Monday, August 21, 2017

Letter #71

Since we are already experiencing “the last time” things I thought I would give an accounting of the meals we have prepared on our mission. I won’t talk about the meals we helped Sister Beutler with, just the ones we were in charge of ourselves. Here goes……

MLC (Mission Leadership council) This is once a month and we feed about 40 people.
Breakfast Casserole
Chicken Burrito Bowls
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Soup- White chicken Chili and Taco soup
Ham and funeral potatoes
Breakfast Casserole (yes, we did this twice, it is the favorite meal)
Sloppy Joes
Breakfast Burritos
Sweet Pork Salads
The second breakfast casserole meal was when they also invited the District Leaders for the meeting and we fed 60 people that day.

Transfer Day Lunch this comes every six weeks and is for the incoming missionaries. The number we feed are variable! We usually have a group that arrives around lunch time from the Provo MTC and a group comes from the Mexico MTC but we never know when they will arrive until right beforehand.

Soup- Broccoli Cheese and Chicken Noodle- 20 people
Hawaiian Haystacks -27 people
Baked Potato Bar- 22 people
Croissant Sandwiches- 15 people
Taco Salad- 17 people
Croissant Sandwiches- 40 people

Transfer Day Dinner This is the last supper for the outgoing missionaries. They go to the Temple and then come to the Mission Home for a nice dinner, program and testimony meeting. It is almost worth feeding everyone to be a part of the opportunity to hear their “final” testimony. I’m pretty sure Heaven will feel like this, where you share spirit to spirit. It is a sweet thing to be a part of.

Parmesan Chicken and funeral potatoes- 20 people
Ham and funeral potatoes- 21 people
Marinara Ziti and Chicken Alfredo Ziti- 14 people (gosh! They ate a lot of pasta for 14 people!)
Roast beef dinner and baked potatoes- 16 people
Marinated chicken BBQ -24 people
BBQ ribs and potato salad…- 27 people

When I put it on paper it doesn’t look like that much but it has felt like a lot! We have fed General Authorities. We have fed new converts. They all like to be fed! Every meal includes a big fruit bowl, salad, rolls, vegetables…. All the trimmings! And dessert. I used to think that they didn’t eat much dessert, I don’t know if it’s because a certain healthy eating Elder went home or what but they finish off the desserts now too! For the Mission Christmas party we ordered Costco pizzas but still prepared a big fruit salad. What all of this is leading up to is this……What do we fix for our last MLC and Transfer Day meals (that’s 3 more meals)? Your vote can come from this list or you can vote for something else, not on the list! We would love to have your input!

We attended our last zone conference this week. It is bittersweet to start putting “our last” before things now. We also helped in the office on Friday for the last time. We loved spending a lot of the week with Clay’s family at Lake Tahoe. It is a little easier to say good-bye when we know we will see them in a few weeks (6- that’s a transfer!)

We aren’t done yet though. There are new zone leaders to train in JUSTSERVE, there is a never-ending supply of “new move-in” names to knock doors, there are people to check on, there are golden opportunities to attend a lesson with the young missionaries, there are 6 more district meetings to enjoy, AND one more MLC and Transfer Day!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Letter #70

What did we do this week? We planned, we shopped, we prepared, we cooked, we served, we cleaned up and then we did it again and again! It is not my favorite thing to have Transfer day and MLC all in the same week. We fed 40 people for lunch, 30 for dinner on Transfer Day. When we have these big groups of incoming missionaries it always looks like Christmas morning with bikes and packages all over the Cultural Hall. All of a sudden these new missionaries look so young! The Vaia’vakas and Thurgoods came to help us with the lunch. The Thurgoods went with the outgoing missionaries to the Temple. The Vaia’vakas came to help with dinner. We barbecued 6 racks of ribs. I have never done that many ribs before! Elder Hardman and Elder Vaia’vaka were grill masters! The ribs were beautiful and delicious. We had a sweet testimony meeting with the outgoing missionaries.  We realize that the missionaries we know best are the ones going home and the new ones coming in we will not have the chance to get to know. That is a strange feeling.

Wednesday was a special day. Do you remember when we were going to a young boy named Liam and we would visit with the grandma while the missionaries taught Liam?  Then Liam decided to not take the lessons anymore? I was SO sad! We have stopped by a few times to see the grandma (Terry) and her mom, to check on them and just keep in contact. Well, Liam decided he wanted to take the lessons again. I told the Elders that we needed to find a way to have Terry listen to the lessons. Wednesday night was an answer to many prayers. The “new” Elders asked if we could all sit together for the lesson, Terry said “Yes”! It was such a good lesson. Our new Elders did an amazing job including both Liam and Terry. The spirit was so strong. I think it was the best lesson we have been a part of. I just love the missionaries. They answered questions, they bore testimony,they promised them blessings if they would read the Book of Mormon together. Terry told how Liam had wondered why he gets teary-eyed when he thinks about God. It was a wonderful opportunity for the Elder White and Elder Werner to tell them how the Holy Ghost was communicating with him. It was such a wonderful evening. I am grateful that we had this opportunity.

Late Wednesday night we had another meal surprise! President Chesnut called to tell us that we wouldn’t be doing MLC at our usual church, there was a conflict. We found out that we would be at the Institute. This meant that we had to take all of our supplies, cooking stuff, food, paper products to the Institute. Ugh, it always works out but I would rather not have some of these experiences!  We are now down to ones! One more MLC and one more Transfer Day. It won’t be in the same week either!

Right now we are at in cute cabin in Tahoe with Clay, Katie, Lila, Lewis and our sweet Victoria. We are having so much fun with these three. Lila and Lewis have changed so much and Victoria is as cute as they come! Tomorrow we will celebrate the twins 3rd birthday.  It was such a busy week last week, we will certainly enjoy these few days with the kids.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, August 7, 2017

Letter #69

We just returned from a “Why I Believe” fireside. This is where recent converts share their conversion story and testimony. We so enjoy these firesides. We have heard the testimony of one sister three times but her personal growth and spiritual development always impresses us. She even talked about how she has seen the growth in herself and knows that the change is because of the Holy Ghost in her life. Each story is sweet and they share such personal things with everyone. I will miss hearing these firesides.

The rest of our week was good. We were asked to go to two lessons. Each were with an older lady. They ask us because they think the lady will “relate” to us better. When we go and the lady is in her 70-80s, we smile. I guess to an eighteen year old we are all the same age. They are both amazing women who willingly accept what the missionaries teach. I wonder at the humble acceptance. I ask myself if I would so willingly believe the message of the missionaries. The one lesson was about the Word of Wisdom. The lady has a friend who is a member but she had never heard that we believe in no tea, coffee, drinking or tobacco. She wondered why her friend has never mentioned it. She is a smoker but when the Elders asked if she’d give up smoking she said “Okay”! We asked how she was doing and they said that she was doing great and keeping that commitment. The next challenge is getting work off so she can come to church.

We had a pretty good door slam this week. The guy opened the door, said they had already given at the blood bank and slammed the door. I want to say, “We don’t want your blood, just your soul!” They never let me have any fun.

The Sienna Vista ward had a fun BBQ on Saturday. It was held at a home in the ward. Their yard is like a beautiful park. The children all ran around and had a wonderful time. Brother Forsythe (the owner) barbecued steaks for everyone. We had the usual afternoon thunderstorm but it just dropped a few drops and cooled everything off nicely. We went early to shuck corn and help set up. Today at church there were so many members that were really touched by the BBQ. It’s hard to imagine not growing up with the social aspect of the church and it is such a new thing to a recent convert that they really are drawn in by the feeling of a ward family.

We took Rocio to a baptism on Friday night. She is trying to be ready for her baptism on August 26th. Rocio is in her early 20s. The Elders have done a great job of inviting a young couple to her lessons. This young wife is now thinking of ways to invite Rocio to things. THEN…. No Rocio at church today. We were sad and disappointed. The Elders called the house and found out that she is in the hospital. She has epilepsy and has seizures. She keeps losing jobs because she misses work because of the seizures. Will you remember her in your prayers?

This week has been the calm before the storm. This next week has me stressed out. You would think that I would get used to Transfer Day. As it gets closer I get more uptight. We will get this big transfer over with and then feed missionaries again on Friday for MLC. I am looking forward to the weekend! We had a big powwow with President and Sister Chesnut to plan for Tuesday. We have 19 coming in at 11:30 am from Salt Lake and then 4 more in the afternoon from the Mexico MTC. I will leave sack lunches in the fridge for those missionaries but I will be at the Mission home preparing for dinner by then. We were told this week that they are looking at two different couples to replace us, one for JustServe and one to do the meals.

We had Temple Day as a zone this week. We realized it was our last one with the missionaries. Most senior couples go to the Temple with the missionaries on their last Transfer Day but we will be cooking so this was our last chance. We took the YSA Sisters with us to a Mobile Harvest assignment this week so a different zone could go to the Temple. It was a fun, hot day!

