Monday, December 14, 2015

Life on the flip side

It has been one year since returning from my mission in Denver, Colorado.  I would also say that it has been a rough year, but it has also been a year of blessings pouring from above. I have been able to see God's hand time and time again in my life. I still can say, "I know He lives."

 I feel as if all return missionaries should have a handbook--and no, not like the scriptures, but a "Here's what to do when" book.  On my mission, I felt like I had all the answers and I felt that I could do anything.  Coming home, I had that same mentality.  However, the Lord has humbled me over and over.  These past twelve months, He has taught me that things happen in His time and in His way--but the blessings that we so desire WILL come if we are true and faithful. He does not tell us when those blessings will come, but He does promise us that we can be happy.

Most of you know that this year has been a time of challenges that I did not anticipate. Throughout every setback, I have been able to feel the Lord's love and peace. The Savior truly has the ability to heal the broken hearted and the power to raise the heads that hang down. I have seen this regularly. How wonderful is it to know that the son of the most powerful being loves us more than we could imagine and that He came to Earth to mend our souls when we have fallen.  He truly loves us. This I know! I feel it everyday.

While experiencing trials, often times we shake our fists at God and ask Him, "Why? Why me? Why did You choose me to experience this? I just don't understand." I have felt to ask those same questions, but again and again, I am humbled and I remember Hugh B. Brown's experience with his currant bush. We must remember that Heavenly Father is the Gardener. He knows what He wants us to be. He loves us enough to hurt us, to cut us down so that we can grow into something more wonderful and beautiful than we can imagine ourselves to be.
Remembering this has helped me to see the bigger picture. While going through trials and difficult times, it is so hard to see the light at the end. But I think that's why we have the scriptures or the temple.  Those blessings help us to keep an eternal perspective.

Although I am not set apart as a full time missionary anymore and even though I don't feel the Savior's guidance in my life as much I did in Denver, I still KNOW that Jesus Christ is there for me. I know that He is by my side--He is on my left hand and on my right.  He has fulfilled His role as the Second Comforter during these past months in my life as I have struggled. No fact, science, or opinion can change the experiences I have had, nor can they change my feelings. These things I know.

Regardless of my knowledge about these things, I still slip up. I have definitely not been as best as I can be. I am so imperfect and I realize that more and more everyday. I will never be perfect in this life. I have so so much to learn. I am so undeserving of His love. However, even with my flaws and my mistakes, I know, without a doubt, that He knows me, He hears me, He loves me. The most quoted and well known scripture throughout Christianity demonstrates just how much our Father in Heaven loves each person that has walked this Earth:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

It does not matter how far we've gone astray or how antagonistic we have behaved toward God. It doesn't matter if we feel like we have sinned beyond repair. It doesn't matter how vile we feel we have been. Our pasts do not matter, what matters to Him is our future. With Jesus Christ, we can be healed. We can become clean from our mistakes.
Tis the season to remember Him and that He lives! Because of him, guilt becomes peace, regret becomes relief, despair becomes hope. Because of Him, I can be happy. He suffered so that we might not have to. He died so that we can live again. He did the impossible.  He came to ransom us from sin. Our Father in Heaven loved us enough to ask His Son to do that--all so that we can live together after this life with those we love most.

Remember He is the Gift.

He is the best gift of Christmas. #rememberHim

Monday, April 6, 2015

8 December 2014. Last entry from the field: Is this real life?

This is my last email. Very surreal. I could update you all on what has been happening here in my area, but I'm not going to. My heart it full with gratitude towards the blessings that Heavenly Father has given me these last 17+ months. I don't even know what to say. I have learned so much. I have learned that eternal happiness, enduring happiness comes only from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nothing in this life matters unless we have a relationship with our Savior and His Father and Our Father. I think that is the most important thing that a very proud and stubborn girl could learn-who's in charge, or I guess I could say Who's in charge. 

I want you all to know that I know that this gospel is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know this because out here I've had to search more than I have ever searched to come to know for myself that this is true. I know that The Lord is very much aware of us. He hears our prayers. He knows us. Just as a parent can recognize his/her child's cry, our Father in Heaven knows and hears our cries. He loves us! I want to shout it from the roof tops here in Denver.  I've had all too many experiences that are evidence of God's love for us--my companion and I just happen to be at the right place at the right time when we had no intention of being where we were. That is the Lord's hand. I know it. I have felt it. 

