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!

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!

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!

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!

Elder and Sister Hardman