It was a good week. The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 31, 2017

Letter #68

We celebrated Pioneer Day in style! We had a picnic with the senior couples and President and Sister Chesnut at Rancho San Rafael Park. We brought chicken and a dish to share. Each couple told a family pioneer story and then we took a walk around the park. The evening was perfect, is was overcast and cooler. It didn’t rain until our drive home. We put the activity together. I guess we are the party couple.

We had three days in a row that we were invited to a lesson with the missionaries. That was amazing! We had a lesson again with Rocio and Tracy Edwards and then a lesson with our ZLs with a 12 year old girl and her mom. They were all great and we love to be invited.

It’s the end of the transfer and so I received an armful of mending to do this week. I still have pants to cut off and hem.

We have been trying to invite a couple in our complex to dinner for a LONG time. We met the man last year walking his dog in the mornings. He has asked us several things about our mission and the church. We told him we’d love to have him and his wife come to dinner sometime. It finally happened! They came to eat on Thursday. They stayed for 3 hours! What we learned is that there are so many lonely people. I’m not sure how it went or what might come from it, we will see.

We celebrated National Hamburger Day by going to Red Robin- see we really are party people!

Then came Saturday….. the day to end all days! We had offered to help the Hardings move stuff to a storage unit. We knew they had asked their ward for help and the missionaries were coming to help and then they asked the A.P.s to meet us at the end to unload into the storage. We started at 9 am. They had everything in boxes. They rented the large U-haul truck. Oh man! I believe that when someone tells you they sell stuff on Ebay it’s just another way to say, “I’m a hoarder!” We filled that truck! Only one couple from the ward showed up. Thank goodness for the missionaries. We didn’t move furniture, just boxes and boxes and boxes. The morning wasn’t too bad because it wasn’t hot yet. Unloading was a different story. The man, Doug (investigator) has a bad heart. The woman, Lundy (member) has had leukemia twice and has a bad back. They tried but couldn’t help much. Elder Hardman spent the whole time in the back of the truck, either stacking or unstacking. He and I carried way too many boxes that day. The A.P.s had a lesson and had to leave but when they returned they brought the Spanish speaking Elders and three Sisters and water. Hallelujah! The truck was bigger than the storage unit and we had to keep moving stuff around to make it all fit. It was so hot! Elder Hardman got light-headed and I had to drive us home. We loaded and unloaded for 5 ½ hours. We are too old for missionary work!

Today we found out that another lady in the ward picked up Kathy and brought her to church. That is nice. We have wondered who would bring her after we are gone.

Our numbers for the August transfer went down to 23 but the number for the September transfer is 30! That will be a new record!

The Gospel’s true and we love you, but don’t ask us to help you move!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 24, 2017

Letter #67

I guess the news is out but we have a release date! It is September 28 th . It is a little bit early. They decided that they didn’t want to pay October’s rent when we would only be here a few days. They also want to have Friday to move furniture from the apartment so we will be leaving on Thursday. It took a while to process this information. It didn’t seem real for a few days and leaves you feeling weird. We haven’t actually heard it from the Mission President, the Office Elder over apartments called us with the news. I guess that felt a little strange too but whatever…. We will be home to watch General Conference in our own home. We hadn’t planned on that!

I always ask Elder Hardman, “What did we do this week?” I was surprised with his answer. We didn’t have a lot of planned activities at the first of the week but we ended up doing many things.

Monday- We went and played at the Institute with the missionaries. I learned last year that if I get the UNO cards out we will have a group migrate towards that activity that don’t want to do the other games. It was true again but we have a new Elder, Elder Clark who made playing UNO the coveted activity. He was hilarious! He would congratulate everyone on whatever they did. I said, “You must have been on a lot of teams at home!” He said, “Yep, a lot of losing teams!” I guess high fives and cheers are very important if you’ve been on a lot of losing teams. Elder Hardman and I quickly gave up our seats for the missionaries that wanted to join the game. It was fun seeing them having a great time.

Tuesday- Best day of the week!! District meetings are always up-lifting. They focused on role playing and we always get to be the “Investigators” or the “Member Present”. Elder Hardman can be mean with his questions but he had the little Sister from Guatemala confused when he said that they couldn’t have had steel in the Americas so the Book of Mormon can’t be true. She started to talk about how after the fall, bad things were brought to the Earth and people would make the wrong choices….. I realized she thought he meant STEAL. Her sweet companion (who is a brand new missionary) had it figured out and sweetly summarized how the truths in the Book of Mormon can be clear when you pray and ask Heavenly Father for the answers. I was so impressed. Sister Escobar bore her testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel. Whether the word is “steel” or “steal”, a heart felt testimony always wins!

We have an advantage right now that one of the A.P.s was in our zone so they will invite us to come to lessons. We tell every missionary, no matter the zone that we can come and teach with them. It is a woman that is seeking answers and she is humble and teachable but has very little religious experience in her background. I think of the Primary song, “Tell Me the Stories of Jesus”. Imagine your life without knowing the sweet stories of Jesus. You know you have an experienced missionary when they know how to break down the lessons to a very simple form. We also were able to go that night with our Keystone Elders to a lesson. Rocio has been taking the lessons for over a year. First she needed to get married and now she needs to come to church so she can be baptized. She works on Sundays but she was at church today. It seems she probably has lost her job so she is planning on being baptized on August 26 th . We have mixed feelings about this!

Wednesday- We made bread and had a “check-in” day. Kathy wanted us to have some keys made for her so we picked up her key, made copies and took her a loaf of bread. We visited Tondalaya. Her tooth is still bad and she is depressed because she can’t find someone to take care of it. We took her a loaf and she had a blessing. We have an older couple in the Ward, the Sister has Parkinson’s. We haven’t seen them for a while. We took them a loaf. The last loaf went to a brother of our neighbors in Draper. They have asked us to go see his family. We had a nice visit but his wife wasn’t home. We hope to be invited back to meet her.

Thursday- We had our morning Food Bank assignment. We are starting to realize that we will really miss our friends from the Mobile Harvests. There is a “core” group and we feel a part of that. We have a good time with these wonderful volunteers. We have a new lady that just retired and this is what she has decided to do in her spare time. She did ask me if I knew what time “Happy Hour” starts, she is planning her retirement party. I wanted to point to my name tag but instead I told her I didn’t know. We are a fun bunch of retirees! We then drove to Carson City to train some new Zone Leaders in JustServe.Sister Wilson keeps sending us emails, reminding us how many weeks we have left. There still isn’t a replacement and she doesn’t want all of the hard work to get “lost”. We don’t need to keep track, Sister Wilson is counting down for us! We love trainings where the Zone Leaders take notes and have ideas. This was one of those trainings. We let them pick the place to have lunch. Missionaries always know where they want to go eat!

Friday- We have learned that if we have a “free” day we can always go to the Food Bank Warehouse so we went for a shift. It was the first time they didn’t give us flowers! Bummer! On the way home on the freeway our car flashed “service transmission” and lost power, scary! The frustrating thing about this is that we had just taken it in 10 days ago for the same thing and they did a computer patch that was supposed to fix it. We drove to the Mission Office where they let us borrow a car, again, and dropped off the Jeep at the dealership. I guess we will be getting a new transmission this time but it could take up to 2 weeks. All very annoying but we are grateful that we made it safely to the dealership.

Saturday- We cleaned the church, I mean that literally. There was us and the bishopric member over the church cleaning. We had help from a Brother from another ward and another member showed up late but he did the bathrooms so that was all right. We knocked doors. We had an address that didn’t exist but we tried a different one from the Search Engine and met a really nice man. This family moved from Utah three years ago, they have been “lost”. He has a cool classic truck that he has fixed up and painted beautifully. His son served a mission and has had a great influence on his Dad. We invited him to come to church. He was considering it. We’re praying that the Spirit will continue to work on him. These experiences are a miracle, everything just comes together at the right time. It feels pretty good! We went to dinner with the Hardings that night. Doug (the non-member) has had some heart issues. They hadn’t been having the lessons and things weren’t progressing for a while but they have started again and said they would go to church today. They have bought a home in Sparks and are moving in September. We are going to be helping them move boxes this week. So that was our week! And I thought we hadn’t done anything!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 17, 2017

Letter #66

It felt like a week of sitting. We had District meeting on Tuesday. Zone Conference on Wednesday and were asked on Wednesday if we could help in the Office on Thursday. Three days of sitting! It’s all good sitting but that is a lot of sitting! The trainings were all wonderful. Sister Douglas didn’t have warning that we would be helping in the office so she didn’t have anything prepared for us to do. I took the cookbook to copy and things to prepare for assignments on Sunday but we had a lot of time to walk around the office in circles. We did have quite a few phone calls this time and some Elders dropped by while their car horn was being fixed. It wasn’t too bad. Most of the calls we get we have to pass on to the Office missionaries so I’m not sure if we are much help but we are bodies to sign for deliveries and we do take messages pretty well.

