Monday, January 30, 2017

Letter #42

Three big things this week

#1. The Worldwide Missionary Broadcast. We met with the Quincy zone at the King’s Row building and enjoyed the broadcast. It is fun to think about the same message going out to all the missionaries throughout the entire world. They said that there are 422 missions and 7,854 missionaries around the world. They talked about the new changes in the schedule but what I enjoyed was how they showed that the new schedule would accommodate cultural differences in missions. They showed how Latin American would arise at 7am and go to bed at 11pm but in Africa they will arise at 6am and be back in their homes by 6pm. Mission Presidents will decide how to adapt their schedule to their mission. Our mission is still figuring a few things out. Instead of having 9 key indicators that the missionaries report they will only have 4. We have been asked to meet with any new zone leaders and give them a quick training on “Just Serve” and their part in it. We took a new Zone leader, and his fairly new companion, to lunch this week to “train” them. Their first question is, “How do we report this now?” Our answer, “We don’t know”. We all have a lot to learn.

#2. We set a new record! We went with three different sets of missionaries to three different lessons, all on the same day! Apparently the Keystone Elders reported in District meeting on how awesome we are. (They spent a lot of time with us last week!) I guess that helped the zone remember that we are here and we reaped the benefits. Two of the lessons were a last minute panic because they couldn’t get someone else and then remembered us but we don’t care how we get invited, we just love to go. We enjoyed all three lessons. The hardest question asked was the 8 year old that asked how Adam and Eve got here without being born, ha ha. It is great to watch the missionaries answer questions.

#3. We went to a Tongan baptism. The Tongan ward is a coveted assignment. All of the missionaries know they will be treated well and fed constantly in the Tongan ward. They also know that it is hard to baptize in that ward. They have been so excited that they were having a baptism. Even though the Tongan Ward meets in Sparks, the Sisters are in our Zone so we went to support our missionaries. We knew the Tongan Ward would support the lady being baptized. We looked at the program and the hymn books and I said to Sister Murdock, “I take it that we aren’t going to understand what’s going on tonight”, she laughed and said, “That’s how I feel every Sunday”. We may not speak Tongan but the Spirit spoke loud and clear. They don’t play the piano, the chorister sings about three words and everyone joins her, singing their own harmony. It was beautiful. They had four musical numbers and four talks, some were in English, some in Tongan. The chorister’s grandchildren were there from Australia, 9 of them. They sang so amazing. It is like a chant but they had two little boys that stole the show. They were not afraid to sing out! Our hearts were deeply touched by the spirit in that meeting. We asked the Sisters what the background was of the lady that was baptized. She is diabetic, a single mom and has had her toes amputated. A member of the bishopric has taken she and her son into their home to care for them. (kinda makes you feel like a slob doesn’t it?) At the end of the baptism they insisted we take food home. They had packaged at least 100 meals (meals, not cookies!) for the people attending the baptism. I think I am a fan of rolls sitting in coconut milk, they were delicious. The Vaiavakas are a huge part of the Tongan ward. Elder Vaiavaka performed the baptism. Sister Vaiavaka was working in the kitchen. We felt honored to attend this special baptism.

Our favorite Mormon Baptist preacher spoke in church today. Maybe it reminds me of my childhood in the south, but I always enjoy when Brother Baker speaks. They were talking about the Book of Mormon and Brother Baker told a cute story about inviting their neighbors for dinner and putting on the “Living Scriptures” DVD to entertain their two-year old but Brother Baker found himself caught up in the story of Nephi and wondered if he “would go and do”. He admitted that he isn’t as familiar with the Book of Mormon stories. Then he told about taking on the whole armour of God. (Ephesians 6) You gird your loins with truth, you have the breastplate of righteousness, your feet are shod with the gospel of peace, you have the shield of faith and the helmet of salvation. You are set to defend yourself, but you are missing something very important. You can’t attack, you can’t fight without the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God. We are told many times in the Doctrine and Covenants that the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than a two-edged sword (isn’t that a Claymore?). The Book of Mormon is our sword. Are you familiar with it? Do you know how to use it? Do you even know where yours is? We know that the Book of Mormon changes lives. We are blessed to see and hear of the miracles that come because of this book.

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, January 23, 2017

Letter #41

Well, we have been in the mission field long enough to have the program completely change!