I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that without a doubt in my mind. I know it. It has brought me closer to my Heavenly King more than any other book. I know it is scripture. I know that any who desire to know and read from its pages will gain a witness of its truth and divinity. I know this. 

This gospel is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This work will continue on with or without us because it's true. These things I know! Which way do you face? If we do not face The Lord than we cannot obtain that full measure of happiness He has promised us if we live faithfully. 

I give my witness to you all that He lives! I love you and am grateful for your love and support. 

-Sister Johanna Hardy

24 Nov - 30 Nov

My first week in Parker. Parker doesn't look anything like the parts of Colorado I've served in. In Parker, it looks like a mini Utah. It's more hilly here and more country like. And there are tons of members! People fight over who gets to house the missionaries. Well ,not really fight, but there are waiting lists. Also, this place is like crazy safe. It's great because we can tract anywhere at anytime! 

Anyways, this week, we had a ton of meetings, but it was good. Something that Parker does differently from the other stakes I've served in is they train their missionaries weekly. So a member of the stake presidency comes and gives a training to the missionaries every tuesday. Cool, huh? The ward here in Clarke Farms is amazing when it comes to missionary work. All of the baptisms here are because of great members who fellowship and love their neighbors enough to share the gospel. It is incredible. I am learning so much about how to be a member missionary while I am here. 

Once a week, the sisters teach this group of students from Asia English. On Friday was my first time and we did a game where the students are given a letter and a category and they have to come up with as many words that fit that category and start with that particular letter. It was a blast. But the coolest part was when we began teaching them the Plan of Salvation. Their english isn't the best, but the Spirit teaches and touches in every language. It was a testimony builder to me. There were a few students who were really engaged and were trying to process what they were hearing. It was wonderful! 

Also, I have an amazing story to share, but it will have to wait until next week because I am almost all out of time.

I love this gospel. I know it is true. I have come to understand my Savior more in these last seventeen months than I knew was possible. The Savior's Atonement has become more and more real to me. I'm going to make a plug here for the new short christmas video called "He is the Gift." It's about three minutes long and you can find it on It shows the real meaning of Christmas. The first gift of Christmas is Christ. 

I love you all! 
Love, Sister Hardy 

Pictures from Aurora. 
1. Patrick and his wife! He will be getting baptized on Saturday! 
2. Dave!!! He is getting baptized on the 12th! And I got permission to go :D

Week of 17 November - 23 November 2014: PARKER NATION

This week has been absolutely amazing! However, I am leaving AURORA! I am SO SO SO sad. Really the Sable ward has a HUGE piece of my heart and I won't lie--I was super bummed to hear I was getting transferred so quickly, but I know that the Lord has His reasons. I did what I needed to do in Sable and now, I have a mission here in the Clark Farms ward in Parker! OH! And. I AM IN A TRIO. Sister Bertagnole (Bert-an-no-lee) and Sister Moala (rhymes with Koala).  Sister B is from Virginia! EAST COASTERSSSSS. Sister Moala is from TONGA. Kolipoki!!!!!!!!!!!!! That is from "The Other Side of Heaven." 
Back to my week! First off, I discovered that I have a gluten allergy. STINKY. But! Luckily, the members are all very cooperative and supportive. However, gluten free bread is NOTHING like good ol' Granny Sycamore and much more expensive. Alas, the work continues.
So here's the scoop about Dave. On Tuesday, we had an appointment scheduled and had the ward mission leader and his wife (Mike and Sara) come with us. WELL. Tuesday just happened to be the day that we needed to teach the Word of Wisdom. We were freaking out--Dave chews tobacco and drinks coffee--needless to say we were a wee bit anxious. 
We get in there, sit down and we begin by teaching him about obedience to the commandments that our Heavenly Father has given. You know, we share the classic examples of how our parents give us rules so that we don't hurt ourselves (e.g. Mom and Dad are making breakfast and they tell us not to touch the hot stove. Do we listen? No. So we get burned. Same with our Heavenly Father. He gives us commandments so we don't get hurt.) We then proceed to teach him about the word of wisdom. We abstain from these things and we make sure to do these things, etc. All the while, I am eyeing him to see how he is reacting to what we are teaching him. We ask him how he feels about it and he looks a little perplexed and says, "It's going to be really hard. I mean, really hard. I've been chewing tobacco for thirty plus years." We then continue talking to him about the blessings that come from obedience and how keeping the word of wisdom is a qualification for baptism. The wheels begin turning in his head. We then ask, "Dave, will you live the word of wisdom?" Pausing, he nods and tells us that he will! We then ask if we can take all the things he has in his home so he won't be tempted. HE AGREES. We proceed to do the happy dance (in spirit) and take EVERYTHING. It was the best THING EVER. 
Oh! And as far as I know he hasn't chewed tobacco or drank or smoked anything since! Aww yeah!
Later in the week, we had the chance to go to a temple sealing! It was incredible. We had been meeting with this sister almost everyday for four weeks to prepare her to enter the temple! AND SHE MADE IT. It was so special to see those two in the sealing room at the Denver temple. I am so thankful that I know and understand that families can be forever. This knowledge is something that motivates me to be a bit me. It has changed me. Knowing that we have a place on earth that meets heaven means everything to me. It means that I have a loving Heavenly Father who wants me and everyone else to return to Him.
I love you all SOOOOO much. I have a ton of pictures to send, but I will send them next week hopefully. I love you! Remember: the Lord is in charge. 
Love, Sister Hardy