I made a copy of the cookbook that Sister Beutler prepared before she left and the pages of what I have made. So far, there is no one coming to replace us. Sister Chesnut will probably be the one that this responsibility will fall on. I don’t know how she will have time to do the shopping and preparing. The only way I can think to help is to add to Sister Beutler’s book with what we have done. I didn’t realize that it probably felt good to Sister Beutler to “train” us.

Today was a fun Sunday. We are enjoying our Temple Preparation class. There is a great spirit in the class. We also were asked to do Sharing Time in Primary. We talked about Reverence. I had made little “Reverence Mice”. (If a mouse would ride to church in your pocket on this day…..) There were only 8 children in Primary today. It was fun to be in Primary and listen to the songs!

Tondalaya is still struggling with an abscessed tooth. She was going to come but didn’t feel good this morning. She is frustrated because she had dental coverage in California. She told me that California has better medical coverage but Nevada has better “living” prices, that she can’t win for losing. We struggle to understand the thought that someone should take care of all of your needs (and wants). We don’t know how to respond. She says she will be okay but that really just means that she will figure out a way to work the system. We keep reading things about giving a hand up not a hand-out but we still don’t have the answers to so many needs here.

We went with the Bellamys to Graeagle (pronounced Gray Eagle) yesterday for a craft fair and to show them around Quincy. We feel like we’ve wanted to see as much of our mission as we can but our mission office missionaries haven’t seen much. I don’t think we are knowledgeable tour guides but we have enjoyed seeing the different parts of the mission. We have had fun seeing where the different chapels are and knowing where the missionaries are serving. It is kind of a strange concept for these couples but we may have a convert with the Bellamys. They were pretty excited to think they could explore the area.

Zones have one zone activity a transfer where they all get together and plan a “big” activity. Our zone is going to the Institute tomorrow. They have been allowed to use the Institute building for an activity but only if we are willing to be there the whole time. Tomorrow’s the day! The Institute has ping pong, air hockey, etc…. It’s fun for them and it will be cool inside. We did this last year too but there isn’t a single missionary here now that was here then! We don’t change but there is sure a lot of change around us!

Our new Stake President asked to visit with us today. We wondered what it could be about. We were surprised when it was to talk about the members in the Keystone Ward. He told us that he doesn’t know people in the ward and he wanted our input. He had some specific names he asked about. We felt grateful that we have made the effort to “know” the members. It wouldn’t have felt good to say we didn’t know people. We’re still surprised that he came to us but I also realized that we have been accepted and loved into this ward, we do feel attached to them. That’s good to know for some reason.

We wake up every morning to a new fire somewhere around us. The air is so smoky. We haven’t heard that there are any in California that are contributing to the smoke. It started earlier this year and I think it will go longer too.

We hope you are having a great summer!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, July 10, 2017

Letter #65

When we came to Reno we said that we would probably attend a funeral while we were here for someone that was the “heart and strength” of the church. We have now attended three. Brother Moon passed away and we attended and helped with his funeral on Saturday. We have had the privilege of knowing some amazing people here. Brother Moon is one of those people. He and his wife joined the church in the 80’s. They came from a strong Baptist background. He was a deacon in the Baptist church. Brother Moon served in the Air Force. He was a Civil Rights Officer for the State of Reno. He was a lifetime member of the NAACP. He started a Boy Scout unit for Black and Underprivileged youth. He received many Community Service awards but what stands out the most to me was his amazing testimony of the Savior. Brother Moon had a hard time walking and he was stooped over but he would make his way to the stand and tell you about his friend, Jesus Christ. He always had a warm handshake and smile for everyone. Our blind friend Kathy had Brother Moon as her home teacher for many years. His family from Georgia came for the funeral. You could see that it would have been so easy for the Moons to stay in their comfort zone with their family and their religion but the light that makes them special led them to the Gospel. A representative for the NAACP spoke at the funeral, to show respect because he knew that Brother Moon had held a “rank” in the church he called him “Elder Moon”. We have new Elders in the ward and they were wonderful to come to the luncheon and talk to the family. They answered questions and were such thoughtful representatives. The talks that the Bishop and Stake President gave were done perfectly. Today in one of the Sacrament talks a man told how when he was asked as a councilman to vote for a “Martin Luther King” day he struggled with the thought so he went to talk to Brother Moon. After he spent some time with him and Brother Moon explained what it would mean to have a day to honor a black man in our country he voted for the proposition. We hope we don’t get to attend more funerals while we are here but we have felt the influence of righteous examples in this community. They have had to “stand for truth and righteousness” and they have stood out!

We enjoyed four extra-ordinary sacrament talks today. Each of our wards had a special “patriotic” meeting today. We have a woman from Mongolia who told about what it was like to be raised in country with no agency, where your choices are decided for you. It was a powerful testimony about the Plan of Salvation. Another man came from Denmark and he told of his family’s decision to immigrate during the war. I have felt especially grateful all day for living in this country and the blessings we enjoy because of that.

Last year we thought we would be able to see fireworks from our apartment, we couldn’t. This year we drove down the hill and could see across the valley. We enjoyed the fireworks from the Nugget casino. They have two tall buildings and they light fireworks from the top of the buildings. That was fun.

We had MLC on Friday. We made 72 breakfast burritos on Thursday. They ate all 72! They seem to love to eat breakfast at MLC. We also had yogurt parfaits. They always eat a lot on MLC. We are down to 2s. We have 2 MLCs and 2 Transfers Days left to prepare for. They will be two BIG Transfer Days! I wish I could say that we have this assignment all figured out but each time is a new experience and we do things “right” and we do things “wrong” every time!

Tondalaya has an abscessed tooth. She doesn’t have dental care. She has missed church for the last 2 weeks. We need to see what we can do this week. Cy is a man that joined the church a little while before we came. There were 12 baptisms around the time he was baptized in our area. Cy is the only one that has stayed active. He was so excited today because he received the priesthood. He was showing everyone his Priesthood Certificate. Cy is in his 70’s. When I get discouraged I think of Cy. The Atonement of Jesus Christ changes lives. “Let me tell you about my good friend, Jesus….”

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Letter #64

The main events this week were: Transfer Day and meeting Anders.

Transfer Day: I felt like I hauled more things around than ever before. I think it was because we barbecued and we took paper products for dinner. We leave the apartment by 8:30 am and get home around 9:30pm. It is a long day. We make the lunch for the incoming missionaries, clean-up and take things back to the apartment, reload for the evening meal. I drop Elder Hardman off to take out-going missionaries to the Temple and I go to the Mission home, unload and start dinner. Elder Hardman drops off missionaries and then comes to help. He didn’t have to pick up missionaries this time, one of the Office couples did that. We had a nice dinner and a sweet testimony meeting. Then we go back to the apartment and unload one more time and drop into bed. It’s a busy but rewarding day. We had so many changes in our zone so it was fun to take a treat around on Thursday and meet the new missionaries in our zone. We have a returning Elder who was here when we first came to Reno. He is excited to be back in the North Valleys and we will work with him in one of our wards. We have two sisters who are training. I think when we get 25 missionaries next transfer and lose 13 it will feel like the whole mission is training.

We left on Thursday afternoon to drive to Wells, Nevada. Shalene and Garrett rented a cabin and we went to meet this littlest member of the family. Anders is delightful! He doesn’t fuss. When he gets tired you pick him up and he gives a growl and then falls asleep. When he is awake he smiles and “talks” and is very engaging. We had so much fun holding him and now Shalene will have to re-train him on how to fall asleep on his own. We took a few drives and a few little hikes but mostly we held Anders and watched Ari do tricks. The area where the cabin is was beautiful. It had a creek, the field was full of wildflowers. We saw deer, cows, a skunk and a snake (who was digesting something large) and lots of birds. It was quiet and relaxing. We went to Sacrament meeting in Wells. It was the Sunday after their girl’s camp and we heard many great testimonies. They have a lot of youth in Wells! Shalene and Garrett drove to Lehi and we headed to Reno. They beat us home by several hours. We loved seeing them and it hurts to see them drive away but I don’t feel like it is so far away now before we will see them again. Thank you again for bringing that boy to see us. We think we will keep him. We can’t wait to meet Victoria!

I almost forgot! We also saw Clay last week. He flew into Reno on Monday night, we picked him up from the airport, took him to dinner and gave him the grand tour of 4 th Street. I don’t know if he enjoyed that part. It was fun to hold him too! : ) Bright and early Wednesday morning he sends us a picture of our missionaries in the airport. I didn’t think about how he would be flying home with the missionaries. It was a fun surprise.

It has been a fun week and home doesn’t feel too far away. We have MLC on Friday and then we don’t have to make another meal for a month!

