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!


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!

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!

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
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!

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!

Elder and Sister Hardman