Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Letter #37

Merry Christmas 2016

No home, no family, no typical traditions. Christmas 2016 has come and gone. The Elder that came to Facetime his family for Christmas at our apartment said it didn’t feel like Christmas. He is an Elder in his first transfer. I told him it felt like Christmas, just a different sort of Christmas than what we are used to.

Here are some of the things we want to remember about this different Christmas:

1. It didn’t feel as rushed as most Christmases. We had time to focus on “Light the World” and were able to hear testimony of the impact it had as the missionaries extended that invitation to others. Our Elders in Stead stopped to help a local Pastor (didn’t know he was a Pastor) and gave him the 25 days schedule. He told them he was going to share it with his congregation and thought it was the greatest idea ever!

2. Our zone exceeded their new investigator goal by 2 last week! We heard the miracles of those ready to hear about Jesus Christ and approached the missionaries! D&C 123: 12 “For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it-“

3. We took our Christmas breakfast casserole around to many we knew would not have much of a Christmas to celebrate. I don’t think it made it until Christmas morning because they are so grateful for something homemade. We always feel humbled by the need we see.

4. Our spirits were lifted by going to see Mary and Judith’s amazing Christmas house. It is such a happy place. They decorate inside and outside and have Christmas things we have never seen before. They have 7 beautifully decorated trees. There are things everywhere!! You could look for hours and still not see everything. If the garage door is open and the lights are on you can ring the doorbell and they will let you tour the house and backyard. Their only reward is the reaction people have to their hard work. It’s fun. We also went back with the Elders on Friday to introduce them to the new Elders in their area and let them get to know them and share a Christmas message. I was looking up the stairs and noticed they had snowflakes hanging from the ceiling, I hadn’t noticed any of that before. Their generosity in opening their home is incredible. These are lovely ladies!

5. We fed our ward’s Elders on Christmas Eve. We told them to invite someone to come too. They brought (I should say Elder Hardman picked them up) Brother Gregor and Brian (the investigator). We have told you about them. Brother Gregor lived in his truck until about two weeks ago. Brian wears Brother Gregor’s clothes to church, but they both come to church! It is fun to have dinner guests that are in awe of everything you cook! : ) We played Christmas Pictionary. That was an entirely new experience for Mark and Brian. I don’t know that they have ever played a game like that. Brian said he wasn’t too excited about the idea but it turned out fun! They were pretty serious about the game. It was a fun evening.

6. The Sisters in our complex invited themselves to breakfast on Christmas morning. We are quite attached to Sister Neeley. We know she will probably be transferred in January and so she needed to spend some time with us on Christmas. We enjoyed having them come early and share Christmas morning with us. Sister Iongi was telling us something and forgot what she was saying, she said, “sorry, I got lost in the food!” She liked Christmas breakfast casserole too!

7. We enjoyed going to church on Christmas day. That is a special blessing.

8. We had some Elders come to the apartment because they needed a place to Facetime their families. It was fun to eves drop and hear their conversations with their families at home. Their enthusiasm for what they are doing overcomes their desire to be at home. They shared experiences, scriptures and testimonies. It was sweet.

9. We had the best twelve days of Christmas, thanks to our great family. Hunter brought us the Twelve Days of Christmas presents when he came. We really enjoyed looking forward to a surprise to open every night! I can’t even explain why it meant so much to us, but it did! Thank you for all the creative gifts. We are enjoying everything! We love you all!

10. We realize that we won’t always have the opportunity to be fully engaged in service to our Heavenly Father so we will try to remember what this moment in time has meant. We are grateful to have the love of support of friends and family at this special time of the year.

We realize many distressing things happened too. We are so very grateful that Kim received the help he needed so quickly and even though we know there is recovery time and probably a new diet (bummer!), we are glad for the happy outcome. Paisley had a window smashed in at work and her computer stolen on Christmas Eve day, but Paisley is safe and well, we are grateful.

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, December 19, 2016

Letter #36

We just told the Beutlers good-bye! They leave for home in the morning. We are so grateful for the love and mentoring we have received from them. I will miss her even more when we plan, prepare and serve the meals for the missionaries. She gave me a copy of her magic cookbook. She has spent two years serving the most amazing meals. We can’t fill their shoes but we are going to give it our best.