I don’t know if I’ve ever said this before but we love our family. How grateful we are for each of you. How thankful we feel for the ways you bless our lives. We love you!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Letter #63

It seems hard to think back over the week when the upcoming week has a busy transfer day in it! The next three transfers will be thought consuming in many ways. We are losing the leadership in the mission. A new group will rise to the top but right before you wonder how the mission will get along without some very special missionaries. We have now spent a lot of time with these Elders and Sisters, we love them. We will miss them. We are losing 6 from our zone alone. Elder Waite has been here in our wards for a very long time. We will miss his goofiness and his sincere teaching. Elder Bentti gave amazing district trainings. Sister Andersen is beautiful and refined. Sister Marshall gives the best hugs in the mission. Sister Meyer told me on Mother’s Day (over a year ago) “Fake it till you make it”. I don’t think she had any idea at the time how I was taking that advice to heart. She always has a smile on her face. That’s just the ones in our zone. We also will say good-bye to Elder Bean. He was the Elder that went with Elder Hardman to pick up trash at the park. We thought he was being friendly and then realized that Elder Hardman kept going off on his own and Elder Bean knew he should have a companion with him at all times. He was the sheep that kept straying and Elder Bean was sticking close to him. These amazing missionaries win your heart in such simple ways. We will never forget them and their examples.

We did go to the Food Bank warehouse and they sent us home with flowers again. It’s become so commonplace! Not really, I love it. This time we got little rose plants. Elder Hardman said he didn’t want to take a whole box again so I just took a few. I have a hard time when I know they will throw them away. We took one to Tondalaya and she called it her house-warming plant. It’s always fun to get flowers.

We took Tondalaya to the LDS employment services this week and to pick up food from the storehouse. The computers were down at the employment service so that wasn’t helpful. We get frustrated when you see that so many join the church for the welfare. I think that is true with Tondalaya too but she also seems to want to learn. She keeps her commitments. She met with the Elders this week for the “new member” lessons. I am trying to have faith in the process.

We also went to a lesson with a young mom whose children were baptized a few weeks ago in the Tongan ward. She hasn’t been baptized (yet). This is a situation where the cultural environment she lives in makes it very hard for her to make changes. It’s easy to say that the gospel will make everything all right, and it will, but they face so many scary changes before they see those promises fulfilled. These are brave people!

We learned how to play Farkle! We have a cute older lady in a ward that keeps inviting us over to play games. We finally made it there on Friday night. She had invited a few other people and we played Farkle. It was fun. Elder Hardman and I didn’t play very well but we learned about a new game. I’m not sure if we were fulfilling our missionary purpose but it was important to her so we went. We also went to empty-nesters. It is hard being so social!

To top it all off, we had a senior couples activity on Saturday. The Thurgoods invited everyone to come to Chester for lunch and the grand tour of Chester. We had already gone and had the grand tour but it was fun to go with the other couples and the President and wife. We went in the fall before and it was cold. Yesterday it was hot. It is such a beautiful area. We went on a little hike. Elder Thurgood told us all about the variety of pine and fir trees. We collected some sugar pine cones. It was a peaceful day. The Douglas’ invited us to ride with them. We showed them the SHOE TREE, Doyle California (where the cows come from for the Rodeo), and we stopped at the random chimney with no house attached. We really amazed them with all of the culture available on the drive to Chester! They appreciated our great insights and plan on making the Belamys (the other office couple) feel bad that they weren’t with us on the drive. Ha ha! It was a fun day.

Today we taught our first Temple Preparation class. It is sort of a Gospel Essentials/Temple Preparation class. We had great participation. The Elders came into the class too because that is where the recent converts are now. Tondalaya came with us. It will be fun to be a part of this. Brother Witherall said that going to the Temple seemed like a dream to him and that he never imagined that he would ever actually qualify to enter the Temple. Wouldn’t it be fun if he is able to go before we leave? Please remember him in your prayers!

We still have the 25 coming in August and the count in September is up to 17! There will be a whole new crop that we will come to love and admire!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman
Sister Thurgood and the Sugar Pine Cone door hanger. Sugar Pine cones on the tree. I am bringing some home so that we can make a door hanger too!
Don’t know if you can read it but the chimney was part of a Chevron/Bar. The owner was killed by an angry patron and then later the business burned down, leaving the chimney. They now come on Christmas Eve to light a fire, drink and remember people who have died. I hope you can tell that this is out in the middle of nowhere!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Letter #62

We have tried very hard to not oiter this week.

We met Tondalaya’s dog this week. Tondalaya adopted a rescue dog. She’s a little rat terrier named Memol. She is 12 years old. We took her a doggy treat and toy. We had a little lesson on the importance of the Sacrament. We have been wondering how to handle the fact that Tondalaya walked out during the Sacrament and then they were bending over backwards to make sure she had the opportunity to receive it. It was a little embarrassing. We decided to have a little lesson about it. She understood immediately. I don’t know how her lessons went in California but she knows so little. She wants to learn though. We were talking about the Temple and she asked if there was one in Reno. (She knew there was one in Oakland, CA) We took her and Memol for a ride to see the Temple. Tondalaya also went with me to the Relief Society BBQ. She enjoyed visiting with the other ladies. This week we are taking her to the LDS employment center. She is trying to make changes in her life. She broke it off with the boyfriend in prison. She said she wants a new start. She enjoyed going to church today. We have been asked to start the Temple Preparation class next week and aren’t sure if she will come with us or not. She loves going to Sunday School the most. We will see.

The rest of our week was fairly typical. We are knocking doors but don’t find anyone home. That is the problem with summer, the weather is nice but people aren’t home. I’m trying to think of something new and exciting that happened but it wasn’t that kind of week. The cows did come down for the Rodeo and we have to avoid that part of town. We have déjà vu, all over again.

We had never been to Walker Lake so we took a drive there on Saturday. Good thing I took a picture, we don’t need to go back to Walker Lake. It is home of the Hawthorne Army Depot, the “World’s Largest Depot”. It covers 147,000 acres. There are old (I’m assuming) shells and artillery decorating the town. It is not a pretty town. That was our big adventure.

The count for new missionaries coming in August is up to 25! We are getting to teach on Sundays now. We were asked to help with a Sharing Time in July. I think we have some fun things to look forward to! We have having a senior couples’ activity this Saturday in Chester, CA. I don’t know what is planned. There’s a beautiful lake up there.

We have our first wildfire of the season in Reno. I think there will be many, the grass is plentiful, and all turning brown.

That is all of our news! The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

p.s. Hugs to all of our wonderful “Fathers”, our dads and our grandchildren’s dads. We are so very
grateful for you and love you so much!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Letter #61

A traveler and his camel were traveling across the desert sand dunes when a wind storm came up. The traveler quickly set up his tent and moved inside, closing the flaps to protect himself from the cutting, grinding sands of the raging storm. The camel was left outside and as the violent wind hurled the sand against his body and into his eyes and nostrils he found it unbearable and finally begged for entrance into the tent.

“There is only room for myself”, said the traveler.

“But can I just get my nose in so I can breathe air not filled with sand?” asked the camel.

“Well, perhaps you could do that”, replied the traveler and he opened the flap ever so little and the long nose of the camel entered. How comfortable the camel was now! But soon the camel became weary of the smarting sand on his eyes and ears

“The wind-driven sand is like a rasp on my head. Could I put just my head in?”

Again, the traveler rationalized that to acquiesce would do him no harm, for the camel’s head could occupy the space at the top of the tent which he himself was not using. So the camel put his head inside and the beast was satisfied again- but only for a short while.

“Just the front quarters,” he begged and again the traveler relented. Soon the camel’s front shoulders and legs were in the tent. Finally, by the same process of pleading and yielding, the camel’s torso, his hind quarters and all were inside the tent. Now it was too crowded for the two and the camel kicked the traveler out of the tent and into the storm.

We had a bummer day this week. We take meals around to different people in the ward from time to time. Remember our friends that came for Christmas Eve. We played Pictionary with them and had a nice dinner. Mark had been bringing Brian to church and even let him wear his church clothes until they could get clothes that would fit. Brian progressed, read the Book of Mormon and was coming to church, he was baptized. He has had various health issues but received the Aaronic Priesthood. We have stopped by to visit with them often and they were still meeting with the Elders. They were no longer homeless and the ward was standing beside them, trying to help them improve their circumstances. Things have started to feel a little “off”. We dropped off the meal and Mark started to unload on us, talking badly about Brian. They are facing eviction, Mark’s truck was towed, with his “stuff” in it. Brian is living on the streets. Mark has a shady friend staying with him. He had every excuse why he is not responsible for any of this. He has taken money from several people in the ward. Ugh, that ole camel has pushed himself into those two lives. We finally told him that we didn’t know about any of this and we were there to let him know that we care about him and wanted to check on him. We felt so bad when we left. We know the joy and peace that comes in doing the things Heavenly Father wants us to. There is safety and it is a refuge from the storm when we keep the commandments, follow the Prophet, go to church, read the scriptures, pay our tithing, honor our parents. Each piece supplies what we all we need for happiness in this life and eternal joy in the life to come. But that stinky camel is waiting at the door. DON”T GIVE HIM EVEN AN INCH inside your tent! Just like sin, it is impossible for a camel to enter a door that is closed.