We went to District meeting this week and they handed out a new schedule for the missionaries. They no longer have to follow the hour by hour guidelines that are in Preach My Gospel. They are responsible to prayfully decide when they study, plan, exercise, and give service. They have found that return missionaries struggle when they no longer have a set schedule during the day to accomplishment the things they need to. They now have the opportunity to decide how to manage their time and to depend on the Spirit in making these decisions. They still have to get up at 6:29 am and they still have to fit everything expected into their day. President Chesnut still gave them an outline of a few things he wanted them to plan for on certain days and times. The schedule change doesn’t really affect us, we already plan our days our way but it greatly affected the Just Serve times that we have already committed to. We were confused and frustrated but President Chesnut met with us Tuesday afternoon and clarified the program for us. I think we have it all figured out again. The north valley missionaries help every week at a Catholic church for 3 hours right at the time the President told them they should be doing weekly planning. He asked us to go check it out because the missionaries told him if the missionaries didn’t go help they wouldn’t be able to have that food pantry function. We went to help on Thursday and they are right, it is sponsored by the Catholic Church but runs on the backs of our missionaries. They come early and move all the food from the storehouse to another room, they clean and sort and set out all of the food and then they pass it out and help the elderly that come get the supplies to their car, then they put everything away. They work hard for three hours! There are 3 people from the Catholic Church in charge and 10 missionaries doing the work. They had an Elder say the opening prayer. We reported back to the President after going and working and talking with the missionaries that we thought they should continue with this service. We heard yesterday that he approved their schedule change. It will take a while for the missionaries to quit asking “when” they should be doing things. They also get a 30 minute lunch (used to be an hour) and they have to be out of their apartments by 10am and it’s suggested they take their lunches with them. They are finding out that missionaries that spend less time in their apartments are less stressed and depressed. I agree with that, the busier we are and the less time we spend in the apartment the better I feel about everything. It will be fun to be a part of this new program.

The rest of the week we spent as the designated driver. Our Elders went over a speed bump and tore their entire exhaust system off of their car. It is still in the shop. They needed a ride to everything for most of the week. It meant that we were able to go to more lessons and we went on splits with them. That was fun for us. We did start to feel like there were things we needed to get done though. Friday we spent the morning taking them to the Doctor. Elder Bell messed up his pinky finger a long time ago but finally had an appointment with the Doctor. They had put Elder Johnson (concussion) with him for the day. Elder Bell has his pinky in a device to stretch the tendon and will have physical therapy. Elder Johnson has been told to stay down and not do anything, even read. He is still struggling. We have decided that they need to get rid of “morning program”, that is where these two accidents occurred. We thought we might have to drive Elders around all weekend but they gave them a different car to use for a while. We had a beautiful weather day yesterday for knocking doors. We accomplished a lot. I guess Heavenly Father knew we were doing our best and needed a good day to work on our responsibilities. Today we came out of church to a blizzard so we are happy that it was good on Saturday. There is a weather pattern here. Snow, wind, rain, flood, repeat…..

The Sienna Vista ward had a missionary Sunday today. The Elders spoke and the Ward mission leader. They asked Elder Hardman to give his testimony. My kind of meeting! It was nice. I am impressed with the willingness of the members to be involved in missionary work. They feed the missionaries every night, they go on splits with them and they help with lessons. I know we can all do more but these members are very supportive. They haven’t figured out what we are doing here though. I had a member ask me today when we would be transferred. Oh well.

We hope you have a great week and drive carefully, be very careful going over speed bumps! The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, January 16, 2017

Letter #40

I will start with the best and fill in the rest.