Monday, December 15, 2014

10 Nov -16 Nov: SNOW.

This week I froze! But it was so good because it got us in to a lot more doors!
Example, we finally got to see Darshelle again! It was such a tender mercy! We taught her the Restoration, even though she has already heard it and it was wonderful. The Spirit was there. It was cool to see the light that came into her eyes. She is an amazing person. We will be seeing her tonight and we are so excited! She has accepted baptism! Woot woot!
Remember Dave? Well, he is STILL reading and he kind of gets frustrated because he doesn't really understand what he reads. But, he is praying and on Tuesday when we saw him, we were teaching him all about the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). Well, we talked about repentance and baptism. As we began talking about baptism, he chirped up and said, "I have a question. Can a person be baptized into a different church?"
In my head, I'm thinking, "HALLELUJAH!"
We answer him by explaining how we only need baptism once IF it's performed by the Priesthood authority. He nods and we see a light turn on in his head and we know that's our cue. We then invite him to be baptized and he tells us that he has been thinking about it and wants to know what he needs to do to get baptized! At this point, my spirit is dancing.
AND! He came to church. Awww yeah.
We had a neat experience this week. We were teaching a recent convert. She has had some very negative feedback from some of her family after joining and it has been causing her to doubt her testimony. She is not even sure if God exists. I've never talked about it in my emails, but at the very beginning of my mission, I questioned my testimony--BIG TIME. I even doubted that God existed. I was struggling hard core. I had to do some soul searching and I finally received my answer to which I know with more of a surety that I have ever known that God is real and that He truly is our Heavenly Father. How would I have been able to help this poor girl unless I had been there myself? Truly the Lord loves His children. He allows certain people to come into our lives to help us and also for us to help.
I love you all! The church is true! Jesus Christ is truly our Savior. These things I know.
Love you! Sister Hardy

AND THEN THERE WAS SNOW. Saturday afternoon. We got stuck going up this hill. We have this TINY car. We had to turn around and go another way because we couldn't make it!

I forgot how easily I freeze! 

My last zone conference. WEIRD!

PUPPIES! "My favorite animal is puppies." 

