combine with things we think live in a northern climate. As we go walking by our apartment we have seen lizards, cottontail bunnies, a coyote, quail and squirrels. They are everywhere! We have to wait for a family of quail to gather their babies and get out of the way every time we leave the complex. Squirrels are in every neighborhood. We were laughing when we went to the Sisters apartment. We stopped to talk to their neighbor who is growing an amazing container garden by her apartment. She told us that she was sick of the squirrels eating her plants. The next time we went we almost stepped on a squirrel who was staring intently toward her garden. As we got closer we realized she had covered the whole grow box with chicken wire and inside there were beautiful ripe tomatoes. I know that squirrel was trying to figure out to steal those tomatoes. Some of the squirrels have a white collar of fur around their neck. Those are the missionary squirrels who are here to cry repentance, to teach the other squirrels not to steal and plunder gardens. This squirrely behavior was also mentioned in Sunday School today so you can imagine they have a real problem. I have also been trying to catch me a pet lizard. Elder Hardman keeps telling me that I can’t have one. I never have a container handy when the opportunity arises, but someday! One day when we were knocking doors I saw the most amazing lizard! I wanted it! It had a neon blue tail. It looked like someone had dipped its tail in paint. I could have caught it but Elder Hardman gave his little talk about ”What was I going to do with it if I caught it” (I was going to keep it and make it a beautiful terrarium to live in and it was going to be my special friend) I didn’t catch it but I did look it up when I got home and I will try to send you a picture. It is a Great Basin Skink. They are cool! The rest of the lizards I try to catch are fairly ordinary but Elder Hardman says I can’t have them either. As for the flora, we like to go to Rancho San Rafael Park and look at the botanical gardens. Growing next to the Giant Sequoia will be cactus and oak trees. I know it snows here but many desert plants grow in abundance. When we came in April the hills were covered in green grass and it was beautiful. Now all of that grass is brown and dry and the city is constantly covered in smoke from fires here and in California. It is interesting to see the similarities and differences from Utah. This really is a high desert!

We spent the week doing pretty much what we always do. We knocked a lot of doors. We now have our books down to time of day. We have doors we need to knock in the morning, doors we need to knock in the afternoon and doors we need to knock at night. We think we are getting close but then we will have ten new names move in.

We have been on a lot of splits with the Elders. It was fun on Friday. We first went to read with some less active ladies that live in Assisted Living. We read a few chapters in the Book of Mormon and Elder Hardman explained to them about the compass (the Liahona) and they were tickled with that. We then went to give a blessing to an 85 year old lady that isn’t a member but was raised in the church as a child and decided she wanted a blessing. It is a sad story. The lady’s granddaughter was high on drugs and alcohol and beat her grandmother. She had a broken femur, ribs and it almost killed her. She has felt down and decided she wanted a blessing. Her daughter, who isn’t a member and knows nothing about the church is there helping her Mom. As we were visiting and talking about things her Mom knows about the church we were talking about the Book of Mormon. I asked the daughter (she’s in her 60s) if she wanted one and she said, “Yes”. I went and got her one from the car. Elder Hardman was busy bragging that up to the other missionaries. Funny! So if we are keeping track of Missionary Opportunities, I placed a Book of Mormon.

Saturday we attended a baptism for a lady we went with our first Zone Leaders to teach. We missed Elder Short and Elder Baker. They would have loved to be at that baptism. This lady is from Belgium and is fun to listen to. Her name is Astrid Honey. I don’t know how she spells Honey. She is now Sister Honey. : ) She has been taught by several missionaries and was excited to finally be baptized. We took some pictures of the missionaries that came.

Our Zone Leaders sent out an apology last night that mileage allowances have been cut. They lost ten cars in the last transfer and now the mileage has been cut. Good thing our Elders have us, we not only come for splits, we drive. We keep wanting to send them our odos. : )

We will go to the Temple two times on Thursday this week. It is our zone’s Temple Day and we were asked to accompany the two Elders that are going home Friday on their Temple session Thursday night. They always get to go to the Temple the day before they go home. Some will go to places where there isn’t a Temple so this might be their last opportunity for a while.

Always stuff to do and things to observe! The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

As I was Facebook Stalking today this made me laugh,
“The human body is 90% water, We’re basically cucumbers with anxiety.”

