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!

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!

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!

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!

Elder and Sister Hardman