I don’t know if we will ever be able to find Brian. We hope that Mark can have the courage he needs right now.

We had a good MLC meal. Sister Belamy says that the missionaries look at you like they love you. I guess that’s true. They even thank you for sloppy joes! (My kids hate sloppy joes!)

We are now up to 24 incoming missionaries in August. That will be a record for the Nevada Reno Mission!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, June 5, 2017

Letter #60

Holidays only exist for missionaries on the morning when you realize you can’t email somewhere because it is a holiday. Monday we received some panicked calls from missionaries in the zone that needed a place to email. I didn’t mind except they can have an hour and a half to email so when you have several companionships come it takes a LONG time! That is how we celebrated Memorial Day.

Tuesday was District meeting. We no longer have zone training meetings so every Tuesday is District meeting now. I love Tuesdays. We are starting to get to know the new missionaries in the Zone. That is always fun.

Wednesday we went to the Mission Office to help. Elder and Sister Douglas went to Fallon to a Zone Conference. Sister Douglas was ready for us this time. We have 22 new missionaries coming in August and she is already getting ready for them. We collated, stapled and filed. I did arts and crafts by cutting and pasting their information for the Rolodex. It was fun to have something to fill the time, it went by much faster. We still didn’t receive too many phone calls. That is good because we don’t know how to answer their questions anyway. We are warned every time what to do when the transient people come in, what the right protocol is. When a young man walked in in the afternoon and we quickly jumped up to see how we could help him he looked so confused and told us he was the janitor and needed to do the cleaning. I think we scared him. No one warned us that he was coming. It was a better experience this time and it was fun to do something different.

Thursday we did a different Mobile Harvest. These darn companies are getting too many people to volunteer. Smith’s grocery store comes to the Pantry that we like to do on the first Thursday of the month. They had every slot filled so we went to the later Pantry. They don’t have many volunteers at this one. It is the busiest pantry we have ever gone to. You never have a slow time for 1 ½ hours. We finished off two pallets of food. It was fun to see some of the “old timers” there. There is one man that loves being there when the young missionaries come. He loves to tell stories about them. He told us about a day when it was so windy. Then he said, “But if one of those missionaries blow away it’s not a big deal, I know they’ll just replace them for the next time!” He has worked with several of the young missionaries and doesn’t like that they get transferred. He told us how much he admires them and the good stuff they are doing. He also told Elder Hardman that there are two sections of Reno, the downtown area and everywhere else. He said the problem with that is 89% of the people that come to Reno only visit the downtown, so they think that’s what Reno is all about. He is sort of right. Then he talked about how awful 4 th Street is and how no one should ever go there. Elder Hardman told him we spend the majority of our time on 4 th Street. He got quiet, not sure what he was thinking about that!

We suffered two great losses this week. Our lady that lived in the hospital that we would visit was moved to a rehab facility in Idaho. Pam left on a trip to New Orleans and when she gets back her house will have someone else in it. She still doesn’t know where she is going to live but her house is cleaned out, the kitties are in a kennel and what little she kept is in storage. We went to tell her good-bye. I will miss her. She is a little different but fun. She told us she will keep in touch. She told us that except for her aunt and uncle she has never seen a good marriage, she now added us to her list. She thanked us for helping her think about what she believes in. I hope she finds some time in her life to investigate the gospel and let it have a place in her heart.

We were asked to check on a lady (4 th Street) by a member of the Bishopric. We were given the wrong address but we found her (and her boyfriend). When we knocked on the door they let us in and they both started to cry. The lady (Dawn) said she had been praying for help. The boyfriend asked us if we could take him to Walmart to pick up a prescription. He had fallen off his bike and hurt his leg but he was going to walk to Walmart (probably about 4 miles) on crutches. We took him and waited for him. I realized how vulnerable these people are. They don’t know us, but they have to trust us to help. This is another person with a very sad story. We have met so many of them!

Tondalaya, the lady we thought was dead in her apartment a few weeks ago, called and asked if we would pick her up for church this week. She had gone to California to visit her son and her boyfriend in prison. She didn’t have her blue dreadlocks this week but her hair is still blue. She is a lovely lady. They did a cute invitation to the High Priests Social in Relief Society and she asked if she could go to that! It is pretty fun to have someone that is excited to come and keeps her commitments.

Other than that we had a missionary that had surgery to check on. He had surgery when the mission “nurse” and the Mission President were in Elko for conferences. They were nervous about this so we promised we would go look at him. He is doing well and tolerated us looking at him. These missionaries are “counted”, if one blew away in the wind it would definitely be noticed and the troops would be summoned to find them. They are well-loved and cared for.

We took a drive around Buck’s Lake (California). It was so beautiful. I haven’t seen so many dogwood trees in bloom since my youth in Mississippi. The region holds their girl’s camps here. We didn’t find the Church’s site but it was a wonderful day of sight-seeing.

Guess what we get to do this week!? Yep, it’s another meal week.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 29, 2017

Letter #59

Finally, something that I can understand about missionary work! Math!
It was a fun week, we had Xanna, Jason, Bridger and Lindy come to visit and we enjoyed spending time with them in Tahoe and also did a little missionary work. : )

I worried when they said they were coming in May, the ski resorts are still open in Tahoe! It turned out to be a beautiful week. The lake was still very cold but their hotel had a wonderful kiddie pool that was warm. The children were happy just throwing rocks in the lake. They were playing on the grass one afternoon and Lindy said, “Doggy”, it really was a little bunny sitting out on the lawn. It is finally warm enough that the bunnies, lizards, coyote and squirrels have reappeared. We had a picnic in Reno at the park on Monday night when they arrived. The children played in the dinosaur park. Then they drove to Tahoe. We would meet them every day to spend some time playing with them. We stayed with the children one afternoon and Jason and Xanna went to the National Automobile Museum. They took the tour, something we’ve never done. They learned a lot and seemed to enjoy it. We went to see the Tahoe Dam. We are terrible hosts, we really don’t know anything about the area. We don’t go sightseeing. We don’t know where to take people when they come. Good thing we found a few places together. Friday morning came too fast. They drove to Reno and kissed us good-bye. I still haven’t processed that they won’t be home when we get there in October. They will move to Oregon in a week and a half. Bridger and Lindy have grown so much! Bridger keeps telling his mom that I will be home in 5 days. I told him 5 months but I like his idea better. They drove to Utah and we went to Zone Conference. It took about the same amount of time on Friday. It was a great Zone Conference and distracted me from crying all day.

We were sure that Pam would come to church today but received a text at 6:30am telling us that she had a headache. It makes us sad. We had a huge jump in the arriving missionaries coming in August. We are up to 22 new missionaries now, exciting!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 22, 2017

Letter #58

We survived another transfer day! We didn’t have as many transferred from our Zone as we imagined. We do have a new Zone Leader and a new District Leader. We said “Good-bye” to two wonderful Sisters. Sister Monsivais was in our zone a year ago. Sister Light was in our zone now. We were invited to go to a lesson with her before she left and she told the family that she was being transferred to Montana! We thought it was a cute way for her to say she was leaving. We are starting to realize that the Sisters that we know the best will all be leaving before fall. It is such a strange feeling sometimes. We will have 5 missionaries from our zone go home in the next transfer. We aren’t getting very many new missionaries though. In June we will have 13 missionaries go home and only 6 are coming in. There is no transfer in July. The August transfer has 13 going home and 15 (so far) coming in. September has 13 going home and 9 (so far) coming in. The HUGE transfer last July won’t happen for us this year. I guess that is good news for us, making the meals will be easier, but bad news for the mission. Areas will be combined and closed. When we arrived there were 170 missionaries in the mission, there are now 140. We aren’t replacing the numbers that go home. The work still goes on. These young missionaries are amazing. We only had 1 Sister come for this transfer. She is darling. She was just excited to be here and to get to work.

We had surprising news this week. We knew the Southams were going home and they would no longer need the home they were renting because no senior couple was coming to replace them in Fallon. Elder Vaa’ivaka has been having some health problems and has been afraid they might have to go home. He and Sister Vaa’ivaka wondered if moving to Fallon would be good for him. Next thing we hear they are cleaning out their apartment and moving to Fallon. We now have the Thurgoods in Chester, California. The Vaa’ivakas are in Fallon. We are the only MLS missionaries left in the Reno area. We will surely miss the Vaa’ivakas’ help for the meals. We enjoyed spending the time with them. We pray that this will be what he needs health-wise. We are used to the missionaries moving around every six weeks, we didn’t know this would happen to a senior couple.