Monday, August 1, 2016

Letter #16

“It’s like herding cats!” These are the last words of advice from Sister Chesnut before our big transfer day. She was right! Really it was a very special day. We went to help with lunch at the mission office. Sister Beutler always serves amazing meals. She insists we have a huge bowl of fruit at every meal. It is fun to watch it disappear. The new missionaries arrive at different times throughout the morning. We had three Sisters that went to the Mexico MTC so they arrived later than the rest. The first thing we do is feed them. Altogether we have 17 new missionaries. Then the Assistants, the Office staff and President Chesnut start their training, have interviews, they write a letter home, they have pictures…. It is a busy day for these new missionaries. The Sisters coming from Mexico had already talked with a woman on the plane, gave out a Book of Mormon and had this family meet President and Sister Chesnut in the airport. These young missionaries are remarkable. While the Office is busy with the new missionaries we were trying to figure things out with the departing missionaries. They are given a lot of instructions beforehand but there are lots of things they are trying to remember and take care of. One of the Sisters had come from Elko (4 ½ hours away). She remembered (after she got here) that she had left her I.D. under the seat of the car in Elko. There was a lot of wondering how to take care of the situation and they decided that Sister Baclayon would drive to Winnemucca and another member would get the license and drive to Winnemucca, that way they each drove 4 ½ hours, but that’s better than 9 hours. That was the big drama of the day. I guess it could have been worse with 21 missionaries going home. Elder Hardman packed and repacked the trailer three times. The departing missionaries took a group picture and then they were shuttled to the Temple for a session. While all of this is going on we also have transfers happening and the Missionaries coming and going love to see each other and want to visit and want to say good-bye and want to hug, and wonder what they forgot in their apartment and are nervous about the transfer. This is where the herding cats come in. I walked back and forth with one fretful Sister three times. We finally had the Sisters that were picking her up come and grab her and put her in the car so they could leave. After this we went to help at the Mission Home. Sister Beutler planned a fancy barbeque, with marinated chicken and brats, funeral potatoes, rolls, fruit salad, corn and spinach salad. There were three kinds of dessert. Elder Hardman did the grilling. I have gotten to be a great fruit chopper. Sister Chesnut showed us the pile of mattresses that would be laid out for them to sleep on that night. We had been asked to sing with the senior couples and we were nervous about taking part in this but there are good singers in our group so Elder Hardman and I sang quietly with the group. They held the testimony meeting out by the fire pit, it was a lovely evening. I’m pretty sure that heaven feels the same as hearing 20 departing missionaries bare their testimonies. It is a sweet experience. We didn’t get home until late that night but we knew the missionaries would be up at 3am to go to the airport and so we didn’t feel too bad for ourselves.

The rest of the week was hot! (temperature-wise) We have all of the names in our notebooks so we are getting excited to close a book out. We thought it would be easy but I guess we didn’t knock on wood or something because we have had little success. One night we realized we only had one “Welcome to the Ward” bag left so we said we would have to go home when we gave that out. We met a lot of grumpy people that night who wouldn’t even accept our bag. One guy told us that he had been married to his wife for 20 something years and it was the first time he’d heard anything about her being a member of the “Mormon” church. The wife came outside and told us she had been forced to get baptized at 14 by someone who never should have been able to hold the priesthood. She obviously had never told her husband any of this. She told us she was her own higher power now, thanked us and sent us on our way. One man told us with gritted teeth that he had told “we people” that he isn’t interested. Maybe the heat is making them all angry. We decided that the downtown area would be the easiest to close out but even that didn’t happen. We have been several times to what we refer to as the “bee house” because when you knock on the door wasps come out of the siding but we can’t find any “body” home. Elder Hardman doesn’t like that house! Brother Johnson did tell us today that our numbers are down to 568. President Chesnut asked us if we are ready for another ward yet. I guess we are getting to that point. I hope the next ward doesn’t have 918 people on their roll.

Since we have had more go home than have come out we have had to combine some areas of the mission. Our Elder in the Keystone Ward has been combined with the Summit Ridge Elders. One of the Elders in that ward will go home before the next transfer to start college so they are in a threesome trying to cover two wards. They have been calling us to do splits. I don’t think they love having to call us. I’m pretty sure the one that goes with us drew the short stick but it is fun for us. We were asked by one lady if we were married and if the Elder was our son. We did get to help with a lesson tonight.

The best part of the week has been the return of the MoDs. We almost cried when they started again. We went around with a treat on Thursday to meet the new missionaries in our zone and the MoDs started again that night. Our zone is back on track. These young missionaries are resilient. We will miss the missionaries that have been transferred.

We were called by some Spanish-speaking Sisters in another Zone that wanted to hear about service opportunities in their area. Elder Hardman told them we would take them to lunch. We met with Sister Martinez and Sister Nelsen (one of the new Sisters from the Mexico MTC) and they were so excited to hear about chances to give service. We later found out that Sister Martinez has only been in the mission field a week longer than we have been. She is already a trainer! We continue to be in awe of these amazing missionaries!

We also love and think of our family at home. We know your lives are busy and we pray for you.

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Transfer Day pictures:
21 departing missionaries.
What transfer day looks like.
Sister Beutler’s amazing lunch.