It was a fun, busy week. The mission Christmas party was at the Institute building on Tuesday. All of the missionaries, except for those serving in the east of the mission come to Reno for the Christmas party. We began the day with Zone Conference. Our new senior couple, the Vaiavakas sang two songs for us. We heard great talks from the missionaries, a sweet musical number from the missionaries and testimonies from the Sisters that will be leaving this month. There is only one Elder leaving this time and he is serving in Ely so it was Sisters only. This gets harder each time now as we know these missionaries that are leaving. You wonder how the mission will survive without them and then new missionaries step up and fill your heart. After zone conference we fed them pizza, a fruit salad and lots of goodies. We ordered 40 pizzas from Costco. Missionaries can eat a lot of pizza! They have pool, ping pong, corn-hole, air hockey at the Institute building. They also set up the 9 square court in the parking lot. They all had a great time and we only had one twisted ankle. They handed out the towels and a stocking cap at the end. It was a nice party.

We hurried home from the party because Hunter was here! It sounds like he had bad weather on the way so we were so happy to have him safely here. We had had a perfect, beautiful day for the party. It was so nice that the missionaries played outside. That was the end of the good weather. The two days that Hunter was here is was snowy and cold. We drove to Tahoe ahead of a storm. We tried to get Copper to try out the beach but it was so windy that she just was looking for cover. It was the same beach that Lori and the children played on in July. It was a much different environment than they had! There were surfers in wet suits in the water because the waves were so high! Brrr!

We tried taking Copper to the amazing dog park here but there was snow on the ground and our ever present wind. We tried a walk with her but when it started to rain Copper fled under a sage brush trying to stay dry. She is a warm weather dog. She was so good in the apartment though and kept us entertained watching her. I found out how to make time go by fast, have the family come visit for a few days. Those two days flew by and before we knew it Hunter went home. We appreciate him coming. It is a long drive for just a few days. We miss them both. It was freezing for those two days but having them here made it seem warmer.

Hunter brought us the twelve days of Christmas from the kids. We are having a great time opening a present each day. They have been clever gifts! It gives us something to look forward to at night. So far we have a family Christmas tree, the only one missing is Henna. We have warm socks, a family picture calendar, teenage mutant ninja turtle racers, and chapstick. It has been fun! Thank you!

We are feeding the Elders on Christmas Eve and the zone has different activities planned for Christmas Day and on p-day. I am grateful that Christmas falls on Sunday. It will be special to really focus on the Savior on Christmas Day! We are having a few of the senior couples come over Christmas night to play games. We only have Uno, Phase Ten and SkipBo, hope they like those games! We love each of you so much! We feel your absence but we also feel your sweet support. We are blessed to have our family!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, December 12, 2016

Letter #35

Did you see us on the National News this week? The High School down the road from our apartment, Hug High School had a student bring a knife and was threating other students so the High School’s cop shot him. The school was put in shut-down and there were police everywhere! Last time I checked the 14 year old boy wasn’t doing too well. We didn’t know what was going on but I think every police officer in town was at the school with their lights flashing. We knew it was bad. You would think with a name like Hug, everyone would be loving and kind. It was a tragic event.

The rest of the week was better than this. Remember the man that came out to our car to ask us if he wanted to know more about the church where would he go? Well, the missionaries finally caught up with him (he travels a lot) and had a good lesson. He told them that he was raised Lutheran but lately he had been feeling lost and was praying about it and a week later we showed up at his door. The missionaries felt like he is very sincere but once again he will be out of town for a while. Pray for him, his name is Stuart.

We were laughing this week. It seems like the young missionaries kind of forget that we are here and then all of a sudden we are called several times to go teaching with them. We love these opportunities. This was a week that they remembered us.

We also helped with two Mobile Harvests this week. Angie Medina asked for two more volunteers at each site so we went to help. Sometimes they receive a product from the government to give out. When that happens the “clients” have to sign a paper so it slows down the regular lines and needs more people to help. This week it was eggs. People like to receive eggs so it complicated the process. In the summer they got raisins, only a few people even wanted the raisins so that wasn’t a big deal, but eggs?! Yep it was a much bigger deal. The Mobile Pantries are held outside so it was a little chilly anyway but the lines are still so long and the people are standing in line before we get there. There is so much need! The Mobile Harvest in Sun Valley has the Spanish speaking missionaries come. Elder Hardman and I feel left out because there is much more Spanish being spoken than English. The Spanish speaking missionaries really mingle with the “clients” and talk to them. They are loved at that site. The other one was in downtown Reno, it is full of old, onery people that scream at each other and seem to think they are being cheated. Poor downtown Reno, it is such a different environment than the rest of the area. We hear how the missionaries talk about how they don’t want to transfer to downtown, especially if they have been serving in little Winnemucca or one of the small towns. Downtown Reno is scary to them.