The rest of the week was business as usual. We worked at a Mobile Pantry. We went to a fun lesson with Brother Jamison. He is working on family history and we went to help with that. Elder Hardman is so jealous of the many names he has that can have their Temple work done now. Elder Hardman helped him “find’ his grandmother. They had a picture of her burial site online. That really pleased him to see. It is so fun to see how willing this good man is to continue to grow in the Gospel. He is 79 years young and is embracing all aspects of Gospel learning. We also went with the Elder’s to Pam Olson’s. We started teaching her about 3 months ago but she has been on many trips and is now planning on moving. She discovered that she had a Patriarchal blessing. She didn’t remember ever receiving one. She has a lot of questions (that she texts me after we go home). She really knows very little about Christianity. She thought everyone believed in re-incarnation and Karma. She is a character but I like her. I’m sad that she is moving. She has a big trip to the Amazon planned this summer but then she will move, she doesn’t know where or when she will go. She says her middle name is Gypsy. We meet some interesting people but I have enjoyed her questions, she is fun to talk to. We have also been taking Tondalaya to church for the past few weeks. I had invited her to go to Women’s Conference with me (Saturday) and we told her we would take her to the Employment Center. She usually calls us right back when I call but she didn’t call back during the week and when I went to get her on Saturday she didn’t answer her door. We would have talked to the manager but the office was closed. I was starting to worry that something bad had happened to her. Elder Hardman and I were imagining who would be the one to go into her apartment, eeek! She finally called this morning, said she had a job and she was exhausted and wouldn’t be coming to church today. It was such a relief to hear from her.

All in all, it was a good week. The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 15, 2017

Letter #57

I remember talking to a Sister missionary about what she should write to her family that week. She was saying that it didn’t seem like she had anything “new” to tell them. I told her it didn’t matter what she said, they just wanted to know that she was happy and healthy and all is well. I am starting to understand how she felt though. I’m not sure I have anything “new” to tell about.

We were asked to help with a different food pantry this week so that the Reno Zone could go to the Temple. It is a food pantry that is open four days a week to provide food, clothing, pet food, diapers and a large variety of other goods to those in need. It is part of Catholic Charities but it sponsored by a diocese (?) in Lake Tahoe. They receive donations from the Northern Nevada food bank and other charities. The missionaries help every week for three hours. They always love the missionaries. We always enjoy meeting with people that donate so much of their time and resources to helping others. It’s also nice to see “first-hand” the opportunities the young missionaries have to serve in the community.

Our Temple day was on Wednesday. It is always fun to go with the missionaries to the Temple. This was the week before transfers and we know there will be a lot of changes this time to the Zone so they really enjoyed being together in the Temple. They dissolved the Quincy zone so they now travel down to Reno to participate with us in these activities. We have a BiG zone!

Thursday we went to help out at the warehouse again for the Food Bank. It was a fun group to work with this time. One man wanted to tell us how he wished his church had a missionary program. He has gone all over the world and he says no matter where he is, no matter how scary that part of the world is, he will look up and see the young missionaries walking down the street. Every chance he had he would talk to us about the missionary program. We aren’t supposed to proselyte when we go to serve but we are allowed to answer questions and everywhere we go they ask us questions! They always assume that we are somehow “over” the missionaries so when we explain that they are “over” us they gain even more admiration for these young missionaries. It’s fun to have the association of this army of valiant young men and women. They are generally admired for serving missions.

We were asked to go be with an Elder on Friday. We were told he was talking to a Doctor about a serious and sensitive health concern but when we got there he was just having a medical test done. It’s for a personal and very private thing and he and we were both confused how to handle this. Elder Hardman finally just walked back to the room with him. I sat out with the other Elder. I want to giggle sometimes about the things we are asked to do, without knowing the whole story and how they will turn out but we still just “go and do”. I don’t want to tell what it was for but it was a “new” opportunity for us. Makes me giggle. Nephi wasn’t aware how funny some of these assignments can be.

We will be doing Transfer Day this Tuesday. We only have 1 Sister coming out and 6 going home. (including a Senior Couple). We will be the senior Senior Couple after this week! We had the Spanish speaking Elders come tonight to use our equipment to call (Facetime) their families. It was fun to hear them talk to their families and tell funny stories, spiritual experiences and feel their tug from home. They really are all so remarkable. The best part of the mission is our association with them.

Happy Mother’s Day to our wonderful Moms, our daughters, daughter-in- laws, and granddaughters. What a blessing we all enjoy to know of the eternal nature of women. We love each of you so much!
The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 8, 2017

Letter #56

This past week was MLC. We were told the week before that the District Leaders would also be invited to the meeting so our group of 40 increased to 60. I’m sure you have all wondered what goes on the week that we do a meal, those of you who haven’t wondered you can quit reading now.

1. I fret and stew over what to fix. I usually decide and then change my mind as the meal gets closer and it all starts to feel over-whelming but then I go back to my original idea.

2. Shopping. We usually do all of the shopping the day before and start the cooking and prep work that same day. This time we had two days of shopping and prep work. Sister Beutler told us from the beginning that we were never to go shopping at Winco on the 1 st or 3 rd of the month. That is food stamp day and the lines are terrible. We found ourselves at Winco on the 3 rd . Sister Beutler was right. We were making Breakfast Casserole this time so we went to Sam’s Club and Winco to get everything for the casserole on Wednesday.

3. Thursday morning we had a Mobile Harvest and then made all of the casseroles (8-9x13 pans and one dairy-free 8x8 pan) and took them to the Mission Office fridge. Sister Douglas is so great to clean out the fridge for us to use. We can’t fit 9 casseroles in our fridge! They are supposed to sit over-night anyway so they work well for these meals. We then went to Costco for the fruits and vegetables. We take all of that to the fridge in the church with a note and a prayer that no one takes anything before the next day.

4. Friday we are at the church at 8:30 am to set up the serving tables, put out plates, utensils, napkins, tablecloths before the meeting starts.

5. Friday morning is usually for cutting up things. Most of the preparations for the main course are done already, it just has to cook, whether in a crockpot, roaster or oven. We have two ovens and I had four casseroles in each. Four casseroles do not cook as quickly as one! The last hour the ovens went from 350 to 425 degrees to get everything to cook. I had fingers crossed and was praying! It worked out. The missionaries seem to love this menu. We never have left-overs.

Here’s what it takes to feed this group:

5 dozen eggs
Costco-sized grated cheese
10 lbs. sausage
Costco-sized baby carrots
2 lbs. diced ham
2 Costco-size cherry tomatoes
1 gallon milk
2 Costco-size sugar snap peas
12 lbs. hash browns
Ranch dip
Large watermelon
Costco red grapes
Costco green grapes
Costco kiwi
2 pineapples
2 Costco strawberries
8 bananas
5 dozen bagels
Variety of cream cheeses
Ketchup
Salsa
Hot Sauce
40 mini cinnamon rolls
2 pkgs, small Danishs
60 water bottles

Jesus made feeding the 5,000 seem so easy.

The Vaia’vakas help cutting up everthing, putting everything out on the tables and cleaning up. We couldn’t do it without them. Elder Vaia’vaka always has everything washed before we serve and he does all the dish washing after. They are wonderful. We clean everything up, mop, lock up and start planning for the next meal.

We managed to visit several people this past week, help with the luncheon for a funeral, go to a lesson, and knock some doors. One lady was just baptized in February so we wanted to see if we could find her quickly. She was home but wasn’t happy we stopped by. Then the Elders called to tell us she wanted a ride to church today. She actually followed through and we enjoyed taking her with us. She is a nice lady and apologized for not being kind at the door. You never know. Elder Hardman told me I had to erase what I had written about her on her sheet. : )

That was our week. We love hearing about your week too. We accept all major forms of communication!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, May 1, 2017

Letter #55

Elder Hardman began the week still attached to his little friend but on Thursday he bid farewell and they parted ways. He has been doing well since then! It is hard to top this news but I will try.

We had the opportunity to help set up another meeting with a State Park Ranger and a couple of Elders. They live in an area where service seems hard to come by. We have found that even though all the calls have been made and the service arranged they seem to like us to come the first time. We were happy to because one of the Elders is Elder Johnson, the same Elder Johnson that had the concussion. He has been out of our area for a while so it was fun to see him. The Park Ranger seems pleased to have their help and the Elders were already thinking of investigators they would like to take along to do this service. We picked up trash around a little pond, it was a beautiful day and it was nice to be outside. It was also great that the JustServe specialist in the ward came along to meet the Ranger so that she can support the Elders in their service. Pretty amazing to see that type of support! Elder Johnson found money but I found “The Lost Sheep” (a plastic sheep ring) I tried to convince him that my find was priceless! He was happier with his dollar bills.