3 Nov - 9 Nov 2014: DAVE!

As always, this past week was wonderful. We always enjoy our weeks as missionaries! Some are more rough than others, but this week was great!
On Tuesday, I met Angelica! She is in her early twenties and she is the bees knees. She told us that she is seeking to have a relationship with God because she knows that is what will help her. She has so much faith! She expressed that she had gone down a bad road and that now she wants to straighten up her life and live her life with God. We shared the Restoration with her and we asked her what her thoughts were and she said that it is possible that it could be true. I think she said something along the lines of "With God anything is possible." Holler. Anyways, we are SO excited about teaching her!
Then we saw Dave! Remember Dave? Guess what? He smiled like four times while we saw him this past week! He's been reading from the Book of Mormon and of course, like all missionaries, we were STOKED about that! He told us that he still doesn't understand it and we have reassured him that he will come to understand. ALSO. He came to the Ward Chili Cook-off which was delicious and I seriously wish we could have one of those every week. Anyways, he wasn't able to come to church because he absolutely had to sign some paper work for his grave. I didn't realize that people buy their graves and such before they die. I can dig it :). Like my pun?
Wednesday, we had the chance to help with a missionary activity with the youth. We taught the youth how to teach the first lesson in Preach My Gospel. We had to teach them in 15 minutes how to teach it. It was a lot of fun. Then they practiced teaching the elders after we taught them what to teach. We told them that they needed to start with a prayer, teach the doctrine, leave a commitment, and end with a prayer. We also encouraged them to invite those they taught to be baptized. Apparently only a few actually did it! Hahaha! I wish I had more of an idea of what missionary work was like before I came out. I was always so dumbfounded when I went out with the sisters!
Later in the week, one of the women we are teaching texted us and asked if we could come over that night. Luckily, we were able to arrange something so we could make it to Marissa's. She expressed her concern about life and we shared with her the importance of reading from the Book of Mormon and why and how it will help her. We will be seeing her tonight and I have faith that she read!
I love this gospel. There were some verses in the Doctrine and Covenants that I read this week that really resonated with me.
Doctrine and Covenants 101 :35-36
 35 And all they who suffer persecution‍ for my name, and endure in faith, though they are called to lay down their lives for my sake‍ yet shall they partake of all this glory. 36 Wherefore, fear not‍ even unto death; for in this world your joy is not full, but in me your joy‍ is full.
In this life our joy will not be full, but in the next, with Jesus Christ, we will have a fullness of joy if we endure in faith!
Love you all!
Sister Hardy

Enjoying a lovely evening at a restaurant! We had a gift card. 

Week of 27 October - 2 November 2014: Work! Work! Work!

Oh my goodness! This week has been a week full of fun and craziness! So many miracles have happened.
For example, Sister Harker and I were driving down the road and we see this man waiting for the bus on Sable Ave.  We pull over and run up and go talk to him. His name is Rommy. He told us that he had only been in Aurora for a couple of days and that he was very spiritual. He rejected us, but it wasn't too bad. We went back to the car and went to the place where we were going to contact people that missionaries had met in the past. We go there and about an hour later, we realize that the phone is gone. Said a prayer. We knew exactly where to go--the bus stop where we met Rommy. We get there and it's not on the ground and no one is around us and so just as we were about to leave, this man comes out of one of the apartments and asks if we lost a phone. We told him that we had and he said that he had called the bishop to pick it up and that he was on his way! How did he know to call him? Miracle.
Also, after several visits, Dave finally read from the Book of Mormon! Hallelujah! Also, another person that we are teaching, Jodon, has been reading from the Book of Mormon nearly everyday and praying everyday! AND. We are also teaching Jodon's brother, Patrick, and he is still excited and ready to be baptized! When we have taught him the commandments, like tithing, we invite him to keep those specific commandments, and he has hesitated, but every time he has accepted. He understands that the decision he is making to be baptized isn't of small significance, but rather of great importance.
Something else that happened this week was we met Vanessa. I was on exchanges in a different area (which was a bummer because this incredible thing happened!) with Sister Bird. Anyways. We knock on this door and meet this young girl, Vanessa. We talk with her for a little bit and Sister Bird really needs to use the restroom (missionary problems), so she asks if she can use Vanessa's and she invites us into her home. Well, turns out that Vanessa had company, a family from Ghana was visiting her family. When Sister Bird comes out of the bathroom, a man calls for us to come to him, Steven. He asks us to sit and we pray with him. He then asks us what message we have to share with him. We begin to share the starting points of the Restoration of the gospel. Steven then asks if he can share something with us and opens to John 14. He reads most of the chapter and puts emphasis on verses twenty six and twenty seven:
26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
 27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
He tells us that he recognized us as servants of the Lord because of the name that we bear on our nametags. He says that we were sent to him and his family from God. He knew that because of the name that we bear! How incredible is that!!
As missionaries, we really represent Jesus Christ. Just as if He were on the Earth, we are doing what He would be doing--teaching, ministering, bring peace.
Truly the Lord loves us! He allowed us to have such an amazing experience with Steven and his wife, Chosen. Miracles.
The Gospel is true. I know this.
I love you all!
Sister Hardy

Look at that beautiful Colorado sky! 

Getting gas at a really really old gas station in the heart of Aurora!