Saturday we had our missionary conference. Every missionary in the mission came to Reno. That never happens! The conference started at 2pm but we were to be in our seats by 1:30. Missionaries from Elko, Ely and the California parts had driven all morning to get there. It was fun to drive to the church and see the missionary cars heading there too. You can tell a missionary car, they all have the same bike rack on the back. As they started to fill the chapel the Spirit grew and grew. They were all there early and at 1:30 they started to sing. I can’t express what that feels like. The Chesnuts walked in, walked to the front of the chapel and Sister Chesnut couldn’t contain the tears. It was such a special moment to have the entire mission together, singing. They had everyone go to the cultural hall for a picture. It was a big group but they hurried in and out. On the way back to chapel every missionary was able to shake hands with Elder Pierson, Elder Larkin and Elder D Todd Christofferson. It was a special conference. We had talks but Elder Christofferson had the missionaries ask questions. My favorite question was asking him for a missionary experience he had as a young missionary that had an influence on his life. He told how as a leader he had an impression about a companionship that was a long way away. He hadn’t received any information and it was a long distance by bus but he felt like there was a problem and they needed to go visit. He told how he tried to ask himself if it was the spirit or just his own thoughts but they went and there was a problem that needed to be taken care of. He learned to recognize promptings of the Spirit. We thought he might tell a conversion story but really he was telling his own conversion story, something that really influenced his life. He was also asked how they could develop charity and love. He answered with the ten Commandments, the part before the commandments, Exodus 20:2 “I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage” If we have no other “Gods” before Him. We will not bow down to weakness and sin, we will not be in bondage. We can do this by being “anxiously engaged”. We can incorporate the good and push out the bad. That is how we should love God. That leads to charity. He also blessed them with specific blessings. He told them to not be afraid if life is hard. Elder Pierson told us that we might speak English or we might speak Spanish but those are not our native tongue. Our innate native tongue is a spiritual language and the Holy Ghost comes to bear witness to us in our native tongue. I loved that. It was a very special opportunity to be a part of this. I will never forget what it feels like to be in a chapel full of missionaries, listening to them sing.

The rest of the week was FOOD! Monday we planned and shopped for food and prepared some food. Tuesday morning was Transfer Day and we fed the incoming missionaries. There were only four Sisters arriving but the Office missionaries and senior couples are all invited. We fed about 20 people. We had Chicken Noodle soup, Broccoli cheese soup, breadsticks, grapes, Cuties, green salad, cookies and Rice Krispie treats. Wednesday we knocked some doors but no one was home. We drove by the Truckee River, it is over-flowing! Thursday we started doing food again. We planned, shopped and prepped again. Friday was MLC. We fed 40 people, mostly the zone leaders and STLs. We had chicken burrito bowls, which is rice, chicken, and toppings. We had a big fruit salad, tortilla chips and sugar cookie bars. We learn something new about every meal. Elder Hardman makes beautiful bread sticks and fruit salads. The Vaiavakas came to help on Friday. Elder Vaiavaka quietly washes everything. They are fun to listen to about their mission to Papau, New Guinea. We enjoyed having them in the kitchen. It is a busy week but will be even busier from now on. We will have two meals on Transfer Day. Our extra meal this time was on Saturday. Sister Chesnut was asked to feed the visiting authorities on Saturday night after the conference. After we had our lunch on Tuesday she told me she wanted to make the same soups for that dinner. I told her we would come on Saturday and make the soup, put it in the crock pot and she could serve it that night. We went and made soup on Saturday morning and Elder Hardman even added his famous breadsticks! I am not sure how this became our assignment but so far so good. No one has died.

We have a busy week this next week also but we don’t have to cook for anyone. We only had two transfers in our zone. Elder Katsilas is back, he was here when we first came so it is fun to have him back and we have a new sister who is training. We take around a treat on the Thursday after transfers. It is always something kinda silly but they seem to look forward to it. I steal ideas from Pinterest. This time we took Cuties that said, “peel the love, welcome to the zone”. So if you have any fun ideas……

We would like you to join us in praying for our Elder Johnson. Elder Johnson is from Alaska. Before his mission he was hit by a semi-truck going over 70 miles an hour. His jaw was shattered and they had to rebuild his face. They told him he should have died but he knows he was supposed to come on this mission and that is why he is still here. Monday he banged heads with another Elder and received a concussion. He is struggling and with his prior history they are worried about him. Please remember him in your prayers. He loves missionary work. He loves the Book of Mormon and Jesus Christ. He is a great missionary. I feel we still need him in the Nevada Reno mission. I also saw the pain in his eyes on Saturday and I know he is suffering. Please pray for him.

We were asked to help with three lessons this past week and not one of them happened. Elder Hardman told the Sisters how he felt bad that 2/3 of their lessons fall through but she answered with a twinkle in her eye, “But that 1/3 is amazing!” These missionaries lift our hearts! We don’t have to be afraid if life is hard!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, January 9, 2017

Letter #39

The week of crazy weather!

We had some of everything this week!