Thursday night was the Food Bank of Northern Nevada Top 16 ceremony. JustServe qualified to be one of the top 16 in service hours. We were asked to attend the ceremony. They had a nice Mashed Potato Bar and desserts. You could take a tour of the facility and then they had a program. They have a nice banner with the names of the organizations that are on the top 16. They read off the number of hours that each group contributed. JustServe had 791.5 hours. The top group had 997 hours so JustServe was third on the list, not bad. Zulilly has a warehouse by the Food Bank, they were the top contributors. We met their “head guy”, he is LDS. Mainly it was a fun night for us because the individuals that also help (not tied to an organization) are our friends from the Mobile Harvests. Our friend Joyce had as many service hours by herself as JustService did. We have met some wonderful friends helping at the Food Bank. The individual that had the highest number of hours was asked to speak. He said that people ask him why he does it (spends so much time volunteering for the Food Bank) They wouldn’t believe that he just likes doing it, so he decided he was a “selfish altruist”- he does it because it makes him feel good. We had several come and tell us how much fun they have working with the young missionaries. One man asked if we couldn’t grant a special request that the Sisters not wear a dress during the winter. I didn’t tell him that I wore a dress all winter when I went and I was fine. It’s nice to hear that they are looking out for the missionaries. It was a nice evening.

A single lady (a member) adopted a teenage girl from the Congo last year. We went to that girl’s baptism last May. Saturday we went to her sisters’ baptisms. This same lady has adopted all of these girls and they took the missionary discussions and joined the church. That has been fun but the amazing thing was seeing the Lord’s hand in this. One of the Elders that was teaching these girls went home so there was an emergency transfer into the area. Elder Vargas is from Mexico, serving a Spanish-speaking mission here but he was transferred in until the next transfer. He was asked to give a talk on the Holy Ghost. Elder Vargas stood and gave the talk in French, so the girls would understand what he was saying. He had taken French in High School and his mother speaks French. We felt the Spirit and the Gift of Tongues in the room. Our Spanish Elder (who also speaks really well in English) was giving a talk in French. These young missionaries are miracles! We constantly feel uplifted by their examples and their faith. Elder Nielson was asked by some leaders of other faiths how we keep our young people in the church, let alone send them out on their own to serve missions when they are only 18-20 years old. Elder Nielson laughed and said, “Because it’s true, what other answer can there be?”

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, April 24, 2017

Letter #54

We decided that our mission would not be complete without a thorough investigation of the health industry in Nevada. Elder Hardman volunteered to be the guinea pig. We had two Doctor’s office visits and a trip to the Emergency Room this past week. Elder Hardman was poked and prodded. At the end of it all Elder Hardman is still sporting a catheter and the accompanying bag. I don’t think he loves these accessories but it is better than the alternative. We hope this week brings better news.

We still knocked doors, took a meal to a family, prepared the program for a baptism and tried going to a few lessons (all cancelled). Despite not feeling that great we have felt successful in finding/not finding people lately. We have knocked a certain door for months without an answer. It is close to our apartment so one morning we felt we should try again. As we were knocking on the door the apartment manager called out that that apartment is empty. If we had gone to the office to ask about the person we would have been told they couldn’t talk to us (privacy issues). We felt it was a miracle for being diligent. We were laughing yesterday when we were invited into a home of a Sister who told us she was born and raised Mormon, she was enjoying a little break with a cigarette and a beer. It is great to have good weather again, much nicer to knock doors when it is a lovely spring day.

Well, rather than describe the contents of Elder Hardman’s bag (he tried to get me to look in it but I refused), I thought I would tell a funny story. First of all, we have the best Ward clerk in our home Ward. He is thoughtful and works so hard to do his best in his calling. A few weeks ago he emailed us explaining that the Bishop had just realized we weren’t in the missionary cabinet at the church. Here are a few excerpts from his email. “Our new policy is that if you have to leave your home for an extended period of time in order to fulfill a full-time mission, a plague should be provided. So for the next 6 months of your mission we would like to have a single plague that features the two of you… Our apologies that we didn’t do this when you left, it just fell through the cracks.” I told Elder Hardman that I knew they meant well but no matter what, I DIDN”T WANT A PLAGUE! Brother McMillan was so embarrassed when we responded. Now after careful consideration of the past few weeks I think we were given that plague after all! If you see Brother McMillan this week please give him a hug from us! I needed a fun story for the blog!

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Letter #53

Elder Brent Nielson from the Seventy was the General Authority that came for our “Mission Tour”. They split the mission between the East (Winnemucca to Ely) and West (the rest of the mission) for conferences. Elder Nielson said that if you ask any Primary child what our purpose is in coming to Earth they will answer, “To get a body and to be tried and tested”. Elder Nielson then asked, “If we all know that is our purpose for coming to the Earth, why do we freak out when we have trials?” The next question is, “What am I supposed to be learning from this?” Maybe it’s the second question that makes us “freak out”!

It was a good conference but I left the house at 8am and didn’t get home until after 8pm. It was a long day. I had done all of the shopping for the dinner by myself the day before and did a lot of the prep work. I had the great idea of taking things to the church the night before but because a General Authority was coming they were cleaning carpets and buffing the gym floor so they wouldn’t let me in. So much for my smart idea. It all worked out. The Vaia’vakas were wonderful help. There are a lot of things that I don’t think or worry about that Elder Hardman just takes care of, we figured it out. I worried about Elder Hardman at home because I had the car if he needed anything. I hate to say it but I was pretty happy when it was all done.

Elder Hardman went to District meeting on Wednesday. We didn’t do our usual “Welcome to the Zone” last week and so it felt strange to have new missionaries in District meeting that we didn’t welcome. We haven’t been living a life of leisure but we have taken things easy this week. We did some door knocking and took a drive. Elder Hardman is doing alright but we are frustrated because the Doctor’s office has not let us know when the follow-up visit will be. They say to not leave multiple messages, wait till this week!

Last fall we were scheduled to help in a big service project cleaning up from a huge fire that had destroyed homes. It was cancelled at the last minute (after we had arranged for the missionaries to get rides from members who also had to “outfit” them with clothes and tools) because the ground was unstable. We took a drive to see where this was. There is an old mansion that is part of one of their Parks close by. We enjoyed seeing the old mansion but it is very sad to drive around where the fire was. You can see where homes had stood but it is a miracle that they saved so many of the other homes. I guess it wasn’t a “happy” sort of a field trip but we had wondered about it all for many weeks. That area that was so dry last year now has swampy fields from all of the rain and snow this year. You can see that they will have flooding from all of the erosion and there are no trees left. Crazy stuff.

Today didn’t feel much like Easter but I do have a beautiful tree outside our window that is filled with blossoms. It did give me a minute to reflect on the beauty around us and the promise of “New Life”. I am trying to remember not to “freak out”.

The Gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, April 10, 2017

Letter #52

Hmmm…. How do I tell about this past week? Remember how I described a mission as a roller-coaster ride? According to my niece’s little boy, “Roller coasters are too fast, too bumpy and keep going down!” Just when I think we have come to the smooth part of the ride we find ourselves on the part that is too fast, too bumpy and keeps going down!

We started out the week with Transfer Day. Monday we shopped, cleaned and started making food. We had been running around all day so we decided to have Papa Murphy’s pizza for dinner. We get a half and half, which means I get what I want and Elder Hardman gets what he wants on the pizza and we don’t have to eat what the other person likes. Elder Hardman decided that something on his half of the pizza made him sick. Tuesday came and he still didn’t feel well but he came to help with the Transfer Day lunch (he didn’t eat anything) and was relieved that another couple took the missionaries to the Temple (usually his job). That night he stayed home from the dinner. Wednesday he still didn’t feel well but it is a day to set things in order after our busy Transfer day anyway so he was able to relax. Thursday he was still not feeling well. We were also waiting all day to hear if Shalene and Garrett had had their baby. They had gone to the hospital on Wednesday night. I started to think that Elder Hardman was having sympathy labor pains in honor of Shalene.

He finally decided at 9pm, when it was dark and rainy that he needed to go to the hospital. We drove to a hospital in Sparks because that is where the insurance said to go. They started running tests and finally found that he had two LARGE (9mm) kidney stones, one in the bladder, and one in the kidney. There was also a smaller stone on its way out. He was dehydrated and feeling pretty awful.

Shalene and Garrett's baby was delivered on Thursday, April 6 th at around 10:30pm. Elder Hardman’s delivery took another day! He was admitted to the hospital and was scheduled for surgery on Friday. He was the last surgery on Friday afternoon (at 4pm). Surgery went well, they blasted his stones. He has a stent that will stay in place for a week or so. At this point he is in the recovery stage. He had to come home with a catheter (which he isn’t too happy about) He slept pretty well last night and is starting to have a little appetite. We are thankful for that after several days of not eating. He doesn’t feel great but we know “this too shall pass” (along with those stones).