I have been looking for a Nativity. I always told my boys that the only thing I wanted from their mission was a Nativity. I am not sure what a Nevada nativity will look like but we went to several Nevada stores on Monday. I didn’t find a Nativity but we did come home with a 2 foot tree that was decorated. We were told to go to the Senior Assistance organization and check out their gift shop. The items are madeby senior citizens and they receive the money. It was a fun gift shop. They have homemade Raggedy Ann dolls that I may have to go back and get! We are enjoying our tree.

We were called by Sister Chesnut to help with the gift for the missionaries for Christmas. We spent two days gathering items. It takes a lot for 140 missionaries. We met for 3 hours yesterday to put together their gift. A member donated an embroidered towel with the Mission “logo” on it. We added a Christmas card from the 1 st Presidency, a story from the Chesnuts and a bag of goodies. Elder Hardman was running all over town yesterday getting more. Sister Chesnut wanted the goodie bags full! The mission Christmas party is this week.

We will no longer be going to the Office to help out. The couple that was coming is coming. He was cleared by a doctor so they will be here when they were supposed to be. We will continue doing what we know best, knocking doors!

We had the ward Christmas party on Friday night. We went to the Stake’s Christmas Devotional tonight. It’s beginning to fill more like Christmas!

Hunter is coming this week. I am so excited! I don’t know what Copper will think about our apartment. We don’t have a lot of room to run. We will have to take her to the nice park where all the dogs in town go. It will be fun.

I am trying to not think too much about all the things we are missing at home. One Elder was telling an investigator about what a special thing it is to spend Christmas on a mission. I am trying to focus onthat! We miss you all!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, December 5, 2016

Letter #34

I told you about the new senior couples coming into the mission, let me tell you about the new office couple that will be starting in January. Their name is Hardman. They will be over the cars and the missionaries’ health. They have absolutely no expertise in their fields and have received no training! It is going to take the prayers of everyone who knows them to help them through this! Our mission nurse and her husband are going home the first week of January. They already knew who their replacement couple would be and have spoken to them on the phone and have arranged to have some time to train them before they are released. We received word this week that the man had fallen off a ladder and needed surgery. They are still planning on coming but don’t know when they will be able to. President Chesnut approached Elder Hardman at the outgoing missionary dinner and asked if we could fill in until we find out what is happening with everything. I was helping with dinner and didn’t know any of this was going on. As we were leaving Sister Chesnut asked if I was okay with coming into the office. Huh? I guess we will go to the office before they leave and get trained, mind you office couples are trained an extra week in Salt Lake before they come out. I am trying to be calm about the whole thing. I probably would be alright except the Mission nurse keeps asking me if I’m going to be able to handle it. Am I a nurse? No! Do I know how to do all the things she knows how to do? No! We will do our best.

This all happened on my “try out” week to take over for Sister Beutler. Sister Beutler called on Monday to have me go shopping with her. We did her last meals on Tuesday, which were wonderful and amazing! She handed me the keys and she is done. Elder Hardman and I did the lunch for MLC on Friday. No one died, we bought too much of some things but other than that we survived. I guess I passed because Sister Beutler is leaving. I don’t know how I will be able to do the food and work in the office but we will see how it all works out.

We have also been trying to establish other service opportunities for the missionaries. It is an ongoing process. We contacted each companionship to find out exactly what they are doing and how much time they spend on service. It turned out that even in areas where we thought they had lots of opportunities not all companionships were being reached. We have been visiting several new opportunities and coordinating the efforts with the missionaries. We met with the volunteer coordinator for Nevada Literacy. They have an adult tutoring program that the Sisters are going to help with.

There are always doors to knock too. It was a busy week with three big meals to shop and prepare for but those ward lists wait patiently for us.

We had a senior couples dinner tonight. We wanted to have it before the Baclayons and the Buetlers leave. We met at the church and watched the Christmas Devotional together and then had dinner. Everyone brings something for the meals. We had yummy appetizers to eat while watching the devotional. We had a great Mexican meal with enchiladas, rice, beans, salads and fried ice cream. I am trying to not think about these couples leaving. I will miss Sister Beutler. I can’t come close to stepping into her shoes and I will miss her friendship. We have been blessed to serve beside them. They are getting so excited to go home and see their families. It does make us trunky. October seems so far away.

We miss all of you! We love you! The gospel’s true and we love you.

Elder and Sister Hardman