We found out how to get involved more with the missionaries… let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! It snowed a lot during the middle of the week and there were almost hourly updates on whether or not the missionaries were allowed to drive. We were scheduled to feed the Elders on Thursday night. They called and asked if we could pick them up and drive them to the rest of their appointments that evening. The missionaries were told that night that they had to have a member drive them after 6pm. It was a fun evening for us. After dinner we took the Elders to 2 different lessons. The first lesson is a 10 year old that decided on his own that he would like to listen to the missionaries. He has been going to cub scouts with an LDS group and has played baseball with some LDS kids. He lives with his Grandma, who isn’t a member but is so supportive. Elder Hardman and I visited with the grandma and the great-grandma (92) while the Elders taught Liam. They are great ladies. The Elders liked having us there so much, involving the grandma, so we’ve been invited back next week!

The second lesson was with our downtown friends, Mark and Brian. I get nervous having our car downtown at night but when the weather is bad there aren’t all of the people roaming around. I was feeling pretty good when the Elders wouldn’t get in the elevator (the one that had the urine in it) and told us a guy had been murdered in it last week. So much for feeling good. Brian has a baptismal date but he has heart problems and other health issues so they are being cautious. We care so much about these good men. You learn not to judge. When I told my kids, “life isn’t fair” I had no idea what I was talking about.

We are at the end of another transfer, we know because the offer I make at the beginning of a transfer to mend for the missionaries doesn’t sink in until the end of the transfer. I did a mountain of mending this week that had to be taken around in case they get transferred. It makes us giggle.

We went to a wonderful baptism on Saturday. Every baptism is special but sometimes you just feel like the veil is thin and you get a glimpse of heaven. I can’t remember if I told about this lady. She is in her 30’s with a job and everything and she showed up at church one Sunday because she felt the need to be there. She came to a meeting that wasn’t her “home” ward but they quickly sorted that out and she began taking the discussions. She read the Book of Mormon in no time and accepted everything she was taught. We knew she was progressing at a remarkable rate and would truly be a convert. Saturday we heard another sweet part of the story. The “friend” that was “assigned” to this lady explained how being asked to be involved in the discussions was an answer to her prayers. She just turned 31 and aged out of the young single adults and wasn’t excited to have to go to a family ward. We all laughed and she said she knew but it wasn’t funny to her and she was having a hard time and was praying for a friend. Two months ago these cute women were strangers but today they are sisters. You could feel the love in the room. It was special to be there.

And now for the weather…We had several days of snow, ice and COLD then yesterday it started to rain! It has rained non-stop for 2 days and all of that snow is melting and the floods have begun. We have already noticed that this soil does not drain. The river that runs through town is called the Truckee River, it is overflowing. The area has been in a drought for years and now, too much moisture all at once.

We went to our morning meetings, it was wet but fine. Then we went back for our afternoon meetings. It was our week to take Kathy (the blind lady). After taking the sacrament the Bishop stood and said that taking the sacrament was why we had come to church and because local church leaders and government leaders had asked, we were cancelling the rest of our meetings for the day. I don’t think Kathy was too happy about her quick outing. She loves being taken somewhere. The peak of the flooding was supposed to be this afternoon but it is still raining. When we picked Kathy up we had to pull over for emergency vehicles that were towing rafts and kayaks. The streets are full of water. School has been cancelled for tomorrow. Our missionaries get used to having a back-up plan because people constantly bail out on them but Elder Bell made us laugh when he said, “I didn’t think I’d have to have a back-up plan for church!” : ) I guess we are happy to be on the second floor tonight!

This next week is our busy week. We have transfer day meals on Tuesday and MLC on Friday. We have Elder Christofferson coming for our Mission Conference on Saturday and then we found out he will attend the Keystone Ward on Sunday, but we’re not to tell our friends because they will want to come to our meeting. We only have about 100 people in attendance, I kinda hope someone tells their friends!

We have been getting calls from President Chesnut about the service the missionaries can do with the flooding and calls from missionaries to know what they can do. We know they are filling sandbags at several sites but since we don’t have a T.V. we are kinda dumb about the situation. The Red Cross needs help serving meals but we can’t ask missionaries to help on Mondays and Tuesday is transfer day. This rain has not come at a convenient time. : )

We were grateful to be a part of Dad’s 90th birthday party on Saturday, how we wish we could have been there. It was good to catch a glimpse of everyone, surely made us homesick. We love you all so much and we are so grateful for you. Don’t show up at the Keystone ward on Sunday or they will know that I told my friends!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

Monday, January 2, 2017

Letter #38

Happy New Year! When we were filling out mission forms (in 2015) and it said 2017, it seemed so far away. It’s now 2017! October is still far away but we can make it right!?