Shalene and Garrett’s baby was born with the cord around his neck and it had to be cut before he was delivered. This led to breathing issues. He is now off of the oxygen but he hasn’t decided that he is ready to eat yet so he is on a feeding tube and I.V. I think he is in cahoots with his Grandpa to be on a hunger strike! I hope he doesn’t take as long to decide to eat. We love to see pictures of him. He is beautiful! I told Shalene, “He looks like Garrett with a side of Shalene”. His name is Anders Garrett Wilcox. We are so grateful to have him here! His parents are amazing! We have had people ask us if we are going home. If anyone understands the meaning of selfless service it is Shalene and Garrett. They have not asked us to come home.

I have asked myself many times on this mission, “What am I doing here?” President Nelson gave me the answer I’ve been looking for in his talk at General Conference. “Faith in Jesus Christ propels us to do things we otherwise would not do”. That is the answer. I have faith in Jesus Christ. I know it may feel bumpy and fast and keeps going down but that it will be all right. There is a plan. We have the source of comfort and strength in our Savior. I have said it before and I will continue to say it. We love our family. We are grateful for each and every one of you. We know you are tenderly caring for each other. Thank you!

The Gospel’s true and we truly love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Letter #51

You probably all sustained it yesterday! Our Stake President, the one that asked for a Senior Couple to clean up the records so that they could “right size” the wards, was called as an Area 70 yesterday. We will be having an emergency Stake Conference next Sunday to sustain a new Stake President. President Johnson served as a Mission President in Brazil. I’m guessing that he will probably serve somewhere in Brazil, but I guess we will have to wait to find that out. We have certainly witnessed a lot of changes in this area since we have been here. The wards are still trying to figure out home teaching and now they will have a new Stake Presidency!

Conference was wonderful. We went to the church to attend the sessions. There was just a smattering of missionaries this time. They try to get an invitation to watch with investigators or less active members. Our YSA sisters had an investigator come to the church. I think we pay attention better sitting in the chapel but I was getting “ants in my pants” by the last session. The benches aren’t made for long sitting. It is a great time for spiritual renewal. I hope everyone decided to work on something that will improve their lives and draw them closer to the Savior. There were a lot of great suggestions!

We had a pretty open week last week and so we scheduled to go work at the Food Bank warehouse. We had never gone before. It is a long way out of town but we had a good time checking this out. We sorted food for 2 ½ hours. It was great. We have learned that they get a lot of snack items but they are generally “healthy” snacks. In other words, healthy snacks don’t sell well and end up at the Food Bank. At the end of our shift they told us that they had flowers and we were to take a box of them. Walmart periodically drops off flowers I guess and they can’t distribute them with the food so they give them away to workers. We wondered what we would do with 5 bouquets of flowers. We took three of them to the three sets of Sisters in our Zone. Oh my! If you want to make a Sister’s day, give them flowers. We take treats every week and something every transfer but this made them happier than anything else we have given them. We told them they were free but they were still so excited! It was totally worth going to work at the warehouse.

We are helping the Sienna Vista ward figure out their visiting teaching. We were given a list to compare to our records. It has let us know of the people we thought were moved out that have slipped through the cracks and are still showing up on the records, little by little. It is so much more pleasant to knock on doors in the good weather!

We are going to have two weeks of meal planning and preparation. It is always stressful to me to look ahead and wonder how we are going to do it all. It always works out but I’m feeling the stress right now. The missionaries start displaying that they are feeling the stress about the same time I do, but they are stressed about transfers!

Elder Benti gave a great training in District meeting last week. He told how David only needed one stone to kill Goliath but he picked up 5. He brought us each 5 stones and had done the Chinese characters for God, companion, love, scriptures and Holy Spirit. We painted our stones with the characters as he talked about how we each need to pick up our own stones, in faith. I always think that if I had taught as well as these young missionaries I probably wouldn’t have had any “naughty” kids in Sunday School. They are amazing teachers!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, March 27, 2017

Letter #50

Letter from Larry:

Dear Family,

Mom is at Women's Conference right now so I thought I would be a good time to write a letter. It has been awhile. I'll begin by giving an update on Grandpa Hardman and Grandpa Bartlett. This might be repetitive for some of you but we're not sure what each of you have been told about them recently.

Grandpa Hardman - He had a bad urinary infection; hence, the doctor put him on an antibiotic. It cleared up the urinary infection but had a side effect, which set him back again. I guess the medication made his heels weak so that when he reached up to a cabinet for some medicine he tore his ACL. He has been in a boot for a couple of weeks and has been asked to refrain from walking during this time period. He seemed in pretty good spirits when I spoke with him a few days ago. He should now be able to start doing some walking but will probably be in the boot for six month.

Grandpa Bartlett - Had another heart attack a couple of weeks ago. He was in the hospital for a few days and is now in a rehab facility. Grandma wants him home soon but he is still pretty week, so there is no scheduled date as to when he might be able to go home yet. He does seem to be stabilized. We'll have been here for a year, in one more week. We have to laugh as we look at the rolling hills, as they are now beginning to turn green. They were green and beautiful when we arrived last April; however, when we said that to others in the area they would look at us like we didn't know what we were talking about. It only took a couple of weeks and those beautiful green hills were all brown. We are excited to see them green again. It is also much lighter in the evenings so we are able to knock doors, helping with the ward lists, at a much later time. Our rate of finding people home is much improved.

We drove to Fallon on Wednesday to do some JustServe training with the Zone Leaders there. The drive is a little more than an hour so Mom played two talks from a Brother Hank Smith. I hadn't heard of him but I guess he is a pretty popular speaker. The young missionaries here quote him quite often. These talks were good for me so I thought I would share some of the focal points.  I was going through a bit of a downer because I felt bad I wasn't there to help with Grandpa Hardman, and to help with Grandpa Bartlett, and to help with Clay/Katie's new baby, and to help with Jason/Xanna's move, and to be there to help with Garrett/Shalene's new baby, etc. Get the picture. We know each of you have situations in which we are not there to help with; and this weighs on us. Well, the first talk made reference to the time that the Anti-Nephi Lehites (Alma 24:16) buried their swords "deep in the earth". Brother Smith suggested that these Laminates were addicted to war and the shedding of blood. They had to bury them weapons deep so they wouldn't be tempted to use them again. He talked about how we all have our own "swords" which need to be buried deep. In the next talk, he referenced Mark. This is where Christ walked on the water towards the ship, which contained his disciples. He spoke to them, as he approached, "Be of Good Cheer." Brother Smith suggests that this is a commandment for all of us to "Be of Good Cheer". Don't dwell on the things we can't control but be happy as we proceed with the things we can control. These talks helped me. Maybe we'll have to order all of his talks. Most of them are towards the youth; however, that is probably at my learning level. We are looking forward to being home but I also realize I need to make the most of the six months I have left and to do what I can to help the missionaries, the members, help in our service opportunities and as we try to fellowship others.

I'll quote one more scripture and then I'll stop my preaching. Mom and I thought that it was clever when we used the "Oh Thank Heavens for 7-11" sign, after we had been here 7 months. Well, we had the missionaries use this same slogan when talking about Alma "And he shall come forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people". Very powerful, and hits right to the core of what the Savior has done for us. "Oh Thank Heavens for 7-11".

Well, I get to go help take down the tables and the chairs this evening (which were set out for the Women's Conference); so I better get changed.

Mom and I love you all so very much! We plead with Heavenly Father each night that you are safe, that you are happy, that you are keeping yourselves worthy and most importantly, that you are doing those things that are helping you to develop a closer relationship with the Savior and your Heavenly Father.

Love,
Dad

Letter from Denice:

Dear Family,

Larry wrote my letter this week. I realize that we do the same things so if Larry writes about it there is nothing else to tell! : )

So instead, I will share a story with you.
Did you pay attention? Can you answer these questions without looking at the story?

1. Where were Fingledope and Pribin?
2. What were they doing?
3. What happened to Fingledope?
4. What was the dutty strezzle doing?

I just thought I would share some of the clever training we receive at District meeting. Our District leader, Elder Hiatt wrote and illustrated this fun story and had Elder Hardman read it out loud to us and then we were to answer the questions. We, of course, didn’t have a clue what the story was about or what the answers to the questions were. Our training was on teaching for understanding. These young missionaries are amazing at teaching the gospel in simple terms without being too simple. They are fun and creative in their teaching. We had District meeting and then Zone Conference this week so we had a great week of learning.

We heard today that the Harding’s came to church today! This was happy news for us. We also were able to go teach Brother Jameson again with the Sisters. He was able to go to the Temple last week to do baptism for the dead. His Bishop is teaching and preparing him to receive the priesthood. Sister Meyer shared D&C 50:24 with him. “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.” We feel so blessed to be able to see the light growing brighter and brighter in Brother Jameson.

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Love,
Elder and Sister Hardman

Ps. Funny story, I noticed on my phone that it said it would take longer to get to work because of heavy traffic. I wondered where “work” was, it is the address to the chapel! : ) That lets you know how often we drive to the church.