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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

Elder and Sister Hardman