We went to bed on time last night but we could hear the boom of the fireworks, we couldn’t see them though. I guess they do a great display by the river. We also heard someone’s car alarm go off for a while but didn’t go investigate. That was all the excitement we had. Elder Hardman found out that he can watch Netflix at any time, like Xanna’s kids did, celebrate and go to bed. He will never make it till midnight again!

Our week:

We did our first transfer home dinner on Tuesday. It was a nice way to be broken in. This was a middle of the transfer thing so these missionaries could be home in time to start college. We had six Sisters and 1 Elder. We didn’t know the poor Elder but these have been outstanding Sisters. They will be missed. January 10th will be transfer day but we will only have to do the incoming missionary meal for lunch that day. Our meal schedule now all happens the same week. We will have lunch and dinner to prepare for Transfer Day (Tuesdays) and then we will prepare lunch for MLC that same week on Friday. It will be a very busy week every six weeks. Tuesday night turned out fine. They go to a Temple session before dinner and were very late getting back to the Mission Home, things had been cooking a long time. We have some things to figure out.

The rest of the week we spent trying to work on our list. We did get a few names done that we have gone to the home lots of times. Of course the people don’t live there but we can’t do any more until we get someone home to tell us that. Saturday was quite productive again and we remember what its’ like to meet the Kooks! An old lady answered the door and told us her son lived there but he wasn’t dressed. She was friendly and seemed happy to learn she was in the new ward boundaries. Then she told us she couldn’t go to church until she lost enough weight to fit into her size 3 dress because it is the only dress she owns. She was quite thin and when I complimented her she told us she was a size 5 but if she goes without eating she could soon be back in her dress, she can go 4 days without eating before she gets weak and she doesn’t have any money for food anyway. Oh dear! I think I need to buy her a size 5 dress. She then told us she wasn’t a member “right now”. We don’t quite know what that means! It’s always an adventure.

Friday we took a drive to Chester, CA. The Thurgoods are the senior couple that live there. They have been coaxing us to come and see them. We told them we would see them in the spring but they still wanted us to come. Friday was a nice day so we went. Elder Thurgood was raised in Westwood until he was 10 years old. He loved growing up in this isolated mountain village. He was a great tour guide because he loves the surroundings. We asked them if they were lonely or if they were okay. They said they were lonely but they are okay. They had the Elders in the Zone come and spend the night Christmas night. They had dinner and played games. You could tell it was a highlight for them all. They are at the furthest north border of the mission. They are part of a branch. They have callings in the ward and still are asked to teach various classes when they get to church on Sunday. They live in an incredibly beautiful place though! They heat the home with a wood burning stove. We had a nice visit and drive. We hurried back to Sparks for the farewell dinner for the office couple who is leaving. This is their last week. We will be glad to have this settle down for senior couples. We don’t like hearing their plans for going home.

Remember the shoe tree out in the middle of nowhere? I asked Mary and Judith (the Christmas house) ladies about the story (they are from Janesville). Here is the story: There is an Army Depot by Susanville. When the service men were through with their service they would have to go to Reno to fly home. As they passed this tree they would throw their boots high up in the tree to show their time was over. This went on for years as a tradition until an environmentalist said it was killing the tree and yelled until someone cleaned the tree off. In protest, others started throwing their shoes in the tree. That is how the shoe tree came to be. You can see army boots hanging in the tree but there are also shoes of every type and style. If you ask the right people you can find out all sorts of things!

We had a great lesson today in Relief Society about how using the Atonement in our everyday lives helps us to change and grow. I might actually be able to stick to some of my New Year’s Resolutions when I think of it that way. We hope you have included ways to grow closer to the Savior this coming year. We were also told by the science teacher that light is energy, light helps us grow by that energy. Christ is the Light!

The gospel’s true and we love you!

Elder and Sister Hardman

I have pictures but I haven’t figured out how to transfer them with my new phone, maybe next week!